Charter cap, Common Core weighed by lawmakers

Mar 7, 2016 by

By Evan Lips –

BOSTON – A pair of hotly contested ballot proposals came in for some emotional testimony Monday during a public hearing hosted by the Joint Committee on Education, as supporters and opponents voiced their opinions on the initiatives to drop national Common Core standards from public schools and lift the state cap on charter schools.

Heavy hitters in government, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Mitchell Chester, the state education commissioner kicked off the hearing. Chester focused on defending Common Core while Walsh urged lawmakers to squash the charter school proposal and replace it with their own legislation.

“To put it simply, this proposal does not provide for the substantial charter school growth that the proponents seeks,” Walsh said about the ballot measure. “It would instead wreak havoc on our municipal finances.”

Backers of lifting the charter cap, including Gov. Charlie Baker, have pushed the measure as a way to relieve a backlog of students waiting for seats in the privately run institutions. The latest state assessment put the number of children on waitlists at about 34,000 statewide.

Walsh told the committee he would prefer it if lawmakers would “take on a more comprehensive legislative reform package” and said the ballot measure, if it passes in November, will “undermine our ability to improve new and existing schools in Boston.”

“I don’t exaggerate when I say the fate of public education in Boston depends on it,” Walsh said about the need for legislation. “Let me be clear – I remain an ally of charter schools and I support raising the cap, but this ballot petition would not help charter schools’ sustainability.”

An average of three charter schools a year have been added statewide over the last decade, Walsh said,  while the ballot proposal calls for allowing a maximum of 12 additions annually.

“We can also be fairly certain based on history that a disproportionate share of these seats would be added in the city of Boston,” Walsh said.

Source: Charter cap, Common Core weighed by lawmakers | NewBostonPost

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