Arne Duncan calls charter schools part of the Mass. solution

Arne Duncan calls charter schools part of the Mass. solution

Former ed secretary says Democrats should embrace models that work for poor kids

WADING INTO A battle that has become increasingly contentious and has divided Democrats like no other domestic policy issue, President Obama’s longtime education secretary, Arne Duncan, said allowing more charter schools in Massachusetts is the right thing to do, particularly for poorer black and Latino children who too often have no one fighting for them.

Duncan, who was in Boston to speak at an awards event sponsored by pro-charter Democrats for Education Reform, said Democrats should be guided by two big principles.

“Our policies have to be based upon evidence and based upon facts,” he said. “Secondly, we have to be the party that fights for those who have a harder time fighting for themselves.”

Duncan, who stepped down from his cabinet post earlier this year, said the facts on charter school performance in Boston “are unequivocal,” calling them “arguably the very best in the nation.” And, he said, parents in urban districts who are eager to have their children attend a charter are “desperately wanting something better for their kids.”

This issue, “in microcosm, represents so much of what I hope we aspire for, as progressives and as Democrats,” he said. “And I think the choice for us can never be what’s easy or what’s politically expedient. It’s got to be what’s right.”

Arne Duncan, 10-26-16

Arne Duncan: Black and Latino parents “are pleading for more opportunities for their kids.”

In an interview following his speech, Duncan said he supports expanding any school model that is getting good results and is not wedded to any particular approach. “Let me be very clear: I’m not pro-charter or anti-charter,” he said. “I’m pro-high-performing school.”

He said not all charters fit that description, including some suburban charters in Massachusetts. But he said the ballot question before Massachusetts voters is really about urban districts, Boston foremost among them, that are at or near the existing state cap and would be able to add more charter seats if the measure is passed.

“You have a set of charters that are inarguably the best performing in the nation,” he said.  “Where you have tens of thousands of predominantly African-American and Latino parents demanding, pleading for more opportunities for their kids, we’re not going to pay attention? We’re going to pat them on the head and say, ‘we really know better than you’? That’s not who we are. This is all they’ve got. This is their only shot.”

The charter school ballot question, which would allow up to 12 new charter schools or expansion of up to 12 existing schools each year beyond the current state cap, is drawing national attention, and millions of dollars of spending on both sides.

Proponents argue that charter schools, which operate free of many of the restraints of district systems over teacher assignments and the structure and length of the school day, are proving to be an educational lifeline for poor families in urban communities with low-performing district schools.  Several rigorously conducted studies have found that Boston’s charter schools are the highest-performing charters in the country.

Opponents have centered their arguments on the funding that leaves district systems when students enroll in charters, and said the unlimited charter growth allowed by the ballot question would devastate district school systems.

Duncan is viewed by many as the most influential education secretary since the cabinet post was created in 1979. Among other initiatives, he oversaw the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top program, which awarded grants to states agreeing to raise charter caps and intervene in low-performing district schools.

His tenure was controversial, and Duncan wound up drawing sharp criticism from the left and the right, with teachers unions angry over policies on charters, high-stakes testing, and teacher evaluations, while conservatives recoiled at his efforts to have states adopt new education standards.

For his part, Duncan said, “you’ve got to distinguish noise from reality.” Despite the backlash against the Common Core education standards, he said more than 40 states have stuck with their commitment to new, higher school standards.

He ticked off a list of other education accomplishments under Obama, including increased high school graduation rates, more funding for early childhood education and Pell grants for low-income college students, and reauthorization of the main federal education law in ways that he says correct for some of the errors in No Child Left Behind, the version of the law passed in 2001. For a guy blamed for overemphasizing the role of testing, Duncan said, “I hated that in No Child Left Behind accountability was focused on one thing: a test score.”

Duncan grew up in a middle-class Chicago family, attended private school, and then went on to Harvard. But he gained a lot of the insights and inspiration for his work by hanging out at the afterschool program his mother ran that served predominantly low-income black children in a tougher, adjacent South Side neighborhood.

As for the president’s commitment to education, “this was as personal as it gets,” said Duncan. “The time I loved most with him was visiting classrooms, and just talking to kids when the press wasn’t there. He was so real and honest. He would ask kids, ‘how many of you grew up without your dad? How many of you grew up on welfare?’ And then he says, ‘guess what? So did I.’ And you could just see the kids stunned.”

