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State education official donates $100,000 to pro-charter referendum effort

The Herald reports on the donation by Paul Sagan, chairman of the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a venture capitalist.

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that someone running the dept of elementary and secondary ed in MA is trying to dismantle it at the same time. He should quit.

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That's a serious conflict of interest.

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Baker never saw a conflict of interest he wouldn't ignore.

Sagan said he's not biased. He could put his money where his mouth is by giving Save Our Public Schools $100,000.

Who the hell has a spare $100,000s around? And if you did and you were chair of MA Board of ED, would you give to the charter lobby then claim you're not biased?

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I think people who are in neutral leadership positions like this shouldn't contribute on either side. Union leaders, charter school operators, fine but not people who are in theory in charge of both sides.

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should not be an official in any case.

even if they don't have a conflict of interest, one of their very close friends does

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Aside from looking bad, this does at least give voters an idea of where the department head in charge of approving new charters stands.

I've said it before, but it's quite possible to agree that there are some great charter schools in our commonwealth doing good work, while also agreeing that question 2 is a very blunt instrument with longterm ramifications that are very troublesome. If the chair of the DESE is throwing big bucks at this referendum, you can bet it will indeed be 12 new schools each and every year going forward.

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This isn't an idealistic move.

This is an investment.

Yet another money guy sees profit in destroying the best school system in the country.

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"...and a venture capitalist". Biiiiig surprise.

Follow the money on this one.

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But I know (indirectly through attending fundraisers) a few donors to charter school. They get the normal tax deduction for contributing to their chosen schools, no other special bennies at least in Mass. And even if they do, they are just taking advantage of a perhaps ridiculous loophole offered by Washington (blame your legislators - not them). They are extremely passionate about this - as are the administrators, the teachers, the parents AND the students (some of whom I've taught in after school programs).

I've seen both pro and con Question 2 ads - and the cons are EXTREMELY misleading.

Steal $400 mm from district schools? PLEASE! Total crap. That's the amount of money it costs to educate these kids whether they are in public or charter. I have seen zero evidence that charters cost the system money - in fact the multi-year transition payments are profitable to the districts (even if the state isn't completely fulfilling its obligations to the districts).

The anti-charter ads are boogey man scare tactics and should not be run by respectable news organizations.

This is about unions scared to death of losing their monopoly. Period, end of sentence, end of story.

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There is a yes on question 2 ad that claims that passing this legislation will result in more funding being made available for schools. This claim seems unfounded at best - in a state that consistently votes to underfund charter school tuition reimbursements, what evidence is there that adding more charter schools will actually increase total funding? It seems like the state has already maxed out the amount it is willing to spend on education. If there is some indication that total funding will actually increase I am unaware of it, and would really be interested in seeing it.

If there really isn't going to be more money available, I think it's more than fair to question whether a plan to aggressively open new schools is wise, especially within a city whose district schools' budget woes can largely be traced to their vacant seats.

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The part of the question that explains where this "new money" comes from. Because I sure can't find it.

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That referenda and their accompanying marketing campaigns are really not the smartest way for us to make decisions. Yes the wheels of lawmaking are slow and sometimes need pressure in order to move, but I'm disturbed that someone making their mind up based on TV ads is going to make the call on such a complex issue as this.

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...is that I know all my local elected representatives are focused on what's important - electing Steve Murphy to a nice cushy gig so he can continue to live comfortably.

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It is about PARASITES attaching themselves to the best school systems in the nation and sucking out the blood into private profits.

Do you really think the indolent WalMart heirs and heiresses are pouring money into this out of philanthropic desire? That they would spend money on this (when they have large $$$ invested in the parasite attachments) when they could be improving schools in that horrid shithole they came from? BWHAHAHAHAHAH!

Bless your heart, Stevil!

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Nobody sensible would argue that one should cast their vote based on TV ads. Yet, some folks will. When that is the case, you might think about themes the two sides emphasize. In each case, they 'push' their best arguments:

* NO -- Charters take money from district schools, and that is bad. IOW, it's about who gets the MONEY.

* YES -- Charters are chosen by parents and have an enviable record of successfully educating students. IOW, it's about CHOICE and STUDENTS.

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You're so far up your own ass, there's no way you could reach anyone else's bubble.

