Teachers openly campaigning for and against Question 2

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/10/10/teachers-openly-campaigning-for-and-against-question-2/

BOSTON – The political debate surrounding charter school expansion is playing out in classrooms across the Commonwealth, with teachers from traditional public schools and public charter schools openly campaigning on both sides of a ballot initiative that would expand the number of  Massachusetts charters, the Boston Globe reported last week.

Currently, there are 78 public charter schools in Massachusetts. If approved, Question 2 would allow the state to grant 12 new charters a year.

According to the report, some public school teachers have begun hanging signs in classroom windows urging parents to vote “No” on charter expansion.  At one Andover middle school, for example, the Globe reported that parents attending back to school night were confronted with a “No on 2” placard at the main entrance and teachers wearing anti-charter pins.

Meanwhile, the principal of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, recently posted a video on the school’s Facebook page of Governor Charlie Baker endorsing the expansion earlier this summer. The post called on others to “like” and “share” the video.

For Dave Cuzzi, a local union president in Walpole who teaches sixth grade, handing out pamphlets and asking to use school buildings for organizing meetings is his way to utilize his own “personal collateral” to fight for an issue of importance to him.

But such activity has prompted some to question whether teachers and school officials who use their positions advocate for or against Question 2 have crossed a line.

According to the Globe, pro-charter businessman Dimitry Petion has filed complaints with the State Ethics Commission and Office of Campaign and Political Finance against a Milton Middle School teacher who used his public school work e-mail to send an email blast urging colleagues to step up their involvement in the “No on 2” campaign.

And officials with the Boston Public Schools recently sent out an e-mail cautioning school principals that “no school facility may be used for predominantly political activity, including for support or opposition to political candidates or ballot questions.”

To date, the state has not ruled whether activities by either side violate state laws prohibiting taxpayer resources for political campaigns.