"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Charter Cap in Massachusetts Will Not Be Lifted

It is gratifying to know that the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where public schools were born, took a significant step this week to support Horace Mann's notion of quality public schools for all children.  As Mann said some 160 years ago, "agitate, agitate, agitate, but always for a good cause." 

The good cause that MA citizens agitated for most recently was to keep the charter school cap in place so that citizens might study the effects of a two-tiered separate and unequal system of schooling in Massachusetts that has resulted from the birth and expansion of corporate charter schools. 

This is big news, folks.  This can be done in your state, too, by organizing those who will act on their beliefs. Perhaps public education was just saved in the state where public schools were born.

From Citizens for Public Schools.  Way to go, Lisa, Ann, and everyone else who worked on this.
Charter Cap Lift Bill Defeated: Your Voice Made a Difference

Thanks to each and every one of you who called, wrote and visited your elected representatives to share your views on Senate Bill 2262, which would have lifted the cap on charter spending in so-called underperforming districts. The voices of students, parents, teachers, school board members and others made a difference and the bill was resoundingly defeated, 26-13. The message was heard, loud and clear, that most parents want high-quality public schools for every child, not school "choice." The message was heard that most parents and voters do not want money drawn away from the public schools that serve every kind of student.

The Boston Globe quoted parent Mary Battenfeld, a member of Quality Education for Every Student (QUEST). "It felt like senators were listening to parents," she said. "What we heard in the debate was not so much anti-charter as, 'we need to study this further and understand the impact of a two-tiered system.'"

In the end, those who supported lifting the cap on charters could not come up with a satisfying answer to this question: "What is the end game?" In other words, do we want to move toward a two-tier system of charters and traditional schools, separate and unequal? Or should we invest in all our schools to provide our students with things that we know can work: quality early childhood education, smaller class sizes, wraparound services and most powerfully, reducing poverty (as Senator Pat Jehlen pointed out)?

If you want to know who to thank for their vote in support of all our public schoolchildren, click here to go to the page for Senate bill 2262 (click on Roll Call and download the document labeled "Download Details PDF"). 

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