Monday, October 24, 2011

Charters threatened

A good editorial in the Boston Herald about a terrible piece of legislation in Massachusetts:


Charters threatened


By Boston Herald Editorial Staff | Thursday, October 20, 2011


The most rabid opponents of charter schools in Massachusetts want the Legislature to grant them sole power to decide whether new charter schools ever get to open here. That approach may make sense in the minds of those who feel threatened by the success of charter schools but we haven't a clue how it helps children — particularly children in struggling school districts.


Supporters of legislation that would strip the state of its authority to approve new charters testified at the State House this week, insisting that local approval (by a school committee or voter referendum) is the only fair approach — the only "democratic" way to decide whether a new charter should open in a community.


Even when that community's educational leadership — school committees and teachers' unions, mostly — are openly hostile to it?


It's baloney.


Opponents are free to weigh in on the impact of a new school in their community during the protracted state review process but if their sole complaint is that the charter will "drain" the traditional school district of money, well, sorry — that's not good enough.


Opponents clearly think they can make a stronger case at the local level that students in traditional public schools will suffer if a new charter school opens. Officials in the Patrick administration certainly didn't help matters when their back-room political machinations over a new Gloucester charter were exposed back in 2009.


Still, we're supposed to believe that a local debate over a new charter school would be blissfully free of politics? As if!


At the end of the day this campaign has precious little to do with education. It is, pure and simple, a fight among adults over money. Charter opponents barely conceal that fact, even in the face of evidence that suggests charter schools are not only popular with families but that they are serving their students well.


Massachusetts has come a long way toward achieving peace in the charter wars, including a bill last year that expanded the number of schools that can open in the neediest districts. This legislation would reverse that progress.

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