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Public Gets Say on 5 Charter School Applications

Three public hearings are being held this week to determine if applications should be granted for five more charter schools such as this one in Hyannis. Credit: John Phelan via wiki
Three public hearings are being held this week to determine if applications should be granted for five more charter schools such as this one in Hyannis. Credit: John Phelan via wiki
December 7, 2015

BOSTON – The public gets its say this week at hearings in Sturbridge, Lynn and Fitchburg in the application process for five proposed charter schools.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education got input from Brockton and Springfield last week.

Maureen Colgan Posner, an elementary school teacher and vice president of the Springfield Education Association, does not mince words.

She says charter schools are scamming the public by making inaccurate claims about their success rates because they serve a very different pool of students.

"We in the public school system educate more students with special needs, more students who are low-income,” she states. “We educate more students who are limited English proficiency. And while we're funding these charter schools, they're taking funds away from the very students who need them the most."

Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed adding a dozen more charter schools per year that would not be subject to the current cap.

Just last week, a group of charter school advocates submitted signatures needed for a ballot initiative to eliminate the cap altogether.

The board is expected to decide in March whether to grant the five new charter schools that are the subject of this week's hearings.

Posner says expanding charter schools would drain even more resources from public schools. She says preliminary data shows $419 million in state aid already has been diverted to charters for fiscal year 2016.

"I think the cap should be maintained, and I would love to do a moratorium and let's really study how effective the charter schools are,” she stresses. “But, I think at this point we need to stop. We need to stop draining funds away from the kids who are the most needy."

The Sturbridge hearing takes place this afternoon at the Tantasqua High School Auditorium.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA