Massachusetts Traditional Public Schools are Number 1 in the Nation. Boston Public Schools is the Number 1 Urban School District in the Nation. We are stuck with the charter schools we now have, and they have proven to be a drain on our public education system and especially in urban school districts like Boston. Charter Schools are the segregation academies of Massachusetts, and have created a two-tiered system of “have and have not’s” in our urban cities. Reform needs to start with the charter schools we now have. Here are my suggestions feel free to add yours:
- The state, not the city or charter school, needs to take over the “charter lottery” period. This will prevent charters from their current practice of prescreening applicants and dissuading families from applying. This way the state will be able to generate accurate numbers and be able to ascertain the actual interest in charter schools.
- One short, no nonsense, application, no lengthy gatekeeping application, no required onsite visits.
- Charter school students need to be “level” not “average” funded for the students they enroll. In Boston, a regular ed charter student receives $3,372 more in “tuition” than a regular ed traditional public school student. This figure doesn’t include the “non-tuition” revenue that charters also receive.
- Charter student population needs to reflect the demographic of the sending schools they are taking students from, no more excluding Students with Disabilities or English Language Learners.
- Charter schools need to fill empty seats in ALL grade levels; they need to backfill those MCAS Grades!
- If a charter school student is found “not to be the right fit” for a charter schools. Their option should be to go to another charter schools with an empty seat for the remainder of the year. The following September let the student and their family decide if they want to remain at the new charter or return to a public school.
- If a student “transfers” or is “counseled out” of a charter school, their MCAS score needs to remain as part of the sending charter schools record for that “transitional” year. No more dumping low scoring charter kids back to traditional public schools a week before MCAS bringing down the scores of the accepting traditional school.
- A substantial parent VOTING presence on any charter school “Governing Board.” The “my way or the highway” dictates of Charter Governing Boards needs to stop. Charter schools are public schools paid for with taxpayer dollars. End the paternalism. The day of “big daddy” charter investors making the decisions for urban families whose children attend the charter needs to be over.
- End “Forward Filling” in charter high schools. Charter schools 4-year graduation rate is dismal. One of the Massachusetts DOE’s criteria for AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) is high school graduation in 4 years. Only 59% of Boston’s charter high school students graduated high school within four years, 10 percent fewer than those at traditional public schools! A traditional public school with that kind of graduation rate would have been closed, deemed “Level 5,” or taken over by the Blueprint Schools Network like The English High School in Boston. Why are charter high schools with this low 4-year graduation rate, year after year, still even opened!
Considering the lifetime costs to a student and to society when a student has to repeat a year, we need to see dramatic increases in charter high school 4 year graduation rates. With all those extra days, and all that extended daily time, there is no reason a student, who has passed MCAS, shouldn’t graduate in 4 years! One way to “motivate” charter schools to graduate students within 4-years, is to pay charter schools for the 4 years the students attends. If charters are motivated to retain a student for additional years, let it be at their expense! I’m sure charter vendors would rise to the occasion and provide those services that would allow a student the opportunity to graduate with their class.
- Charter School Foundation “Transparency.” All documents need to be current and posted on the schools website. Charter schools are a vehicle that investors use to make and keep their money at the expense of urban children. Charter schools have foundations that often own the building the school resides in and pays rent to the foundation. Bonds and Federal New Market Tax Credits, which provide a 39%+ Tax Credit to investors, is often used to build or renovate these building.
If the state revokes the schools charter, the state cannot claim ownership of the building or school assets because they are owned by the charter schools foundation! There are many philanthropic “consulting” groups whose goals are to “strategically” place clients charitable donations where these clients can benefit financially from it. Let’s see what charter school investors are making big money by investing in the $11,786,000 Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and 130,000,000 in New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) that were awarded to Massachusetts!
Finally, before any new charter school is allowed to open or increase seats in Boston, or any other urban school district that has been decimated by charter schools, “Parent Choice” needs to be extended to include the toney suburbs where those who are investing in QZABs & NMTC live. Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School got shot down when it wanted to open a regional charter clone and accept students from Newton, Brookline, and Weston! The Asian student population in Newton is 16.8%, Brookline’s is 18.2%, and Weston’s is 12.6%. You would think that with such large Asian populations they would welcome the opportunity to give “parents choice” of an Asian themed charter school. But no two-tiered school district for those toney suburbs.
Andover said no to STEAM Studio charter’s proposal. Good for them! The Andover School Committee believes that funds available for education should be invested wisely in their existing schools in order to move Andover’s Strategic Plan forward.
Elected officials in these suburban communities are saying no to charter schools. They understand how a charter school would drain resources from their traditional public schools. Charter schools would cause a downturn in the cities or towns real estate values! Who wants to buy a house in a community with a two-tiered system? Who wants to risk their child’s education on a chance that their child might win a seat in a charter lottery or be the kind of kid that is the right fit to stay there?