BEAM Letter on Charter Cap Legislation

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
Representative Alice Peisch
Co-Chairs, Joint Committee on Education

Dear Sen. Chang-Diaz and Rep. Peisch,

The Joint Education Committee is planning to hold hearings on bills amending the law governing charter schools in Massachusetts.  Some of these bills include provisions to lift the cap on charter schools.  Lifting the cap on charter schools, without changing state funding for charter schools, will further diminish state funding for public, non-charter schools in districts, like Boston, and will undermine the capacity of districts to improve their low performing schools.  The Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts strongly opposes lifting the cap on charter schools without the state assuming greater responsibility for funding its charter schools.

In the last decade, while the city has increased its funding for Boston Public Schools, the state funding has steadily decreased and now constitutes only 13% of the Boston Public Schools budget.  Boston Public Schools is now losing almost $90 million in state funds to charter schools.  Because of the state funding formula, charters schools in Boston receive a disproportionate share of state funding, despite the fact they enroll the lower proportions of students who are English language learners or who have disabilities than Boston Public Schools.

The inequity in state funding directly impacts the quality of education in Boston Public Schools, particularly in low performing schools that need sustained, extra support to improve their performance.  The Boston Public Schools budget proposed for 2014-2015 has reduced the budgets for a large number of schools.  Parents and students have complained vociferously at budget hearings about the projected cuts in teachers and support staff that will damage teaching and services for students.

The Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts shares the concern of the state about the continuing achievement gaps persistent in low performing schools in the Commonwealth.  Eliminating achievement and opportunity to learn gaps requires strategies to strengthen the capacity of districts to support low performing public schools.  Equity in state funding is critical.  The state should not lift the cap on charter schools without addressing the funding inequities imposed on districts such as Boston and the disproportionately lower number of English language learners and students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools.


Johnny McInnis
President, BEAM