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“Yes on 2”: An Analysis

Tim Miklus '17, Contributor

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In this election, there is a ballot question which garners controversy and passionate arguments for both perspectives from the same party: Question 2. This question would, if approved, “let state education officials approve up to 12 new charter schools a year” according to the Massachusetts ballot. Although both sides of the issue offer valid arguments, it is clear that to create the best possible educational system for children throughout the state, we must vote “Yes” on this question and increase the number of charter schools in our state.

Powerful evidence suggests the overwhelmingly positive aspects of charter schools compared to traditional public schools. A report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes affirms this, especially for schools in the Boston area. One example from this report is that students in math classes at charter schools learned 200 days more of material than their peers in traditional public schools in one year. This puts students lucky enough to enroll in charter schools very far ahead of their counterparts in underperforming public schools.

It is worth noting that African-American and Latino families especially benefit from charter schools. This is because the public schools in low-income areas are far worse off than those in higher-income areas. Consider the following graphic from Greatschools.org, an organization which ranks public schools:

Notice how low-income areas such as Dorchester and Mattapan are littered with schools with the lowest ratings of 1, 2, and 3, while higher-income areas such as West Roxbury have more moderate ratings of 4 and 5. We as Massachusetts residents must do a better job to increase opportunities for low-income minorities. Expanding the cap on charter schools to allow some of the extra 30,000 children off waitlists is a perfect way to do this.

Many people who are opposed to charter schools tell me that instead of expanding the scope of charter schools, we should just improve the currently existing public schools instead. However, I don’t see this issue as an “either-or” situation. I see it as a “yes-and” issue.

Educators have tried for many years to improve failing public schools, yet have been, for the most part, unsuccessful; children in low-income areas still continue to suffer from poor education. Of course, we shouldn’t just stop trying to find ways to improve public school education.

But charter schools not only offer a largely beneficial alternative to kids in failing schools, they are innovative and disruptive in that they constantly push public schools to improve their standards. In fact, the reasons behind the rare failed charter is that they are constantly innovating and attempting to find a groundbreaking educational alternative.

Of course, if anyone is unsatisfied with certain charter school methods, they are always free to return to their public schools. Unfortunately for students, the opposite effect is much harder to achieve and students, no matter how bright, end up being trapped in failing public schools.

Finally, a negative stigma about charter schools is that they suck away funding from ordinary public schools. This is simply not the case. Funding, in fact, follows the student to whichever school they attend, public or charter. Schools, therefore, receive funding based on how many students attend, and will thus all be appropriately funded, no matter the type.

I’m not saying the expansion of charter schools is perfect. Newly expanded charter schools should be regulated to ensure high educational quality, as not every single charter school is up to par. Also, there is the problem of taxpayers paying to upkeep poor schools from which many students switch to charters. In the end, however, I believe we must hold the education of the state’s children to be of the utmost importance, and try anything we can to assure this. Expanding charter schools is the first of hopefully many steps to do this, and I encourage voters to join me in voting “Yes” on Question 2.

 

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“Yes on 2”: An Analysis