This is about unions scared to death of losing their monopoly. Period, end of sentence, end of story.

Bull. Shit.

Putting this question on the ballot was the pro-active step here, asshole. This question is being proposed by charter school advocates for the advancement of charter schools while bypassing the legislature. This isn't being done to improve Massachusetts. This is a proxy war and we're the fucking model home. We've put a tighter leash on our charter schools than nearly every other state in the country. That's led to them basically not doing as much damage to our school system as possible while still allowing them to exist. This leads to them becoming the model data for any charter school advocate in places like PA or OH or FL where creating charter schools is just robbing the public taxpayers of their money.

So, charter advocates would LOVE to expand the charter system here because a) we can keep being an example for ripping off others where the rules are far more lax and b) if we slack off enough as they keep pushing, then they'll be able to start turning huge profits here just like they've done elsewhere at the expense of our state/local budgets and our students' education eventually.

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Not talking about the movement in general - talking about the "anti" movement - which is funded by union money. I can't even imagine anybody else with any significant assets that would be obstructing the expansion of charter schools which have done wonders for many of the kids that attend. Maybe a parent or two that has bought into this crap about charters taking money from publics - but probably a drop in the bucket.

Again - I don't have kids in the schools. No dog or pony in this fight other than from what I've seen charters are an amazingly effective and efficient use of my tax dollars.

Charters were supposed to be a laboratory for what works for the publics. When I see the BTU out lobbying for longer school years and school days and other things that work for charters, I'll believe the anti vote has nothing to do with Stutman and his minions.

Until then, not holding my breath.

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...most people I've met in the NO camp are parents with kids in traditional schools.

...teachers go into teaching because they love kids and want to help them succeed.

...people with "significant assets" aren't "obstructing" this expansion because there isn't money to be made in it.

...our public schools are community institutions that belong to the community at-large. Not the teachers, or the families who send their children there at the moment, not a for-profit management organization.

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To each of your points:

a) the parents have bought the union line that this is costing their kids schools money. Not true, but repeated so often that they simply believe it because "of course the teachers know the facts."

b) we aren't talking the teachers - we are talking the unions. My experience is that 90% of teachers just put their heads down and do their jobs (and most do it well). According to a former teacher friend of mine - it's the bottom 10% that get involved in the union and push the agenda - usually for more pay, more benefits, greater job security, less work and less accountability.

c) the only money to be "made" is by the unions - which is why they are pushing the anti movement. It's more than a bit threatening when the teachers in the charters make a fraction of their union brethren, work way more hours and get far fewer benefits - and turn in better results. We can argue why that is forever - but the fact remains that the charters are getting a lot more out of the students for a lot less money (and part of it probably is systemic - but is that a good thing or a bad thing?).

d) I agree -and the teacher's unions have held us hostage for too long. For the first time in my lifetime, they are running scared that there may be an alternative that's far more effective. I don't see (at least for now) this "big money" threat here in MA (and to Kaz' point if somehow this is a giant strategic play to make money in other states - a) I don't care and b) I can't afford Kaz' tin foil hat budget).

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I agree -and the teacher's unions have held us hostage for too long.

The level of just useless bureaucratic crap that a public school teacher has to wade through to teach ungrateful kids (because they don't get to send the ungrateful ones back to public school, they are public school) who have ungrateful parents (who are often themselves overworked and unable to support their kids' schools) with administrators who are freaking out about budgets and grades and turning in report cards to constantly prove their school isn't "failing" in some way...

They're holding *you* hostage? At best, it's a Mexican standoff! Because you're constantly reducing their staffing, attempting to kill their pensions, lumping them with additional paperwork, detailing their exacting curriculums down to the lesson plans, reducing any say they have in how to improve the school or increase their use of technology because you're afraid to invest tax dollars in infrastructure, and removing their best students to charter schools and leaving them handcuffed to the chaff.

Plus they sacrificed their evenings with their kids to get a certification that says they're a good teacher which your charter schools don't require because that way they can take any schmo fresh out of their Bachelors in "Liberal Arts" and hand them a book and tell them to read from it to the students for 3 years until they want to get a "real job".

They're holding *you* hostage? That's rich.

Sorry, let me rephrase that: you'd have to be rich to think any public teacher is "holding you hostage".

