Impact of Charter Schools on Revere

June 10, 2016
By

By Dianne Kelley, Carol Tye and Paul Dakin

As the statewide debate over the expansion of charter schools continues and November’s ballot question to lift the existing cap on charter schools looms, it’s important to consider the impact of charter schools on Revere.

This year alone, charter schools will siphon off $1,787,210 in funds that would otherwise stay in the Revere Public Schools, and be used to improve learning for all students. For students, this funding loss means larger class sizes, fewer interventions for students who have learning gaps, and cut backs in support staffing for technology and other special areas.  With the additional cuts to our budget caused by the change in definition of poverty, we are at a financial breaking point.

None of us should be surprised that after years of shrinking budgets, our local schools are failing to meet the needs of many of our students. A recent report by a school budget review commission found that Massachusetts is underfunding public education by at least $1 billion a year. The ability of our schools to provide students with more opportunities for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and enrichment programs such as music, art, and athletics, is already threatened. And now, charter schools are taking more than $400 million in funds each year from our local school districts.

Numerous studies have shown that early education is the most effective way to ensure a child’s success later in life, but only 41% of 3- and 4-year-old children in Revere are enrolled in an early education program. Statewide, Massachusetts has over 16,000 children on waiting lists for pre-school programs. At the very least, we should provide access to pre-school and early learning programs for every child instead of giving money to more unaccountable charter schools.

Part of the problem is that the state approves charter schools even when the communities where they will be located are opposed to them. This has happened in Brockton, Gloucester, and many other communities. Charter schools are not accountable to the local taxpayers who have to pay for them or the communities they serve. That’s wrong. Parents and taxpayers in Revere should have the final say on what kind of schools we want.

A report from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, released last month, found that 60 percent of charter schools in Massachusetts don’t have a single parent on their boards of trustees.

Clearly, some of our vschools are struggling, particularly in our urban areas. We should be committed to fixing them – not keep taking money away and giving it to charters which accept fewer English-language learners and kids with significant special needs. Expanding a two-track system of separate and unequal schools, where students with the most challenges remain in local district schools with fewer and fewer resources, is not consistent with our Massachusetts values.

The ballot question will allow charters to expand into areas where they don’t exist right now — anywhere in the state — taking millions away from successful neighborhood public schools and causing the elimination of programs, increases in class sizes, and other damaging cuts in the schools that most families choose. In Revere, allowing charter schools to take more money away from our public school system will only hurt the majority of students. We need to fully fund our public school system before we consider spending more money on charter schools.

Dianne Kelly,  is the current Superintendentof School for Revere.  Paul Dakin and Carol Tye are Superintendent Emeritus of the Revere Public Schools.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    This article truly informs readers on public education issues. I wish the authors gave an update on Governor Baker’s plan to cut $6,000,000 plus from the Revere school district’s budget simply by changing how low-income students are counted. That’s a huge financial hit for any school district to take.

