Last Tuesday, Massachusetts voters rejected Proposition 2, a measure that authorized up to 12 new charter schools a year, as well as expand enrollment in existing charter schools funded by the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I think the voters got it right,” said Raymani Walker ’17. “Otherwise, we would have put kids in public school at a great disadvantage. This would have taken away resources, most of all funding and good teachers. The state should focus on improving all of our public schools before thinking about expanding charters.”
About 4 percent of students in the state currently attend a charter school. In a recent poll conducted by WBUR, 39 percent of respondents said charter schools do an equal job of educating as public schools. The same percentage say charters are more successful, and approximately six percent say charter schools offer a poorer option. Around 15 percent responded as undecided.
In its Oct. 30 editorial, the Boston Globe encouraged its readers to approve the measure, which “would create new opportunities for the 32,000 students, predominantly black and Latino, who are now languishing on waiting lists hoping for a spot at a charter school — public schools overseen by the state rather than local districts.”
However, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), which lead the main opposition to the measure, argued that Proposition 2 would siphon $400 million from district public schools—and that expanding charters would create a “two-track system of education described by the NAACP as ‘separate and unequal.’” Most charter schools are governed by autonomous boards, not unlike those at independent schools.
“I think it probably was the right decision to vote no,” said English teacher Kenley Smith. “Although I support the idea of charter schools in Massachusetts, I worry about the lack of oversight that many charter schools have. If public funds are going to be used for charter schools, then there must be some accountability on the part of the schools to the public.”