No On More Slot machines and No On More Charter Schools
By William Legault
Today is the day to go over the Massachusetts initiatives that you will see on your ballot on Tuesday, November 8.
Here are the first two ballot questions and the thoughts of Salem Digest and the writer of this article.
Question 1 – Authorization of a Second Slots Location. A “yes’ vote would allow a second slots location in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act of 2011 approved up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor spread across the state. Question 1 would give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to issue an additional slots-only license, also known as a category 2 license, to an establishment or proposed establishment that is attached to a horse-racing facility. Plainridge Park Casino holds the only slots parlor license. The targeted location for the additional parlor is Suffolk Downs. MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor hold the resort casino licenses. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission can issue one more casino license. The recipient must be located in the southeastern part of the state.
Salem Digest – We oppose this initiative. The use of gambling proceeds as a revenue source for government is shameful, especially in view of the fact that despite the additional monies raised by state sponsored gambling taxes and fees at both the local and state levels continue to rise. In addition, many of those who gamble in these “casinos” can barely afford to live and eat. I would consider supporting this if all proceeds were to be distributed directly to the 351 cities and towns of Massachusetts.
Question 2 – Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion Initiative. A “yes” vote supports the proposal to authorize up to 12 new charter schools or expansion in existing charter schools by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education per year.
This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.
Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.
If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest
New charter schools and enrollment expansions approved under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2017
Salem Digest – Until the state government develops a program that relieves the individual communities of the responsibility to fund these schools we will oppose an expansion of any kind. The city should not have to support a school it cannot oversee.
Choice is good and we are fortunate to have a good charter school here in Salem, the original Salem Academy Charter on Congress Street. They do a good job but do not have to play by the same rules. Now we have a mix of “charter” schools within our own school system, who all seem to operate differently. Are these Salem Schools System charter schools truly charter schools? The one thing that is clear that these special designations allow supposedly public schools to pick and choose their students. There are this who will argue that it doesn’t happen, but we believe that it does indeed happen.
Here’s in idea for the Governor and the Legislature. Let’s take the money from the casino’s and slot’s parlors to finance these charter schools.
We will run our view on the other two ballot initiatives tomorrow.