Congressman Moulton Votes Yes on Question 2
November 8th, 2016
Moulton: “Voting no is for the status quo, but clearly the status quo hasn’t worked. It hasn’t done enough for our kids, and it hasn’t changed the minds of our politicians. I believe voting yes has the potential to do both.”
Salem, MA – Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) announced today that he voted yes on Question 2 and released the following statement:
“Education is the single most important investment that we can make in our nation’s future. It’s also fundamental to the principle of equality enshrined in our Constitution: every kid should be able to realize the American dream. I am proud to represent a state that has the best public school system in the country. By nearly every metric, Massachusetts students outperform their counterparts. Our success is a tribute to the incredible teachers – like my sister Eliza – who are dedicating their careers to educating and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.
“Even still, there remain too many kids who are not being well-served by our schools. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the largest disparities between high- and low-income students. If we truly are a country of equal opportunity, then where you are born, what color your skin is, how well-known your family is, what religion you practice, or how much money your parents have shouldn’t matter when it comes to the education you can receive. But we all know that, today in Massachusetts, that is not the case.
“Sadly, we are now locked in a contentious ballot debate about how to fix this, and it’s a shame how vicious, partisan, and often devoid of facts this argument has become. Who’s to blame? People on both sides, for sure, but we wouldn’t be in this mess if Governor Baker and the Legislature had done their jobs. Proposals and compromises were laid on the table, but our elected leaders didn’t lead. They’re the ones we should ultimately thank for this expensive, contentious campaign. And by failing to do their jobs, they threw this decision to the rest of us.
“It doesn’t help that Question 2 is poorly written, a choice between two imperfect options. The ballot question should have been designed to only address the cities where the cap is an issue, and not create controversy in the majority of towns in Massachusetts – and in my district – where there are no charter schools or where towns are nowhere near the cap. For the cities where this ballot question does matter, the fundamental issue is funding.
“In Massachusetts, education funding follows the student. Although we have never funded the transition of kids when they move towns or go to private or parochial schools, we made a commitment as a Commonwealth to do so for charters when our Democratic legislature established the program. One thing I’ve heard loud and clear from the teachers’ unions is that the real issue is with this reimbursement. Again, Governor Baker and the Legislature have failed our kids by refusing to fully fund the mandated reimbursements. For that reason, in many ways Question 2 boils down to this: which option will force our elected leaders to act?
“Voting no is for the status quo, but clearly the status quo hasn’t worked. It hasn’t done enough for our kids, and it hasn’t changed the minds of our politicians. I believe voting yes has the potential to do both.
“For thousands of Massachusetts families, particularly in the lowest-performing school districts in the state, charter schools have given them access to a better education than their neighborhood school. They are serving a higher percentage of low-income and minority students than the state average and are yielding better academic results. Numerous academic studies have shown that Massachusetts charters outperform district schools, even after you correct for slight disparities in enrollment. They are also more closely supervised, though the means of supervision is different. I’ve personally seen the positive impact charters, such as KIPP Academy in Lynn and the Bentley School in Salem, can have on kids, families, and communities.
“Let’s not forget that the rich and the lucky are all set–they can move to better school districts, pay for private or parochial school, or win the lottery to get into a high-performing charter or the METCO program. It’s disproportionately poor and minority kids that are losing out, which is why polling shows these communities are the strongest supporters of Question 2.
“Charter schools are not the only answer to the vast achievement gap that exists in our state and our country. Marginally raising the cap on charter schools is not a substitute for the hard work we must do to improve the district schools that educate the majority of our children. But charter schools have proven that they deserve to be part of the solution. The thousands of kids and families on charter school waiting lists are there for a reason.
“Given how terrible this debate has become, I know many fellow voters feel like they can’t wait for it to be over. Choosing between two bad options is never a happy choice, which is why I took so much time to examine this issue. After dozens of meetings with passionate citizens on both side of this debate, I’m comforted by the fact that, while each supports a different path forward, everyone is committed to the same fundamental goal: a better future for our kids. Regardless of the result, we need to keep up the pressure on Governor Baker and the Legislature to do their jobs.
“Don’t be satisfied with the status quo: educational opportunity is not equal, and it’s failing our most vulnerable kids. Support innovation: we can do better, and that requires change. And support our teachers well enough (starting with paying them a salary that reflects their enormous contributions) so that this doesn’t continue to be a divide between teachers in our district schools and the kids and families on charter school waiting lists.
“Regardless of whether or not Question 2 passes, it will be on the Baker administration, Legislature, teachers’ unions, and charter school advocates to come together and find a better path forward. Our kids deserve nothing less.”
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