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January 29, 2004
Letter to the Editor
60 Main Street, Brockton 02301
H.G. Wells once said " Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe." Yet today, public education, the birthright of Americans, is undergoing the same decoupling that has lead to insurance companies, instead of doctors, making medical decisions for patients regarding their health care.
Schoolchildren as commodities, business executives turned "Education Experts", public aid to schools that are not accountable to the public.... Its all happening here in Massachusetts and it's happening now! Governor Romney's proposal to lift the cap on parasitic commonwealth charter schools is a thinly disguised license for open season on Massachusetts public schools as venture capital firms move in for for-profit school management.
The law that allows this was created as the darkest part of the Mass. Education Reform legislation in 1993. The funding formula removes more than the actual per pupil cost from the district losing students, including tuition for those students who never attended public school in the district.
Additionally, The Massachusetts law is in conflict with the "Position Statement on Charter Schools " of the national P.T.A. because it directs monies from public schools. The National Education Association, which supports and helps fund charter school initiatives in other states, notified the Massachusetts Board of Education that their plan "was not a model to be endorsed by educators as it violated most of the criteria they developed to help shape innovative charter schools."
The equation here is simple.
The current operation of our charter schools begs several questions. What happened to our constitutional prohibition against public aid to private schools that was upheld by a 70%-30% margin when it appeared on the ballot in 1986? Since when were scarce public education funds intended to become profit for private corporations? Why are the two Sabis schools allowed to copyright "innovations" developed with public tax dollars so that they may not be replicated without paying a fee?
- Urban school systems are the places where venture capital companies believe they can make a profit and thus they become the target.
- Two main factors in determining "underperformance" are MCAS scores and dropout rates. Urban systems are at greater risk for being determined underperforming due to higher transiency rates for their students and larger concentrations of students who do not have English as their first language and therefore don't test as well.
- Declaring a school system under performing is the first step in removing control form local elected officials to a more distant state appointed authority.
The public should be thankful for Senator Pacheco's and Representative O'Brien's stand against expanding parasitic commonwealth charter schools. They, more than the Editors of the Enterprise, represent the interests of children and working families.
Joseph A. O'Sullivan, President
Brockton Education Assn.
410 Belmont Street, 02301