Education policy for Obama, he said, “was not just an intellectual exercise. This was something that cut to who he was and is at his core.”

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

As controversial as his legacy is, Duncan said, if anything, he thinks he should have been more, not less, aggressive in pushing the pace of change.  But he turns a question about becoming a lightning rod for criticism from the left and right on its head and suggests it’s a sign of Obama’s commitment to try to push past political obstacles.

“He challenged us every day to fight for kids and, frankly, very candidly, not to focus on politics,” Duncan said in the interview following his speech. “His track record is remarkable because he didn’t think about politics, because he thought about creating opportunities for all kids, but, to be clear, particularly for kids in communities in our country who were historically underserved.”

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Why is Arne Duncan being treated like a rock star…just because he’s pro-charter schools and the pro-charter schools Democrats for Education Reform needed an event to tip the vote in their favor on Question 2? VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    In 2009, the Washington Post ran an article “Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s legacy as Chicago schools chief questioned” that’s worth a read: “Soon after Arne Duncan left his job as schools chief here to become one of the most powerful U.S. education secretaries ever, his former students sat for federal achievement tests. This month, the mathematics report card was delivered: Chicago trailed several cities in performance and progress made over six years. Miami, Houston and New York had higher scores than Chicago on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Boston, San Diego and Atlanta had bigger gains. Even fourth-graders in the much-maligned D.C. schools improved nearly twice as much since 2003. The federal readout is just one measure of Duncan’s record as chief executive of the nation’s third-largest system. Others show advances on various fronts. But the new math scores signal that Chicago is nowhere near the head of the pack in urban school improvement, even though Duncan often cites the successes of his tenure as he crusades to fix public education. For more than seven years, starting in 2001, Duncan tried to rejuvenate his city’s struggling schools: jettisoning staff, hiring turnaround specialists, shutting down those deemed beyond hope. He pushed a back-to-basics curriculum, spawned dozens of charter schools and experimented with performance pay. State and federal test scores and graduation rates rose on his watch, and Chicago became a laboratory for innovation. As a result, the reputation of its schools has improved markedly since 1987, when an earlier education secretary, William Bennett, called them the worst in the country. Yet questions have arisen this year about the magnitude of Duncan’s accomplishments. The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, which represents business, professional, education and cultural leaders, concluded in June that gains on state test scores were inflated when Illinois relaxed passing standards and that too many students still drop out of high school or graduate unprepared for college. The Consortium on Chicago School Research, a nonpartisan group at the University of Chicago, reported in October that Duncan’s closure of low-performing schools often shuffled students into comparable schools, yielding little or no academic benefit. About half of Chicago students fail to graduate on time with their peers.” That’s who is in Boston advocating for more charter schools. VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The Washington Post article on Arne Duncan’s time as Chicago schools chief goes on: “In January, Duncan said at his Senate confirmation hearing: “We’re proud to have made significant progress . . . and to really be a model of national reform. But again, hard work is going to continue there and is far from done.” In the interview, Duncan said he is careful not to exaggerate his record. Critics, however, say his legacy is routinely overblown. “There’s been this rhetoric about dramatic gains, dramatic success, that we have to replicate this model because of its dramatic success,” said Julie Woestehoff of the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education. “And here in Chicago, we’re looking at these schools and going, ‘Uh . . . ‘ ” VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The Washington Post continues: “Duncan’s record is of more than historical interest. He wields considerable power through the combination of his Chicago connections, shared with President Obama, and his oversight of billions of dollars in reform funding. The Education Department is dangling an unprecedented $3.5 billion in grants for school systems to turn around weak schools and $4 billion for states to pursue innovation.” Fast forward almost six years to the day this article ran and The Columbus Dispatch headline is: “Ohio wins $71 million federal grant for charter schools despite data cheat.” Here’s the story: “In their bid to win millions in federal grant money for charter schools, Ohio Department of Education officials described the state as a beacon of (charter school) oversight. But just days later, the official leading the effort resigned after he was caught scrubbing data to make school sponsors look better…the grant application paid off: The U.S. Department of Education awarded Ohio the largest “Charter School Program” grant — $71 million…The Washington Post reported…U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “made a passing reference to oversight problems during a media call with reporters.”…The Post noted that Ohio, which “has also been at the center of several recent charter school scandals, from the Ohio state auditor finding some charters had inflated enrollment figures to evidence that some state officials inflated evaluations of charters,” got the largest grant to create new charters…Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said earlier this month that Ohio had a “broken system” of charter sponsorship and that the state needed “real reform.” VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    According to The Columbus Dispatch: “Draft documents in which the state makes its case for the money include several questionable assertions:
    • “Newly adopted legislation, designed to increase charter school and authorizer accountability while respecting school autonomy, has been described in media reports as the most sweeping reforms of Ohio charter school law since school choice was first introduced 15 years ago,” a draft of the grant proposal said. However, those reforms stalled in the legislature last summer and still have not become law.
    • The documents said an average of 19.5 charters “close annually” in Ohio, many “voluntarily,” without noting that some schools were not forced to close because of poor academic performance, but went out of business, often after mismanaging state tax dollars. “As evidenced by this number of closures, charter schools in Ohio have long been held accountable for performance in this state,” the proposal said.
    • The draft says that Hansen’s office started a section dedicated to the evaluation of charter sponsors, and rated three of the first five sponsors to be evaluated as exemplary, the highest rating. However, those ratings were rescinded in July after some members of the state Board of Education accused Hansen of illegally scrubbing data to make those sponsors look better. He resigned days later.
    • The department spotlighted the Ohio Council of Community Schools for its exemplary rating as a sponsor. That group’s executive director, Lenny Schafer, said in July that he “could infer that we probably don’t shake out too well in the academic portion” that Hansen scrubbed out of the council’s rating, and predicted that the revised rating would be “greatly impacted” by including the poor test results of thousands of Internet-charter students.” VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    OMG! There is a must read article in International Business “Wall Street Firms Make Money From Teachers’ Pensions — And Fund Charter Schools Fight” that states: “firms whose executives are linked to the push for more charter schools have seen an increase in state business amid the Baker-backed ballot fight.” Where are this state’s reporters? Why isn’t this common knowledge? VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Jack Covey

