Why is Sonia Chang-Diaz continuing to stand in the School House Door?
In November, I attended a School Choice conference in Milwaukee Wisconsin, put on by the Franklin Center for Public Policy. At the conference one of our fellow attendees had been working on school choice in Wisconsin for years. He played for us the following commercial, featuring African American students, asking why their Democratic Governor was standing in the School House door, by not lifting caps on charter schools.
Today in Massachusetts, Sonia Chang-Diaz is the one standing in the school house door, stopping minority and low income students, in her own district, from getting ahead.
more after the jump
Yesterday’s Boston Globe had the story.
State lawmakers originally planned to unveil a bill to increase the number of charter schools in Boston and other cities last fall, but five months later they have yet to produce any legislation, with time running out on the legislative calendar.
One of the key lawmakers reluctant to move forward with the bill is Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz of Boston, co-chairwoman of the Education Committee, who is concerned that allowing more charter schools could drain resources from traditional public schools, some of which have been forced to make cuts this year.
The inaction could threaten one of the stated policy priorities of new Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whom Chang-Diaz endorsed in last year’s election. During the campaign, Walsh often highlighted his support for charter schools to rebut critics who said he would walk in lockstep with unions, which oppose the schools.
Charter school advocates say they emerged from a meeting last week with Chang-Diaz with little hope that she will release the bill before a March 19 deadline to move it from her committee to the full Legislature.
Chang-Diaz is the co-chair of the joint Education Committee in the legislature and a good portion of her donations come from Teacher’s Unions and their allies. She is invested in propping up the status quo.
Her own district is served by the Match Charter School in Boston. Where children are performing well above the state average. At Red Mass Group we highlighted how Charter Schools are helping break the cycle of poor education in Lawrence, 4000+ Lawrence Students are Being Left Behind…
“It’s almost like winning the megabucks. I was raised in Lawrence, so I knew what the school system was like. So for me, when my children got into the lottery, I couldn’t be more happy, I couldn’t be more excited” – Juana Hilario, Parent of Community Day Charter School Student
In the words of Ms. Hilario 1200 K-8 students in Lawrence have won the lottery. They attend one of four high performing charter schools in the city. Schools where their academic performance not only tops other Lawrence children, but also the state average at every grade level. There are, as of 2012, 4,000 students on charter school waiting lists in Lawrence.
We have the ability to make sure children’s outcomes are not determined by their zip codes, yet Sonia Chang-Diaz, to please her monopolistic Teacher’s Union allies, will not let the legislation move forward.
Charlie Baker, Republican Candidate for Governor, today called on his Democratic rivals to join his call for the lifting of the charter cap. “Time is running out for the legislature to do the right thing for children stuck in under-performing schools, and I hope all the Democratic candidates for governor will join me in urging the legislature to advance a bill lifting the charter school cap now,” said Baker. “School choice and high quality education should not be a partisan issue. Lifting the charter cap has broad bipartisan support, and will give communities like Boston an important tool to help improve the quality of the education available for our children.”
If you want to see the cap lifted on charter schools, call your legislator at 617-722-2000. The good folks that answer the phone will put you in touch with them.