Archive 2008 - 2019

Vote No on Increasing Charter Schools -- Ballot Question #2

by Bill Dooling

Last Saturday’s Celebrate Holliston should again, as always, be viewed as a spectacular success for once more bringing our unique community together in friendship and civic pride.

I was proud to be part of the Holliston Democratic Town Committee’s booth that was set up to provide voter registration information; to pass out literature on Hillary Clinton, and to provide information about the four initiative petitions to change state laws that will be on the November ballot.

As a retired Millis teacher of 29 years and a 40-year resident of Holliston whose three daughters were well educated in our terrific public school system, I focused my time and energy talking to my fellow citizens about Question 2. This initiative asks voters to permit 12 new charter schools per year in perpetuity, with no limit on how much money any one community can lose.

Our own elected School Committee members voted 6 to 0 on September 15 to support a resolution opposing Question 2.  In so doing, the Holliston School Committee joined over 100 other school committees across the state that are urging residents to vote no on 2.

Although it is getting more attention, I found that many of the almost 100 Holliston celebrants with whom I spoke on Saturday were not fully aware of the debilitating ramifications that this proposed expansion of publicly funded, privately run charter schools would have on our public schools.

Here are some important facts to know.

  • This year, district public schools will lose more than $450 million to charter schools. If Question 2 is passed, that number could rise to $1 billion in just six years and to $1.5 billion four years after that.
  • The state can — and often does — approve charter schools over the objections of a majority of the residents of a community and their elected officials. That happened in Brockton last year, when a new charter school was approved even though every single school committee member, city councilor, state representative and state senator in Brockton voted to tell the state that Brockton didn’t want the school, didn’t need it and couldn’t afford it. (Note that the opening of that school has been plagued with problems and the students who remain enrolled in it are now bused 22 miles away to Norwood.) Once a charter is open, the local democratically elected school committee has no oversight over the financial or educational management of the school.
  • Charter schools fail to serve as many high-needs students as the districts in which they are located. For example, less than 1 percent of the students enrolled in the Brooke Charter School in Boston are English language learners, compared to 30 percent in the Boston Public Schools. These discrepancies may raise test scores in the charter schools, but they leave public schools with fewer resources to educate a high-need population.

For all these reasons, I urge Holliston residents to vote “no” on Question 2 in November. If you vote no, existing charter schools will not be affected and new charter schools can still be opened — there will just be limits on how many. If you vote “yes,” the floodgates to new charters will open, possibly doing irreparable harm to the Commonwealth’s public schools, which are considered the best in the nation.

Bill Dooling 37 spring St Holliston   508 641 0154

Comments (12)

Charter schools target districts with a lower than 25% success rate and the State reimburses the district 225% of lost Chapter 70 funds. Question 2 is about putting students above the unions.

Marty Lamb | 2016-09-29 13:51:17

A few Charter schools in needy districts around the state is reasonable, but 12 new Charter schools every year is too much. I also find it odd that Charter school teachers do not need to be certified. I'll be voting NO on ballot question #2

Lee DeSorgher | 2016-09-29 08:25:35

Every few years the charter cap is raised. Why not do it once and for all? Who are we -- especially our all white school committee -- to decide what schools other communities (especially those that are urban and lower income) provide for their children? Public charter schools have been built around the Commonwealth for years and the funding for them follows the students who choose to attend them. Look at the facts -- Holliston has not lost out because of charters nor will it if you vote yes on 2. Let's value how lucky we are to have the system we have in this town and give children elsewhere the same opportunity to have a high quality education.

Jack Cunningham | 2016-09-28 08:29:41

Also there was a great op ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the Mass Ballot question and why it makes sense to vote yes. I will not link it here due to copyright but you can go online and read it.

Steve Smith | 2016-09-28 04:23:52

Isn't this the same issue as school choice? Holliston gets that benefit at the determent of other school districts like Milford and Bellingham. Where parents live should not dictate the quality of a child's education. That is the fundamental flaw in public education. The more choices the better.

Steve Smith | 2016-09-28 04:21:33

A good rule of thumb is that if the Massachusetts Teachers Association is against something, it's probably a good idea. The union isn't opposed on the grounds that it will be bad for students, but because it'll be bad for their own pockets. I don't blame the teachers union for looking out for themselves, but the fact is that charter schools are public and more charter schools would be a good thing (at least for the students). Don't let anyone convince you that more competition in education is a bad thing. Just ask yourself, when has competition ever been a bad thing?

Joe Gentile | 2016-09-27 16:35:54

Claire, I work as a special education para in a different school district. The Mass Teachers Assoc is STRONGLY against this ballot question. Public schools will lose big if charter schools are expanded.

Alison Malcolm. | 2016-09-27 14:31:45

While this letter brings up some valid arguments, it fundamentally misses the value of public charter schools in the Commonwealth. You have to realize that these schools in question are PUBLIC and allow for many students who are not as privileged as those who grow up in Holliston to have an alternative option for a free high quality education. Voting NO on Question 2 leaves a dangerous cap on charters that limits the power of children to learn, promotes inequality, and hurts the next generation.

Jim MacDonald | 2016-09-27 14:20:13

The demographics of Holliston are changing rapidly-just check the police reports. We need to fund our charter schools so our kids can have options on where they receive an education

Dave Schill | 2016-09-26 20:38:59

I'm quite torn on the issue of Charter Schools. The idea seems to be really good, but the execution often seems not to match the ideals that they are founded upon. As for test scores, I don't believe it is fair to compare a "general population" school with a "self selected" charter school. The charter school may appeal to students with learning difficulties, or other groups which might not test well.

Vince Packard | 2016-09-26 12:54:07

Bill, my adult children received excellent educations here in Holliston as well. Partly due to "education overrides to provide what was needed." what is the Massachusetts Teachers Association Take on this? Where would these Charter schools be added? I believe I read that the Charter Schools in and around Boston are not filled quota wise and the children in the Boston Public schools are testing at a higher rate than the kids in charter schools. Will PUBLIC schools funding be jeopardized?

CLAIRE BRESNAHAN | 2016-09-26 09:13:39

I would like a lawn sign.

vincent a ferrero | 2016-09-26 05:31:30