    During the remaining days leading up to Tuesday, November 8, as you see or listen to the slick and expensive Madison Avenue-level TV/radio commercials promoting “YES” on Question 2 promulgating such lies as …

    “Question 2 will add more money to public schools (LIE: it won’t. In fac

    it will do just the opposite.

    or

    “Question 2 won’t take money away from existing public schools (LIE: itwill… a lot of money, in fact.)

    … or when view the slick mailers you find in your mailbox, or when listen to robo-calls, think about this following post about EXACTLY WHO is paying for those ads:

    The latest is that over $21.7 million of out-of-state money from the most ruthless capitalists who have ever walked the Earth — Eli Broad, the Walton family of Walmart, Wall Street hedge fund managers, etc. — is pouring into Massachusetts to pass Question 2.

    Read this well-researched article here for that $21.7 million figure:

    https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/as-ma-question-2-funding-nears-32-million-dfer-files-a-new-ballot-committee/

    These profit-minded plutocrats who are pouring in this money obviously …

    — do not live in Massachusetts,

    — have no children, grandchildren, or other relatives that attend public
    schools in Massachusetts

    — have never given a sh#% about the education of middle or lower income until recently, when they realized they could make a buck off privatizing Massachusetts schools via the expansion of privately-run charter schools,.

    They want to these corporate charter schools to replace truly public schools — the ones that, for generations, have been accountable and transparent to the public via democratically elected school boards, and which are mandated toeducate ALL of the public… including those hardest or most difficult to educate … special ed., English Language Learners, homeless kids, foster care kids, kids with difficult behavior arising from distressed home lives.

    Are proponents of Question 2 seriously making the argument that out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers are pumping in all this money because those folks care so much about the education of kids in Massachusetts?

    You really think they are NOT seeking a big money return on these ($21.7 million campaign donations?

    Does that pass the smell test?

    Can you provide an example of JUST ONE TIME in the past where they poured in this kind of cash to something … no strings attached, and with no expectationsof return?

