Big loser in charter-school referendum even more of a loser than we thought

The State House News Service reports a New York group that wasted $15 million trying to convince us to increase the number of charter schools in the November elections has agreed to pay some $427,000 to the state for creating a way for people to hide their donations to the effort. It's the largest such settlement in state history.

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I'm glad these shady right

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I'm glad these shady right wing con artists got caught. Its unfortunate that one of them now runs the US department of education and that Charlie Baker is on their side.

Sweden killed charter schools. Finland: 100% public and still #1

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The race to privatize public education cannot be justified on relative performance of charter schools compared to district schools. To try to do it in Mass, which is ranked number 1 in public education in the US, is truly an outrage.

About 4.5% of kids statewide are enrolled in charter schools.

When you start with a class of 120 in 7th and end with 30 in 10th you can end up with kids that can score top scores on their MCAS math, science and ELA. If you look at the charter school attrition data and chart it against test scores you'll see that's what going on to greater and lesser extents.

The idea that well-funded suburban schools systems should be public and urban ones privatized is also an outrage. And in cities with large charter growth such as Boston, which is about 17% to 18% privatized, charters are more segregated than the public schools.

Holyoke, Southbridge, Lawrence are poor school districts. They need chapter 70 funds, which is currently underfunded by $1.9 b statewide. Boston is a wealthy city with awesome tax revenue. There was no need to cut programs that were working over the last 4 years. It may be the case that they robbed Peter to pay Paul.

2014: $37M cut, Supt. John McDonough's letter to school committee, Jan. 2014
2015: $41M cut, Supt. John McDonough's budget submission to School Comm., Mar19, 2015
2016: $50M cut, Supt. Chang's budget letter to 38,000 BPS families, Jan. 2016
2017: $11M cut to 49 schools, Eleanor Laurans (BPS CFO) and Natr Kuder (Assistant BPS CFO), City Council BPS Budget hearing, April 25, 2017

BTW, 34% of budget is not a lot compared to other urban schools districts and especially not compared to the best school districts in the state. Boston spending, as a percentage of budget, is in the bottom 20% in MA. Lexington is #1 in education spending as a percent of budget, They sent 6 Lexington HS grads in one graduation class to Harvard recently.

And $1 b for renovations in insufficient for a project estimated to cost $2.6 b in 2011.



Charters are a scam. The voters know it. We have the best schools in the country because they are public, not because they have been drained by the Walton Family and Betsy DeVos.

This was an attempt to trash the best public school system because it doesn't follow the "get a drunk dropout to read to the kids for minimum wage and get HIGH SCORES" bullshit that some still try to peddle here.

You want education? You higher professionals and hold the system to high standards.

Friends and family I know who

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Friends and family I know who had their kids in charter have finally pulled them out to enroll them in public because the academic rigor of Mass. and NH charter schools is subpar to public. The only positive take away they mentioned re: charter was that discipline was strict. Sadly, one of the kids who just started NH public high school is way behind in math and science and needs a tutor. Of course, these are just the people that I know, but they have also echoed similar stories about their friends' and neighbors' families.


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Explain the academic rigor of a non-exam Boston Public HS. Or at minimum just admit you're a unionized teacher.

Disclaimer: the following is anecdotal, not data

A friend had his daughter in a BPS school (she was in AWC). She got a spot in a coveted "college prep" charter that was billed as a rigorous academic program. She was there for one year before moving her back to BPS because the charter school was not nearly as challenging academically as what she had been doing. What he found out later from other parents was that the charter had started off as very challenging but they kept watering down the program because the students couldn't keep up.

It really depends on the school

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My wife's (charter) school intakes in fifth grade. Average reading level of new students is 2.5 (halfway between a second and third grade reading level). There are two ways you can address that: water down the curriculum, or budget for extensive 1-on-1 time with tutors and aggressively have students repeat grades until they're at grade level. Her school has chosen the latter. It's unfortunate that some have chosen the former, but I'll reiterate that if the performance of the charter in question dips below that of its companion district schools, it will most likely have its charter revoked within a few years.

The charter system isn't perfect, and I'm thrilled that these out of state assholes were penalized for their monkey business, but it's wildly disingenuous to paint the entire system as corrupt or ineffective.

