I talk to Yawu Miller of Boston’s Bay State Banner about the red-hot debate over charter school expansion in Massachusetts—and what *thought leaders* are getting wrong…
EduShyster: In a few weeks, Massachusetts voters will give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to raising the *cap* on charter schools. The issue has attracted a frenzy of*reporting* from outside of the state, much of it, shall we say, somewhat muddled. Since Boston is at the very center of the scrum, I thought I’d bring in someone who knows a thing or two about the place. Yawu: what are people missing about this story? Besides the fact that Boston is not a state, that is.
Yawu Miller: What I’ve noticed in the debate in Boston is that people are not against charter schools. They think that there is a place for them. They think that charter schools work well for some people, maybe for their own children. But they don’t want to see the kind of expansion that’s being proposed now. They think there’s a threat to the district school system if that happens. You hear a lot of people saying *I’m not anti-charter. I’m against this ballot question.* I think the funding issue has caused a lot of people who pay attention to the schools to come out strongly against this.
EduShyster: Let’s talk politics. This week Elizabeth Warren came out in opposition to Question 2. The issue is beingcharacterizedoutside of Massachusetts as *one of the most important tests of social justice and economic mobility of any election in America this fall.* But support among officials in Boston in particular seems, um, thin. Am I right?
Miller: In Boston, most elected officials are quiet about it. There are a few other elected officials in other parts of the state, and Congressman Stephen Lynch. When the Boston City Council voted on a No on Question 2 resolution, 11 councilors voted to oppose it, two councilors abstained, saying that they didn’t want to take sides. One of the leading voices against Question 2 in Boston has been City Councillor Tito Jackson, who, by the way, is on the board of the Renaissance Charter School. Mayor Walsh, the other leading voice against Question 2, served on the board of the Conservatory Lab Charter School. The rallies that Great Schools Massachusetts has had, and they haven’t had any for a while, were led by Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito, both republicans. The rallies seemed like they were all charter parents and it was notable that they were all during the school day and there were children there who presumably got time off from school. I think for at least some Black and White – EduShyster: