Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: Question 2 about giving 33K kids a choice in education

American Solutions/Flickr
American Solutions/Flickr

In his rush to discredit public charter schools, James Mazarakis (“Expanding the charter cap is gambling the taxpayer’s money,” published Oct. 18, 2016) misstates several facts.

First, he cites a study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University to suggest that public charters fall short of traditional public schools. What he neglects to mention is that in the very same study – and again in 2015 – Massachusetts public charters were deemed the best in the country when it comes to closing the achievement gap between low-income children of color and white children. Not only that, but the latter Stanford study found that Commonwealth public charters provide students with an additional 1.5 months of learning in reading and 2.5 months of additional math learning.

Mr. Mazarakis is also wrong to suggest public charters siphon funding from district schools. First off, public charters are public schools – for profit charters are illegal and there are no investors. In Massachusetts, money follows the student from one public school (the district school) to another (the public charter) and districts are reimbursed for six years after. And while funding in Massachusetts has gone up by 16.9 percent for education, still only 4 percent goes to educate students in public charters in Massachusetts. On top of that, public charters are not eligible to apply for funds from the state’s School Building Authority, which oversees financing for public school construction projects.

He also neglects to mention that in a city like Malden, little over half of kids are reading and doing math at grade level and nearly 1,800 kids are stuck on waitlists. It is precisely in these communities where public charters are having the biggest impact – because they operate independently of local school districts but with high accountability standards.

So, the real gamble isn’t if we lift the cap on public charters in Massachusetts. With 33,000 kids waiting for access, it’s what happens if we don’t. I urge readers to vote yes on Question 2.

Marc Kenen

Massachusetts Charter Public School Association

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    Jack CoveyOct 22, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    One more thing about charter-promoting Mark Kenen:

    Massachusetts Charter Public School Association executive director Mark Kennan is a race-baiting douche.

    Playing the race card or the white guilt card (or wealthy guilt car) is a pretty lame and divisive tactic on the part of Marc Kenan — the Executive Director and Foiunder of the Massachusetts Charter School Association, and who helped draft Question 2 — and all the folks allied with Marc to pass Question 2.

    Go here:

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    ( 35:02 – )
    ( 35:02 – )

    MARC KENAN: “We have our strongest opposition from the teachers unions across the state, whose leadership is primarily white… (So-effing-what, Marc?! JACK) … our goal, and whom we are trying to serve, are those black and brown parents and young parents who are trying desperately to get alternatives for their children.”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    With tens of millions of dollars going to political campaign operatives, I’m guessing this specious race-baiting was dreamed up by those guys, and then tested on focus groups where those experts found out that these messages worked in getting folks to vote YES on 2.

    This scuzzy and divisive tactic works two ways:

    ON WHITES: it’s a way to use white guilt to pressure white voters into voting Question 2.

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    MESSAGE to Whites:

    “You don’t want to be one of those racists who keep blacks from getting a good education, now, do you? Vote ‘YES’ on Question 2, and earn your ‘I’m-No-Racist!’ merit badge.”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    For whites, it’s an easy way to prove you’re not a racist, and make yourself feel good in the voting booth… regardless of how off-base that thinking actually is.

    ON BLACKS: it’s a way to use historical black anger against white oppression and mistreatment to vote “YES” on 2.

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    MESSAGE to African-Americans:

    “White folks in upscale Massachusetts cities and neighborhoods are stealing black kids’ promise of a great education and keeping black kids from having good schools, just the way they’ve been doing this forever. Stick it to those racist whiteys and vote ‘YES’ on Question 2.”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    As a Los Angeleno, this demagogic re-framing of the issues reminds me the way attorney Johnny Cochran, in the O.J. Simpson trial, successfully manipulated the black jurors and black population into abandoning their common sense and critical thinking to render their verdict, and act the way they did. He brought in an irrelevant and inflammatory context of historical racism, and attached it to the way a true black person should think and act regarding O.J.’s guilt or innocence.

    “Here’s your chance to even the score with The Man. Vote to acquit!”


    “If you’re in the black community, back your brother O.J. in his time of need, and stick it to the racist power structure.”

    That’s how and why you got this abomination. (Note the different reactions of blacks and whites to the live announcement of O.J.’s acquittal):

    ( 1:01 – )
    ( 1:01 – )

    For Marc Kenan and his Massachusetts Public Charter School Association (which Marc founded) to stoop to this level of pernicious exploitation of historical racism is pretty scuzzy and skeevy. However, I imagine this is what the high-priced political campaign experts whom the “YES” on Question 2″ folks hired told him to say at the debate and elsewhere. … and Marc figures,

    “Oh what the heck. As scuzzy and skeevy as this tactic is, all’s fair in politics, and you do whatever you have to in order to win. The ends justify the means, blah-blah-blah … ”

    In all my campaigns for which I’ve volunteered — for school board members, politicians, initiatives, etc. — I’ve never had to be associated with such sleazy campaign tactics or messages that violated my own moral code, and I never will be, as I will drop out if engaging in this kind of stuff is what you have to do in order to win.

    Indeed, on her pro-charter blog, Erika Sanzi engages in this as well in her response to ultra-progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement of the “NO” on 2 campaign. Sanzi makes Warren out to be the Second Coming of George Wallace, standing in front of the University of Alabama door and barring black students from entering:

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    ERIKA SANZI: “Perhaps those zip codes that act as barbed wire fences for poor kids have simply fallen through the cracks of her broken foundation where principles have given way to power and money and special interest. Adult interest in this case.