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Charters were supposed to be models to take what works and apply it to public schools - so to YOUR points:

1) Every job comes with "crap" to wade through. Part of life - deal with it or work to get rid of it (I never hear the union fighting against the crap - maybe they do - but they had a huge chance recently - the city said we want longer school days. The union SHOULD have said - well there are only 24 hours in a day - if you get rid of x and y and z bureaucratic crap - we can do that. What was their response? Pay us more knowing that the budget outside the schools has been shredded and there isn't a dime to give. Who are the greedy ones here?). Not sure why an administrator is "freaking out" over budgets that have been rising at twice the rate of inflation for a smaller student body - at least in Boston.

2) Reducing staffing? Not in Boston. Almost every year there are fewer students - and more teachers and more "other" employees. Don't know what they are all doing - but assuming the job is roughly the same as it was 10 years ago - we are at a historic low in terms of work per adult in BPS.

3) Handcuffed to the chaff? At least 3 of the schools are elite exam schools serving thousands of kids. There are also thousands in the middle begging to get out - but they are handcuffed to a system they want no part of because a bunch of adults like you want to lock 'em up and swallow the key. I say take a boltcutter to those handcuffs.

4) Maybe the old "get a masters to teach" isn't a good model. What works in the charters is hire a bunch of super smart idealistic kids from some of the country's best schools - work 'em really hard and they move on to something else in 5-10 years, knowing that they were part of the solution - not part of the problem. Seems to work at least for the 60% of kids in the middle. Can you ever imagine the union buying into that model?

So thanks for making my argument for me Kaz. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Your response lives in a world where NCLB doesn't exist...where "zero tolerance" policing never got going...where attendance of all things suddenly became a metric. It's like you remember how "easy" life was like for the teachers when you were a student and you think the job hasn't changed but the pay has gone up since then (which is actually the full opposite from being true).

You're so far detached from reality on this it doesn't even make sense to talk with you about it because it's like a different language. You're so fucked worrying about how public schools effects your almighty tax bill that you haven't got a fucking clue what goes on in the actual schools with the actual people doing the actual job.

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Go check the city and state sites and cite me numbers that demonstrate your point. You know I've studied this 8 ways to Sunday to come up with these opinions. Show me official numbers and studies that refute my points.

The union can't even come up with good arguments so they just make stuff up or cite info that doesn't apply to Mass. So good luck to you.

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For the first time in my lifetime, they are running scared that there may be an alternative that's far more effective.

omg YOU ARE SOOOOO FUNNY!

And gawd-awful greedy stupid, too.

Explain your definition of "more effective" other than FUCKED UP by greed? The John Oliver piece says it all. MA schools are the BEST and UNIONS WORK for kids and teachers.

Go to hell with your WalMart looting bullshit.

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Wow, you drank a lot of that charter school kool-aid.

Look being a union rep is pretty thankless. Every blames you. And forget about getting promoted.

Clearly you don't know much about unions, except how to blame them for everything.

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I can't even imagine anybody else with any significant assets that would be obstructing the expansion of charter schools

I bet you can't. And you act like that's supposed to mean something or add to the debate.

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Then we have enough labs now, and the proposed expansion of hundreds of schools in the next decades is unnecessary.

Unless that wasn't the point.

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So when are we going to see the charter innovations in public schools? The union's intransigence has brought this on themselves.

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The people who run things love your idea of government and schools.

Now they have very much underperforming schools with enormous classes taught by underpaid people who aren't even marginally qualified for their jobs.

Sounds like heaven? Move there. Sounds like hell? Then put down the kool-aid and join the civilized world.

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Shut them down then.

Unless that wasn't the point.

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Are under the impression that these charter schools are run by charity? They use my tax dollars to hire less qualified teachers for less money.

Who goes there? Parents that are desperate for the best education sign up for a lottery. And ones that get in send there kids to school 2 weeks early. The school day is 2 hour longer as well. Isn't that amazing? And they have homework too, but no sports. The have a demerit system for everything so every "average" willful child that hasn't refused to show up is suspended every other day.

This is how they cull out all of the difficult kids. Then they pretend that the results reflect a their magic system. I don't want to pay for a school run run by non-teachers that can't pass a criminal record check.

