Hey, there! Log in / Register

How the charter-school question was defeated

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

I'm not someone who talks about politics much at work, but Q2 was something I brought up as soon as anyone mentioned the election. Our kids are in a BPS we love, and the budget has been chipped away at over the last 3 years (when we started). The #NoOn2 websites and social media were very helpful - as was Megna Chakrabarti's tweetstorm about school finance w/sources:

http://www.wbur.org/edify/2016/11/04/charters-and-school-finance

https://twitter.com/MeghnaWBUR/status/794209313602539520/photo/1

Now I'm contacting legislators about FBRC.

up
Voting closed 0

Once again Universal Hub has the news the rest of Boston won't report on. As a parent with kids in BPS we are fighting for funding for every child and seeing great things from our schools. The Globe refuses to report anything positive about BPS. The fight isn't over and parents, kids and teachers have much work ahead of them and we would love the support of our community.

up
Voting closed 0

True, and the mayor wants to cut another $100,000,000 from annual expenses. The mayor formed a committee that issued the report a few weeks ago. One idea in the report is school closures. Whose neighborhood should lose their school?

In 2010, MA legislature raised the charter cap from 9% of school budget to 18% of school budget, 1% a year, in order to qualify for Race To The Top grants from the federal government during the great recession. This year the cap is at 17% of budget, next year it will be at 18% of budget.

In 2013 or 2015, I don't recall which, Moody's reported that charter growth puts public district schools finances into a downward spiral. What is interesting to me is that the question of whether charters take money from district schools was actually an unsettled question in the Question 2 debate.

Almost a supermajority of folks in MA-- 62% --believe charter take money from district schools. Most people with kids in Boston Schools do too. We've been at school committee and city council budget meetings.

More compelling is the fact that only 16 of 351 Mass cities and towns had majority support for Question 2, that's 95% opposed. And none of them were cities. Cities were 100% majority opposed.

We've had out vote on charter school expansion. I hope the governor respects it and backs the will of the people when the Trump administration pushes charter expansion.

up
Voting closed 0

Where are these budget cuts?

They increased the budget by millions of dollars and plan to hire 86 additional staff members including 35 new teachers.

How does that amount to a budget cut?

And per BPS docs there will be 650 fewer students this year.

up
Voting closed 0

Also, notice what she said about the reality of being a student? Not that you give a crap about classrooms and kids lacking resources. Let them study Cake! You just want to wreck public education and put us in the same toilet as Alabama and Mississippi so you don't have to pay any taxes.

up
Voting closed 0

What in God's name are you even talking about?

Did you get an early start on question 4? Now I'm regretting my yes vote.

up
Voting closed 0

I'd say it was the guy who kept insisting that incredibly undertrained teachers paid less than minimum wage for ten hour school days (plus grading) would be able to provide superior classroom performance through the magic of Wal Mart?

up
Voting closed 0

They do.

up
Voting closed 0

Sounds like you added some small fungi, too?

No bogarting.

up
Voting closed 0

I am not quite ready to get into this today. But let's remember that there are clear statistics on how charter schools have lower retention rates of grade cohorts which helps for several reasons. One, it is much easier to teach of a class of 18 than 25. Two, it is easier to help 18 students focus on passing the MCAS than 25. Three, if the "disruptive" students are out of the class, it benefits the other 18. Four, as the "disruptive" students leave for "school violations" you are able to keep the young people more likely to graduate. Therefore, your MCAS scores and graduation rates are higher than BPS because you have been able to find students that fit your profile. By the way, if you look at charter school annual reports, which they thankfully publish, they never state their start of year enrollment vs end of year. Kind of weird for schools that pride themselves on "retaining" students don't you think?

Meanwhile, those other 7 kids are now back in BPS, in the middle of the school year, at a new school that they didn't get to choose, and probably having emotional issues because they have been kicked out of the school that their parents wanted them at. And they are entering a new school environment in either 9, 10 or 11th grade. I don't remember much about high school but I do remember that making new friends is never easy. Especially as the new kid.

Finally, while there were 650 fewer kids this year, I wonder how many kids will be back in BPS for third semester? (Shhh, a little secret, if you keep the kid past Oct 1 you get to keep the tuition for that student for the year. 8 months of free money!)