    “It’s actually hard to imagine the disgust that low income parents, especially black and brown ones, must feel that their world famous Senator, their fighter for the ‘little guy,’ has now lost interest in that proverbial ‘little guy’. ”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    Oy vey!

    Here’s another piece, this one from Campbell Brown’s “The74” blog that goes all in this specious race-baiting. Michelle Rhee hagiographer Richard Whitmire calls out those rich white Massachusetts folks who back “NO on Question 2.”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    ‘It’s Heartbreaking’: Boston Parents Ask Why Their Wealthy Neighbors Are Fighting Charter Schools”


    “However, recent polls, along with unexpectedly intense anti-charter activity in places like Newton, suggest that support may be soft. Just before school opened in Newton this year, the union staffed a table outside its ($200 million) high school to encourage teachers to oppose the cap lift. Recently, Tillman attended a meeting in Newton where she said she heard plenty of talk against lifting the cap.

    “All of which makes her ask: Why would Newton teachers and parents, who are unaffected by charters, vote to deny better schools for the low-income neighborhoods of Boston?

    “ ‘It’s heartbreaking,’ said Tillman (an African American in favor of Question 2 and expanding charter schools). ‘This does not affect their budget. Why don’t they want to help their brethren in our ZIP code?”
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    Because they’re evil racists, Ms. Tillman. Shame on them.

    What nonsense.

    How do the pro-charter, pro-Question 2 folks reconcile this line of argument with both the NAACP and the Black Lives Matters leaders coming out strongly against Question 2, and the expansion of privately-run charter schools in general? Are those black leaders all stupid, or dupes of the white racists?


    Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:
    Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad:

  • J

    Jack CoveyOct 22, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    During the remaining days leading up to Tuesday, November 8, as you see or listen to the slick and expensive Madison Avenue-level TV/radio commercials promoting “YES” on Question 2 promulgating such lies as …

    “Question 2 will add more money to public schools (LIE: it won’t. In fac
    it will do just the opposite.


    “Question 2 won’t take money away from existing public schools (LIE: it will… a lot of money, in fact.)

    … or when view the slick mailers you find in your mailbox, or when listen to robo-calls, think about this following post about EXACTLY WHO is paying for those ads:

    The latest is that over $21.7 million of out-of-state money from the most ruthless capitalists who have ever walked the Earth — Eli Broad, the Walton family of Walmart, Wall Street hedge fund managers, etc. — is pouring into Massachusetts to pass Question 2.

    Read this well-researched article here for that $21.7 million figure:

    These profit-minded plutocrats who are pouring in this money obviously …

    — do not live in Massachusetts,

    — have no children, grandchildren, or other relatives that attend public schools in Massachusetts

    — have never given a sh#% about the education of middle or lower income until recently, when they realized they could make a buck off privatizing Massachusetts schools via the expansion of privately-run charter schools,.

    They want to these corporate charter schools to replace truly public schools — the ones that, for generations, have been accountable and transparent to the public via democratically elected school boards, and which are mandated to educate ALL of the public… including those hardest or most difficult to educate … special ed., English Language Learners, homeless kids, foster care kids, kids with difficult behavior arising from distressed home lives.

    Are proponents of Question 2 seriously making the argument that out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers are pumping in all this money because those folks care so much about the education of kids in Massachusetts?

    You really think they are NOT seeking a big money return on these ($21.7 million campaign donations?

    Does that pass the smell test?

    Can you provide an example of JUST ONE TIME in the past where they poured in this kind of cash to something … no strings attached, and with no expectations of return?

    If, as Q 2 supporters like Marty Walz claim, the most ruthless capitalists that have ever walked the Earth are now kicking in this kind of cash to pass Question 2 merely because they care about children’s education —

    … and if they are not about their profiting through the privatization of public schools brought about by the expansion of privately-run charter schools,

    … then I’m sure one of you Q 2 supporters could google and find a past example where they have done something similar .. .again out of generosity… with no expectation of an eventual monetary return…

    Something like …

    “Well, back in 2000-something, or 1900-something, these same folks donated $20 million to the (INSERT CHARITABLE CAUSE HERE). Here’s the link that proves this.”

    No, I didn’t think so. When this was brought up in a debate, Mary Walz refused to address it, saying, “We need to talk about the kids, not the adults.” Well, keeping money-motivated scum from raping and pillaging Massachusetts public schools IS CARING ABOUT THE KIDS, Marty! (By the way, those are many of the same folks who raped and pillaged the housing/mortgage industry a decade ago … go watch the film THE BIG SHORT to get up to speed on that … they’ve just moved on to new place to plunder.)

    So the real question is:

    To whom do the schools of Massachusetts belong? The citizens and parents who pay the taxes there?

    Or a bunch of money-motivated out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers who are trying to buy them via Question 2, and the expansion of privately-managed charter schools which they control, or also profit from their on-line and digital learning products that will be sold to these charter school chains?

    If you believe the former, THEN FOR GOD’S SAKE, VOTE “NO” ON QUESTION 2.

    Send them a message: Massachusetts schools are NOT FOR SALE!!!

    Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:
    Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad:

    or watch this video: