Monday, November 7, 2016

Mass Question 2—Charter Schools


For John, BLUFBe sure to vote tomorrow.  Nothing to see here; just move along.




I am voting YES on Question 2.

Here is the summary from the Secretary of State's Office (more detail here or below the signature):

A YES VOTE would allow for up to 12 approvals each year of either new charter schools or expanded enrollments in existing charter schools, but not to exceed 1% of the statewide public school enrollment.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to charter schools.

I was on the License Commission with Brian Akashian and am on the Lowell Homelessness Continuum of Care with Brian's Father, Bruce.  Last week I met Sister/Daughter Kerry Akashian, who has a Ph.D. focused on Program Evaluation, an area of interest to me.

I asked her for her views on this issue.  She is voting YES.

I am not anti-union.  I am pro-systems and programs that work to close the achievement gap.  Massachusetts public charter schools are among the best in the nation.  They have a proven track record of improving outcomes for all children, especially students of color and low-income students.  If any city can bring to the table municipal and charter school leaders in a collaborate effort to increase beneficial outcomes for students, it is the City of Lowell.

Charter schools in Massachusetts work BETTER for students with severe disabilities and students with low English language proficiency.  Across MA charters also serve far more ELL and SPED students than the statewide average.

Charters in MA are highly accountable and subject to rigorous review.  If they fail to meet goals, they are closed.

In fairness, Dr Akashian works for the Great Schools Massachusetts coalition, a bipartisan coalition of parents, educators, and community activists from across the Commonwealth, working for YES on 2.  Their stated goal is to give ALL families across the state quality educational options, regardless of income, demographics or location..

And, I like Dr Akashian's summation of the issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

The description from the Secretary of State (Mr Galvin):

This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year. Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts' spending allocated to them.

If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest.

New charter schools and enrollment expansions approved under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board.

The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2017.

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