It’s not anti-charter to oppose lifting cap

It’s not anti-charter to oppose lifting cap

Uncapped charter school growth would destabilize municipal finance

NEXT MONTH’S BALLOT question on statewide charter school growth may seem like a stark choice between two systems: local district schools or state-chartered institutions. But that’s not the case.  Charter and district schools will continue to coexist in Massachusetts regardless of the outcome on November 8.

The real issue before voters is public finance.

Question Two is an unfunded mandate. Uncapped charter school growth means that municipal budgets throughout the Commonwealth will suffer without a fix to state education financing. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Boston.

Under the current cap, the Commonwealth has failed to live up to its charter reimbursement obligations to the Boston Public Schools for three years running – to the tune of $48 million. Mayor Walsh has bridged this gap in the district’s budget by reallocating general City funds, but tradeoffs in local budgets cannot continue without financial relief from the state. The alternatives include unsustainable cutbacks for basic city services like public safety, snow removal and, yes, district schools.  Uncapping charter school growth will only speed this growing divide.

There have been efforts to achieve a balance between charter growth and fiscal reform. Mayor Walsh put forth a modest cap lift proposal during the last legislative session that included reasonable state education funding reform. The Senate’s RISE Act sought a similar result. Yet neither proposal became law, nor is there any indication that a school financing fix is on the legislature’s agenda.

All of which casts the current choice in a darker light. Question Two would allow 12 new charter schools to open across the state each year. According to the city’s budget director, relatively modest growth of 3 new charter schools per year in Boston would increase the City’s annual charter assessment to $800 million over the next decade. That number is roughly four times the state’s current education funding provided for all Boston students. Where will the money come from?

The answer lies in municipal budgets all across the Commonwealth. Cap lift advocates cite the recent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report on Question Two for its conclusion that moderate charter growth under the current cap has had no effect on district finances. What that report failed to forecast is the effect of uncapped charter growth on local budgets.

Past is not prologue. Uncapped charter growth will surely lead to district reorganization and school closures, but the transition will create inefficiencies that add costs to cities and towns. If fully funded by the state, the charter school funding reimbursement formula roughly accounts for the effects of capped growth. Lifting the cap throws off the formula, and without a funding fix, cities and towns will be left holding the bill.

There is an alternative: public district schools and charters can continue to coexist and thrive under the cap. Massachusetts residents should celebrate that our schools consistently outperform every state in the nation. According to a Forbes magazine report, if Massachusetts were a country its educational system would rank ninth in the world (tied with Japan). We can continue these achievements.

With no change to the current cap, the number of charter school seats in Boston alone stands to grow by 4,000 over the next decade – that’s 7 percent of the current enrollment in the Boston Public Schools (and more than half of the current Boston charter schools enrollment). At the same time, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently elevated 12 new Boston Public Schools to Level 1 status. BPS is one of the highest-performing urban public school districts in the nation, with 46 schools at levels 1 or 2 and 88 percent in the top three levels of performance. BPS does this with a linguistically, socioeconomically diverse population of all abilities, and is succeeding in narrowing the opportunity and achievement gaps for our most vulnerable students.

Meet the Author

That’s not to say our work is done – far from it. Massachusetts owes it to our children to avoid jeopardizing the great strides that our schools have made. Together we have achieved remarkable results through a well-financed, mixed-delivery system. Let’s keep the cap on charter school growth and seek sensible financing reform to ensure that all of our children succeed.

Michael Loconto is the father of three Boston Public Schools students and a member of the Boston School Committee.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Charter schools drain funding from public schools. VOTE NO on Question 2.

    • Rodolfo Aguilar

      How much you are getting paid to be misleading people on this forum. Why are refusing to accept that there is need to revamp the educational system. If you care about education that should be the dialogue, come together! Stop butting heads with people who need more and better choices! After all the tax payer like you and me deserve to be heard. I am advocating for voting yes to lift the cap on Charter Schools because in the neighborhood is live district schools are failing our kids. This is not about political affiliation or the interest of corrupted unions who are for the money and fat contracts!!! VOTE YES on question 2

      • jeanabeana

        “The real issue before voters is public finance.Question Two is an unfunded mandate. Uncapped charter school growth means that municipal budgets throughout the Commonwealth will suffer without a fix to state education financing. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Boston.” rodolfo you ignore the critical points in the article because you wanted to attack him or her. Ask some of the Mayors and the City Council what is happening to the budgets in their cities…. so I wonder who is misleading… it is certainly not the Mayors.