  • William Maher

    First off, you have to ask the question: Why do parents line up for miles just to get a slim chance to get their kids into a charter school? Do you think the Clintons or Bidens or O’Bama’s would ever consider sacrificing their kids to the merit-phobic public schools? Secondly, instead of groveling for money at every turn, why don’t you earn a superior position by making the case that your academic programs are universally demanding, and that you obsessively research and seek to improve every program to compete on a global basis? How about getting rid of the tons and tons of dead weight? What credentials does a guidance counselor bring that merits a 100,000 dollars a year–not to mention the million+ in retirement benefits? I think students can figure out when to send in their FAFSA applications for college aid without the input of a guidance counselor. Does anyone know what critical role is performed by an assistant principal at $150,000 annually? Why is the school day so short; why the 3-month annual summer hiatus? I thought we were so concerned about the children? Did the public schools miss the memo that the children no longer have to harvest the crops after 2:30p.m.? Then again, the public schools don’t provide students with a history or their own country or laws. No problem, if we don’t have anyone qualified to teach history, we come up with a bogus abomination known as Social Studies(Whatever that pathetic catchall term means, as one college president put it). Who isn’t qualified to teach Social Studies? I graduated from Revere High School. The history program–oops, the social studies abomination–was embarrassing. When I look back, I can’t believe that we never learned a scintilla of information about the Vietnam war or the Japanese internment, arguably, the two worst tragedies of the century from a U.S. perspective. I have to assume that the teachers, as well meaning as they are, were clueless. Then again, if you look at the flimsy graduate programs of the SED colleges nation-wide, you start to get the picture I’m painting. Go out to any college and take a look at the descriptions of SED graduate-level programs when you get a chance. If you can chew gum and tie your shoes, you can get the Ed.d degree which somehow aligns itself with the title of doctor. As one New York University professor(Martin Gross) put it, if you’re going to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a superintendant, why not hire someone with a real degree in an academically respected field. How in the world did Paul Dakin get paid over 366,000? You don’t have to wonder why the average American citizen can’t name his congressman nor have a clue as to the history of the Middle East, a place that might even be a bit relevant for decades to come. BMaher
    P.S. I could have gone on for hours about the dead weight in the public schools but I get too depressed.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    While it’s going to take me a while to sort through your comments, I’ll start with the question: “Why do parents line up for miles just to get a slim chance to get their kids into a charter school?” It’s all about the charter schools hype. Unrelenting, one-sided, vague but excessively pro-charter school hype. You may be surprised to know Governor Charlie Baker’s PR machine, Keyser Public Strategies is behind the incredible blitz of press releases that the news media use as though they are real news. Great Schools Massachusetts has an unusual way to sign its press releases: CONTACT: Eileen O’Connor eileen@keyserpublicstrategies.com. Any grassroots organization I belonged to couldn’t afford a PR company and was lucky to even get a brief mention in one or two articles. With charter schools…it’s all charter schools all the time with no specifics for the reader to hang a hat on. Fun fact, the charter school on whose board Governor Baker served, the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea, has a “persistently low graduation rate” and is a Level 3 performer. The Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea has no wait list. That charter school has empty seats. To fill those empty seats Phoenix Charter Academy offers $100 “recruitment incentives” to attract students and in return for that $100 Phoenix gets a check from Massachusetts taxpayers for $14,731.88. Two years ago CommonWealth Magazine ran an article characterizing Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea with a four-year graduation rate of just 18.3% while the five-year graduation rate is 20.6%. But Phoenix says a six year graduation is a more reasonable benchmark…that’s 35% but only “after dropping those who enrolled but attended for less than a full 45-day quarter.” If the public knew what’s really going on with the charter schools in Massachusetts and across the country, there’s no question they’d be shut down.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    I looked up the tuition and fees at the Sidwell Friends School…the private school Chelsea Clinton attended. Malia Obama and Sasha Obama go there too. The basic tuition is $39,360 but there are thousands of dollars more in fees: textbooks, bus transportation, and early/after school care. Then I went on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website to do a quick check of the per pupil costs for FY 2015 which appears to be the most recent Excel spreadsheet. No public school in Massachusetts spends $40,000 per pupil. The regional vocation high schools as a group have the highest per pupil costs ranging from a low of $17,030.03 at Nashoba Valley to a high of $28,207.95 at Minuteman with most somewhere around $20,000. The Revere Public School District spends $14,165.40 per pupil or about 36% of the Sidwell’s basic tuition excluding fees. That’s just to give some context on the money.

  • bm9

    Unfortunately, parents that send their children to Charter schools are not aware of the reality of these schools. First of all, these schools are funded with the same money public schools are funded. They are not “nonprofit” schools they are “FOR PROFIT”. They are run by The Billionaire Boys’ Club” like the Walton, Gates, and Broad foundations. These foundations are the largest promoters of Charter Schools. Literally these charter schools are taking money from our underfunded public schools. Someone has to stop our governor from doing so. Mr. Baker is a big supporter of Charter Schools. Moreover, parents don’t know that when their children are transferred to charter schools money goes with that student. But if the student doesn’t fulfill the charter school academic performance or behavior protocol this student is coming back to the public school and the public school never receives the money back that the student took with when he or she first was transferred. I am totally against charter schools.

  • Tom

    The truth has finally been spoken. Public schools are only focused on the unions and their corruption they sow.

  • Carl Anderson Thomas

    Not all charter schools are for profit, majority of them are non-profit and based on publiccharters.org, just under 13% are for profit. In Arizona, there are quite a number of charter schools where students are performing very well like Basis charter school (basisschools.org) which aims to prepare their students for international competition. In addition, there are charter schools that focused on math and science as the basis for a strong academic program like the Az Academy of Science (arizonaacademyofscience.org). The school has smaller class size and more the number of students that are proficient in math and reading are more than 60%. Showing that charter school is still effective in instilling knowledge to students.

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