On Nov. 8, Baystaters will face a decision that could impact our public education system for years to come. If approved, Question 2 would allow for the creation of up to 12 new charter schools per year. Massachusetts charter schools drain funds from public school systems. For the 2017 fiscal year alone, Boston Public Schools is estimated to lose well over $100 million in funding.
Although state funding “follows the child,” what this means in practice is that with fewer students enrolled in district schools, a larger percentage of the districts’ budgets get spent on overhead costs. This results in painful cuts to arts and sports programs and essential staff positions. Furthermore, charters operate in a highly discriminatory manner by failing to enroll English Language Learners and other “difficult to teach” students, thus leaving districts with a higher proportion of students requiring individualized attention and fewer funds to serve them.
Many corporate charter school proponents also support increased standardized testing. As such, every spring, leading up to the PARCC (formerly MCAS) state-mandated exams, charters will “counsel-out” some of their weakest performing students. These students’ funding does not follow them back to the district public school at which they finish the school year. This further exacerbates the unequal funding schemes and drains even more money from the district.
I urge my fellow JP residents to make the fiscally responsible and socially just decision by voting NO on Question 2 this Election Day. For more information on how charter schools drain money from public school districts, please consult the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center or the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Jamaica Plain resident