In case you haven’t heard, supporters of unchecked charter school expansion have filed a ballot initiative and a lawsuit. They are digging into their deep pockets to win the battle to lift the cap.
The fight is proceeding on several fronts, supported by a group of powerful men charged with overseeing a public school system already weakened by millions of dollars lost to charter schools (e.g., Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and Chair of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Paul Sagan). Governor Charlie Baker joined a State House rally last week saying he will do whatever it takes to lift the cap.
A lawsuit saying the cap infringes on students’ civil rights names Peyser and Sagan as defendants, though they clearly agree with the suit’s aims. Hedge fund-backed groups like Families for Excellent Schools are pouring money into the cause, taking out advertisements, hiring staff and funding online and telephone polls to build political support.
All this might seem discouraging, but history tells us that those with the deepest pockets don’t always win. In this case, we have a shot at protecting our public schools, if we come together and speak out for what’s best for all of our students.
Meanwhile, a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision bolsters the argument that charters create a damaging two-tier system and divert scarce public resources to privately managed schools. The Washington court ruled that charters (in that state) are unconstitutional because “money that is dedicated to common [i.e., public] schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools.” Our constitution is worded differently from Washington’s, but we too are struggling with these issues.
Citizens for Public Schools is organizing for a State House hearing on charter school bills, Tuesday, October 13, at 10 a.m. We are working with other organizations of students, parents, educators, and civil rights advocates who will speak for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for increased accountability for existing charter schools. Click here to read summaries of bills we support. Contact us if you can come testify on October 13. (Stay tuned for details of a Week of Action for “Public Funds for Public Schools#Keep The Cap.”)
Come speak out in defense of public education and of parents like Boston Citywide Parents Council Co-Chair Angelina Camacho. Camacho told the Bay State Banner lifting the cap would be the “nail in the coffin” for the Boston Public Schools, as more and more state funding is diverted to charters and district schools are left struggling to meet the needs of their students.