Unions release ad in fight to preserve charter school status quo
By Kelly Thomas | August 2, 2016, 16:07 EST
BOSTON – The gloves are off in the fight to stop voters from authorizing an increase the number of Massachusetts charter schools, an issue that will appear on the Massachusetts ballot this November.
The Campaign to Save our Public Schools, an anti-charter group backed by several unions, is launching a 30-second advertisement against the charter expansion referendum, according to a report in the Boston Globe on Tuesday. The ad, which closes by urging voters to “vote no on question 2,” claims that charters will drain four hundred million dollars from existing public schools.
But Jim Conroy, who previously served as Governor Charlie Baker’s top political advisor and now advises pro-charter groups, believes that increasing the number of charter schools, which are publicly funded schools that operate with more autonomy, will provide students in struggling and failing districts with the option of free, quality education. Conroy accused the group, and the unions that support it, of “peddling blatant mistruths to protect their status quo.”
The ad comes one week after Governor Baker announced his support for the referendum. Standing in the rain last week, Baker called on voters to think of the children who reside in poorer communities who could benefit from the quality and innovation that charter school can provide but who cannot afford private schools. Baker’s support appears to mirror that of the public; a poll conducted this past May by the Suffolk University Political Research Center found that only 32 percent of likely voters think charter schools unfairly divert public funds from other schools, as the ad claims. The same poll measured support for the referendum at just shy of 50 percent, with 33 percent saying they disapproved of raising the cap and 16 percent undecided.
Massachusetts currently has seventy-eight charter schools, and the referendum would allow for up to twelve new schools to be approved each year, in an effort to alleviate the current number of students on waitlists, numbers that are estimated to be over 30,000.
Watch the ad here: