Charter Schools, Redistricting On The Docket This Week

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Feb. 28, 2011

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is continuing his whirlwind trip to Washington DC Monday. He’s in the nation’s capital to meet with peers from across the country for the National Governors' Association winter meeting. Patrick met several times with the president, appeared on network television and is scheduled to testify before a House committee on health care. Meanwhile, activity in state politics this week centers on education and redistricting.

On Monday, the Board of Education will vote on whether to authorize 17 new charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded, but typically run independently of school districts. More than half of the schools up for a final vote would be in Boston.  The others would be in Salem, Lynn, Chelsea, Lawrence and Springfield.

          More: WGBH's Andrea Smardon covers an existing Lynn charter school that's drawing                       attention for improved scores and high student participation.
 
On Tuesday, mental health advocates rally at the State House to protest Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed budget cuts to programs for people with mental illnesses. Patrick wants to eliminate 160 beds at psychiatric hospitals and slash more than $20 million from the Department of Mental Health.
 
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House is expected to authorize a legislative redistricting committee. Recent shifts in population growth nationwide spell a loss for Massachusetts of one of its ten seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislative redistricting committee must choose which seat to eliminate. House Republicans are pushing for an independent redistricting panel. But Democrats, who far outnumber Republicans, have balked at the idea. They say there’s no proof that states with independent commissions draw better election maps than those that rely on legislative committees.
 
On Thursday, the Patrick administration releases the state’s January job figures.
 
And on Friday, state budget writers hold a final hearing on the governor’s spending plan at the State House.

Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.

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