Tuesday, October 13, 2015

LIVEBLOG from the Joint Committee on Education: charter school bills PART I

This may get too unwieldy as a single post; if so, I'll break it up into I, II, and so forth.

Not as many students here as past years. As we've been very vocal about the charters taking their kids out of class for a glorified photo op, maybe they're understanding that's backfired. Plenty of charter school parents in school tee shirts: "My child is thriving at..." "FAMILY" "College Bound Since 1999" etc. Amusing myself by adding asterisks: "*...and no one else's kid matters" "*...right up until they're suspended or need an IEP" "*...except for the kids who attritioned out." Hearing most parents aren't signed up to testify, just the "expert panels." Oh, and the Governor.

Updating as we go
It apparently is pouring rain outside and there's a line to get through security. Rep. Peisch has just arrived. And we're starting
Rep Gregoire and Day also here. Peisch reminds 3 minute limit on testimony, recording allowed if not disruptive. Will alternate electeds and public

Peisch: testifying in support on H464
result of "all stakeholders"
bill provides for "additional flexibilities for low performing schools"
for districts to develop own turnaround plan before being declared underperforming
developed w/ MASC, MASS, both teachers' unions
limited increase in lowest 10% of districts: would allow 1% increase per year for limited years to 23%
other bills allow for far greater expansion of charter cap
only proven providers or to serve those at risk
low attrition and collaborative with districts
"perfection is rarely if every achieved"
contains many compromises
state "constitutionally charged with education"

Senator Chang-Diaz has arrived, as has Rep. Forry
Rep DiNatale on his H3735 on regional charter schools
that charter schools go into underperforming
Fitchburg schools have come out of underperforming: innovative,
$8-11M cut from budget
$77,000 per bus
"this would be a burden that would be overwhelming"
relationship with Sizer school and public schools is outstanding
can't host another one

HEY, the Auditor is here! And her office posted her full remarks
by now you all have read our audit
know that many aspects of audit are dealt with in bills before you
"what we tried to learn but could not in our audit"
"to get meaningful, unbiased, and complete data...so that you and the public would have access to more facts"
wanted to know if the charter schools reflect sending districts
if there are measurable difference in outcomes
found real issues in this data being available
"DESE dimissed this finding..saying our concerns about data relability were really about data security"
DESE doesn't not ensure relability of data submitted
decisions driven by politics, not by real data
"if evidence were driving this debate, there would be widespread adoption" of successful practices
"let's based decisions...on facts"
"it's my role as the chief accountability officer of the Commonwealth to speak up if I see large sums of taxpayer dollars put into private hands" without reliable data
do you have enough information?
"make accountability and best practices" focus of today

