Venture Capitalist Tweet at Me

In my life, I have not had much occasion to interact with the fabulously wealthy unless a Beacon Hill lady has stumbled into an AA meeting I’m attending. But something odd has happened in the last week where Massachusetts Twitter is being inundated by out of state Tweeters who are imploring us to #LiftTheCap on the number of charter schools.

These people are often tweeting from places where education reform has been a complete disaster like Chicago, New Orleans and New Jersey. But they are not interested in cleaning up the mess that they have made in their own backyards. They are fixated on getting more kids into more charter schools.

One gentleman in particular likened me and Boston activist Eli Gerzon to Nazis and White Supremacists, and himself to Freedom Riders in the South.

I believe this is really important because Freedom Riders put their own bodies on the line and faced arrests, violence from mobs, and a few of them even lost their lives fighting segregation in the south. They so believed in desegregation that they literally paid in blood.

Mr. Melhorn, a white venture capitalist, trolling Boston parents from an air conditioned room in between his social engagements in Washington D.C. believes he is a freedom rider. He is not facing mobs, or police dogs. He has no skin in the game.

So this is where I start to have a little bit of an issue. Those of us who have been working on equity in the system have given countless hours to this work. We have attended untold number of meetings, written emails, op-eds, and protests. Closer to home, we have volunteered in our schools, raising thousands of dollars for our underfunded schools, we have attended parent council meetings and parent teacher conferences. This is the price we have paid to make our schools what they are.

Are they perfect? Hell no. But Massachusetts is the highest performing state in the nation. If MA were it’s own country, it would score in the top ten for math and science. Boston Public Schools is the second highest ranking urban school district in the country.

Ten years ago, Detroit lifted its cap on the number of charter schools and since then, DPS has been completely decimated and the entire system is in chaos. DPS had problems but the problems it had were not so acute that it deserved to be destroyed. And the reformers solution made everything infinitely worse just as they have brought destruction to Chicago and Philadelphia.

Impervious to self reflection, this does not interest them. They are still donating 18 million dollars to convince Massachusetts voters to lift the cap. Because this is about demagoguery and not the real lives of children and families.

These people will bear none of the cost or consequences of lifting the cap in charter schools. Their children’s schools will not close. Their children’s schools will not lose funding. Their lives will not be disrupted. Their taxes will not fund these schools. There is literally no risk to them whatsoever.

We will be left to pick up the pieces of our disrupted school district, and they will be tweeting at the next city, going to sleep and dreaming of all of the freedom they are riding.

I storied some of the tweets coming from folks out of state:


When it comes to charter schools, Charlie Baker is all wet

Slow clap for Governor Baker. He managed to keep talking in the rain yesterday at the kick off of the Great Schools MA rally to lift the cap on charter schools.

It began to pour during the well choreographed photo op on the state house steps, and Gov Baker seized the dramatic moment and said,

“You know something folks? For too many children and too many families in the Commonwealth of Mass., it’s been raining for a really long time.”

Did you notice what he didn’t say? What he never says?

How much this is all going to cost the taxpayer. He may shed a tear for the fisherman in New Bedford, but he doesn’t cry for the taxpayers of Massachusetts.

Charter schools serve 32,000 (4%) of children in Massachusetts. Yet, they cost 400 million dollars a year. If Question 2 is adopted, within 10 years, it will cost Massachusetts up to a billion dollars a year. The state underfunds public education by a billion dollars TODAY.

But Governor Baker has not said a single, solitary word about how the Commonwealth will pay for these 12 new schools a year.

And he won’t because though he markets himself as a fiscal conservative, he is not. In reality, he is a neoliberal. His interest lie is not in protecting the taxpayer but in transferring public dollars to private entities.

Question Two will be a fiscal disaster for Boston

CnHuCxpW8AQ0s9wI’ve been kicked off the PokemonGo servers without so much as a Weedle to capture so while I wait to have my reality reaugmented, I thought I would write a blog post.

The ballot question line up came out today.

Question 2 would allow for the creation of 12 new charter schools a year.

And you, dear voter, should Vote No on 2. Why? Because it would be a fiscal disaster for Boston.

Don’t believe me? Well, it’s right here in the Executive Summary for the City of Boston budget presentation.

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..unless the State acts to address the charter school cap in a way that protects Boston, voter approval of the proposed charter school cap ballot initiative could have a devastating effect on the City’s future finances. (Page 2 of the Executive Summary for Fiscal Year 2017)

That would be ballot initiative Number Two. The one I’m telling you not to vote for.Note that it says, it would have a devastating effect on the CITY’s finances. It does not say Boston Public Schools finances. This is the city’s finances.

That is because Boston already loses an astonishing $120 million dollars to charter schools each year. That is what is lost with only 34 charter schools in Boston. If Question 2 is passed, there could be 12 new charters schools added each year. They are approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). The chair of BESE has made it clear that BESE should not consider budgetary effects of the charters on the surrounding district when approving charters. BESE will not save us. We could lose hundreds of millions more each year.

Now ask yourself – where is that money going to come from? Really. Where is it going to come from?

I hear your silent objection: But aren’t cities reimbursed for charter school tuition?

On paper yes. But the reality is that the state budget actually has to write in a number that funds the reimbursement. And if they don’t, there is nothing forcing them to. There are no consequences for the state if they do not reimburse us. And they haven’t fully reimbursed Boston in years.

And even if they did reimburse us – where is that money going to come from?

Really. Think about it. Who is going to pay the reimbursements? Where does the state get its money from?

You. The taxpayer. And it is really expensive to fund education. Now, if you go, and you set up an entirely parallel and duplicate system, you will be paying twice as much for the exact same services. You, the taxpayer, will be paying twice for the same services you could be paying once for.

But the state isn’t going to do that because according the Foundation Budget Review Commission, the state is already underfunding public education by nearly a billion dollars.

So there will be no million dollar reimbursement for Boston from. That money will come out of the city’s coffers.

How do you imagine that is going to play out?