Retired teacher Christine Langhoff has been following the debate over Question 2 in Massachusetts closely. She concluded that its real goal was not to close the achievement gap–charters have not done that anywhere in the nation–nor even to provide better schools–most charters in the nation are no better and many are unquestionably worse–than public schools.

The real purpose is to bankrupt urban districts, and maybe other districts as well. This has been the story in Pennsylvania, where charters have sucked resources out of public school districts, causing budget cuts, layoffs, and program cuts to public schools. Meanwhile, the charter schools get outside funding from Wall Street, the Waltons, financiers, and other champions of privatization. The ultimate goal is the destruction of public education.

She writes:

It’s becoming apparent to many that the real objective of Question 2 is not merely to further the cause of privatization to benefit the hedge funders, but also to bankrupt our urban school systems. There is no mechanism in the ballot question to financially support more charters because Marc Kenen, executive director of the MA Charter School Association, author of the proposal did not include one.

The current law regarding charter funding is carefully worded. Up to 9% of a city or town’s education funding can be directed to charters. In the so-called “failing” districts, the percentage is up to 18%. This means that if a city like Boston decides to increase school funding, the parasitic charters get more dollars. The state is supposed to reimburse cities and towns for costs associated with charters, but has failed to do so in recent years. Last year, about 50% of the reimbursement due to Boston was not made.

This afternoon, the Boston City Council, which has taken a stand in opposition to Question 2, held a hearing on the financial impact of Question 2, should it pass, and how the diversion of money to charters is already harming the city’s ability to fully fund our schools. Dave Sweeney, Boston’s Chief Financial Officer was among those who testified. (See his explanation of the impact of charter funding on the city’s finances here: Councilor Tim McCarthy pursues this line of questioning about the state’s failure to honor this requirement beginning at about 1:22:00

Tito Jackson expressed his dismay that the state board of education – a cabal of appointees by the pro-charter Gov. Baker – has taken the position that DESE is not obligated to take into acount the financial impact the opening of more charters will have on the host cities and towns where the Board decides to site these charters. He also notes that the state of Massachusetts currently underfunds public education to the tune of more than $1 billion. Start at about 1:37:00 for his testimony.