Baker (who is on crutches)
look forward to working with you as we continue to strengthen
ed reform law "that has more than stood the test of time"
three main features: foundation budget, statewide curriculum and assessment, charter schools
"this combination...has succeed"
NAEP scores
"charter schools are the envy of the nation"
nearly all in disadvantaged communities in underperforming school districts
some of the highest performing schools in the state
charter school lottery: "Everybody cries over charter school lotteries"
"modest annual increase in the charter cap"
greatest need for high quality school options
maximum of 12 charter schools annually
"rigorous evaluation process" only highly qualified will get through
"put preference around high need students...and other at risk populations"
note that they CAN put preference
thinks that charters being called out is "unfair"
Phoenix: kids who will drop out, graduate and go onto two and four year colleges
easier for charters to turnaround underperforming
"I understand not everyone sees this the way we do; there's much to discuss"
"not mistake an interest in dialogue with a willingness to let the clock tick"
"i know that we can get this done during this legislative session"
sorry, I missed that Secretary Peyser is siting with Baker
Q from Day: Ed reform act listed five reasons behind charters: innovations, to provide greater options, "strikes me as a bit of a political compromise that occured back then as I think they're inconcurent policies"
think it's important to come up with an answer to that
Baker: think it can be both, extended length of school day
Phoenix knocks on your door if you don't show up
can't ignore parental choice
vocational schools are "an out of district choice"
provide both innovation and opportunity for kids
Q from Jehlen: resist "low performing"
correlation between MCAS achievement and income is 88%
second correlation is districts that are right at or below the foundation budget
"to say that these schools are low performing also suggests that they education low income children"
and also that they are underfunded
question is that what is the affect on other kids in those districts?
Baker: looking forward to seeing report on Foundation Budget
open to discussion on foundation: hasn't been updated in twenty years
would say "one of the things that have been most important to me is ability to succeed districts that are at foundation"
done within the math of foundation
"deserve same shot as kids in the suburb"
Peyser: open to discussion of reimbursement of charter
"looking at making it more equitable and more fundable"
Chang-Diaz: sensitive to not letting clock tick
provision on at risk populations: how can Phoenix do its work?
factor kids into their classroom based on where you are (after testing kids)
"very aggressive about staying with them"
idea is to get everyone to a level that if they choose to they can get to a two year or four year degree
find a way to wrap support services around you, particularly young moms
golly, you know, sounds like a whole lot of alternative programs quietly running in districts, like Creamer in Worcester
"like the catcher in the rye...they just don't quit"
back and forth here about how kids get into Phoenix...lottery...self-selected
Gregoire: What would say to auditor about data accuracy, INCLUDING THE WAIT LIST?
(sorry, caps added)
Peyser: department working in schools to be sure it's as throughly scrubbed as can be
lot of work that's gone since the auditor's report
"lot of work that's gone in to be sure that we're scrubbing that wait list"
Senator Pacheco on S326: seeks to do two things: requires teachers be certified in charter schools as they are in Commonwealth schools
seeks to put in place a moratorium on future charter schools until we find out what is happening relative to financing of these schools in the Commonwealth
voted for Ed reform in 1993: 25 charter schools for experimentation
in some cases it hasn't worked, schools have closed, has been great destruction over the years
where it has worked: take curriculum and take ideas and have those applied to all the charter schools in the Commonwealth
have seen places where that can't happen, as work was propriatary
costs money to put in place a longer school day or a longer school year
1 million students have seen millions diverted from existing chapter 70 formula, as no longer have 25 charters, have 71
every time that we open a new charter school, we divert additional resources away from traditional schools in Massachusetts
offer opportunity to ALL students
25 was a compromise: others wanted a voucher system: some wanted "an absolute privatization of education in Massachusetts"
Pacheco served on a local school board: dealing with taxpayers' children
when you look at the $420 million being diverted away from schools in the Commonwealth
"and every year we get the calls--don't we--that it isn't enough"
"that would not have happened if we had kept the cap at 25 and if we really had done what we said we were going to do" and added programs as experimented
"can you imagine if we took $420 million and invested them in the public schools?"
"we have the best schools in the nation here in Masssachusetts"
"put a hold on any additional charter schools in Massachusetts until we can find a way to pay for them in a way that doesn't help some students without hurting all the rest"

Councilor Tito Jackson, Boston Council chair on education:
asking for support of the moratorium!
cites suspension rates for Boston charter schools, way out of proportion to population, particularly for young black men
out of proportion funding
lift of charter caps increase in transportation: 10% of BPS budget
"let's look at real data"
BPS students enter college at a 51% rate; charter schools enter at 47%
without exam schools and vocational schools, BPS is 45%
"question here is one of equity and one of true opportunity"
"should not be widening the democracy gap and the power gap, which is what I believe is going on right now"
"we have people before who are asking for money only for a specific group of students"
"we all lose when young people in public or charter schools fail"
"hit the pause button and look at the dollars and see if those dollars actually make sense"
can't be taking the money from one type of school and moving it to another type of school
great things happening at many school districts across Massachusetts
BPS losing $125M this year to charters
"Deficit in education means a deficit in the state of Massachusetts as we continue on"

Mayor Walsh, Boston:
"first time to come before you to testify on a policy matter as Mayor of the City of Boston"
25% of charter schools in the state are in Boston
"I support all schools"
committed to success of BPS
also committed to Boston charter schools
bright spots and success stories
comprehensive success in urban education
urgency of families is very real, must address challenges head on
stop pitting schools against each other
great, Mr. Mayor: then change the funding and accountability systems
sustain equitable growth (?)
supports Peisch's bill on "greater turnaround" authority
five years out from turnaround bill "proven success"
"waiting for schools to fail and then waiting to get them the tools they needs"
lowest 10% to apply Level 4's to Level 3's
remain turnaround plans after exiting Level 4's
fire teachers who don't have a job after two years of no job
asks that the cap be lifted to 23% at 1/2 of 1% for next several years
hears that others are calling for larger lifts
build on proven success, thoughtful growth
propose that charter schools be eligible for Mass School Building Authority
charter schools are concentrated in urban districts
golly gee, yes, Mayor Walsh, the growth in charters IS in Boston. I wonder why?
charter reimbursement not fully funded
"in Boston, we are serious about right-sizing...our school district"
propose Commonwealth should have transitional funding to charter schools
while community still funds current seats
(I didn't entirely understand what he was proposing here with the funding; it sounded like reimbursement going straight to charters somehow?)
"eliminating the needless pass-through model" to cities and towns
"we can't continue to see education as a battlefield"
"let's climb out of the trenches and come together"
"gives me great hope that we will find a solution"
"let's go forward together now"
Tucker Q: how much
replacement of existing reimbursement model to a three year transition model
total cost less that $4M additional dollars
major benefit to districts that spend more than 9% on charters
some would lose if their funding has stabilized
Jehlen: would you favor a local ability to raise the cap for those who want it?
Walsh: seen success of charters...not actually in favor of local authorities raising cap
Chang-Diaz: your proposal would take place of reimbursement?
generally case, yes
100% first year, 50% second year, 25% third year
after three years would be chapter 70 plus local contribution?
specific amount per pupil wouldn't change in first year: (so just chapter 70)
Chang-Diaz: on what basis would dollars flow? when is count?
wouldn't change that
long tail being very expensive
Forry...just said some things, but no question really
Walsh: not wanting to only advocate for Boston
"it's really complicated, but there's a way to do it, there's a way to do it"
Q from L'Italien: would like more information about why no longer authority
Walsh: said no because it becomes political at that point
"adding more politics isn't the way to go"
"only ones who lose out here are the kids"
fascinating to see a local politician disparge local politics regarding education
back from L'Italien: having served on a local school committee, she disputes his contention

