Families with economic means have freedom of choice when it comes to educating their kids. It is not only unfair but damaging to society that families without such economic advantages do not.
A lifting of the cap on charter schools would give such people more choice. That’s why The Republican endorses a “yes” vote on Question 2, the Massachusetts ballot question that would lift the cap.
A waiting list of more than 30,000 speaks to the demand for access to charter schools, which are not private facilities but indeed part of public education. Expanding their presence has set off alarm bells among teachers’ unions that represent traditional public schools, followed by warnings that expanding the charters would create two-tiered education by siphoning off students and involved parents from traditional schools.
The problem with that argument is that a two-tiered system already exists. The choice currently restricted to economically advantaged families would be extended to a wider population of families with more limited means.
This would not hollow out or destroy traditional public schools, which remain the backbone of Massachusetts education. It would, however, respond to the best attribute being offered by charter schools today – the fact that by all reasonable measure, they work in terms of providing quality education to students.
Parents seeking the best opportunity for their children want those results. Denying that opportunity is not only unfair, it’s self-defeating and illogical.
Contrary to campaign rhetoric against them, charter schools do not cherry-pick students without disabilities or language deficiencies. They do not accept only “finished products.”
Expanding their presence, as being advocated by Governor Charlie Baker and many educators, increases their responsibility to deal with the full challenge of education. Their performance record and commitment to success begs they be given that chance.
Ideally, charter schools and conventional public systems should learn to work together and take the best practices of each. That is not achieved by limiting the charters at a level too restrictive to serve the needs of tens of thousands of parents who want the choice and are asking, with merit, “why not us?”
A “yes” on Question 2 is a statement that we know our children, especially but not solely from the inner cities, can do better. Lifting the cap is the way to answer what education should always be about by giving them that chance.