BOSTON -- October 20, 2016 -- Rep. Patricia A. Haddad, Democratic Speaker Pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has announced her support for Question 2 on the November ballot to lift enrollment caps on public charter schools in the Commonwealth.
A former public school teacher and school committee member in Somerset, Haddad said she initially didn’t see a place for charter schools. Her views changed, however, once she was elected to House and became the Chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.
“I heard the same arguments time and again about charters draining money from district schools and engineering their enrollment to serve the easiest kids,” Haddad said. “But I quickly learned these oft-repeated statements were factually incorrect.”
Haddad said the more public charters she visited, the more apparent it became the important role they play in offering high quality choices for families.
“Charters offer options within the public education system,” she said. “They play an important role, especially for families in struggling districts who have limited finances and choices. For these families, private school is out of the question but their children shouldn’t be denied the opportunity for a better education in their own communities.”
Haddad added: “Charter schools are public schools; it clearly states this in the law. Funding simply follows the child, as it should. The funding is intended to support the education of children whether they attend district schools or public charter schools.”
Question 2 is directed at giving families in struggling school districts more choices.
Haddad noted that communities with excellent school systems won’t be affected, because Question 2 prioritizes new charters in underperforming urban districts.
“Charter schools have a place in our public education system, a place that really can’t be appreciated unless you’re living in a school district that is struggling,” said Haddad. “We can’t deny children the opportunities for a quality education that many of us take for granted.”
A lot of work must be done to improve districts as well, but families can’t wait another five, ten or twenty years for the improvements while their children lose out on the educational advantages charter schools are offering right now, Haddad said.
“If the loud voices decrying charter schools really cared about stronger public schools for everyone, they would support the cap lift,” said Haddad. “Unfortunately, the debate is focused on money when it should be about the best education for all of our kids. At the end of the day, isn’t that we’re supposed to be about? If you agree, please vote yes.”