MASC: panel testifying next on a report that they've sponsored
concerns on H464 (from Peisch) hope bill will be strengthen
tremendous work on teachers and students throughout the Commonwealth and not less than 1/2 than 1 percent of students
"it appears a significant number of schools have not letter and spirit of law"
there are some charter schools that flagrantly flout laws
"failing to enroll a diverse student body will not be tolerated"
recommend you impose significant reforms before you consider expansion
look at impact of 2010 act on students at risk
urban charters are doing a pretty good job of enrolling students with same levels of poverty as sending districts, suburban are not
"They're just not serving the same population"
slight increase in serving ELL students: "not really enrolling in the same numbers as sending school districts"
charter schools "mild special needs"
"It's a really different student with disability population"
Did anything surprise me?
Females are enrolled much more than males, and they stay enrolled in charters
chair of Barnstable SC: Cape and Islands hit hard, particularly as those districts have out of proporotion enrollment of children in poverty
require local approval
reform the lottery system so double and triple counting is eliminated
special study of sped and actual numbers of students and actual needs
adjust ch 70 aid to reflect unenrollment of high needs (uh, it does)
higher risk students being returned before school tests
(tie MCAS schools to early school year)
Oliveria from Ludlow: have local school committees have conversations
have local represenation on charter boards
urge local authority for granting charters
require local governing boards of charters to have local representation
require an impact study of charters
"not only my responsibility to oversee students" in Ludlow public schools but all students that are in my district

Rep Smizik
"private schools with taxpayers' dollars"
failing to educate students in poverty, ELL, special ed needs
"not representative of the population from which they draw their students"
"this is unacceptable"
"unimaginable that we are thinking of increasing the number of charter schools in our state without increasing accountability"
his bills "will begin to make charter schools more accountable and more representative"
asset managers who do not live in the communities in which charter schools are
increase transparency, accountability to community they serve
"finally, I would like to fully support" the bills that call for a moratorium
"educating the few at the cost of the many"

Mass Superintendent panel
Fitchburg superintendent Andre Ravenelle : must shift focus of this issue, move to collaboration
offering choice
Fitchburg offers a broad array of choices (and has been targeted for charter schools for third year in a row)
"already provide a menu of choice"
"I propose that we first raise the cap on the many resources"
raise the cap on funding for transporation
raise the cap on promised funding for special education
raise the cap on promised funding for students in advanced learning
raise the cap on funding for homeless students
raise the cap on funding for immigrant students
raise the cap on funding for growing mental health needs
raise the cap on funding for Gateway cities who educate greatest number of neediest students
This is what holds us back...
"then and only then should we consider raising the cap on charter schools"

superintendent of Whitman-Hanson
reimbursement doesn't fund needs
parents who choose charter schools...not part of the equation in the community
playing field is not equitable
"as a traditional public school, we are charged to education ALL students"
"choice does not mean a dual system of public education...that charges them to operate under a different set of regulations"

Norton superintendent raises questions of civil rights regulations
"simply put the rules, regulations, and the like must be the same for all students"
he himself arrived in this country at the age of five, product of public schools

Revere superintendent emeritius:
doubling the number of students in charter schools is short-sighted
"short-sighted and small-thinking"
really need some time to think out those issues of what we can improve public education
"is moving the number of children from 3 to 6% really big thinking?"
"what about the 94% of the other children that aren't using that?"

