MTA President Barbara Madeloni issued the following statement today concerning Governor Charlie Baker’s comments on lifting the charter school cap:
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is strongly opposed to Governor Baker’s call to accelerate the privatization of public education in our Commonwealth by lifting the cap on charter schools. It is a shame that on Baker’s first day in office, his education focus is to support an initiative that undermines rather than supports the district public schools that have served Massachusetts students so well.
Public education is the foundation of democracy, and as such must adhere to deeply democratic principles. Charter schools undermine that vision, substituting market-driven practices for democratic engagement.
Our legislators have established charter school caps for good reason. After an initial period of reimbursement, charter schools drain millions of dollars from local public schools, depriving students of needed resources.
It is critical to recognize that charter schools fail to educate the same percentage of special needs students and English language learners as the sending districts, leaving our schools with fewer resources to serve a higher-need student population.
In addition, charter schools are notorious for using enrollment and discipline practices that drive out students who have academic or behavioral issues. This creates a two-tiered system of education that some charter schools and their proponents use to make inflated claims of providing students with a superior education.
I am deeply concerned that Governor Baker cites the discredited statistic that there are 45,000 students on charter school waiting lists just weeks after Auditor Suzanne Bump issued a report that found serious “deficiencies” in how charter school waiting lists are calculated, leading to inflated figures.
We appreciate that Governor Baker said in his inaugural speech he is a “proud product of the Massachusetts public schools.” We urge him to make support of the state’s district public schools – like the ones he attended – the centerpiece of his education platform for the sake of the nearly one million students who attend them.