REJECTED BY THE voters in his bid for an expansion of charter school access, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday he will explore other means of reducing the gap between the achievement levels of white students and students of color.

Speaking to reporters a day after Question 2 went down, with 37.8 percent in favor and 62.2 percent opposed, Baker mulled extensions to the school day or models similar to a Springfield partnership where schools within a public school district have authority over making their own hiring, scheduling, budgeting and curriculum decisions.

“That achievement gap is something that we need to continue to work on, and my view at this point is that that means we need to pursue what the voters said we need to pursue – other alternatives,” Baker said Wednesday afternoon. “I mean charter schools will certainly continue to be part of the mix, as they have been, but maybe this means we need to do more of the empowerment-zone type approaches that have been pursued in Springfield, or maybe we need to do some things to lengthen school days.”

The Republican governor had backed the ballot question, which would have allowed for up to 12 additional charter schools per year beyond statutory caps, asserting that charters “have been in many cases the single biggest thing that have closed the achievement gap.”

Charters receive public funds and educate public school students, but they are run by private organizations that operate autonomously from the school district. The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership is a collaboration of the school district, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the local teachers’ union, the Springfield Education Association.

“We’re going to have conversations with people about this and make sure we continue to work on this,” Baker said.

A popular Republican governor who was elected by a 40,000-vote margin two years ago in a predominantly Democrat state, Baker campaigned for Question 2 and against Question 4, legalizing marijuana. Voters sided against Baker on both questions.

“As governor it’s incumbent on me to pursue policy prescriptions that I believe are going to be in the best interests of everybody,” Baker said Wednesday. He said, “I wasn’t making a political calculus when I decided to pursue Question 2. I wasn’t doing that with Question 4, either.”

While Question 2 had immense financial backing – spending $24 million compared to opponents’ $14 million – local school committees, mayors, and teachers unions mobilized against it. Despite the roughly $10 million spending advantage, the question was defeated by a substantial margin. Only Question 3, which mandates protections for farm animals, had a more lopsided margin.

A town-by-town map of results published by WBUR-FM shows opposition was widespread and nearly unanimous through cities and rural towns. A string of support in a prosperous part of Metrowest stretches from Lincoln to Sherborn, while other towns supporting the measure include Nantucket, Cohasset and Manchester-By-The-Sea.

State Education Secretary James Peyser, among the governor’s closest advisors and political confidants, told the News Service he preferred to let Baker address the politics and ramifications of the charter vote. Peyer said he hadn’t any time to think about next steps, and “Not even much sleep.”

Craig Sandler contributed reporting


24 replies on “After charter defeat, Baker looks to close achievement gap”

  1. How is it even possible for the State House News Service to not mention the Foundation Budget…the state’s mechanism distributing aid to local public school districts…is underfunded? Where were CommonWealth’s editors? That’s a fact charter school proponents including CommonWealth steadfastly refuse to acknowledge. Why?

  2. Governor Baker suggests “more of the empowerment-zone type approaches that have been pursued in Springfield?” How are things going in Springfield? This year, charter schools will drain Springfield’s public schools of more than $35,000,000 and there are more charter schools on the way for that city. Springfield public schools will lose millions more in funding to finance hundreds of new seats at already approved charter schools. So how will that all work out for Springfield? Especially when the Foundation Budget…the state’s mechanism distributing aid to local public school districts…is underfunded for English language learners, low income and special education students? At some point…and it certainly should be right now…CommonWealth should commit to engaging in an informed discussion on public education and its funding. The voters rejected Question 2…outright. No more charter schools. But Springfield, Boston, Lowell and who knows how many other cities and towns have yet to cope with already approved charter school seats coming on line over the next decade or so draining millions more in funding from those public school districts. Shame on the Governor for not making fully-funding local public schools his top priority.