        • Rodolfo Aguilar

          I have read and if the BPS was fiscally and academically responsible we wouldn’t be having exchange of ideastudents. The mayor of Boston, Somerville and so on are supported by unions. They are afraid to be voted out by the unions. What I saying is as a tax payer like yourself and myself have to know what the educational identities are using our money. If you like your schools in your district, great. The BPS knows they are not providing adequate education in my neighborhood. I am advocating to elevate the bar on all schools. We have great universitit’s in Boston, unfortunately, kids in my neighborhood are not getting prepared to go to college. Equal education for all kids in Massachusetts. Vote yes on question 2.

          • jeanabeana

            if you think the unions control the decision making, you are totally out of touch…. unions in this country have been decimated ever since Reagan took on the flight control …. give me a break.

          • jeanabeana

            this is from a parent in Grafton area of Worcester County and this parent is clear…. especially on what happens to budgets…. ” Post by Debbie (worcester county)

            Did you know that there was a proposal for a new charter school that would serve Grafton students from grades 6-12?

            Read this link and scroll down. If you look at the name of the proposed school you can see it most likely would NOT have served low-performing students.

            I learned this at a town discussion on the ballot questions, in which only three residents attended, myself included. Thankfully, this charter school was NOT approved by DESE.

            I say, “thankfully” because it would have been funded by our tax dollars and would have skimmed off some of our TOP performing students from our Grafton public middle and high schools.

            Skimming off these particular students can make the overall test scores LOWER for our already excellent schools in town. Essentially, it “corrupts” the data and makes our schools look like they are not performing as well. Get it?

            Food for thought: Sometimes the data we get in the news and other sources is just plan “corrupted or junk data”, yet so many uninformed citizens place a great deal of trust in that data. We have become a data-driven society. Opinions are formed and votes are cast based on numbers which oftentimes hide the actual agendas.

            We in Grafton passed prop 2 1/2 recently, to support funding for our own great schools and teachers. We did NOT choose to dive deeper into our pockets to fund a local charter school.

            Will a charter school eventually be opened in or near Grafton? Time will tell, but it HAS been proposed and blocked for now.

            Charter and public school COMPETE for the same tax dollars. Your real estate taxes should not fund NEW schools when great schools are already in place and thriving.

            Your tax dollars should not support new common core standards and testing either, when the standards and testing MA had in place for decades led MA to be number one in the US for decades.

            We in MA are loosing local control to private billionaires in this state and in our country. Vote NOT to lift the cap on charters.

            See through the data that sways your vote. We need to FIX those underperforming schools in our state. State receivership already covers that. Charters are not necessary

          • Rodolfo Aguilar

            I am so happy you have worthy schools in your district. Keep up your great work. Unfortunately, that is not the case in my district BPS in Boston. I think that if any of your kids was trapped in a failing school you would advocate for better education. I pay taxes, the parents in my neighborhood pay taxes as well!! It is not just about your neighborhood or your tax money. It is about education for kids. Just like yourself that want the best. We also are advocating to lift the cap on Charter Schools!!!

          • Mhmjjj2012

            If you were advocating to elevate the bar on all public schools then why haven’t you advocated for fully funding the Foundation Budget…the mechanism distributing state aid to local public school districts? How is it possible for you to ignore the state’s refusal to adequately fund English language learners, low income and special education students? Seriously, why isn’t that a priority for you? VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • Rodolfo Aguilar

            The budget is quite substantial over a billion dollars all thanks to taxpayers money

          • Rodolfo Aguilar

            I’m advocating to raise the bar because I don’t think throwing more money into your pocket is changing medication in schools in my district we in the urban areas are getting together and as taxpayers demand Great Schools the difference between you and me is that you think that I’m a fool but I’m not on the other hand you are dark and evil that’s not a name calling those are adjectives to describe you I don’t know if you’re a man woman because you don’t identify yourself as I read all I can read all this mean and evil things against their families in urban areas and for those thoughts you are dark and evil

          • jeanabeana

            everywhere I have worked the goal was “great” and “the best” we could do for students; I never worked in Boston but my friends have and they shared that same goal. I did not ever say you were anything or call you a name. I’m sure if you met my cohort/colleagues you would find a lot that would be acceptable. My friend I had lunch with yesterday worked in Lawrence; she had Viet Namese students, Cambodian students, Latino and Hispanic students and she managed it well. She reminded me that sometimes when she would visit a home the child would have no bed, and s/he would have a pile of clothing in the corner for school and play wear. Those of us who have worked inside school districts are aware; I also did 5 years with the homeless shelter during the height of the recession and we shared the goals with 14 churches of various religious beliefs; as volunteers we lived in and slept with the shelter residents. I don’t think these people would be calling you names (my cohort of colleagues and friends) and would share the same goals — we want BETTER and The Best for all our students in our care.

