Agree to Disagree

A few days ago I expressed my opinion about one of the ballot questions (related to charter schools) here in Massachusetts on Facebook.

I know. I know. The likelihood that I was going to change someone’s mind because of my posting was slim, while the risk that I would end up wanting to cancel all my social media accounts due to the potential blow back was high.

And yet. I did it. And I’m happy to say that the conversation was, for the most part, civil. Questions were asked. Answers – and supporting links – were given. Opinions were shared. There was no name calling, and only one bright red frownie (frowny?) face.

There was one “apology” as a friend explained she wasn’t against charter schools, just the current legislation related to the expansion. I was reminded of this comment when, today as I walked through the park with my dog, I ran into my aunt, who is on the opposite side of the issue than I. After a quick intro to Miss Daisy, she apologetically, told me she and my uncle were downtown picketing against the ballot question.

At a time when I have seen friends (and friends of friends) in my Facebook feed call Hillary Clinton so many derogatory, demeaning and disgusting terms, I have found the conversation on this one topic refreshing. And while I haven’t changed my opinion, I feel more informed about the issue.

And isn’t that what our system should be about? The ability to share our opinions in a civil manner, and then vote for what we think is the right choice for ourselves, our families, and our country?

So don’t apologize – just remain calm and vote.


6 thoughts on “Agree to Disagree

  1. I should elaborate.

    1. I believe the research that shows that some charter approaches yield better outcomes. MIT faculty with whom I work reasonably closely are authors of some of the studies that show this effect. Specifically, the “No Excuses” approach that works extend the school day, focus on literacy and math, and emphasize discipline. It’s important to note that a big reason why the charter outcomes are good is because of the longer school day and year–the sending public district doesn’t get this benefit.

    2. The sending districts are financially disadvantaged. Question 2 proponents are wrong when they say otherwise. In year 1, the sending district is made whole, but in years 2+, they are not. Yes, Question 2 adds money to the system overall, but that added money is offset by the less efficient filling of classrooms that results.

    3. “Takeover charters” replace administrations and teachers (who are allowed to apply for a new charter position) without changing the enrollment of the school. This means that some kids aren’t left out and money isn’t wasted. Research similar to that of 1, above, shows that takeover charters can be effective.

    I would vote for Question 2 if it allowed more charters via the takeover model. And, there should be language to the effect that the new charters had to employ approaches that were shown to be effective. Corporate money grabs need not apply.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this answer as, once again, I have learned something (for someone who actually knows something about the topic). The takeover model certainly is something I didn’t know about – does the proposed legislation not allow for takeovers?


  2. The Globe endorses a “No” vote on Question 2.

    * Point 1: Charter performance is spotty
    MA charters do well. And parents don’t have to apply to poorly-performing charters. So, I don’t find this to be a compelling reason to vote no, but the process by which a charter school earns its charter should filter for quality (if it doesn’t already).

    * Point 2: “Yes on 2” money comes in large part from the Walton family
    It’s their right to advocate for “Yes on 2,” of course, but voters should know something about where this advocation is originating.

    * Point 3: Charter schools are overly segregated
    Again, it’s the right of a family to apply or no, so I don’t find this objection all that strong.

    * Point 4: Comparing charter students to all public students isn’t apples-to-apples
    The research that I’ve seen compares charter students to students who applied but didn’t get in. So, this is a fairer comparison, but it’s not surprising that the students who don’t get in don’t do as well–they don’t get the extra learning time that the charter students get. Charters DO have an advantage with “load shedding”–the practice of getting rid of students who are more difficult to educate.

    * Point 5: Charters drain funds from sending schools
    This is true, and it’s the main reason I’m opposed to Question 2.


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