Democrats Respond to Boston City Council Resolution on Charter Cap Ballot Question

BOSTON — Following the vote taken today by the Boston City Council, Democrats for Education Reform, a group supporting Question 2 - which would allow more high-quality charter schools to operate in Massachusetts - released the following statement: 

"Today's city council vote reminds us that we must do more to separate fact from fiction in the public charter school debate," said Marty Walz, Chair of the Democrats for Education Reform Massachusetts Advisory Council. "As a former state legislator and chair of the education committee, I understand the complexities that confront elected officials. As a Boston resident, I am saddened to see City Councilors turn their backs on children desperate for a better education. Because of the bold action taken by President Obama and former Governor Patrick, families in Boston and beyond have more high-quality school options than ever before. We should not block progress just as thousands of families are asking for access to these opportunities." 

"We applaud Councilors Josh Zakim and Andrea Campbell for standing up to give families and voters a voice," said Liam Kerr, Democrats for Education Reform State Director. "Strong Democratic leaders and the majority of Democratic voters support expanding high-quality public charter schools because the results for kids are proven.”


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$20,502 per pupil

Boston spends an average of $20,502 per student on the students educated within BPS. This makes it the biggest per pupil spender among the largest 100 U.S. districts.

Last month, the Census Bureau released its report on public school finance for 2013. Included in the report was per pupil spending for the 100 largest U.S. school districts. By enrollment, Boston is the country’s 74th-largest district. By per pupil spending, Boston is #1 at $20,502.

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No reason to abandon MCAS testing

To the editor:

The recent legislative hearing on proposals to jettison assessment tests underscores the need to return the Democratic Party to its role as a champion for children’s education by recommitting to the assessment-based accountability model jeopardized by these bills. 

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New BPS superintendent Tommy Chang should be bold

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s inauguration was 18 months ago, but the Walsh era in Boston Public Schools truly began this week with Dr. Tommy Chang’s first day as superintendent. As we stand on the threshold of this new period, it is time to put aside old ways in BPS and find the courage necessary to seek the profound changes our students deserve. 

“I should have been bolder.”

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Deval Patrick’s education legacy

When thinking of a governor’s last act before leaving office, pardons for long-time prisoners usually come to mind. For Deval Patrick, the last big move came five months after his “lone walk” out of the State House — but it was far from a pardon. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s vote to place the Holyoke Public Schools into state receivership, and this week’s naming of a receiver, signals the last major act of the Patrick administration. During this time of exile from the corner office, Democrats should highlight this step towards a more equitable education system — taken despite fierce objections from powerful entrenched interests — as evidence of a Democratic administration willing to be on the front lines of more effective government. 

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Lawrence Public Schools experience offers example for Holyoke

Several years ago, the City of Lawrence's school district, in the state Senate district I represented, was Massachusetts' "most troubled school district" according to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Students in Lawrence faced systemic failures, dismal test scores, and low graduation rates. 

Compounding the problem was near constant bickering by elected officials, community leaders, and the teacher's union, which left the schools in a dire situation and placed Lawrence's children on the back burner.

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With receivership, there is opportunity for Holyoke schools

No one wants the state to come into a community to take control of local schools. There are times, however, when state intervention is the best outcome for children. For Holyoke, that time is now. 

As the chief author of the 2010 law empowering the state to appoint a receiver for Holyoke's schools, I offer my perspective on what the law is intended to accomplish and how Holyoke residents can turn this demoralizing moment into something positive.

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High Demand for Public Charters in Boston

Climate change deniers often argue that some scientists agree with their position. Yet here in Massachusetts, we know that climate change is real—and we know something’s not right when a lone, climate change-denying scientist uses a questionable study to disagree with the vast majority of widely accepted scientific research. When evidence overwhelmingly points in one direction, we shouldn’t give equal weight to the one data point in the opposite direction, especially when it is questionably obtained. The same kind of logic should apply to the “debate” over public charter school demand in Boston.

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Myths and Realities of MA’s Public Charter Schools

Policy leaders from across the United States are trying to reproduce the proven success of Boston’s public charter schools. But you wouldn’t know that from the charter debates currently happening in the Commonwealth, where opponents are repeating the same tired, unsupported criticisms. They argue charters achieve their high performance through unsavory means, like taking money from public schools, failing to serve all kids, or somehow forcing kids out.

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DFER-MA testifies against new school performance assessments

On Tuesday, June 24th, DFER-MA sent policy fellow John Griffin to testify against proposed changes to public charter school regulations at the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The proposed policy is projected to eliminate charter school seats in four high-need, urban districts while increasing seats in higher-performing suburbs. The Board unanimously adopted the proposal, but DFER voiced its opposition, bearing testimony to the unjust consequences of the newly-adopted plan.

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