Friday, October 14, 2016

Disgraceful attacks on charter schools

Speaking of disgraceful attacks on charter schools: 'It's Heartbreaking:' Boston Parents Ask Why Their Wealthy Neighbors Are Fighting Charter Schools,


What's the matter with Newton?

That's what Dawn Tillman wants to know. Why would her neighbors in the hyper-upscale Boston suburb of Newton, located just eight miles to the west, deny a KIPP charter high school to a kid in hyper-downscale Roxbury, where she lives?

Not just any kid. Tillman is thinking of her son, Brandon, who currently attends a KIPP middle school but faces dicey prospects for high school. KIPP could quickly expand its current middle school into a high school, but the current cap on charter schools prevents that.

Oddly, the question on the Massachusetts November 8 ballot to raise the current cap on charter schools — Should charter schools be allowed to expand by 12 a year? — will be decided by white suburban voters in places such as Newton, which lacks a single charter school "threatening" its budget.

At first, it appeared logical that suburbs such as Newton would support lifting the charter cap. This is where Boston's business class lives, historically wary of unions and always hopeful for a better-educated state. Many of the top business leaders in Boston, those funding the lift-the-cap ads running on TV, live in suburbs like Newton.

However, recent polls, along with unexpectedly intense anti-charter activity in places like Newton, suggest that support may be soft. Just before school opened in Newton this year, the union staffed a table outside its ($200 million) high school to encourage teachers to oppose the cap lift. Recently, Tillman attended a meeting in Newton where she said she heard plenty of talk against lifting the cap.

All of which makes her ask: Why would Newton teachers and parents, who are unaffected by charters, vote to deny better schools for the low-income neighborhoods of Boston?

"It's heartbreaking," said Tillman. "This does not affect their budget. Why don't they want to help their brethren in our ZIP code? A lot of these schools here are just pipelines to prison. This is our life we are talking about."

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