          • jeanabeana

            the legislature is dodging the issue “fully funding the Foundation Budget.” and setting rules and regulations with auditors who can actually prove that the funds are for worthy goals. My significant other has been dead for 6 years now but he said “Call them all charters and fix the $@!0 funding formulas and reimbursements; and tighten up the regulations so that fraud and scams and profiteering are blocked from getting the monies. (we were audited once in 25 years but we had an ethical system that kept each other honest; it was called “good will” in a business sense. I never in my life thought that this “profiteering” would enter education but it certainly has.)

          • Rodolfo Aguilar

            You and I are advocating for the same from a different point of view. Who doesn’t want the best education for their kids. Some say charter public schools are for profit. The reality in Massachusetts is that the Massachusetts board of education will not allow schools for profit.

          • jeanabeana

            yes, we do have the same goal; I just cannot rely on the thought that the “Board ” of education MA DESE will not allow the profiteers to take over. The legislature fixes the barn after the horse is stolen. M. Chester goes around the states to tell people to sign on with Jeb Bush (look at what the FL teachers say about his programs and Tony Bennet in their state after he messed up i Indiana). Jeb Bush gets an appointment at Harvard because he has the “right friends”. Mitchel Chester also tells the 50 states to sign on with “Michael Barber at Pearson” because he has implementation protocols. The tests from Pearson called PARRC are not valid and not reliable. These politicians are putting it over on the parents. I wish I lived near to you so we could have a “coffee hour for parents.” My friends are in Medford and Malden and I have a cousin near Dorchester … but primarily my work has kept me in the 495 ring and Worcester County. I am asking parents to be vigilant and not trust the politicians … and we have enough different school committees that they are not all corrupt and they share this opinion that Boston is leading us in the wrong direction. When the Boston media and politicians come out to honor a soldier for his service in the wars they don’t even pronounce the name of his town correctly ; they call it “whitingsville” and there is no g in Whitinsville. The arrogance of the politicians in Boston and the Boston DESE really get my angry. At this point the one I would trust on these issues is Mayor Walsh. Look at the 200 school committees that have voted a resolution for No on #2… if you want to call me or write I am and my phone number is 978 914 7066. And, the comments have about John Barranco siphoning off money from his “special school” I will have notarized because they are truthful (the legislature will fix the problem after the “horses have been stolen” as we see in OH, FL, and CA now that they ave learned about the scams of charter schools)…. It may be difficult to believe anyone but I believe what Boston Mayor is saying about the devastation to the public school budget.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            LOL. Your comment is directed at your own comment! Again, are you engaging in psychological projection? VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            And how much does that $1 billion work out per student? What’s the percentage of English language learners, low income and special education students in the Boston Public Schools? Are you aware each of those student groups require more services, more funding and did you know the state is underfunding English language learners, low income and special education students? VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • Rodolfo Aguilar

            That also includes public charter schools, they are in my neighborhood and are doing a job well done in education. Boston Herald just endorsed vote yes on question 2 and so should you!!!

      • Mhmjjj2012

        Are you engaging in psychological projection? The state legislature and the Governor are failing in their responsibilities to fund public schools. That’s a fact. 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.


    “Question 2 won’t take money away from existing public schools (LIE: it will… 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:

    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 to educate 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 expectations of 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 pass Question 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 schoolchains?

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

    or watch this video:

  • jeanabeana

    attrition; that is how you show that you have a miracle at a charter school…… what percentage graduates; then what percentage of your graduates go on through 4 years of college; the numbers get smaller and smaller (from the original cohort of students taken int)

    • jeanabeana

      Jersey Jazzman: The Secret of Boston Charter “Success”: Attrition

      • jeanabeana

        charter schools — many fail… “ Schilling is out advocating for his share of the pie; he would get the Governor Baker team to give him a “charter” because he was such a good ball player etc… I still want our locally elected school committees and Mayors in charge of ALL the funding for our schools… not Boston/Chester. If you look at their data on schools, the “charter” is called COMMISSIONER”S District… and that means Mitchell Chester owns them if they fail; and the DESE Board is their school committee? How on earth are those people going to audit anything ; the fox guarding the hen house. Fix the Funding Mechanisms and reimbursements… tell the Legslature to do their job!

  • jeanabeana

    Rodolfo: this was sent to me by a colleague in Worcester County , Ruth Rodriguez “

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Today’s Boston Globe article, “Charter school vote may hurt ratings, credit agency says,” reports “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.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Guess what happens when charter schools drain funds from public schools? Read all about it in today’s Boston Globe article, “Charter school vote may hurt ratings, credit agency says.” The article states: “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.