1. Our public schools are not failing. Massachusetts has long been known to have one of the best school systems in the country. The only scale being used to determine failing schools is standardized testing, which is designed for large groups of student to fail. And of course the businessmen and politicians who want us to believe they’re failing, but we’ll get to that later.
2. Students are not “trapped in failing schools” as the ads would tell you, when we have school choice in Massachusetts and parents can choose to put their child in any school in any town that has room for their student.
3. Waiting list numbers are vastly exaggerated. It has long been known that charters keep students that have already enrolled in other schools on their wait lists, and by the time they get around to offering a spot those families are happily settled somewhere else. The numbers are inflated by counting students more than once if they are on more than one waiting list and even students who have aged out of the school’s grade level. In the meantime those students “languishing” on waiting lists are not sitting at home crying – they are being educated. In the public schools. Which accept all students.
4. It is fiscally irresponsible. Nowhere in the world does this business model succeed. Try applying it to your local hospital. How would it go over if they said we’re going to take only the chosen patients and bring them to a different hospital, where they’ll get better care than you, but by the way we’re going to take your money to pay their bill. Or in the words of municipal treasurer Nancy Grossman, “The dirty little secret they aren’t sharing is that opening more charter schools without significantly increasing funding — even beyond the $1-plus billion per year current deficit, which would only catch up funding for existing schools — will necessarily mean that many community schools will have to close or survive as thin shadows of their former selves.”
5. Question 2 has the potential to seriously damage city budgets for years to come. Just this week Moodys Investors Service told city officials that more charter schools will hurt the credit ratings of the towns in which they are built. While covering this story The Boston Globe, which has been inexplicably pro-charter in its coverage, claimed that there is no financial hit on districts when students leave for charter schools. This link will tell you exactly how much your district loses when students leave for charter schools.
6. No oversight and flat-out lying. Charter schools have no oversight and do not have to report student (or any other) information in the same way public schools do. They don’t have to hire licensed teachers. Nor do they have to disclose where the money they receive from the state is being spent. They don’t have to pay their teachers and they don’t have to account for where the money goes – to their own offshore accounts. As a teacher of students with special needs I have seen firsthand the disastrous consequences that come from the lies and empty promises put forth by unregulated charter schools.
7. Dark money is funding the Yes on 2 campaign. $18 million has been spent on pro-question 2 propaganda – more than on any other ballot question in MA history. Do you really think the investors care about children? If they did why wouldn’t they just give that money to our existing schools? This has nothing to do with what students really need. Wall Street investors could give a rat’s ass about your child’s education. They stole your grandmother’s pension, they stole your uncle’s mortgage, and now they’re stealing your tax money that is intended to teach your children.
8. Charter school teachers aren’t as qualified – or happy – as you think they are. Because the people behind charter schools are looking to make a quick buck, they hire young, inexperienced teachers and some who aren’t even fully licensed (because they have no oversight, remember?). Read this mom’s story about not only her own awful treatment as a teacher at a charter, but her son being branded as a failure in kindergarten. Ask a charter school teacher how they feel about having no pension, no benefits, and no protection, or having to work extra hours without overtime pay. Or how they feel about being sued for damages when they go to work at another school. Or read this teacher’s story, which gives another peek at what it’s like working as a teacher in the “toxic” environment at a charter school.
9. Who is paying Charlie Baker? Why is our governor leading the charge against his own schools? Has a governor ever actually put themselves in a commercial for a ballot issue before? In these unprecedented ads he is admitting – no, convincing us – that the schools he presides over our failing. Is he proud of this? What is his motivation? Perhaps it’s because the head of our education department is also on the board of Pearson, and these guys love to get cozy and share the wealth. For example:
10. Pearson and other multinational corporations are desperate to keep a toehold in Massachusetts. As parents wake up and try to protect our children from these predators, they have doubled down on trying to convince us that our kids are trapped like rats all day (when in actuality it’s the charter schools that treat them like experiments in behavior). As explained in this article, “More cash has been raised for this issue than for any other ballot battle in the last ten years — more than double the dollars spent during the casino debate in 2014 — which, until this summer, had been the state’s most expensive ballot question campaign.”
11. Using public school teacher pensions to pay for charter schools. There’s not much I can say about this damning story except that it makes this whole situation look as ugly as it is, while they try to convince us it’s about “the children:”
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, himself a former financial executive, is leading the fight to increase the number of publicly funded, privately run charter schools in Massachusetts — and he appoints trustees to the board that directs state pension investments.
The architects of this “morally bankrupt situation,” need I remind you, are using children to sway voters into pouring more money into their coffers. Which leads us to #12:
12. “The children” are being used as pawns. This is a very simple formula. Big money invests in getting a school building, convincing parents they’re the best school in the area and that their children are being victimized by their failing local public school. Enraged parents start lining up to go to this “better” school, in fact demanding it, and after the initial investment the businesses sit back and let taxpayer money roll in (for years to come, as Question 2 lifts the cap in perpetuity – that means forever folks). This is possibly the most debased business strategy we’ve seen yet. Wall Street decimated our banks, retirement plans and mortgages, so what was left? The easiest target of all.
13. The initial investment promised toward the new charters dries up after three years. I guess we’ll just have to figure out how to pay for these schools down the line – which means closing the public ones, which is truly the political motivation behind Question 2.
14. This is simply not the answer. I have been a defender of public schools since my kids started in kindergarten. They aren’t perfect. Common core and “MCAS 2.0” are unacceptable ways to teach children. But public schools are one of the few remaining free public institutions in our country. They are a microcosm of the society in which we live – a community that prepares children to live in the bigger community. There are bullies, there are teachers who we don’t get along with, and some things that happen aren’t fair. But there are also best friends, great and inspirational teachers, and life lessons. But as my husband (also a special education teacher) points out, “Experience and lasting friendships are not metrics that can be measured.” The people leading the charge for charters want to boil our children down to numbers on a financial graph, with a bit fat arrow pointing UP towards the profits they’ll be making by stealing taxpayer dollars. Public schools are a foundation of democracy, and just because the plumbing is leaking you don’t burn the house down. Vote No on 2 and preserve one last truly public institution, which is bound by law to provide a free and appropriate education for all children.