Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Here's the reason I'm voting No on 2

It honestly wasn't until the poll tonight asked me for my "main reason" for my position on this question that I tried to push myself to a "main reason." There are many, many reasons: the financial irresponsibility in this proposal is horrifying; issues of equity and access to education are of overwhelming concern; lack of accountability and transparency and best practice are all part of why I oppose this cap lift.

My main reason, though, is that I think charter schools, as they're currently constituted in Massachusetts, are unconstitutional.

I'm not a lawyer. I don't pretend to be one. No one, to my knowledge, has ever tried to make this case in court, and perhaps it wouldn't succeed if it went there.

The state constitution, however, is very clear about who has responsibility for public education in Massachusetts: the legislature and magistrates.

The legislature is, yes, the Legislature, which in the case of charters has empowered the Board of Ed to act for them through legislation.

It is a shared responsibility, as confirmed by McDuffy (among others), however. And no one ever asked the local school committees--the 'magistrates'--to vote their power away to the Board of Ed.

Let me pause here to acknowledge the lack of agency that many have felt in elected school committees. Many--and it's particularly been an issue for communities of color--have been effectively disenfranchised by the system. And that doesn't even get into Boston, which hasn't had an elected committee in decades.

That's a reason to fix the system, however, not a reason to bulldoze over it.

Under Chapter 76, sec. 1, school committees still have general oversight of the education of children in their districts; it's why they are given the authority to approve new private schools. The one exception, made not in this section but elsewhere, is charter schools.

Yet the responsibility of school committees is not lessened for those children. The committees just aren't given any authority to do anything about the problems they see.

That isn't how the system of public education in the Commonwealth is designed. It's a shared partnership as designed by the Constitution to have the state and local authorities together ensuring that the next generation is prepared to continue democracy.

Charter schools have no local constitutional authority. They should not be expanded; they should be reformed, at the least.

Vote no on 2.

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