Many people are confused about Question 2. My recent newsletters discussed Q2 and a better alternative. In this one, I'm sharing other people's answers to FAQ.
But first, if you follow no other link and read no further, please watch this short video made by Boston parents. They don't have millions of dollars to put it on TV, so please share it.
Will Question 2 harm students in district schools?
Does Question 2 advance civil rights?
Mel King video statement: "A no vote on Question 2 is critical to caring for all our children." "How can the governor describe children as trapped in failing schools and then say he wants to free only a few of them?... He’s telling parents of children left behind that it’s ok for their children to be trapped in those schools that he disparages. And take money away from those children."
Highlight reel from Dorchester rally featuring Juan Cofield (New England Conference NAACP), Gabby Correia (South Boston High student), Mel King, Mayor Walsh, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Tito Jackson, SEIU 1199 Executive VP Tyrek Lee, and Minister Rodney Muhammed of Mosque 11 of the Nation of Islam.
Are 33,000 students really on charter waitlists?
WGBH article by Isaiah Thompson (apparently the only reporter who has actually read the state waitlist report)
shows there are far fewer and compares them with waitlists for Boston Public Schools. (You didn't know there are waitlists for Boston district schools? That might be because there's no $20 million advertising campaign telling you about them.)
The waitlists for BPS are at least as long as those for Boston charter schools. And there are over 1000 children waitlisted for Boston's successful early kindergarten program.
Why are 210 School Committees and the Mass. Assn. of School Committees (MASC) asking public school supporters to vote No?
Are charters selective schools?
Boston's CFO David Sweeney's report on Boston finances is worth reading for many reasons. It says
"BPS serves a greater percentage of high-need special education students (for instance, an aggregated 2.5% of BPS students are blind, deaf, or autistic versus 0.9% of students in Boston-based charter schools) and English Language Students (30% of BPS students versus 13% of the students in Boston-based charter schools)."
Charter schools admit by lottery, but many students leave.
The schools don't admit students after Feb. 15, or in their upper grades, so far fewer students graduate than enter. Harneen Chernow, former member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said:
“When charters apply to open a school they include an enrollment table. It shows how many kids will be enrolled in each grade. Most applications we reviewed showed a reduction in students per class each year. When some of us asked what it meant when a school plans to lose a third of their kids, we were told that the charter schools have such high standards, it isn’t for everyone and so kids and families leave.”
Do charter schools work miracles?
It certainly helps your scores when you avoid students who score low. Charters probably help some students. On the other hand, the absolute obedience students learn in "no excuses schools" may hurt them later on.
Roland Fryer of Harvard, a charter supporter, published a study that found “no-excuses” charters like the ones that are growing in Massachusetts did raise test scores but did not help students earn higher incomes later on. He speculates that the methods the schools used to raise scores may hurt their students’ job skills. The study is very technical, but read his concluding paragraph on page 27.
Is it just about Boston?
Three of the four communities in my district are effectively at the cap -- there's not enough room for another charter -- so far more than 9 districts are at risk. All of my communities pay for more than 75% of their budgets out of local property taxes, with no local accountability. That's why many school committee members call it "taxation without representation."
Mayor Curtatone says "We would have to cut back in our local public schools if Question 2 allows more charter schools to open." Every elected leader in Somerville is against Q2.
"In communities where schools are working relatively well, charters could deplete hard-won school resources," writes Sen. Will Brownsberger, an extraordinarily thoughtful representative of both Boston and suburbs like Belmont. He's concerned about both.
"It would be devastating," says Worcester School Committee member Molly McCullough.
New Bedford School Committee member Josh Amaral explains how his district could do better by all of its students if it weren't for this drain.
"Lowell paying a high price for charters."
Denise Hurst, a Springfield School Committee member and chair of MASC's Minority Caucus said, "I believe that what would essentially happen is we'd have a two-tiered educational system, and it would really be unfair."
Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, City Councilors Marc McGovern and Tim Toomey, and School Committee members Fred Fantini, Richard Harding, and Kathleen Kelly write that "The present funding system does not take into account the needs of the students attending district schools and the overhead costs of running an effective school district... If the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education wishes to invest in charter schools to offer families and students an alternative to public schools, the state should fund the charter schools directly."
Cambridge School Committee member Emily Dexter compares Q2 to the Unz referendum, where an out-of-state millionaire funded a ballot question that has hurt English language learners.