Sunday, March 6, 2016

Written Testimony for the Joint Committee on Education, Concerning Bill H3928, “An Act to Allow Fair Access to Public Charter Schools”

Dear Joint Committee on Education:

I am the parent of a 3rd grader that attends a Boston Public School, the Ellis Mendell K-5 in Roxbury.

On Tuesday, February 23rd I attended a meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. They were voting on approving some new charter schools and on the expansion of some others.

Tito Jackson, the Education chair of the Boston City Council, and Michael O'Neill, the chair of the Boston School Committee, both testified before BESE asking them not to add 1119 additional charter seats to Boston as the proposed seats would remove another $17 million from Boston Public Schools. The $17 million will be in addition to the $120 million BPS already sends to commonwealth charters.

People from Brockton were also testifying at the meeting. They were trying to prevent a new charter school from opening up. To me, Brockton sounded to be doing really well. It sounded like people are going to Brockton to study how they have turned their schools around. The people testifying said that if the charter school opened Brockton Public Schools would lose $8 million a year. They said that this would completely pull the rug out from under them and destroy everything they had worked so hard for.

BESE eventually deliberated. They even brought up the subject of “impact” and should they take that into consideration?

The following are some of Tracy Novick's notes from that discussion:

So I'm assuming that no one does an impact study? Really? Someone needs to do an impact study, because there's definitely impact.

As it stands now, the state can come into a district, one that's doing everything right, one that's doing great with what they have and tell them “we're putting a new school in to your district, we're going to make you fund it in addition to your existing school(s), and you have no say about it and there's nothing you can do about it.”

Am I wrong to think this is insane(?) to rip millions and millions of dollars away from existing district schools in the name of helping children?

What these policies are actually doing is hurting thousands of children's chances at receiving a good education by defunding existing schools. It's crazy. It's wrong, and it harms children.

I'm asking you to stop this. Please vote no on Bill H3928. We need legislation that takes into account the impact of forcing new schools into districts. No more imposed, unasked for, unwanted schools.