Wellesley state rep's end run around charter-school caps

Parent Imperfect reports how a Wellesley state rep managed to get a bill drafted and passed in just 24 hours to remove the cap on charter-school expansion in Massachusetts. No public hearings, etc., because that would just be so boring, or something.

A reasonable person might ask if Rep. Peisch’s alleged personal involvement with charter and other educational reform organizations might create a conflict of interest, or at least a conflict of conscience for her on this issue. One might wonder such things, but, in Massachusetts, such questions often go unanswered.

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Especially when raising

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the charter cap has no effect at all on her district but lots of consequences for urban school districts.

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MIA Martha

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Well, we have not had an Attorney General for quite a few years now......

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She's too busy harassing

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She's too busy harassing local small business owners, out of state companies that ship stuff she doesn't like into the state, and running for office to investigate corruption or go after real criminals.

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Wow

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an anti-charter school article from a pro-public web site. Whats next? A climate change report published by Exxon.

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dangerous

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I'm beginning to think this approach to "school reform" might be a tactic to keep middle class families from seriously considering living in cities like Boston. Charters are the "last resort" schools for people who can't afford private or to move out to the suburbs. They don't actually fix any of the real problems, they just give lower-income parents a way to control their child's peers. Why, as an educated professional parent, would I want to send my kid to a place where the first thing they talk about are their test scores? It's depressing. You look at any private school or good suburban district and they aren't trying to sell you on test scores - they talk about extras, they talk about athletics, they talk about college placement.

I am really wondering if this is mostly just a way to keep suburban districts from losing families (and their tax base) to cities... The fact that a suburbanite subverted the discussion and negotiation happening with URBAN reps is pretty telling.

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An interesting question, but I don't think so.

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I am really wondering if this is mostly just a way to keep suburban districts from losing families (and their tax base) to cities...

It's an interesting question, but I must say, it seems a bit too far fetched for me. I just can't imagine that many two-parent, 2 or 3 kid families living in the suburbs are saying, hey, let's uproot everything and move into (even the "affordable" parts of) town because it's the place to be. I think that the "suburban flight" phenomenon (to the extent it is even substantial - bear in mind, I'm talking about moving into Boston proper here, not moving from the 495 belt to Newton) is mostly restricted to empty nesters and twenty-somethings (who because of improving job prospects are able to move out of their parents' (suburban) basements).

In fact, I think we're about to see things change again, as several people I know in my age cohort (mid-late 30s) are giving up on trying to stay in town and even in the near suburbs because the house price situation is even worse than it was at the height about 8 years ago. Several of them, despite loving being "in town" for all the usual reasons (and having grown up either in town or at least inside 128, are going at least as far as the exurb/suburb frontier because it's the only place they can afford a 3 or 4 bedroom place in a community with decent schools (still the biggest driver by far). Incidentally, it seems that having a 2nd child is what is doing it for most, which suggests to me that 2 bed places are "affordable" for them, but when they try to step up to 3 beds, the lack of supply and concomitant price increase is the killer.

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This is a little misleading

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This bill wasn't "passed in 24 hours." It cleared the House, which had skeletal attendance, in a form that wasn't expected by the anti-charter crowd. It still needs to clear the Senate and get the governor's signature, neither of which is a rubber stamp--Patrick is generally pro-charter, but he didn't just fall off the turnip truck, and he knows better than to sign off on something that carries accusations of railroading.

Also, pro-tip to Parent Imperfect: if you want to pretend like you're trying for editorial impartiality, don't end your article with talking-point dreck like "Ultimately, if we want to establish a separate system of essentially independent schools, we should find another way to finance those schools that does not drain financial and political support from public school districts."

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Political support maybe

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Not financial support. BPS has been given roughly 35% of the total city budget for time immemorial.

If all 6000 or so charter kids came back to BPS tomorrow, BPS would see a "windfall" of $90 million or so. Only one problem - that money wouldn't go to the schools. They would still get 35% of the budget. It would most likely get allocated to other things that have gotten shredded over the years so that we can keep up funding to schools and public safety.

You can argue all day long that charters have taken money out of city/school coffers. But if you know how the budget gets allocated - it's patently false. The budget goes up by 3.5-4.5% almost like clockwork and the schools get a similar increase most years.

Most likely destination for those funds - shore up the pension account which is growing about 8% a year - at that rate it will quite literally devour virtually all revenue increases in the distant but foreseeable future. Our city leaders use things like health care and charters as red herrings to draw your attention away from the pension bomb. (note - city budget number now exclude teacher pensions which have been managed outside the prying eyes of the budget process for about 5 years now - not sure where they "went". This appears to be mostly funded by teacher contributions - however, those contributions are of course factored into collective bargaining agreements).

Bottom line - BPS has not lost a dime from the charters - they shrink and still get an equal percentage of the budget meaning everyone gets paid more for less work for well over a decade. The city has actually made money from the charters due to the extra compensation they get from the state when a kid leaves - apparently the state hasn't been paying up on this in full - but they can't get away with this forever. I would imagine the courts will force them to pay eventually. This is a cash flow issue - not a budget issue.

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gotta love MA pols,

they create a one party state with little accountability then they get "outraged" over it. Apparently we really ARE that stupid, because they keep getting away with it.

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Governor BlackKat

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If I was in charge I would utilize the state's national guard units to take the charter schools out with their tanks. Problem solved.

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Sure

It is terribly unfair that poorer families are being afforded the opportunity to chose a better school option for their kids like middle and upper class families do. If they wanted a better school, maybe they should have somehow been richer or lived in a better neighborhood, right? #sarcasm

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No

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Maybe the money being paid towards charter schools would be used more effectively shoring up under-performing public schools. You don't need private schools to have better schools.

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Not private

The charter schools aren't private.

