Trump-Clinton? Charter Schools Are the Big Issue on Massachusetts’ Ballot
BOSTON — The television ads are relentless, fueled by a historic surge of campaign spending. Fliers are clogging mailboxes. Both sides are knocking on doors across the state.
But in deep blue Massachusetts, the contentious campaigning is not for president but for a ballot question on whether to expand charter schools.
The pitched battle in this state, known as a bellwether on education policy, reflects the passions that charter schools arouse nationwide, particularly regarding a central part of the debate: If they offer children in lagging traditional public schools an alternative path to a quality education, do they also undermine those schools and the children in them?
Because Massachusetts’s charter schools rank among the nation’s best, advocates say a yes vote to allow more of them would send a strong signal that they have a crucial role to play in improving student learning and closing the achievement gap between white and black students.
But opponents say a no vote would show that even in a state where charter schools have been successful, most voters believe the schools — privately run but publicly financed — undermine traditional public schools, drain resources and perpetuate inequities, and should be curtailed.
“What happens in Massachusetts will send shock waves throughout the United States either way,” said Parag Pathak, a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, who studies education.
“If the voters reject more urban charters here,” he said, “then it’s not clear what more the charter movement can do to convince opponents and skeptics.”
Question 2 on the ballot asks whether the state should be allowed to approve up to 12 new charter schools or larger enrollments at existing charters each year, not to exceed 1 percent of the statewide public school enrollment.
The measure would affect nine communities that have either reached their caps on charter enrollment or have room for only one more charter school: Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Springfield and Worcester. All have long waiting lists.
It would not affect 96 percent of the state’s school districts, yet strategists say voters in those districts — largely in suburbs with good public schools — could determine the outcome Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the charter proposal appeared to be nonpartisan and headed for passage. But in recent weeks, as the ad war has heated up, the Trump-Clinton? Charter Schools Are the Big Issue on Massachusetts’ Ballot - The New York Times: