More than 100 school committees oppose Question 2
More than 100 democratically elected Massachusetts school committees have now voted to oppose Question 2, the ballot question that would allow significant expansion of privately run charter schools anywhere in the state, take millions of dollars away from successful local district public schools, and cause the elimination of music and art programs, increased class sizes, and other damaging cuts in the schools that most families choose.
Not a single school committee or city council has voted to support Question 2.
“Proponents of Question 2 have made it clear that this ballot question is about stripping control of our local schools away from democratically elected local officials and turning it over to unelected state bureaucrats and secretive private organizations,” said Paul Schlichtman, a member of the Arlington School Committee. “School committees across Massachusetts are standing up against the private takeover of public education that takes millions away from the local public schools that 96 percent of Massachusetts students attend.”
At a debate on Question 2 at UMass Boston on September 13, former State Representative Marty Walz, speaking for the Yes on Question 2 campaign, announced that “the idea here is to get away from locally controlled schools.” She was responding to a question about an Annenberg Foundation report that found 60 percent of Massachusetts charter schools lack even a single parent on their governing boards.
The 112 school committees, along with 11 city and town councils that have also voted to oppose Question 2, represent a total of more than 150 local communities. They are joined by dozens of organizations, including the Massachusetts PTA and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, in opposing Question 2. A full list of the school committees and city councils that have voted to oppose Question 2 can be found here.
"School committee members recognize that the expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts creates an unfair two-tiered system of education, draining taxpayer dollars from our local schools and sending them to charters, which are unaccountable to locally elected school committees,” said Jake Oliveira, president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and a member of the Ludlow School Committee. “I'm pleased to see so many local elected officials taking a stand to support public education. School committees are where community conversations about public education are debated.”
“I'm pleased to see so many local elected officials taking a stand to support public education. School committees are where community conversations about public education are debated.”
— Jake Oliveira, president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees
Every time a new charter school opens, it takes funding away from the public schools in that school district. Statewide, 231 local school districts will lose a projected $456,338,729 to charter schools in FY17, even after state reimbursements.
A statewide commission recently reported that public schools in Massachusetts are already underfunded by more than $1 billion, even before Question 2. If passed, Question 2 would allow the state to approve 12 new charter schools a year, every year, forever, with no limit on how much money a single district could lose. This would nearly triple the number of charter schools in just 10 years and take away an additional $1 billion each year from our local public schools. After 20 years, local public school districts would be losing nearly $4 billion a year to charter schools.
Local communities and their school committees have no say in the approval or operation of charter schools. The state approves charter schools even when the communities in which they will be located are opposed to them. This has happened in Brockton, Gloucester and many other communities.
“My school district already allots $10 million per year out of its school budget to charter schools, whose decisions about whom they choose to educate and whom they do not cannot be questioned by our democratically elected officials,” said Pia Cisternino, a Cambridge parent. “Our public schools are overseen by school committee members who've been elected by the community. Charter schools, on the other hand, are not overseen by our elected officials. If the cap is lifted, imagine what that will mean for our democracy. More and more schools will be funded with public money yet not held accountable.”
This post was prepared by the Save Our Public Schools coalition, which includes the MTA. The coalition is a grassroots organization of Massachusetts families, parents, educators and students. Visit the MTA's toolkit on charter schools for more information.