Although every election is important, this year’s election is exceptionally important. On the ballot is Question 2 which advocates an increase of twelve charter schools per year for eternity. Keep in mind the following facts about charter schools:
1. During the 2016-17 school year charter schools will drain approximately $450,000,000 from the district schools throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The addition of more charter schools will drain hundreds of million dollars more.
2. Charter schools are exempt from local oversight. Even though district schools are subject to many local and state educational laws and regulations, charter schools are not subject to all of them. Local school committees have no legal authority to prevent the opening of a charter school even if the local community does not want it. For example, the city of Brockton, represented by many of its elected officials and its citizens, spoke against the opening of a charter school there. Very few testified in favor. Nonetheless, the appointed Board of Elementary and Secondary Education chose to approve the opening of a charter school in Brockton. This is unfair to the students attending the public schools in Brockton.
3. The law does not require that teachers in charter schools be licensed. The law requires that teachers in district schools go through a rigorous process to obtain a license. No license means no teaching position in the district schools. Is it not twisted logic which asserts that one set of public school teachers need be licensed while the other set is exempt? Incidentally, although under the law charter schools are public schools, they actually operate like private schools.
4. District public schools accept all students. Students with severe special needs are welcome. English Language Barrier Students whose English is severely limited, if not, non-existent, are welcome. Some students are even illiterate in their native languages. Charter schools do not accept these students. Expansion of the number of charter schools would move Massachusetts toward a two tier educational system. One system would not accept all students while one would accept all students including those whose educational needs would require significantly more resources.
Recently, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a halt to charter school expansion. Juan Cofield, President of the New England Area Conference of the NAACP and chair of the Vote No on Question 2 campaign, stated that “further expansion will lead to a dismantling of the public education system that serves the majority of our kids.” Massachusetts schools have consistently been tops in the United States. Question 2 will jeopardize this position.
Between now and Tuesday, November 8, we must do all that we can to defeat Question 2. Participating in phone banks, canvassing the voters, and speaking to family and friends are the most effective activities in which to engage.
Go to our website (www.aftma.net) to see how you can participate.
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