BOSTON – The nation’s teachers unions hate charter schools that compete with traditional unionized public schools, so they’re spending millions to fight against a dozen new charter schools in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts voters will decide Question 2 on the November ballot, which would authorize 12 new charter schools in the state if approved.
A campaign to block the new schools, known as No on 2, has raised nearly $13.5 million through October 15 to convince voters to reject the proposal, and recent campaign finance reports show nearly all of it came from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and other affiliated teachers unions, according to the Education Intelligence Agency.
“The Massachusetts Teachers Association leads the way with almost $6 million in cash and in-kind contributions so far – or about $53 per active member,” according to the news site. “Its parent union, the National Education Association, chipped in with almost $5.4 million.”
EIA listed the other contributors, as well:
American Federation of Teachers – $1,000,000
AFT Massachusetts – $820,472
Lynn Teachers Union – $50,000
Boston Teachers Union – $49,550
United Teachers of Lowell – $30,000
Salem Teachers Union – $10,000
University of Massachusetts Faculty Federation – $5,000
Massachusetts AFL-CIO – $5,000
Massachusetts & Northern New England Laborers’ District Council – $5,000
Massachusetts Teachers Association Benefits Inc. – $1,437.55
International Union of Operating Engineers Local No.4 – $1,000
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 – $500
Boston Carmen’s Union – $300
Massachusetts Library Staff Association – $100
Individual employees of unions – $2,107
“While there might not be much more outside money coming in, the campaign still has more than $3.2 million on hand, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association still has $4 million more available that the union’s board of directors set aside for the campaign in May,” EIA reports.
About 40,000 Massachusetts students currently attend charter schools, and demand for spots is so intense most charter schools have waiting lists.
School choice advocates and charter school parents point out that student in many charter schools outperform their peers in traditional public schools in academics, and freedom from union work rules allows charter school operators the freedom to institute best practices for students. Creating competition for students with traditional public schools forces all schools – charter or otherwise – to strive to improve academics, while providing parents an alternative to chronically failing public schools, they argue.
Teachers unions and their allies on many public school boards allege charter schools siphon resources from traditional public schools, though many studies refute the claims.
Regardless, a recent WBUR poll shows the union’s anti-charter campaign, and massive infusions of cash aimed at urging residents to vote ‘no,’ is having the desired effect.
According to the site:
In a WBUR poll of likely voters, 48 percent said they would vote against lifting the cap, while 41 percent would vote for it, and 11 percent said they did not know or were undecided. The same poll found that 46 percent think charters drain money from district schools, 38 percent don’t think so, and 15 percent are undecided.
As for the quality of education at charters, 39 percent said it’s about the same as in district schools; the same percentage said charters provide a better education. Meanwhile, 6 percent said charter education was worse, and 15 percent said they were undecided or didn’t know.
The poll, conducted for WBUR by The MassINC Polling Group, has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.