The backers of a ballot question to allow for the creation or expansion of up to 12 charter schools per year in Massachusetts are out with a new television ad defending themselves from attacks by teachers unions.
“Special interests that oppose Question 2 claim district schools lose money to charter schools,” says a male narrator. He then quotes several charter-friendly newspaper editorials.
“That’s ‘absurd,’ says the Boston Herald. ‘Outright lies,’ reports the Lowell Sun. Charter schools ‘don’t siphon off state dollars from traditional schools,’ says the Boston Globe,” the narrator intones in the new ad by Great Schools Massachusetts.
Traditional public schools do lose money when students leave them for charter schools, because funding follows the students. But the editorials the ad cites argue that the money charters get reflect what the government would be spending on educating students if they had remained in traditional public schools — that charters just get their fair share.
Proponents also make the case that charters actually increase overall funding for public education — both traditional and charter schools — because the state reimburses the traditional public school for a period of time after students decamp for charters.
But teachers unions rebut by saying if three kids leave a traditional school for a charter school, the school can’t close a classroom, reduce the number of teachers, or pay less in utility bills.
Save Our Public Schools, the teachers union-funded group opposing the ballot question, has repeatedly argued that charter schools drain huge amounts of money from traditional public schools.
Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the anti-charter group, said proponents of the ballot push “don’t get how local public schools work and, sadly, they don’t care. Question 2 will absolutely result in hundreds of millions of dollars being sucked out of our district schools and handed to privately run charters. That’s why more than 130 locally elected school committees across the state have voted to oppose Question 2 and zero have voted to support it.”
In Massachusetts right now, there are about 80 charter schools. Charters use tax dollars from local school districts, but tend not to be unionized and usually operate with state, not district, supervision.
The new ad, an official with Great Schools Massachusetts said, will begin airing widely on Boston and Springfield broadcast — and statewide cable — television Tuesday.
It ends with a bright pitch. “Question Two will give parents more choices and result in more funding for public education. Please vote yes on Question Two, for stronger public schools.”