Possible Next Steps on MA Charter Schools

1.     Communicate our Concerns to the Legislature by Taking Positions on Legislation Now Before the Massachusetts Legislature Relating to Charters:

H. 425 (Rep. Russell Holmes) and S. 235 (Senator Barry Finegold) – these bills would remove all “caps” on charter school expansion, including any limitations on the amount of a district school budget that goes to charters, thus allowing “all charter” districts.

H. 345 (Rep. Mike Brady) – Prohibits for-profit entities from managing charter schools (current law prohibits for-profits from holding charters but not from managing them).

H. 398 (Rep. Denise Garlick) – Requires the certification of all public school teachers (current law only requires new charter school teachers to pass the teacher test).

H. 491 (Rep. Frank Smizik) and S.258 (Senator Marc Pacheco) – Requires local community approval of charter schools to be funded by local school budgets; if not approved locally, charter schools would be funded by the state.

H. 468 (Rep. Denise Provost) – Improve student retention in charter schools, by prohibiting certain charter school practices.

2.     Consider Filing Legislation for the Next Legislative Session to Change State Law to Address Our Concerns, such as:

Diane Ravitch’s proposals in Reign of Error:  prohibit charter schools from being operated or managed by for-profits; require salaries of principals and executives be aligned with local district principals and superintendents; closely regulate online virtual charter schools; require most students enrolled in charters to be those who were not successful in public school, and are the neediest students; require sharing of strategies and curricula with all schools.

Proposals from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC.colorado.edu):  Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity (Mead and Green, 2012).

3.     Work with State Agencies to Ask for Independent Evaluations of Charter Schools in Massachusetts, and to Help Make Changes, including:

State Auditor’s Office – is preparing a report on its findings about charter school compliance with state law and other concerns; encourage timely release of report.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education – is the state chartering authority and should be called upon to address concerns through its regulatory authority.

Attorney General (including the state’s Office of Civil Rights) should be called upon to examine concerns about unlawful discrimination and labor practices in charter schools.