  3. Congratulations you defeated lifting the cap on Charter Schools! Now that the budget is $15BILLION for state public schools minus 400million or 4% on the budget for the 4% of the students attending public charter schools!! Now that is out of the way
    .. what are your thoughts on the kids trapped in failing schools?
    Are we going to continue funding those failing schools who are cheating inner-city kids in urban areas?
    These kids were out there in the trenches advocating for their education!!!
    Are you going to help fix those failing schools or your main goal was to defeat question 2?
    Your answers please!!!!

  4. A 2010 report from the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, “School Funding Reality: A Bargain Not Kept How is the Foundation Budget Working?” found “Over the 17 years since the Education Reform Act passed, there has been virtually no equalization in spending or state aid between rich districts and poor.” Last year the “Foundation Budget Review Commission Final Report” was released finding a massive shortfall in state aid to public education for English language learners, low income and special education students. The conversation should be let’s adequately fund public education now…right now…right now!

  5. Your emphasis is money!! I asked you a simple question about education and you start talking about money!! So you and your cohorts is about money not quality of education in Massachusetts.. oops I forgot you like to brag about those rich townsource like Lexington, Concord. You mislead these poor kids to vote against a better educational system. You guys have control over 96% of $15Billion dollars and want more. See I was right you guys are not going to fix nothing. All you doing is siphoning money out of taxpayers… shame on all of you. Your legacy to lie to inner city kids will hunt you

  6. The underfunded urban public school districts have a higher percentage of English language learners and low income students so how do you think an underfunded Foundation Budget with a shortfall in financial assistance for English language learners and low income students impacts those students? It certainly doesn’t help them.

  7. In what ways can you help…using these kids as your pawns… complained about Charter schools draining funds… you stopped that, nowe that you have the kid’s money you guys won’t get anything done… that is Call stealing, cheating , lying… I see your kind a mile away… next will be to try to strap charter schools from their money and claim education is under funded. Your thoughts are scary.. I hope the parents you just fooled wake up one day!!!!

  8. Charter schools are draining funding from public schools. That’s a fact. The state approved Boston, Lowell and Springfield (possibly more) for new charter schools and/or expanded enrollment at existing charters schools which will further drain their funding by millions of dollars over the coming year. That’s a fact too.

  9. Drained down the toilet?
    Money is invested in the urban areas and parents who pay for those services through rent or property taxes for those charter schools. Your public schoolschool are draining the system… you get paid to educate kids not to let them fall through the cracks, aso a result you get funded for each student for the whole entire year but the kids don’t even finish the school year!! Your system sucks and you do nothing to change it!!! Even if more money gets thrown at you, nothing gets change. Tito Jackson and Marty Walsh should be ashamed for supporting failing

  10. Who should be ashamed is Governor Baker for not fully funding the Foundation Budget. The report landed on his desk mover one year ago and the governor did nothing…absolutely nothing…to address the shortfall for English language learners, low income and special education. But the governor had all the time in the world to attend rallies for charter schools.

  11. Foundation Budget Review Commission

    Final Report

    October 30, 2015 take a look at this please…. look at the funding mechanisms …. talk to school committee women such as Tracy O’Connell Novick who understands the mechanisms for funding (building assistance that Mayor walsh talks about; Chapter 70, Chapter 46)… don’t talk from magical promises and say “trust me.. it will be great if you just believe me”…that is Dumbo’s magic feather and is good for motivation in kids but about age 4 the child learns superman’s cape is not going to protect him from being dead…. there are motivational tools and ideals and there are pragmatic realities of working out funding mechanisms…. A really good finance in schools manager named james Guthrie goes around the states teaching people this but unfortunately MA hasn’t had him come through here… because you know baker is a superior knowledge of funding and investments and hedge funds (didn’t you know that? sarcasm intended but not towards you Rodolfo)

  12. Amazing how Governor Baker suggests “maybe we need to do some things to lengthen school days” when he hasn’t fully funded the length of the school day as it exists now across the state especially when it come so to English Language Learners, low income and special education students. How about starting with fully resourced schools?

  13. It’s all the same cabal of one reformista group partnering up with another. The consultant business profitting from the Springfield “empowerment” zone belongs to Chris Gabreili, Sec. of Higher Ed.

