Saturday, October 17, 2015

About that charter hearing

I tweeted out some "morning after" thoughts on Wednesday about Tuesday's charter bill hearing.
I should also point out that Edushyster was in the hallway on Tuesday,

I think that Mary Pierce captured some of the surreality of the day for those of us who were there for the whole thing; it was, more than anyone, the Boston Public School parents and students who were the very last to be heard. Somewhere over three-quarters of the school-aged children in Boston are educated in Boston Public Schools, and every year those schools face cuts. Yet their mayor had the temerity to come in and ask for a cap lift, saying that his own proposal was somehow more reasonable than the Governor's. I have no doubt that he and his office will be the first to say that the schools can't possibly be better funded when we talk budgets this spring.

Mayor Walsh, you aren't well-serving the schoolchildren of Boston.

That's really just a microcosm of the insanity of the whole conversation, though. As I said earlier this week, we spent eight hours talking about 1/2% of the kids in the state. It's not the schools that serve the most needy kids; it's not the schools coming up with the most innovative ideas. It's a margin of schools that can run suspension and attrition rates near fifty percent and somehow never face state sanctions. It's a sector of schools that continue to not be appropriately, nay, even legally, funded. It's schools that can make budgetary decisions privately (yet with public funds) and have no local accountability.Yet somehow that was the most important issue that the Joint Committee had to spent eight hours on this week.

And yet somehow some of the same people could sit at the State House yesterday and claim that we didn't have time to sufficiently flesh out the foundation budget review commision report, a report which will reach ALL of the public school children in the state in one capacity or another.

To be strictly fair, there are charter school issues that warrant attention. It's things like where their students disappear to over time; how schools that serve cities with high rates of ELL students can have none; how we can be fulfilling our constitutional mandate to be educating kids "for the preservation of their rights and liberties" when they're attending schools that write them up for having their shirts untucked.

The auditor did her job when she issued her report on charter schools back in December. The report was dismissed by DESE and has been ignored by the Legislature. Before anyone does anything else with charter schools, the state needs to deal with the issues she raised in the report. That's what we have an auditor for!

We need ed reform, Massachusetts, and we need it in the charter section.

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