Opponents of the measure will frame the ballot question in terms of money for traditional schools, which obscures the real issue: Great charter schools provide more options for our most vulnerable families, those who don’t have the same luxuries as their peers with more resources and mobility.
Opponents of the measure plan to blame charters for taking money away from traditional public schools, but the real culprits are the lingering effects of the recession and local property taxation policies, not the relatively small number of charters. While charter schools are a drop in the fiscal bucket, they provide an easy target for voters whose children have the luxury of attending high performing schools in their suburban neighborhoods.
Reformers around the country have been exploring alternative venues for driving educational change—like the courts—and this initiative will be an interesting test case for the effectiveness of the ballot as a venue.
Those seeking educational change must continue to supplement their piercing logic with an imposing political ground game, which hopefully will mean creating even more room for parents and communities to take greater leadership over the education agenda.
Previously, Justin Cohen was president of Boston-based education nonprofit Mass Insight Education, where he helped cities and states around the country rethink how we serve our most vulnerable children. Justin has also worked in the D.C. Public Schools and was on the education policy committee for President Obama's 2008 campaign. He serves as board chairman for Students for Education Reform and has spent five years as academic committee chair for the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools. Justin writes about education policy on his blog where he tries to piece together the story of how our system became obsolete, why it fails too many children and families and what we can do to design a better way forward.
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