The best teachers are where they get paid the most. Bad teachers are made by bad supervision, just like all bad employees. Teachers need a union to protect them so they can focus on teaching.

Everyone deserves a good education. This system is divide and conquer, and i am voting against it.

These "passionate" investors are making money on government funding. If they were so great at education, why aren't these people opening a private school? If they can't convince people to pay tuition for this, why should they get my tax dollars?

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This is yet another example of how those with big money to spend on politics have a much bigger megaphone than the rest of us.

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Here he is on charter schools.

No dog in this fight, either, but the charter school movement has always looked to me like a privatization scam, and this venture capitalist's quite rotten-smelling involvement confirms that sense.

As yet another comedy show that does journalism better than actual journalists aptly points out, at the very least the movement needs a shit-ton more oversight than it currently has.

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" the charter school movement has always looked to me like a privatization scam"

Do you have any factual evidence to support this statement?

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Plenty of evidence there.

Oh, but it isn't in bullet points in crayon so you may have missed it.

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You'll notice that Mr. Oliver NEVER mentions Massachusetts? There might be a reason. What evidence do you have in your bullet points in crayon that says we have a problem with charters in Mass?

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He NEVER mentions MASSACHUSETTS because ...WE KEEP A TIGHT LID ON THIS BULLSHIT.

Your special OMG UNIONS BOOGYWOMEN SCARY troupe of financiers is putting up big money to DESTROY those CONTROLS so they can screw us all over with their ponzi schemes.

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In the publics and the charters.

You unionistas are scary scumbags. You'd rather kids be condemned to attend crappy schools and perpetuate the cycles of poverty than give them and their parents a decent choice of good schools. All else aside - in my book that doesn't just make you a bad person - it makes you downright evil.

If these schools are so bad - do you think their parents are just stupid or "baskets of deplorables" that somehow you know better than they do what's good for them? Only some holier than thou elitist would cop that attitude.

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... and now you are just sinking down to the level of personal abuse.

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These kids have no choice today. Someone wants to give them a choice - a choice I've seen succeed in spades first hand. There's a chance to give these kids a way out - and the unions (the only group funding the opposition) is spreading false rumors to prevent the expansion of charters. Hurting kids to further your own economic interests (what the unions are falsely trying to pin on the moneyed interests on the pro side to hide their own sick motivations) is about as evil as it gets in my book.

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Some people believe, based on the available evidence, that a group of people are doing something that you affirm is as evil as it gets in your book (hurt kids for profit). And they want to stop it.

And so you want to call those people names for that.

I'm unclear on how that makes you the good guy here.

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... want to hurt children for profit...it's totally different.

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That's happening at a charter in Mass.

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This is a fallacy.

This is not happening in Massachusetts because of the controls on charters.

That, if anything, speaks to the NEED for those controls.

This is working in MA because THERE IS CONTROL.

You and your rich idols want to destroy those controls.

Voting yes for your little anti-union for profit pogrom will result in all the bad things that happen elsewhere with charters happening here.

You are either obtuse or exceptionally foolish or lying your ass off if you aren't able to fathom that the controls on charters prevent the abuses.

Seriously, read the crap you have been spouting here - fallacy after fallacy.

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I find this amusing. You agree with me in the first 90% of your post. Then you say I am posting fallacy after fallacy. How is that logical? Did you really get hurt that badly surfing the baby wheel? The ballot question only changes the number of schools we can open. It doesn't change the excellent controls we have on those schools (of course there is always the growth question of maintaining control while growing - that's a very separate management issue).

You've run out of arguments so I guess just yelling "liar, liar, pants on fire" is the argument?

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... you are stretching further and further for personal insults. Keep on doing it, because it lets people know just how much value your other remarks on this subject have.

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What's BS?

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Not in the mood for this. Sorry I engaged you. I'll probably simply avoid your posts on this topic in the future.

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Because unlike a couple of others around here who make stuff up, you don't. And I respect YOUR opinion. Just finally got tired of being attacked by them and ganged up on by a few ridiculous anons.

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In fact, if you learn about the work charters are doing in Mass you'd probably be blown away - as I was when I learned about them which is why I'm so passionate about them. I would have many of the same concerns as others in other towns.

