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Tuesday, September 13, 2016


From LynnItem 9/13/16
Baker defends donation by ed chair to pro-charter group
Gov. Charlie Baker is defending a $100,000 donation by the
chairman of the Massachusetts board of education to a group pushing a pro-charter school ballot question.
The Republican told reporters Monday that Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chairman Paul Sagan sought and won
the approval of the state Ethics Commission before
making the donation. Baker, a longtime supporter of
charter schools, appointed Sagan to the position last year.
“It’s a nothing-burger,” Baker said when asked
about the donation. “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?”
Opponents of the charter school question are
demanding Sagan’s resignation. Juan Cofield, chairman
of the Campaign to Save Our Public Schools, said
the donation will impair Sagan’s judgment and impartiality.
“How can Sagan be trusted to properly regulate
charter schools when he’s so invested in expanding
them? The chairman needs to step down immediately,” Cofield said
in a statement. Question 2 would allow for up to 12 new or expanded charter schools each year outside of existing
state caps. Sagan said in a statement that he was happy to
disclose his contribution. He described himself as “a
dedicated supporter” of all of public schools including
traditional district public schools and public charter schools.
“It is an honor to serve as Chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary to Education and I am thrilled to work toward
maintaining Massachusetts’ position as a national leader in public
education,” Sagan said.The donation also drew criticism from the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party who
said the donation “calls into question the governor’s
judgment on who best serves the people of
the commonwealth.”“As chairman of the Massachusetts
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mr. Sagan has
a duty to fulfill that position in an unbiased manner, free from personal opinion,” Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman
Tom McGee said in a statement, adding thatthe donation “suggests an inappropriate bias and, at the very least, shows poor
judgment.” The question is one of the most contentious on
the November ballot. Supporters and opponents have pulled in nearly $19 million in contributions. Charter school activists
raised $12 million, according to reports filedlate Friday with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. That’s
nearly double the $6.8 million raised by opponents
of the question, including teachers unions.
Donors to the pro-charter school campaign include
two prominent billionaires— former New
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who contributed
$240,000 and Jim Walton of Arizona, the son
of Walmart founder Sam Walton, who contributed
more than $1.1 million. Another $5.5 million in
direct contributions came from the New York Citybased
Families For Excellent Schools Advocacy, Inc.
The three biggest donors to the group Save Our
Public Schools, which opposes the ballot question,
are teachers unions

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