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Charter Schools Divide Creem, Rudnick in Brookline State Senate Debate

Charter Schools Divide Creem, Rudnick in Brookline State Senate Debate

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Published by: Laura Maas on Sep 06, 2010
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Charter Schools Divide Creem, Rudnick in Brookline state Senate Debate

Wicked Local staff photo by Keith E. Jacobson

Charles Rudnick and Cynthia Creem (L to R) candidates for the Massachusetts State Senate listen to the moderator at "The Brookline Town Committee's candidates night for Democratic candidates for State Senate and State Representative." Held at Brookline Town Hall on Tuesday, August 10.

By Laura Paine/staff writer GateHouse News Service Posted Aug 11, 2010 @ 04:19 PM Brookline ² State Sen. Cynthia Creem and her primary opponent, Charles Rudnick, agreed on nearly everything at a candidates¶ forum in Brookline Aug. 10, but when it came to expanding charter schools, the two Democrats parted ways. ³[Legislators] have consistently voted not to expand the charter schools,´ Creem said. ³Whether it hurts us here in Newton, Brookline or Wellesley is not the point. It takes money away from public education.´ Rudnick said he has always felt expanding charter schools is a good investment. ³They provide competition to our public schools, they foster innovation, they provide alternatives and they¶re good for the system, so I have consistently been a supporter of controlled expansion of charter schools,´ he said. The candidates had the opportunity to debate their similarities and differences at the Brookline Democratic Town Committee¶s Meet the Democratic Candidates Night at Brookline Town Hall.

The debates were moderated by BDTC Chairwoman Cindy Rowe, who asked Creem and Rudnick what their stances are in regards to ³topics that typically come up in our Brookline forums,´ including the death penalty; casinos and slot machines; MCAS testing as the graduation requirement; charter school expansion; whether or not the candidate would put restrictions on a woman¶s right to choose; as well as their positions on the three ballot questions. Creem and Rudnick have been known to agree on many of the issues. They both oppose the death penalty and casino gambling, and believe that the MCAS should not be the sole assessment for graduation. Both candidates said they would not put restrictions on a woman¶s right to choose. They agree the sales tax should remain at 6.5 percent, the alcohol tax should not be repealed and they are in support of affordable housing. The difference in opinion lies specifically in expanding charter schools. Creem said her children received a public education, and she went on to cite her public education in the Brookline school system as the reason she has been able to do the things she has done in her life, and a charter school ³destroys that,´ she said. ³By my being someone that has preserved local aid, I have a strong commitment to public education,´ Creem said. Rudnick said he believes the education bill passed in January is proof of how expanding charters can be done in a ³thoughtful and impactful way and not have an impact on public education.´ Like Creem, Rudnick received a public education, and his two children are also in the Newton public school system. ³This has nothing to do with commitment to public schools, it has to do with the best education policy for our state,´ he said. The candidates running for state representative of the 15th Suffolk District, which includes Precinct 5 in Brookline, and parts of Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill and Roslindale, also had a chance to debate and to discuss the issues important to Brookline residents. Jeffrey Herman, opponent to incumbent Jeffrey Sánchez, the House chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health, said he is opposed to casino gambling, will not place restrictions on a woman¶s right to choose, does not believe in repealing the alcohol tax or lowering the sales tax and believes affordable housing is ³provides a meaningful alternative of variety of housing in every district.´ He also said he is opposed to the death penalty. ³I think we should expand that to wars,´ Herman said. ³I don¶t find that killing people in war is any less immoral than killing people in the state.´ He also opposes expanding charter schools, as it is his opinion the education system in the city of Boston is ³horrid´ and the schools ³need to be reformed.´ ³I don¶t think the schools are deplorable,´ Sánchez said. ³There are great products in the public school system right now. I am a product of the Boston Public Schools and I am proud of it. Did it

have challenges? Absolutely. All the systems have challenges. If you look at Massachusetts and you compare to the rest of the nation, we are at the top and don¶t let anyone tell you we aren¶t at the top. When we are here in this community in Brookline, we are at the top.´ He went on to say he was ³not a fan of the charter schools,´ but voted for the education reform bill anyway. ³I voted for that bill because, for the first time, I felt like there was going to be specific language on how to keep everybody accountable from the superintendents and the school committees all the way down to the people in the classrooms,´ Sanchez said. ³Not only that it gave an opportunity for the schools to say directly how they were going to work with their specific population.´ Sanchez is opposed to using the MCAS as the only requirement for graduation and said he has been, ³will be and always will be´ against both the death penalty and casino gaming, which he believes builds on weaknesses, not on strengths. He does not believe in putting restrictions on a woman¶s right to choose and will not vote to eliminate or reduce any taxes. Laura Paine can be reached at lpaine@cnc.com.
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