Vote “Yes” on Question 2 giving mostly poor, minority students in the state’s lowest-performing school districts the fundamental right of school choice.
A “Yes” vote will lift the cap on public charter schools, expanding the educational prospects for children living in Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, New Bedford and Springfield.
A “Yes” vote will allow the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charters per year in communities where failing traditional schools have reached a crisis point.
Poor kids from struggling households shouldn’t be taking a “chance” on getting a good education. Sadly, however, most must submit to a lottery to get a seat in the state’s limited number of charters. The lucky get in, the not-so-lucky get to keep the stigma of being labeled an “underperforming” student, trapped in a one-size-fits-all model.
Look at the numbers. There are 900,000 public-school students in Massachusetts, and only 36,000 — a minuscule 4 percent — attend smaller-sized charter schools. Under today’s system of chance, 34,000 children remain left behind on charter-school waiting lists.
For urban families and their children, a “Yes” vote on Question 2 removes the “lucky chance” of obtaining a charter seat and replaces it with a “clear choice” to pursue what is in their best academic interest.
Studies done by Harvard, Manhattan Institute, and Brookings Institution show that Massachusetts charter schools are No.1 in the nation in reducing the achievement gap between wealthier suburban students and urban minorities. All Bay Staters should be proud of this accomplishment.
If you are a parent in any suburban town where district schools are rich in academic success, is it fair to deny an urban parent and child of lesser means the right to a school alternative that you would seek for your child if the situation were reversed?
Few, if any, suburban towns will ever face the need or want of a charter school. Yet the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), using money pouring in from out-of-state teachers unions and its own members, have built a race-baiting media ad campaign pitting the safe and secure suburbs against the gritty urban centers desperately in need of educational options. By hysterically trumpeting radio and TV ads of a money-draining invasion of charter schools if Question 2 is approved, the MTA has sown the seeds of fear through white, affluent neighborhoods where voters figure to control the statewide referendum’s outcome.
The MTA campaign blames charters — and likewise the kids who attend them — as a scourge for causing state funding issues. It’s the logic of segregation: Keep them in the back of Massachusetts’ school bus, leave more money for “us.”
Incredibly — and unfortunately — the MTA has hoodwinked a number of municipal governing bodies into accepting this line of thought.
There should be more courageous leaders like Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. She wouldn’t allow her community to devolve into MTA hostilities over Question 2. She focused Salem’s debate on unity and education for all. A government resolution was passed embracing the value of charters and calling for fixes to the problems they might raise.
Vote “Yes” on Question 2 and be proud that a kid will get a choice to go to a better public school, rather than leaving it up to chance that it’ll ever happen.