BOSTON — The Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association (PTA) today announced its official opposition to Question 2, the ballot question that would allow significant charter school expansion anywhere in the state, take millions of dollars away from successful district public schools, and cause the elimination of music and art programs, increased class sizes, and other damaging cuts in the schools that most families choose.
“We support charter schools and all students and teachers in the Commonwealth, but this ballot question would divert millions of dollars away from our locally-controlled public schools,” said Jennifer Francioso, President of the Massachusetts PTA. “The ballot question would hurt Massachusetts students, who deserve investments in critical areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, enrichment programs like arts and music, and early education. What they don’t need are more and more cuts.”
Last year, over $400 million in taxpayer money was diverted to charter schools statewide, with money withdrawn from 243 local school districts.1 If passed, Question 2 would allow the state to approve 12 new charters schools a year, every year, forever, with no limit on how much money a single district could lose. This would nearly triple the number of charter schools in just ten years, and take away more than $1 billion a year from our local public schools. After twenty years, local public school districts would be losing nearly $4 billion a year to charter schools.2
“The Yes On 2 campaign’s new ad is incredibly misleading. Local school districts are already losing millions of dollars a year to charter schools, and Question 2 would make things much worse,” said Francioso. “Our locally controlled public schools can’t afford to make the cuts that Question 2 would cause.”
Local communities and their school committees have no say in the approval or operation of charter schools. The state approves charter schools even when the communities where they will be located are opposed to them. This has happened in Brockton, Gloucester and many other communities.
“Often, charter schools do not enroll the English language learners and special needs students who require more services,” continued Francioso. “We cannot support lifting the cap on charter schools without reforms that put charters on a level playing field and a funding system that does not hurt district public schools.”
A report released this year from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University found that 60 percent of the charter schools in Massachusetts lack even a single parent on their boards of trustees, and that the dominant voices on those boards are from the financial and corporate sectors, not education. Parents of students in charter schools comprise only 14 percent of charter trustees statewide. The Annenberg Institute also found that significant parent representation on charter school governing boards is largely confined to schools that serve predominantly white students.
Established in 1910 in Massachusetts, PTA is rededicated to another century of advocacy for children and youth. Today, we speak up for family engagement language in laws; safe, healthy, and technologically advanced schools; and equal opportunity for all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
2. Simulation of funding loss under charter school ballot question, http://www.massteacher.org/issues_and_action/charter_schools.aspx