    If, as Q 2 supporters like Marty Walz claim, the most ruthless capitalists that have ever walked the Earth are now kicking in this kind of cash to passQuestion 2 merely because they care about children’s education —

    … and if they are not about their profiting through the privatization of public schools brought about by the expansion of privately-run charter schools,

    … then I’m sure one of you Q 2 supporters could google and find a past example where they have done something similar .. .again out of generosity… with no expectation of an eventual monetary return…

    Something like …

    “Well, back in 2000-something, or 1900-something, these same folks donated $20 million to the (INSERT CHARITABLE CAUSE HERE). Here’s the link that proves this.”

    No, I didn’t think so. When this was brought up in a debate, Mary Walz refused to address it, saying, “We need to talk about the kids, not the adults.” Well, keeping money-motivated scum from raping and pillaging Massachusetts public schools IS CARING ABOUT THE KIDS, Marty! (By the way, those are many of the same folks who raped and pillaged the housing/mortgage industry
    a decade ago … go watch the film THE BIG SHORT to get up to speed on that …
    they’ve just moved on to new place to plunder.)

    So the real question is:

    To whom do the schools of Massachusetts belong? The citizens and parents who
    pay the taxes there?

    Or a bunch of money-motivated out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers who are trying to buy them via Question 2, and the expansion of privately-managed charter schools which they control, or also profit from their on-line and digital learning products that will be sold to these charter school chains?

    If you believe the former, THEN FOR GOD’S SAKE, VOTE “NO” ON QUESTION 2.

    Send them a message: Massachusetts schools are NOT FOR SALE!!!

    Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_htSPGAY7I

    Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad:

    http://wrsi.com/monte/dissecting-the-great-schools-massachusetts-ad-on-question-2/

    or watch this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRHx5OnJ6Po

  • Jack Covey

    In a just and fair world, this expose of David Sirota’s … detailing the “dark money” Wall St. Forces using teacher pension money to wreck public schools and the teaching profession, and also detailing Governor Baker’s incestuous ties to those same Wall St. profiteers (he just spent time with them in NYC this week plotting and pushing Question 2)

    http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/wall-street-firms-make-money-teachers-pensions-fund-charter-schools-fight-2437702

    … would put the
    metaphorical stake through the heart of Question 2. It should be the
    equivalent of the 2005 Access Hollywood video/audio… it should kill
    Question 2’s chances the way the video/audio killed Trump’s chances.

    However, the Boston Globe won’t touch this story with a ten-foot pole, because of who owns that so-called “paper of record.’

    Spotlight, indeed!

    Today, that movie would be fiction.

    • America Firster

      The Globe spotlight is now used to push the agenda of the elites. Going after Sal DiMasi when he said no to the Casino Moguls. Using the death of a student in housing provided by some lady from Newton via Russia (who was hit with no charges, of course) to repeatedly attack the “Palestinian landlord” for the crime of owning buildings that used to be owned by the favored Harold Brown (who was cited as an expert and called the comeback kid and rehabilitated — the eighty something, most corrupt landlord in Boston history).

  • Toolonggone

    Not surprising. This zombie is the one responsible for facilitating disruption, invasion, and deformation of public education throughout years. A classic example of “professional liberal” who betrayed the democratic tradition since FDR.

  • ABC123

    INFORMATION ON WHAT CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE HOW THEY ARE FUNDED AND HOW THEY OPERATE

    In Massachusetts, tens of thousands of children are stranded on
    public charter school wait lists – the vast majority of whom are enrolled
    in the lowest performing school districts in the state. As the debate
    continues over whether to lift enrollment caps on public charter
    schools, and give these students fair access to a quality public
    education, it’s important to know the facts.

    PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    Nothing about charter schools is private. Charter schools are public schools.

    Charters are open to all students and admission is determined by
    random lottery; there are no entrance exams or admission requirements.

    Charter teachers are public school teachers; Boards of Trustees are public boards.

    Charters operate independently of local districts, but are overseen by the state.

    Charters must abide by all the laws and regulations that traditional
    district schools abide by. They are subject to open meeting laws and
    their finances are public.

    WAITLISTS

    Demand for charter schools has been strong since they first opened in
    1995. Because parents had to enter enrollment lotteries for each
    school, their children’s names often appeared on multiple wait lists.
    The state implemented new rules in 2013 eliminating all duplicates and
    most names that had been on lists for more than one year.

    More than 32,000 children are still on waiting lists statewide, 12,000 in Boston.