Superintendent of Chelsea:
"I believe there is a place for charter schools in Massachusetts"
system of schools
fortunate to collaborate with Phoenix charters in her district
doesn't have same relationship with other charters in Chelsea
comparing her district to the charter schools in Chelsea via data
increasing a high need district "this work comes at an increased costs"
"the state needs to do a deeper analysis" of demographics
"to simply endorse the cap lift...is irresponsible"

Superintendent of Medford
"Inflategate" of charter wait lists
"you must insist on an accurate assessment...especially since demand seems to drive the issue"
"Mystic Valley Charter serves ZERO charter school students"
demography "must be an issue" particularly if we are going to compare results
many other issues that need to be dealt with
"cost of improving the foundation budget...projected to be $800M for a fix"
(and that's not enough)
"many other investments for educational improvement" that would have a greater impact

Superintendent of Ludlow
before we consider raise the cap on charter schools, the state needs to meet the financial commitments they have already made
"when we receive our $434,000 bill for charter schools from the state, our community has absolutely no say over how those are funded"
"now is the time to raise all of our schools"
disappointed to hear language from Governor "these students deserve more...I would argue ALL of our students deserve more"
Chang-Diaz: for or against H464?
qualified cap lift

THE SUITS: Grogan from the Boston Foundation
cites his support for the Boston Public Schools
"don't believe that our support for charter schools as a diversion from our support for public schools"
"demonstration of the possible"
"tyranny of low expectations"
and I'm totally missing names here....Ah, someone from the Boston Chamber of Commerce
jobs going unfilled in some sectors of economy
"state's most important competitive resource: talent"
"effective tool in elevating student achievement"
Roxbury pastor, Boston Educational Resource Center
more students of color enroll in and complete a higher education
need for higher ed to succeed in job market
"require a systemic shift"
"simply because it is right and because it is good"
Q from Jehlen: if your data is all from Boston, studies that look outside of Boston have NOT found that
"now that could be because those schools don't focus on MCAS prep"
"we need to ask ourselves: is this Boston question, or is this a state question?"
stop thinking "that what happens to Boston should apply to all those districts"
Grogan now citing Stanford study "certainly supports expansion of charters in the Gateway cities"
Chang-Diaz: do you support Walsh's proposal about funding change?
Grogan: we heard it for the first time this morning
Day: charters in Boston aren't sending kids to schools in same numbers as BPS: do you have employment data on charter grads v public grads?
...basically no...
parent panel which I am missing...

thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my opinion about this legislation
as a former member of this committee...aware of what you have to do
all children get access to skills and knowledge
have developed a technology center where we provide young people with a technology center
a maker center: work with over 700 children so they get the skills that they need
"but I come today to ask you not to buy into the hypocrisy that is reflected in this legislation"
boo'ed the Pledge of Allegiance when he was in 10th grade
"the meaning of the Pledge is being undermined"
"with liberty and justice for all"
"this legislation does not set forth justice for all...it's justice for some folks and not for all folks"
"amazed that the Governor could sit here and push for legislation that is not in keeping with his mandate for all people"
"not for some of the children but for ALL of the children"

Youth worker from Lawrence: son is at a Lawrence charter school
"would not be able to provide him with a private school education"
concerned about sending him to a regular public school, because his sister has had trouble there
as parents, it's our job to make sure that great options are available to all our children
parent in Boston: daughter is on a wait list for a charter school
also went to a charter school herself
"want to make that choice for my children, but there aren't enough seats"
parent in Boston: Boston community experiences many inequalities
"quality education cannot be sustained without increased investment"
"we should not have to choose between quality" and....?
"while budgets may be a balance sheet for you, you need to realize" that they're a reality for us
METCO graduate and charter parent
"work hard and volunteer at church"
speaks of her son being valued as part of the community, not targeted or suspended
committee has the capacity to raise the value of the education of all of our children

Final panel on H464 (which is the first bill)
ah, founder of the Holyoke Charter School wants to add a high school
she's the one who totally sold out the Holyoke Public Schools before the Board of ed!
"we do not use our demographics as an excuse"
"these are the students that in other schools are labelled as ELL students"
whoa...no, they are still ELL students. You just aren't giving them the services they're supposed to have
calls for change in funding
"never at the expense of our children"
KIPP director: "our success is measure in their adult lives in independence and impact"
stories about kids...power of great schools, partnerships with families
director at a Lawrence charter school
700 kids in K-8
praise for receiver Riley "using every tool in his kit to turnaround the public schools"
charter schools have played a vital role in that effort
"forced by the takeover of schools"
"Lawrence is a great example of" charters and public schools collaborating
cites Boston


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love this "Amusing myself by adding asterisks: "*...and no one else's kid matters" "*...right up until they're suspended or need an IEP" "*...except for the kids who attritioned out." - that could go on the back of the T-Shirts.