There is ZERO evidence anyone's making a dime off of charters in Mass - they are non-profit organizations. They rent their facilities from regular commercial landlords (or in the case of the Rennaissance, made a fortune selling a downtown property and moved to a more campus like setting elsewhere in the city (Dorchester?)).

There is also ZERO evidence they are hurting kids - some of these schools have standardized test scores that compete with the schools in the most exclusive towns in the state.

The ENTIRE anti charter program is funded by teacher's unions. They aren't doing this to protect the kids. They are doing it to protect their jobs and their power. And that's evil.

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Who have all of the charters hired to run their schools? For-Profit management companies owned by the owners of the schools? Are any charter school owners also the landlords (ala Trump's campaign paying rent to Trump Tower)?

You have no idea in what way they may be making money off this. You just like the shiny wrapping paper they waved at you.

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The schools get about $16k per student in Boston - the cost of a regular ed student in the operating budget (BPS actually spends about 60% more than that for all kinds of things). I think that number is lower in most other low income communities. The charter then hires teachers, administrators, staff, pay for rent, overhead, benefits, materials (in most cases-some own) for their facilities, supplies and more. And to account for future shortfalls they have to run a modest reserve. Then they must comply with every law and have to report as a non-profit (which is also very strict in Mass) and you have the delusion that there is somehow oodles of money left for lots of profit for management companies - AFTER accounting for the salaries and overhead to run a management company ON TOP of all this?

You obviously don't analyze budgets much. Or know much about what charters actually do- in or out of the classroom.

And even if they were making money - I could care less - they educate these kids for way less than BPS and get far better results.

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All that rant and you didn't address ONE single question whose answers could potentially negate all your feel-good bullshit about how charters are completely unprofitable to their owners.

It's like you're willing yourself not to accept even the possibility that this might all be a scam because while you're still wrapped inside it, it feels too good like a warm blanket on a cold morning. You get anti-union, you get "better education for kids", you get "better efficacy than the wasteful government"...all wrapped into a single package and you're like a pig in shit.

You are so enamored with the idea that all your libertarian dreams are coming true, you're unwilling to see that it's all a farce and that when it comes down to it, people are turning our education system into a money engine. But money engines need fuel and sometimes they burn out, but when that's any other business, it just means the owners lose. The patrons have to find somewhere else to go. But the "patrons" of our education system are kids and their education should come with a higher priority than any money engine which could lose at any time. If a charter school had to choose between the quality of the kids' education or their ability to keep their business running, which do you think they'd choose? Have you ever heard of a public school making that choice?

We should be moving specific aspects of life: education, prison/reform, healthcare, public transit TOWARDS ownership as a society not ownership by businesses. We owe all of these things to each other. The businesses don't owe us shit. They owe their controlling members everything.

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I happen to believe that a handful of charters in Boston are doing great work. The Burke comes to mind.

As for folks making a dime off the charters here, I believe you it's not happening now, and I think it should stay that way. Multiplying the number of charters isn't the best course towards that. Perhaps the non-profit charters are just the camel's nose in the tent.

One of the myths frequently propagated is that charters are educating the same kids as the public schools. They're not. They're skimming the cream and rejecting substantial numbers back to the public schools. So their success is in part a matter of casting.

I think that before we consider drastically expanding the number of charters we have to fix some problems with the current charters. Charters and public should be accessed through a unified application, and equal numbers of ELL, SPED, homeless, and administratively assigned kids should be present at the charters. Otherwise, the argument to keep expanding charters becomes the argument to consign all those kids, and nobody else, to public schools. That is not a road toward success.

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I'd agree with you almost across the board. One concern I have is that if you expand - do you dilute the talent pool of charter teachers.

One point though - charters are currently only funded at the regular ed rate. If you mandate that they educate SPED/ELL etc. it would only be fair to pay them the fully loaded cost of BPS to fulfill that mission. That fully loaded rate would roughly DOUBLE the amount we are currently allocating to charters.