    Questions raised by the state Auditor are being addressed. The
    Auditor reviewed lists as they existed in 2012 – before new rules were
    implemented.

    ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

    Public charter schools have consistently outperformed district
    schools all across the state. Independent studies show that they are
    closing the achievement gap between low-income, African American and
    Latino children and affluent, white children.

    A higher percentage of students in charter schools scored
    proficient or advanced in all subjects at every grade level compared
    with their district peers. (2014 MCAS)

    Many urban charters, with a high percentage of African American,
    Latino and low-income students, ranked first in the state, outperforming
    affluent suburban districts. (2014 MCAS)

    A higher percentage of African American, Latino and low-income
    students enrolled in charters are proficient in all subjects compared to
    their peers in district schools. The data showed charters have
    virtually closed the achievement gap. (2014 MCAS)

    Two
    studies by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education
    Outcomes (CREDO) in 2013 and 2015 showed that Commonwealth charter
    schools are accelerating the pace of learning at a rate not seen
    anywhere else in the country.

    Boston charters provided a typical student with more than twelve
    months of additional learning per year in reading and thirteen months
    of additional learning per year in math.

    Children in all Massachusetts charter schools gained the equivalent
    of 36 more days of learning per year in reading and 65 more days of
    learning per year in math.

    The academic performance of Latino students enrolled in charters was
    close to or above the performance of White students statewide; the gap
    was significantly narrowed among African American children in charters
    and white students.

    The study compared charter students with district students from the
    same demographic backgrounds, and charters against the district schools
    the students formerly attended.

    Boston charter high school graduates who enroll in college
    complete college at a higher rate (50.6%) than BPS non-exam school
    graduates (35%) according to a study by the Boston Opportunity Agenda.

    9th
    graders who attend Boston charters are nearly four times as likely to
    go on to complete college than BPS 9th graders (35% vs. 9%).

    Nearly half (44%) of all high school graduates from BPS’s non-exam
    schools needed remedial courses in college compared to 10% of Boston
    charter graduates.

    IMPACT ON DISTRICT SCHOOL BUDGETS

    Charters receive funding only when parents choose to enroll their
    children and only the amount the district would normally spend to
    educate each student. If districts are no longer educating the children,
    should they keep the funds? Districts also receive additional state aid
    to reimburse them for lost funds.

    Charter schools account for 4% of public school enrollment and 4% of public education spending.

    Charter
    schools are public schools, so there is no loss of funding for public
    education when money is allocated to charter public schools.

    Districts are reimbursed by the state for six years after
    any increase in funds allocated to charters, ultimately receiving 225%
    of their money back – the nation’s most generous reimbursement.

    While district schools receive state subsidies for their facilities, charters are not eligible for school building assistance.

    The Massachusetts Legislature has funded district reimbursement at 96% or better in 9 of the last 12 years.
    Only in years when every area of the budget experienced deep cuts was
    it shortchanged. To date, districts have received nearly $700 million in
    reimbursements.

    No locally generated revenues, such as property taxes, are
    transferred to charters; all charter funding is taken from a community’s
    state aid, which leads some to incorrectly argue that charters are
    taking an unfair share of Ch. 70 school dollars. The state could change
    the law to have charters receive their funds from both local and state
    sources, but it would not affect the overall amount of funds being
    reallocated to charters.

    IMPACT IN BOSTON

    The Boston Municipal Research Bureau concluded in a recent study
    that because the City of Boston shares 35% of its total revenue every
    year with the school department, charter expansion has had no effect on
    the district’s budget.

    Over the past five years, district spending has risen 12% to $1
    billion, while per pupil spending has increased from $14,466 to $16,918.
    Boston spends more per pupil than any other urban district in the
    country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Charters receive less per pupil than the district spends. While BPS
    spends $16,918 per student (FY 2015 General Fund Budget), charters
    receive only $14,937 per student. When you factor in state
    reimbursements, the net cost to the city for each charter student is
    $12,422.

    SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

    New reports by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary
    Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released in
    January disprove claims that charter schools do not serve students with
    the same level of need, finding that charters are not only attracting
    the same students the district serves, but are educating them at a
    higher level.

