This one is surprisingly contentious. I was going to write a single post covering all four ballot questions, but this one really needed its own. Here’s why you should join me in voting YES on Question 2.
Maybe you’ll be convinced quickly?
If you support choice and free markets, as I unabashedly do, you’ll quickly come to the YES side, I hope. If you need a little more convincing, please stay with me for an objective analysis as the misinformation campaign has been rather aggressive.
The $400 million lie
Opponents are using these numbers like this to scare up the opposition. Let’s understand that this is the money that “follows the students”. When you’re told that this money is coming out of public education, without being told that it goes with the student to their new school, you’re being told a lie of omission.
Economic facts of charter schools:
When Andy moves from a public school to a charter school, funds equivalent to what would have been “spent on him” follow him to the charter school.
Ex: District spends $15,000 per student (total of state and local funds / number of students). This money follows the student to the charter school. (This is essentially the same as the current voc-tech / agricultural funding model. A model that no one argues against.)
Further, though it’s been somewhat underfunded of late when a student leaves the public school system for a charter, the “sending” public school system gets a kickback of up to 95% of the per-student funds. This money smooths funding variance for sending schools and helps to offset capital expenditures that didn’t consider the charter school effect. This is, in fact, new money for schools — incremental state spending on education. It’s complicated. More here.
The funding model isn’t perfect. The sending district may incur additional transportation (busing) expense. We can debate and refine the economics, but beginning with the premise that $400M is somehow being taken away is a grossly disingenuous way to start the conversation.
It’s not about you
The current charter school cap is 120 and we have only 78 statewide. But under current law, Boston and Springfield have reached their caps. Thousands of Boston families seeking better educational opportunities are denied them every year, due in large part to this cap. A YES vote fixes this and extends choice and opportunity to these students.
You should also know that in milky white Massachusetts, 66% of charter school students are non-white.
Charters are working right now
We all want the best from our public education system, Boston Public Schools included. Unfortunately, things are, objectively, bad in this school department. This is what drives demand for charters. With a magic wand, we could cure all that ails it. This is unrealistic and it’s unfair to subject today’s students, who have immediate needs, to the long and slow grind of structural reforms.
The charters are doing a better job. Great stuff here from Brookings:
A NO vote solves nothing
Voting NO doesn’t make public schools any better. It changes nothing. Nothing at all.
Consider these points on Tuesday.