If you are interested - here is one of the most in depth studies of Mass charters conducted out of Stanford:

https://credo.stanford.edu/documents/MAReportFinal_000.pdf

The following statement from the intro is most impactful (and again, why I am so passionate about these programs) - TPS is Traditional Public Schools:

The impact of charter schools in Boston are also analyzed separately. Compared to the educational gains that charter students would have had in TPS, the analysis shows on average that students in Boston charter schools have significantly larger learning gains in both reading and mathematics. In fact, the average growth rate of Boston charter students in math and reading is the largest CREDO has seen in any city or state thus far. At the school level, 83 percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their TPS counterparts in reading and math, while no Boston charter schools have significantly lower learning gains.

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That's an interesting report, and it says a lot in favor of charter schools in Boston. Charter schools in the state as a whole, not so much. Apparently the charter schools based in towns in Massachusetts show significantly worse results than traditional public schools.

Perhaps there is a linkage to grade level; the report also states that charter outcomes at the elementary and high school level are worse than traditional public schools, and it's the charter middle schools which are driving the positive stats. "Students enrolled in elementary charter and high schools have significantly lower growth in reading than their TPS peers."

The results also indicate that there is no benefit at all in the first year of attendance, and the benefit only accrues after several years in the charter system. As it is common practice at charters not to back-fill for attrition, this number is probably skewed. The result for kids who have been five years at the same charter should be compared to kids who have been five years at the same TPS, not to all kids. That's an uncontrolled variable, and sloppy research practice.

The results indicate reasonable returns for poor kids, black kids, and Hispanic kids, but also indicate that ELL students "enrolled in charter schools have significantly lower learning gains in reading."

All in all, these are mixed results, not a clear call for more charters in Massachusetts. They don't answer the question of whether lifting the charter cap will generate more success or just diminishing returns. They also suggest that all the charters based in towns in Massachusetts should be closed as failures. Perhaps those licenses should be shifted to Boston middle schools.

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Fair assessment - two things on charter high schools.

a) They are probably not skimming the "cream" - the real cream in Boston goes to exam schools, not charters. Charter high schools probably just getting the academic "skim milk", albeit probably without the behavioral issues BPS has to contend with.

b) one thing I've heard anecdotally is that the successes in middle school are often lost at the HS level as kids that don't get into exam schools regress. I know some charter middle school programs are trying to develop complementary HS programs - but the cap gets in the way of that objective - so maybe replacing a town middle school with a Boston/city school of the needed level.

I believe we tried a more surgical approach to expanding charters a few years back. However, the teachers' unions successfully lobbied the legislature not to expand at all or at least as much as the charters had hoped (have to go back and research the outcome). So now we have this blunt instrument of a referendum as the follow-on.

My opinion is that the parents of these kids may not be wealthy - but they aren't stupid. They have their reasons for sending their kids to the charters. I'm fine with giving them that choice as long as there are reasonable controls over quality and safety. If a school isn't living up to its standards - it won't attract students.

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I think the poison pill that finally killed the charter bill in discussion from 2014-2016 was Moore's amendment, giving local school committees the right to vote on whether a charter school in their district should receive public funding from the district. Schools failing to get the up vote would need approval from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but the state would be entirely responsible for their funding.

Chang-Diaz's bill would have allowed a more gradual increase in the number of charters, while imposing new rules aimed at leveling the playing field. Its death is what put the question on the ballot.

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I can't blame a parent for doing what they believe is best for their child. But as a tax payer it is wrong to make education a competition. All kids deserve the best education.

We need to change education for everyone, not just a few schools.

Also, if these charter schools are so great, why don't any of them run private schools? It seems that if a education plan was better than others, people would be willing to pay for it.

There is also no basis for saying that hiring teachers with lower standards makes for better teaching.

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with the phrase, "looked to me". But based on Oliver's video, whether it mentions MA or not, I stand by my position on how people running public schools for profit need careful scrutiny, as the stakes are a lot higher than when an ordinary commercial venture fails. These are our kids, our future, at stake, and when these schools fail, kids get hurt bad. Even without school-age kids myself, I have a dog in that particular fight.

If you can't detect a whiff of corruption in a venture guy sitting on an oversight board and taking a $100K position on one side of the issue, I'm not sure how I can help you.

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With 37k on the waiting list I would say he's a smart man

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...maybe Bump should run for governor. A lot more appealing candidate than Martha -- but perhaps Teflon Charlie is untouchable no matter who runs against him.

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http://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2016/09/12/funding-question-charters

Why are there so few people putting up the big money in the YES camp?

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