    ENROLLMENT

    State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data
    for 2014/15 shows a steady increase in the enrollment of children with
    special needs (SPED) and a dramatic increase in enrollment of English
    Language Learners (ELL) in public charter schools.

    Statewide, SPED enrollment in charters is only slightly lower
    than the state average – 14% to 16.3% – and ELL enrollment is higher –
    9.4% to 8.5%.

    In Boston charters, SPED enrollment is 15.9%, compared to 19% in Boston district schools (BPS).

    In mostly urban Gateway city charters, SPED enrollment is 13%, compared to 17.4% in Gateway city district schools.

    ELL enrollment among all Boston charters increased from 3.2% in 2010/11 to 13.8% in 2014/15.

    ELL enrollment among “new” students enrolling for the first
    time in Boston charters in 2014/15 was 22.6%, approaching the district
    ELL enrollment of 29.8%.

    In Gateway cities, the percent of ELL students enrolled at charter
    schools has increased from 7.7% in 2011/12 to 12.1% in 2014/15.

    Gateway charter school ELL enrollment among “new” students enrolling
    for the first time in 2014/15 was 16.0%, approaching the district ELL
    enrollment of 19.9%.

    A
    recent MIT study (“Special Education and English Language Learner
    Students in Boston Charter Schools: Impact and Classification”)
    concluded: “Students across the pre-lottery levels of special education
    classroom inclusion and English language proficiency are, for the most
    part, similarly represented in charter lotteries and BPS (Boston Public
    Schools).”

    ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

    Children with special needs and English-language learners perform
    significantly better in charter schools than they do in traditional
    public schools.

    The MIT study
    concluded: “Those with the most severe needs, special education
    students who spent the majority of their time in substantially separate
    classrooms and ELLs with beginning English proficiency at the time of
    the lottery, perform significantly better in charters than traditional
    public schools.” The MIT researchers went on to say: “Even the most
    disadvantaged special needs students benefit from charter
    attendance…Special education and ELL students experience large academic
    gains in charters similar to the gains of non-special needs students.”

    A substantially higher percentage of special needs children
    attending public charters achieved proficiency in English and math
    compared to special needs children in sending district schools: 16.4
    percentage points more in English, 10.1 percentage points more in math,
    according to 2014 MCAS data.

    A substantially higher percentage of English Language
    Learners attending public charters achieved proficiency in English and
    math compared to special needs children in sending district schools:
    12.8 percentage points more in English, 12.1 percentage points more in
    math, according to 2014 MCAS data.

    ATTRITION RATES

    The attrition rate in Boston and in Gateway City charters “has
    remained lower” than the attrition rates of district schools in those
    communities, according to 2014/15 DESE data.

    The attrition rate at Boston charters (9.3%) is significantly lower than in BPS (14.2%).

    In Gateway Cities, charter attrition rates (6.2%) are lower than Gateway districts (11.4%).

    From 2012-2014, an average of just 82 students
    left charters and returned to Boston Public Schools, according to BPS
    numbers – one-tenth of one percent of BPS total enrollment.

    SUSPENSION RATES

    There is no evidence to support the claim that charter suspension
    rates lead to higher attrition or dropout rates. Parents overwhelmingly
    support high standards that create a classroom environment that is
    favorable to learning.

    While
    Boston charters have higher out-of-school-suspension rates than BPS
    schools (12.6% vs. 4.8%), Boston charter attrition rates are much lower
    than BPS (9.3% vs. 14.2%), according to 2014/15 DESE data. Boston
    charters’ stability rate,
    which measures students who stay with the same school all year, is
    higher in Boston charters than BPS (92.2% vs. 86.5%), countering claims
    that children leave in droves prior to testing season, according to
    2014/15 DESE data.

    Boston charter high schools have lower dropout rates than BPS high schools (4.1% vs. 11.9%), according to 2014/15 DESE data.

