Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Charter battle pits Democrats against Baker, each other

Charter battle pits Democrats against Baker, each other:

Charter battle pits Democrats against Baker, each other

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker's name was absent from the lips of nearly all but one speaker at the state Democratic Party’s convention two weeks ago, and that speaker was state AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman.
Tolman connected Baker to well-heeled financial interests that, he said, are behind efforts to increase the number of charter schools in the commonwealth. At face value, the tweak makes sense, as Baker has planted his flag in support of a measure to raise the cap on charter schools ahead of its appearance on November's ballot.
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“The money behind this charter school campaign is from the same donors who finance the Republican Governors Association, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Charlie Baker,” Tolman told the 2,500 Democrats in Lowell.
Many hoisted yellow signs reading “Save Our Public Schools" during the speech.
“They are corporate Wall Street billionaires and conservative think tanks who also support right wing campaigns all over the country," he said. "They are here in Massachusetts and they want to convince people that they have Massachusetts students’ best interest in mind in their quest to lift the cap on charter schools.”
After the convention, the pro-charter Democrats for Education Reform fired back in a statement.
“Some speakers at today's State Democratic Party Convention defied the party platform, President Barack Obama, and the majority of Democratic voters who consistently voice support for expanding charter schools in areas where more school options are needed,” said state director Liam Kerr. “Muddling the Party's long history on school reform may be good for slogans on signs and stickers, but it's bad for kids.”
Tolman reemphasized his comments on Friday, telling POLITICO Massachusetts that organizations like Democrats for Education Reform have been "made up to look like we’ve been split apart as Democrats.”
That led Kerr to fire back: "Is Steve Tolman unable or just unwilling to read the Democratic Party platform?"
If Democrats are trying to find weak points in Baker’s armor, assailing his position on the charter school cap is a risky place to start. Because, as the backbiting after the state convention showed, the party is not exactly of one mind on charter schools.
Polling shows a divide between union-based opposition to charters and support for the schools from low-income and minority communities. In a poll commissioned by the pro-charter Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Association in April, about 75 percent of Boston-based respondents said they would support the November ballot question to lift the charter cap. Support was especially strong

Read more: http://www.politico.com/states/massachusetts/story/2016/06/effort-to-battle-baker-on-charters-pits-democrats-against-each-other-102750#ixzz4BZ8pEK4I 
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