By: DJ Deeb – Oct. 2016
Methuen Schools are on the move and many great things are happening with the start of the 2016-2017 school year. At our September 12th meeting, I led the charge to have the Methuen School Committee go on record as opposing Question 2 in November, which if passed, would expand Charter Schools in the Commonwealth. The Motion read: “That the Methuen School Committee adopts the position of opposing new charter schools and urges residents to vote no on Question 2 on the November ballot.” I am proud to report that my colleagues supported my motion unanimously. As a conservative, it probably surprises many readers that I am opposed to charter schools, but upon further scrutiny it becomes clear what a detriment they are to our public and private school system.
First off, charter schools pick and choose the students they want. They do not play by the same set of rules that public schools do. They are for-profit schools that use taxpayer money to undermine, not just the public schools, but private schools as well. Charter schools are currently costing Methuen taxpayers more than $763,000 per year.
Many proponents have pointed to the success of charter schools, especially in inner cities, but I would respond that if public schools could pick and choose, they would turn out the same, if not far better results. The fact remains that Federal and State special education mandates and educational regulations are strangling our schools and these need to be reformed and revamped. Charter schools amounts to putting an expensive band aid on the problem without addressing the root causes.
If it passes, Question 2 will continue the path of failing to address the real problems with over-regulation, funding inequities, and unfunded Federal special education mandates in favor of allowing corporations to siphon tax dollars to make a profit using our kids. There are a variety of private schools in the area that set their own criteria for admitting students.
arents/guardians have many options to pick from when choosing schools. Methuen schools offer a top quality education at a very affordable price. In addition to strong academic programs, Methuen schools offer a wide variety of sports programs and extracurricular activities without user fees to Methuen residents. We are one of the last school systems in the area to do so. Charter schools are a major step backwards. Having stated this, I do believe that competition and choice is good though. If we want to expand choice in education, I would be much more receptive to supporting a voucher program that parents can use to send their children to a private school of their choosing.
Facts speak for themselves. It should be noted that none of the students who have enrolled in Methuen schools have opted to leave for a charter school. Enrollment in Methuen Schools continues to climb. In 2015, there were 6,991 students enrolled. In 2016, we have approximately 7,025 students attending Methuen Public Schools. Please vote No on Question 2 in November and keep our public and private schools strong.
On another note, I would like to send a “shout out” to the District Technology Team, especially Ed Lussier and Chris Lane, who worked 70-80 hour weeks in August without additional compensation to make sure that the new Methuen schools software (Infinite Campus) was up and running smoothly for students, staff, and parents. Although some additional training is still needed for staff, our schools are in excellent shape for the upcoming year. The new software will allow for the smooth integration of gradebooks, individualized education plans, and other teacher tools. In addition, Technology Director Ed Lussier and his team adopted a new anti-virus software (Avast) to replace the Sophos antivirus software being used previously. This will save Methuen taxpayers over $12,000 per year.
That’s all for now. Please be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 8th. Your influence counts. Use it. More next month.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and member of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is a Social Studies Teacher/Instructional Leadership Team Member at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Deeb is also an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003).