    • Mhmjjj2012

      Now for the real charter school facts:
      Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated.
      The laws and regulations charter schools operate under would be unacceptable for public schools. For example, charter schools K-8 are not required to accept students after 4th grade, charter schools K-12 are not required to accept students after 6th grade, charter schools Grades 9-12 are not required to accept students after 9th grade and all charter schools are not required to accept students after February 15th.
      More students are on wait lists for public schools in Boston and Lowell than on wait lists for charter schools in those cities.
      The CREDO study is a perfect example of a typical charter school study. The researchers used “a quasi-experimental study design” that relies on comparing real charter school students to “virtual” or not real public school students. And guess what the study found? The real charter school students showed more learning gains than the not real public school students. Real charter school students vs. make believe public school students. That’s what passes as a charter school “study.”
      More than 200 public schools districts will lose more than $400 million in funding to charter schools. That’s a fact that even a researcher at the conservative Manhattan, a New York think tank, was quoted by The Lowell Sun : “It is not false that charter enrollments cost district schools over $400 million a year.” It’s not false because it’s true.
      The City of Boston’s public schools will lose $136,715,535 to charter schools this year.
      Today’s Boston Globe has an article “Finding a school that gave her son room to run,”
      about how the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School handled a child with ADHD and sensory processing challenges…horribly…to the point the child’s mom transferred him to a public school where he is thriving. Do an internet search for the “Mystic Valley Regional Charter School” and here are some stories that will come up:
      The Boston Globe “Complaints about Mystic Valley piled up with state”
      The Boston Globe “Shakeup at the top at Mystic Valley Charter School”
      Charter school proponents like to compare charter statewide demographics rather than to the sending public schools demographics which paint a much less rosy picture. For example, the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell has 13% English Language Learners, 6% students with disabilities and 39.1% economically disadvantaged which is well below the Lowell Public School District’s 25% ELL, 15.5% students with disabilities and 50.4% economically disadvantaged.
      The actual attrition rates at charter schools can be shocking. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shows City on a Hill Charter Public School Dudley Square’s current grade 11 has 47 students…in 2014…that class started out in grade 9 with 106 students. Where did those 59 students go? Back to the sending public schools?
      Once charter school suspension rates became public knowledge the outrage forced a change in their out-of-school suspensions. At least one charter school’s suspension rate hit 60%.
      VOTE NO on Question 2

  • GearTalks

    In seriousness, I’d like to know from those against charter schools, what you think will improve the education in low income neighborhoods? What ideas do you have to increase graduation rates or college attendance in these neighborhoods that hasn’t been tried yet? (something besides more money, since MA cities spend more per pupil than the national average of $11,841 /student.)

    Second, what would you say to charter graduates, KIPP Lynn for instance, for whom over 50% of their class receives a college degree compared with 10% of the local high school? Those numbers are facts. Would you tell them their charter school should be shut down because you don’t like it? Low income families are tired of “business as usual” when it comes to their education. They’ve seen little change in 50 years. Finally when there is some progress, something that has definitively helped them, well-meaning people want to destroy it. You want to tear down these quality schools because you don’t like the funding source, etc.

    It feels as if opponents just want public education to remain status quo, even though it is not working for our families. Families care about results. If 1 school has 10% college rate, and another has 50% plus rate, then the higher college education rate is the one they want to send their kids to. Talk is cheap. Some speak against charters, but then have no solid solutions to increase college grad rates. Since we know one method is working (i.e. the quality charter schools), let’s give its growth a chance.

    • Mhmjjj2012

      The first thing I noticed when I looked up KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School is the 12th grade class (2016) with 76 students started 9th grade in 2013 with 90 students. That’s a loss of 14 students. Today’s 11th grade class has 100 students and in 2014 when that class was in 9th grade there were 112 students. That’s a loss of 12 students. And yet, KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School has students on its waitlist for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. What’s up with that? We keep hearing about the reason we need more charter schools is because of all the students on waitlists and yet charter schools with empty seats and waitlists aren’t filling those seats with students from their waitlists. In fact, the State Auditor found almost 4,000 empty seats in charter schools with waitlists….4,000 students on the waitlists that could fill those empty seats! Charter schools proponents keep pointing to those waitlists but it looks like those waitlists are mostly props for more charter schools. You made a lot of points worth responding to but I’m out of time and will have to get back to them unless someone else beats me to it. VOTE NO on Question 2.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The Boston Globe just released this article, “Charter school vote may hurt ratings, credit agency says,” reporting “The credit-rating agency Moody’s Investors Service is warning Boston and three other Massachusetts cities that passage of a ballot measure to expand charter schools could weaken the municipalities’ financial standing and ultimately threaten their bond ratings.” VOTE NO on Question 2.