Wednesday, October 26, 2016

School Committee Members Deliver Their No on Question 2 Resolutions to Governor Baker

School Committee Members Deliver Their No on Question 2 Resolutions to Governor Baker

A delegation of school committee members today delivered a stack of No on Question 2 resolutions to Governor Charlie Baker, saying the ballot question he supports would hurt the children in their schools.

“The Governor needs to hear from local elected officials to understand the negative impact Question 2 would have on our district schools and the students we serve,” said Jake Oliveira, President of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and a member of the Ludlow School Committee. “Locally accountable school committee members understand that raising the cap would drain municipal budgets and negatively impact students in district public schools.”

Nearly 200 school committees, representing the great majority of all traditional and regional school districts in the Commonwealth, have passed No on Question 2 resolutions. In most cases, the vote was unanimous. School committees opposing Question 2 range in size from Massachusetts’ ten largest cities to Hawley, population 337.

Not a single school committee or city council has voted to support Question 2.

“The Yes campaign claims Question 2 would not hurt suburban districts, but that’s not true,” said Arlington School Committee member Paul Schlichtman, a former MASC President. “A charter school across the border in Cambridge or Somerville – both directly impacted by Question 2 – could pull students from Arlington and force us to cut valuable programs we offer students in our public schools.”

School committees representing 96% of urban public school students in Massachusetts have voted to oppose Question 2.

"Urban school committees across the state have had to pinch pennies in order to provide students with a first-rate education in an era when costs are rising much faster than our budgets,” said New Bedford School Committee member Josh Amaral. “The rapid expansion of charter schools risked by this ballot question would have grim consequences for the future of our public schools. The out-of-state distributors of 'dark money' trying to tweak education policy seek to prevail at the expense of our students and the very schools that have branded Massachusetts a national leader in education.”

“In Worcester, we have only received 36 percent of the total charter reimbursement due for the current fiscal year and five previous years, a $1 million shortfall,” said Worcester School Committee member Molly McCullough. “At a time when we are already struggling to hire additional teachers and offer other academic opportunities and programs for our students, we can’t afford to lose more money to a new or expanded charter school.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a strong supporter of charter schools, nonetheless opposes Question 2 because it “would have a disastrous impact on students, their schools, and the cities and towns that fund them.”

The nearly 200 school committees, along with 18 city councils that have voted to oppose Question 2, represent more than 250 cities and towns, nearly three-quarters of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. They are joined by a growing list of local and statewide organizations, including the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the Massachusetts PTA, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the NAACP New England Area Conference, Progressive Massachusetts, and Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts.

Background on Question 2
Charter schools are privately run schools that operate with taxpayer funding. Every time a new charter school opens, it takes money away from the public schools in that school district. This year, according to state data, 231 local school districts will lose a projected $451,338,729 to charter schools, 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 charters schools a year, every year, forever, with no limit on how much money a single school 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 where they will be located are opposed to them. This has happened in Brockton, Gloucester and many other communities.

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