Not true

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A solid 80% of the people I know who pulled their kids from public schools for charters did so because the public school superintendent was a complete ass about minimally meeting the letter of the special education laws - like pulling a kid from half of EVERY CLASS for "tutoring" when the base problem was dyslexia.

Cheaping out while pretending to care wasn't working - careful eval of a local charter (not the one that kills kids and bans braids) and putting the kid in there meant much more appropriate education. Their kid was assigned an in class assistants who were doing practicums for special education and could help adapt and interpret for him. The local public had no such interactions with special education training programs because the stuporintendent only hired children of connected people and maintained a staff of yes-people who were peter-principle examples.

That's why the disclaimer

I know there are very good charter schools and I know very talented people who work in them so my disclaimer was to show that there are two sides to the story. That being said I think that there are much better ways than charter schools to improve public education. Innovative schools or classrooms where there is a lot more leeway with curriculum and methods but it maintains the economics of scale and oversight that a public school has can maximize the benefits and minimize the pitfalls is a better setup in my opinion.

Most would find this surprising

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I actually agree with you at least generally.

Here's the problem - innovation doesn't work in the BPS environment. One thing that has long proved to be effective is longer school days (and years). Getting even a slight concession on this from the BTU was like pulling teeth from a lion (and cost $10 million - but probably worth it).

BPS does just fine for the exam school kids. They also have the resources you mention for the kids with problems - the more severe the problems, the better BPS can do because of those ample resources.

The kids that lose out are those in lower grades where there are no exam schools especially that average or above average kid that can't get into one of the "better" elementary/middle schools. That's the option charters give. Even that is not for everyone - about 15% of Boston's kids are currently in charters - total guesstimate - but there is probably demand to increase that by 50-100%.

We lost that opportunity last year with the vote. The critical armchair liberals out here do not know what's best for somebody else's kids. the parents of these kids are not stupid. They are looking for an alternative - and moving is probably out of the question for them. What we have given them is BPS, BPS and BPS - so yet another generation of kids will now have what their parents believe is a substandard education because the armchair liberals of the state decided to take that choice away from them. As a friend once told me - the most powerful word in the English language is not "or". It's "and".

Wouldn't matter. There will

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Wouldn't matter. There will always be things to work on in any school system. The answer will never be have Exxon Mobil and hedge fund managers from out of state fix it.

see the rest of the article

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"following the launch of a new online enrollment system allowing families to apply to multiple schools at once."

You make it sound as if the schools themselves saw a sudden surge in popularity. In reality it's because of a common application system where you only have to check off a box to apply to a particular charter school, and you can select as many as you like. You can then compare this to your BPS lottery assignment and pick the school you think is best.

BPS Applications

Are through the roof, at several times the number of available seats (if you count each school each parent in the lottery applies for). That's proof of greatness!

As I posited in November

How many people do you know personally who want to be schoolteachers but aren't? Zero? One? Now who's going to staff a bunch of new schools?

The number of kids in Boston is finite. The minimum number of people you can get to teach them is zero. You can build a school all you want. Who's going to staff it and who's going to attend it?

Schools don't suck because teachers suck in a vacuum, schools suck because maybe the best people to teach your kids want too much money that the public doesn't feel like spending to get them.

Don't look at those corporations behind the curtain

This is about private industry scamming more of our tax dollars by passing a ballot initiative to expand charter schools. A charter school is a private school that takes tax money instead of getting tuition. Nobody seems to ask if a charter school has a system of learning that is better than public school, why can't they get anyone to pay them tuition for it. Why isn't Fontbonne starting a charter school?

Why does the charter school magical learning system always include less pay for staff, no sports and rigid discipline. The best teachers take the best paying jobs, its not rocket science.

It is a poor manager that thinks he could fix a system by firing all the poor performers, instead of taking responsibility for supervising excellence from day one.

How is siphoning taxpayer money into charter school corporations helping students?

Sagan, the governor’s handpicked chair of the Board of Education, caused a stir last summer when it was disclosed that he donated $100,000 to the Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools, but around the same time he gave another $500,000 to FESA that was not publicly disclosed.

Why not just give a charter school 600,000? Because this is an investment in a publicly traded industry, not an investment in education for Massachusetts children.