    Another of his businesses is called TransformED, which sell surveys to school to “measure” social and emotional learning (SEL), which DESE is considering adding as an indicator of school quality.

    It’s not about schools and kids; it’s about business opportunies for pals.

  14. I read your links plus looked some more into the Springfield Empowerment Zone. It was set up for the 2015-2016 school year and according to a November 2, 2016 article in New England Public Radio, “As Charters Debated, ‘Empowerment Zone’ Promises Third Way in Education”, “The test results for the first full year of the Empowerment Zone came in last month. Duggan showed solid improvement. The other schools are more of a mixed bag, with some scores up and some down.” And Governor Baker is promoted it as though it was a success…with a proven track record. Unbelievable.

  15. You might be interested in knowing how charter schools are doing in Springfield…either not too well or too soon to tell. Some Springfield charter schools are so new there is “insufficient data” on their performance. That includes: Baystate Academy Charter Public School grades 6-12; Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, Springfield grades 9-12; UP Academy Charter School of Springfield grades 6-8; and Veritas Preparatory Charter School grades 5-8. Notice those schools start at Grades 5 or 6 or 9. What’s going on with the other charter schools in that city specifically the ones serving lower grades? If you do an internet search, “mass dese charter school fact sheet” then you’ll uncover an interesting untold story. Springfield already has three charter schools starting with kindergarten: Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence K-05; SABISs International Charter School K-12; and Springfield Preparatory Charter School K-08. Two of those charter schools are on probation or operating under conditions and the third, Springfield Preparatory Charter, even though approved for K-08 opened in 2015 with 54 students in kindergarten and another 54 students in 1st grade so it will take quite a few years before grade 8 is filled with any students. That means as far as Springfield and its charter schools are concerned, they’re expanding like crazy even though all of the charter schools in operation are either too new to evaluate or on probation or operating under conditions. Looks like Springfield is ground zero for one big education experiment.

  16. I’ve spent countless comments on the Foundation Budget and other reports but he is simply not interested. Good luck.

  17. Granted I only took a quick look but I couldn’t find anything on the cost for Springfield’s Empowerment Zone or a real analysis on what are some of the identified problems with that City’s schools. Do you have anything?

  18. you cannot provide resources with out funding… you need nurses, you need school counselors (police men and metal detectors are not enough)… you need community participation…. I am quite pleased with how Haverhill operates schools on the budget that we have…. yes, I would like it better and improved for ALL the kids… I cannot be held responsible for Methuen’s schools — this is purposely local community involvement. Ask the real estate people why they sell those expensive homes in the W’s to get people into million dollar houses (sometimes at interest only)… do you think the teachers are to blame for the real estate market? I have written before my significant other was a Prez of MA school business officials for a while and he said “call them all charters if you want but fix the $2!@% budgets so that there are not such large inequities between/among districts; every time there has been a teacher strike in Boston or Chicago one of the demands has been school nurses for every school… I told you before I could handle 30 or 40 kids in classrooms and then when you add a child with a breathing tube i need a nurse on duty in the building; and for the child with ADHD (or the latest diagnosis) there is a resource teacher, a school counselor a school psychologist but ALLof the resources have been cut while the schools have continued to try to do more with less and the politicians blame the teachers because the goals aren’t met. Father Drinan explained this to me a long time ago; they will cut your resources/funding and then tell you that you have failed on these goals. Back of in your accusations because you need to tell the people in the governor’s office and the Malden DESE Board and the commissioner who is demanding more and more millions to build his computerized tests… get Suzanne Bump to audit the budgets and then we should talk about fixing the problems.

  19. I do not use the kids as pawns… these are committed people in human services…. all of my friends are compassionate towards the students and some of them were even former nuns… you are attacking the wrong people in this platform Rodolfo

  20. My personal crusade: Please stop saying “Achievement Gap” when you mean “Test Score Gap.” Let us all fervently pray that achievement means a great deal more than a standardized test score.

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