All that said, I do appreciate your passion for pointing out the inefficiency within the current system.

up
Voting closed 0

You freely admit kids do better in charters. Why do the reasons matter? The point is giving kids the best opportunity to succeed. If 8000 kids are thriving there, why shackle 10,000 to a system that isn't working for them.

As for that Oct 1 rule, I know it's a hard date, didn't know the date. That should be changed to a prorated system which gives more incentive to retain students.

Mayor Walsh and the city council get a dose of my passion on Monday with a cc. to the Globe. Gonna be very embarrassing for the schools if the Globe follows up, but not holding my breath. That "fiscal calamity" they claimed in January? Unquestionably a lie, apparently in prep for battling Q2. Unless more money, more teachers, more staff and fewer students is a calamity.

up
Voting closed 0

I admit that kids do well in charters. But it is a certain sub-section of kids and not ALL kids who attend the charters. If charters were legally obligated to find another charter for their former student I would be for it. But they are not. So they send these kids back into BPS schools that were not accounting for them. The kids who do not well are put back in BPS. Why do you think charters were against the universal enrollment form as much as some public parents? Because they won't be able to choose the children who attend their PUBLIC school. I am having a hard time believing that you can't comprehend this component to the system.

There is also the fact that very few charters in BPS are currently serving at capacity. Check their max enrollment number approved by the state vs their current number. While there will be a need for a small buffer to create new classes, keeping an extra 100 seats open to me seems strange.

As always, enjoying the debate.

up
Voting closed 0

Even I'll admit that's the ideal solution. Somebody needs to stand up and say here's all the money we have in the current budget. Here are our goals. Figure out how to meet the goals within that budget or use the door.

Everyone seems to know what the problems are. Then they just stand there like deer in the headlights.

Yes enjoy the exchange we we share info and views like w ckollette and sock puppet.

And I'll repeat. Go ahead and spend the money if it's spent wisely. If it's not, I'd rather keep it and do something useful with it. BPS itself says it's wasting at least $100 million. Get out of the traffic and start there.

up
Voting closed 0

The charters could be obligated to fill any empty seat with a kid off the wait list- after all, they're thousands of kids long.

up
Voting closed 0

BPS teacher here, to give you some info on our school:

Increase in students from last year
Lost 5 staff (teachers and paraprofessionals)
Nurse reduced to part time

Yes we get more money than last year's budget, but not enough to cover the same expenses in last year's budget. Hence the cuts.

up
Voting closed 0

Staff assignment reductions in one school do not equate to systemwide cuts. For whatever reason they cut your school. But that means there are now 91 people in total to work at another school.

That's not a budget cut.

up
Voting closed 0

Really, this comes down to the fact that there are "structural deficits" built into the BPS budget that are beyond the scope of any single year's budget process. Put simply, for various reasons - some legitimate, others wasteful - costs continually grow faster than revenues. Even in years where it looks like the budget receives a healthy increase, these structural deficits prevent the benefits of that increase from making it all the way down to the classrooms.

To the credit of the new administration, they appear to be taking this issue seriously, and have proposed "10 Big Ideas to Unlock Resources in the Boston Public Schools". I would suggest that you explore the school department's long term financial plan if you would like to understand this from the school department's perspective and (hopefully) contribute to the process. If nothing else, it may help you understand why the budget issues, which you may perceive as imaginary when viewed from the top down, are very real when viewed from the bottom up. Most, if not all, of the 10 Big Ideas will be controversial, so making progress on the department's financial stability will be difficult and probably painful.

I attended the first of the town hall meetings to discuss this process, and thought that it was a good discussion. Unfortunately, there were a couple of other things going on that night that caused attendance to suffer. It was the same night as a No on 2 rally that the mayor attended, and Superintendent Chang, who had been scheduled to attend, was instead meeting with Mitchell Chester at the Mattahunt School. In some ways that was somewhat representative of the difficulty that BPS has had getting traction on their long term financial plan - there are always short term issues that, for better or worse, manage to take priority. I'm hoping that now that election day is past, more of the activism around Boston's schools will be devoted to topics that will improve BPS in the long term.

up
Voting closed 0

If there's more money, more staff, more teachers and fewer students how can you have a structural deficit caused by costs going up faster than revenues? And that's just year over year. If I go back to 2003 (earliest numbers online) it looks much worse. Thanks for the link to the report. I'll take a look.

up
Voting closed 0

Huh, I see that the FY17 city budget shows an increase in teachers and staff, but the FY17 BPS budget shows both decreasing. I guess that for whatever reason they must be showing projections from different points in the budget process.

