School Talk

No Barbara, Your Support For a Monopoly is Shocking

Barbara Madeloni finds it shocking that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is firmly on the side of lifting the charter cap in his state. Baker has been consistent in his support for the 37,000 children in his state on waiting lists for the public schools that their families believe will best serve their needs.

Barbara Madeloni, president of the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, said she “finds it shocking our governor continues to support what will lead to dismantling public education.”

While some are pushing for a ballot initiative to lift the cap, Governor Baker has plans to file a bill.  He has indicated however, that he will support whichever method successfully lifts the cap. In his mind, it is a simple but hugely important question of opportunity.

“My view on this is simple,” Baker said. “I don’t really care how the cap gets lifted, I just want the cap to be lifted.”

“This for many families in the commonwealth of Massachusetts is not a small issue,” Baker said. “It is in some respects the difference between opportunity and lack of opportunity.”

And while Madeloni chooses not to hear the voices of those personally touched by the frustration and desperation that the charter school cap creates for families, they do have the Governor’s ear.  

Kelly Garcia, of Chelsea, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico, said her parents did not attend college, nor did her four siblings who went to public school. Garcia entered a charter school in sixth grade.

“Suddenly, I had teachers who refused to let me fail and who believed in me,” Garcia said. She became the first in her family to graduate college and is now getting a master’s degree in education.

“The 37,000 children on the waiting list aren’t numbers to me,” Garcia said. “They’re kids I grew up with, my brothers and sisters, and the brothers and sisters of the kids I teach. Unless the cap is lifted, another generation of my family, friends and neighbors will be left behind.”

Unfortunately for Massachusetts families, Madeloni speaks in dollar figures instead of achievement data. She chooses not to hear the actual stories of families desperate for choice. She chooses not to listen when Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang’s asserts that school choice plays an integral role in bringing excellence to public education.  

She consistently and knowingly misrepresents all supporters of school choice by pushing the narrative that public school choice is equivalent to privatization. Everyone knows that is a lie. Public schools come in lots of different shapes and sizes: some are exam schools, some are magnet schools, some are CTE schools, some are district schools and alas, much to her dismay, some are charter schools.

Madeloni said expanding charter schools will “create a two-tier system” for education and will “take public funds and siphon them to private interests.”
Madeloni said instead of expanding charter schools, the state should put more money into the general public school system.

The question is why is she resigned to the fact that both “tiers” (as she calls them) can’t be excellent? She seems committed to being outperformed rather than motivated to be as good, or even better. Isn’t the goal for all schools of all kinds to be great for all kids?  

Barbara Madeloni is trying to have it both ways. She clings to traditional practices that have been shown to impede progress for kids rather than embrace practices that we know work. She prefers to launch insults at those who support meaningful reforms rather than see if there is something to learn.

She wants a monopoly. And we all know that monopolies don’t work, especially not for kids.  

To borrow her word, it is “shocking” that she would support that.  

What do you think?

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