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    Letters

    Support for public schools takes many forms

    Moratorium on testing is no way
    to measure how well money is spent

    In “The voters were clear: Support public schools” (Opinion, March 15), Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, supports more money for schools through the Fair Share Amendment, which would raise taxes on millionaires, and a moratorium on using assessment tests to hold schools accountable for academic results.

    Madeloni wants more money with no way to measure whether it is well spent. This is bad for kids, and it’s a lousy way to persuade people to vote for more taxes.

    As a progressive Democrat, I believe public schools should be well funded and support the Fair Share Amendment. I also believe our government should be accountable for the quality of its services.

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    Voters will be loath to support the Fair Share Amendment unless they are confident that the money it generates will be well spent by schools. Massachusetts has large achievement gaps between wealthy and poor students; doing more of the same, but with more money and less transparency, is a disaster for kids.

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    Madeloni curiously uses national survey data to support the claim that Massachusetts voters oppose using test results to measure school effectiveness. Fortunately, MassINC recently polled Massachusetts voters about this, and found that 76 percent of Massachusetts voters see test scores as either “very important” or “somewhat important” sources of information regarding school quality.

    Voters rightly want tax dollars spent to improve schools. They deserve to see measurable results on that investment.

    Martha M. Walz

    Boston

    Walz is a former state representative and former cochair of the Joint Committee on Education.

    Students’ needs can’t be addressed without funding

    The public school educators of Swampscott would like to echo the sentiments expressed by Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, in “The voters were clear: Support public schools.”

    There are schools in Swampscott that are in desperate need of repairs to address health and safety issues. If not for the outcry from parents and educators, school officials were on the verge of eliminating free full-day kindergarten. Under current budget proposals, we are losing five teaching positions, eliminating some popular programs, and increasing fees for students to participate in athletics.

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    None of this should be happening in Swampscott, nor should every budget cycle become a moment of crisis for our schools and the students we serve. Early-childhood education, safe schools, extracurricular activities, and sufficient staff to offer diverse programs should be minimum requirements for our community, not optional budget items.

    We wholeheartedly endorse the legislative actions that Madeloni discusses, as they are responsible measures for ensuring that public schools across the Commonwealth are sufficiently funded and able to fully address the needs of our students and our communities.

    Nancy Hanlon

    President

    Swampscott Education Association

    Enough with divisiveness —
    charters are public schools too

    Barbara Madeloni, with Trumpian simplicity, showers disdain on Massachusetts charter schools, their staffs, and their families when she couples our local charter movement with US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her ilk.

    Almost 25 years ago, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act launched charter schools with bipartisan support, in great measure to fend off any voucher or school choice movements. Charters in our state, unlike DeVos’s messy system in Michigan, are highly accountable public schools, with admission by lottery and acceptance of special-needs and English-language-learning students.

    The defeat of Question 2 on last November’s ballot was a vote against charter expansion. To draw other, more obfuscating conclusions about the public’s stand is irresponsible and divisive. Many families have children in both charter and regular public schools. Charters are part of the system of public schools, completely answerable to the Commonwealth. All of the children are public school students.

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    All of us who believe in the importance of public education should be working together to defeat forces that would direct tax money to religious or private entities. We have too many enemies from without not to recognize that attempting to put down Massacusetts charters is infighting. Let us defy DeVos and work together.

    Ann Connolly Tolkoff

    Brookline