Letters to the Editor

Monday, August 29, 2016
By Transcript Staff

Supports Forde for Register of Deeds

Dear Editor:

As a current Winthrop resident, I’m writing to urge my neighbors to support Katie Forde for Suffolk County Register of Deeds in the upcoming September 8th primary. How the Registry operates impacts everyone buying or selling a home.

The Registry should be managed by a professional, and as a 10-year legal professional, Katie is the only candidate in the race with hands-on experience with registries across the Commonwealth.

If elected, Katie will improve and expand access to the registry’s services by increasing opening hours, developing lawyer assistance programs for constituents facing foreclosure and translating important documents into more languages spoken in Suffolk County.

We need a full-time register, not a lifetime politician or serial candidate looking for their next political gig. I urge you to vote for my friend Katie Forde for Register of Deeds on Thursday September 8th. Learn more about Katie at www.katieforde.com.

Dina Zawaski

 

Opposed to Charter School expansion

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to explain why I’m opposed to further expansion of charter schools and why I’m voting “NO” on Question 2 this November 8th.

Charter schools are essentially private schools that are totally run on public education funds.  This year alone, the Winthrop Public Schools lost $172,273 to state charter schools.  Each year, the charters divert more than $408 million that would otherwise stay in neighborhood public schools and be used to improve learning for ALL students.   Districts like Boston and Hollyoke are losing as much as 12% of their school funds to charters.  The ballot question would take as much as $100 million more in taxpayer money from Mass district public schools every single year.

Taking money out of public education translates into no libraries, no art, music, physical ed, foreign languages, AP courses,  and, worst of all, increased class size.  If you have 3 fourth grades and lose funds to pay one of those teachers, the 2 remaining fourth grade teachers have to absorb the students from the laid off teacher’s classroom.   The increased class size goes against all research that indicates reasonable class size contributes to students’ overall success.

On the money end of things, I know that the Ferryway School in Malden, which I retired from 8 years ago, has no library.  Staffing has also been impacted.

What bothers me most about the charter system is that they are not playing fair.  As Special Education Team Chairperson working 4 different schools in Malden, I saw, first hand, the stream of charter school “transfers in” in October and early November.  Many of these students had mild to severe special needs and/or social and emotional needs that the local charter school decided not to handle.  Parents would say to me, “The charter school said that Johnny could better be served by our local public school.”  Students who in the smallest way could not fit into the charter mould, were “counseled out.”   The local public schools are then left to educate and service the neediest students with the least amount of resources.

Charter schools are required by law to recruit and retain high-need students, but studies show they fail to enroll as many English language learners, special needs students or economically disadvantaged students as their sending districts.  Charters have high suspension rates and students are pushed out often for minor infractions.  Often they do not take in new students to fill the empty slots.  Consequently, only 40% of those enrolled as freshmen make it to graduation vs 80% of those enrolled in the Boston Public Schools.

Also, research does not indicate that charter schools are producing a better student product.  In fact, as charter school teachers follow a tightly scripted curriculum geared to increasing test scores and not encouraging inquiry, a 2015 report by the Boston Opportunity Agenda note that charter school students struggle in college.  42% of  Boston charter school graduates obtained a college degree in 6 years as opposed to 50% of Boston Public School high school graduates.

In addition, charter schools are not accountable to local taxpayers or the communities where they are located.  The state approves charter schools, even when the communities where they will be located are opposed to them.

There is also a question of pay and working conditions for teachers in the charter schools.  Often, charter school teachers will transfer to public schools when they can because pay is generally higher.  Staff turnover in the charters does not contribute to program continuity for the students.

Finally, there is a question as to who owns charter schools across the nation.  As with attempts to privatize Social Security and prisons, the charter school movement is an attempt to privatize education…using public funds.  The out-of-state group behind the charter ballot question is part of a national campaign backed by Wall Street and corporate billionaires with deep pockets whose agenda is more charters and more schools run by for-profit companies.  That’s why there are more corporate representatives on the boards of charter schools than parents or educators.  (See “Shining a Light Into the Charter School Black Box,” 12-10-15, by Jeff Bryant.).

Charter schools create a two-track system of public schools, a system that the NAACP has called “separate and unequal.”  Other organizations that oppose charter school expansion are the Mass Teachers Association, the Mass AFL-CIO, and the Mass Association of School Committees.  Also, the Winthrop School Committee, along with over 80 other School Committees passed resolutions against lifting the cap on charters.

If interested in  more information on Question 2, go to www.saveourpublicschoolsma.com  To become involved in the “Save Our Public Schools” campaign contact Winthrop School Committee member Tino Capobianco at tcapobianco@gmail.com or 617-620-6549.

Donna Segreti Reilly

 

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