Richard Whitmire in The 74 considers “a relatively simple question that will appear on the Massachusetts ballot in November: Should the state lift the cap on the number of charter school seats it permits to allow 12 new or expanded charters a year?”
A few key items:
Massachusetts has really good charter schools.
Massachusetts boasts the highest-performing charters in the country: various studies have found that “some charters are so effective that they have erased learning gaps.”
Gov. Charlie Baker is in favor of lifting the cap, and so are “the parents of the 36,400 students already in charters, combined with the parents of the more than 30,000 kids on waitlists across the state.”
The teachers unions don’t want there to be more charter schools.
“Fiery” teachers union president Barbara Madeloni has assembled “formidable ground forces” and it’s unclear how willing white suburban voters are to open up seats in schools that overwhelmingly serve students of color, as the public charter schools do. In addition, 275 influential district superintendents are concerned about the potential diversion of funding.
A key question, says Whitmire, is “Does the money belong with the traditional school districts or the child?”
This isn’t just about a cap in Massachusetts.
Charter school supporters are readying for a tough fight. After all, the stakes are high. As Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Charter School Association, notes:
I think [the opponents] see this as an opportunity to halt the charter school movement, which they have not been able to do.
They also view it from a national perspective. If you can stop charters in Massachusetts, then that’s a huge momentum-turner nationwide.