In any case, presumably the report I linked to will be more informative than I could be.

up
Voting closed 0

The city budget is what the council signed off on. As you note, coild be different points in the process.

Hard to speak to headcount as that's a moving target. Audited spending mirrors the city budget VERY closely.

REVISED that budget is dated in February. City budget dated july. This is part of my issue. They deliberately fudge the numbers every winter to get everyone worried and then it turns out there's plenty of money as the politicians can claim they rode to the rescue, when in fact they just switch from fake to real numbers. Note the schools puts in a budget of 4528 teachers from 2016 - but they never had 4528 teachers. They reported 4435 teachers to the city (there are standards for how this gets reported). The 4528 was a padded number (they seem to note and admit to this in the budget docs as a procedural issue). Then the schools budgeted 4440 teachers and when they landed an extra $5 million in funding from the city, they bumped the budget to 4470 teachers.

This isn't budgeting. It's PR. And PR that this year was likely done specifically to get people up in arms over question 2.

up
Voting closed 0

Lifting the charter cap (or not) should be a decision made by the community. This year, the only places affected by this vote were Boston and Springfield. Citizens of those cities should have been the ones to decide whether or not they wanted their caps lifted. Why do people in Lincoln or Amherst get to make decisions about Boston and Springfield?

Massachusetts has too many local issues controlled by the state. Whether it's how many charter schools or how many liquor licenses, the decisions should be made by those living with the results.

up
Voting closed 0

Massachusetts has too many local issues controlled by the state.

Massachusetts is actually a pretty amazing outlier when it comes to the amount of government that is under local control. Local health, local planning, local permitting ... used to be local vital records keeping (deaths, births) were all tied to towns and cities, too. Most other states use county or state resources for these sorts of things, or they form districts that cover multiple municipalities and unincorporated areas for water, sewer, schools, etc.

There is also the issue of charters not being tied to a community - in Western and Central MA, they are often regional in their draw.

up
Voting closed 0

And I'd have no problem with things being tied to counties or regional school districts. Counties are still much more local than having state control.

As to other things you mentioned, I have no problem with bureaucratic record keeping being state-wide or county-wide.

up
Voting closed 0

It should be noted, however, that Lincoln (along with Dover, Sherborn, Wellesley, Cambridge, and a few other wealthy towns) voted YES while most - including Boston - voted NO.

up
Voting closed 0

Boston and Springfield voted against Question 2.

Lincoln, BTW, voted for.

up
Voting closed 0

Is there a map or table available anywhere showing how each ward or neighborhood voted on this issue?

up
Voting closed 0

What I heard (though I can't find citation now) is that the one community that went Yes in Boston was the one overlooking the Chartes, which fits into the statewide pattern of Yes being in wealthier communities. All others went No. In addition, a poll released by Western New England University) a few days before the election (http://www1.wne.edu/news/2016/11/PollingTables_FINAL_11_04_16.pdf) showed the following: Whites said No 52%, Yes 39% and undecided 8%. Non-whites were No 50%, Yes 38% and undecided 12%. Will be interesting to see the final numbers.

up
Voting closed 0

Charlestown, "West End", Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Allston, or West Roxbury?

up
Voting closed 0

Stevil's neighborhood

up
Voting closed 0

to get Massachusetts on the path to a school voucher program. The out-of-state money supporting it, the ALEC like wording to the question, the talking points had all the smell and feel of Koch Bros. support.

I am a Boston resident, property owner and pay taxes just as many others do. I opted to send my child to private school - my choice - as such it is not the responsibility of others to directly or indirectly subsidize my decision nor should I be allowed to avoid sharing in the cost of providing a public education system by receiving a tax credit or subsidy.

up
Voting closed 0

As a Somerville Resident who's not a teacher, I voted against the Charter School Question, and I'm glad of it. Charter Schools, anywhere in the state, imho, should not be expanded and constantly subsidized at the expense of the public schools, which are badly in need of more funding, not to mention other stuff.

up
Voting closed 0

I voted against adding more charter schools mainly based on the negative experiences friends and acquaintances with kids currently enrolled in or formerly enrolled in charters have expressed to me. I also don't particularly care for the charter school practice of making up phony claims against students who don't test well just so they can be kicked back to public school so charter schools' test scores are not negatively impacted.

up
Voting closed 0