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WHAT IS QUESTION 2….AND WHO WOULD BE IMPACTED?
This November, voters in Massachusetts will have an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to the state’s best-in-the-nation public charter schools, while also preserving the reform momentum that has made our public schools the best in the nation. Meanwhile, the opposition, led by the teachers unions, is desperate to block any increase in charter schools, peddling a “$450 million lie” to create confusion among voters and preserve the status quo. Their intent is to scare voters away from supporting equal opportunity for thousands of families desperate for a better education.
Question 2 would allow the state Board of Education to approve a modest increase (up to 12 per year) in new or expanded public charter schools, with preference given to schools in the lowest performing districts. In short, passing Question 2 will give more parents – specifically, the nearly 33,000 predominantly low- income families on charter school waiting lists to attend a charter – the right to choose the best public school for their children.
Question 2 will primarily help children in low-income urban communities where no more charter schools can open or expand because of the cap. This will not affect suburban schools because the overwhelming demand for public charter schools is concentrated in urban districts, where schools are failing and parents have little, to no, quality options.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING:
- Charter schools are, by law, public schools. And in Massachusetts, education funding is assigned to a student, not to a school. So when a student opts for a public charter school, the money to educate that student simply follows her from one public school to another, exactly how it would if she moved from one district to another.
- District schools have been reimbursed close to $700 million for students they no longer educate. Disctricts are paid for the students they lose to charters for five years after they leave, ensuring a soft landing even though they no longer educate that child.
- More public charter schools will result in MORE funding for public education – both overall spending on public education, and per-pupil spending. Whenever a new public charter school opens, the state provides school districts with more state aid, which has increased overall education spending on public education by hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2016, charter enrollment had the effect of increasing per-pupil spending in district schools by approximately $85 million statewide.
- Spending on public education in Massachusetts has increased dramatically in recent years, not decreased. Over the last five years, combined state and local funding for public education has increased by nearly 17%, translating into an additional $1.7 billion in funding for public schools. And the budget for Boston Public schools has risen every year, from $737 million in 2011 to more than $1 billion today. That’s a 25% increase, greater than the growth in the budgets of police, fire and the city itself.
- Non-partisan research institutions, editorial boards, and opinion leaders across the Commonwealth have rejected the idea the claim made by Save Our Public Schools that district schools lose money to charter schools. The Boston Herald calls it “absurd.” “Outright lies,” reports the Lowell Sun. And the Boston Globe says charter schools “don’t siphon off state dollars” from traditional schools. And according to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, “the contention that the Boston school budget is being affected by the increase in charter school tuition is not accurate.” The truth is Question 2 will give parents more choices and result in more funding for public education.
OUR CHARTERS ARE NUMBER #1 IN THE NATION
Massachusetts’ public charter schools are the best in the country – particularly for minority and low-income students in urban settings.
- Boston charters have greater attendance rates, fewer unexcused absences, and lower attrition and dropout rates than the Boston Public Schools, and together are the highest performing “district” in the state on proficiency rates for black and Latino males.
- Researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, MIT, Stanford and the University of Michigan have found that urban charter schools in Massachusetts have large positive effects on student achievement.
- In 2013 and 2015 studies, Stanford’s highly respected CREDO Institute found that Massachusetts charters have eliminated the achievement gap between Hispanic students and White students – and significantly narrowed the gap between African American students and White students. These gains translate into the equivalent of an extra year of learning for every year a student is enrolled in a charter school.
- MIT researchers found that after a year in a Boston public charter school, the English language learner (ELL) achievement gap closes by 88% and the special education (SPED) achievement gap closes by 30.5%.
- A study by the Boston Opportunity Agenda found that when you eliminate Boston’s prestigious exam schools and look only at schools without entrance exams, Boston charter school 9th graders are nearly four times as likely to go on to complete college than BPS 9th graders.
WE COULD ERASE ACHIEVEMENT GAPS IN THE STATE
While Massachusetts is home to the some of the best public schools in the country, we also have some of the biggest achievement gaps based on race and socio-economic status. Roughly two thirds of students in the Boston Public Schools in grades 3-8 cannot read and write on grade level! These are the students you can help if you vote yes on Question 2.