School Choice & Charters

A Mass. State Ed. Official Donated $100K to Charter Campaign, Gov. Says That’s OK

By Daarel Burnette II — September 15, 2016 1 min read
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This story originally appeared on the State EdWatch blog.

Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker called the $100,000 donation by state school board Chairman Paul Sagan toward a campaign to expand the state’s charter sector a “nothing-burger” to which both the media and the state’s Democrats are overreacting.

“Are we going to get into the business of saying every private citizen in Massachusetts has no ability to do anything associated with their private position?” Baker said, according to the Associated Press.

Voters are expected to decide on Nov. 8 whether the state should allow for an annual 12 new charter schools. The schools would be open in the state’s lowest-performing school districts.

Massachusetts law doesn’t allow for more than 120 charter schools to operate in the state; there are currently 78 active charters.

Those opposed to the measure say it will dramatically expand the state’s charter sector and financially hurt the state’s traditional public school districts.

Those in support of the measure say charter schools will expand learning opportunities for the state’s growing population of poor and minority students.

The campaigns for and against the ballot measure, known as Question 2, have drawn millions of dollars in donations, including from national charter school supporters and from the state’s teachers union, which opposes the measure. Sagan’s donation, in particular, has stood out.

Tom McGee, the state’s Democratic Party Chairman, said, according to the AP, that the donation “suggests an inappropriate bias and, at the very least, shows poor judgement.”

He said the chairman of the state board has an “obligation to serve in that position in an unbiased manner, free from personal opinion.”

Sagan said in a statement earlier this week that he received approval from the state’s Ethics Commission before making the donation and that he is working toward “maintaining Massachusetts’s position as a national leader in public education.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.