The Trotter has tons and tons of resources due to its turnaround status- are there more applicants for the Trotter or the Brooke? Exactly.

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Nore

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do you need unions.....

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Clearly something is working for the kids

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Why can't we figure out whatever it is that's working and reform the public schools in that manner? I doubt it is somehow tied to the union/non-union question (when you were in school, did you have any clue that your teacher was/wasn't in a union?) and more to do with teaching methods or how money is being spent on education (which isn't a difference in salary, so it's been said).

It may just be that the charter schools are new and therefore have up-to-date materials and facilities compared to our public schools which have to keep getting modernized at a slower pace.

But instead, we've got a duality system being pitted against itself with the politics of unions and privatization of yet another public utility bleeding all over everything and squelching out the lessons we could be learning.

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What's working

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The difference in performance has something to do with common and enforceable standards of behavior and family buy-in. I've known students who, once unruly in a BPS school, wouldn't get away with the same behaviors in an a charter. They know it and most adapt.

Unfortunately, the most unruly, disenfranchised and difficult-to-educate students get left behind in the BPS.

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Partly true

Kids whose parents don't care at all about their education don't go to charter schools. The charters aren't excluding those kids by choice, but relying on those kids' guardians to exclude themselves more or less. That's the single biggest difference, with more minor ones being:

Unruly behavior is not accommodated. Disruptive kids are not allowed to disrupt everyone else's learning
Longer school day ensures there is time for core topics as well as art, music, dance and gym.
Longer school year also gives kids more time to learn.

Budget isn't much different. To my experience (elementary school) there is zero difference in materials or technology.

The single best suggestion I heard during the reform discussions was that all kids applying for BPS would automatically be entered into a charter school lottery as well. The charter schools would probably hate this, but if it was coupled with allowing schools with a proven success record to expand, then they might agree.

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Disaster Capitalism

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Sonia Chang-Diaz's compromise was very generous to the charter school supporters, perhaps overly generous. That they didn't take the compromise is very telling. It seems to me that the hedge fund managers and billionaires funding education "reform" desire to have traditional public schools in a constant state of crisis through routine denials of adequate funding and resource. How much more appealing are their charter schools when the district schools are deemed underperforming? And how much more federal money can they add to their coffers in the process?

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The Dept of Ed and teacher's

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The Dept of Ed and teacher's unions have done a great job spending exponential amounts of money to no effect.

Maybe a market based solution is worth trying?

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Yeah...

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I can't wait for the Wal-Marts of public education to open...

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Ya all those

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horrible private schools, they have such sever behavioral and educational issues. I heard last week there was a gang shooting between two illiterate ivy league sets.

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Not stated

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Nothing I said suggests that we do what we always did. Your response is non sequitur.

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BPS

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is like the Smithsonian not Walmart

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Incorrect assessment

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Actually, this bill represents a compilation of bills related to school reform filed this legislative session that focus on improving school turnaround and the charter school cap. the committee heard bills on these topics at a public hearing (looks like this one: https://malegislature.gov/Events/EventDetail?eventId=530&eventDataSource...).
Following the hearing the committee spent time reaching out to advocates and collecting testimony to revise the bill using input from a variety of stakeholders, resulting in the bill put forth. The legislative process is a lengthy endeavor with many checks and balances, precisely to prevent any new initiatives from getting through without thorough consideration. it would be good if everyone took a little time to learn more about how bills become laws and appropriate times to weigh in throughout the process.

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There's the political process

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and there's politics.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I believe what the Imperfect Parent is getting at (other than being opposed to the bill) is that after much public debate on things, after Sen. Chang-Diaz working so hard at a bill that represented a compromise between the pro- and anti-charter crowd, this bill gets through the House without any debate at all.

There are worse examples of our democracy being anti-democratic, mostly in the U.S. House (regardless of which party controls it) and, yes, thankfully we have a bicameral legislature with the check of a gubernatorial veto, but still, this rep is not making fans by sneaking the bill through.

By the way, one of the checks legislatively is that after being reported out of committee, a bill is supposed to get both a second and third reading. Unless it is something like the legalization of upskirting, what was the rush?

EDIT- I missed a link above. Everything seems above board, so I'm doing a 180. Substituting a new bill and sending it to committee seems okay. Political process restored

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Today! Tuesday 1 April 2014 Special Elections

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Today! Tuesday 1 April 2014 Special Elections

Sample Specimen Ballots
http://www.cityofboston.gov/elections/upcoming.asp

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elespeif/speifidx.htm
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Special State Primary Candidates
5th Suffolk State Representative District
Democratic Party Candidates
Name, Address, Statement
EVANDRO C. CARVALHO Boston
KAREN A. CHARLES-PETERSON Boston
JENNIFER ANNE JOHNSON Boston
BARRY LAWTON Boston
ROY OWENS Boston

Republican Party Candidates NONE
______________________________

Tuesday, April 1, 201 Special State Election Candidates
2rd Suffolk Representative District
DANIEL JOSEPH RYAN Boston DEMOCRATIC
______________________________

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Special State Election Candidates
16th Suffolk Representative District
TODD B. TAYLOR Chelsea REPUBLICAN

ROSELEE VINCENT Revere DEMOCRATIC
______________________________

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Special State Election Candidates
13th Suffolk Representative District
DANIEL J. HUNT Boston DEMOCRATIC
______________________________

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Special State Election Candidates
5th Middlesex State Senate District
JASON M. LEWIS Winchester DEMOCRATIC

MONICA C. MEDEIROS Melrose REPUBLICAN

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elespeif/speifidx.htm

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Curious aabout her interest

Why is Rep. Peisch pushing this when she represents a district unaffected by the cap and related funding issues? Might she have ulterior motivation? And yes, I'm casting aspersions. J'accuse Mme. Peisch!