Massachusetts voters turn down charter school expansion


Tommy Calautti (left) interviews Summer Kaeppel about Question 2 at the Political Science Election Night Watch Party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Morgan Hughes/Amherst Wire)

Summer Kaeppel, Writer

AMHERST — Massachusetts voted against a ballot referendum to lift the cap on charter schools Tuesday.

More than 62 percent of voters voted no on Question 2, and less than 38 percent voted in favor of an increase in charter schools. Over 11,000 Amherst voters showed up to the polls and voted against the referendum.

Currently, there are 78 charter schools in Massachusetts. Question 2 proposed raising the cap on charter schools to allow 12 more schools or enrollment expansions for existing charter schools, every year.

The rejection of Question 2 means that the current limit on charter schools will remain. The vote comes as a victory for public school advocates and those who feared additional charter schools would drain funds from traditional public schools.

“We’re claiming victory,” said Steve Crawford, a spokesman for Save Our Public Schools, one of the main opposition groups in the Question 2 campaign.

Lanie Meyers is a freshman public relations major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After the results of the referendum were released, Meyers felt nothing but relief.

“I’m so happy to hear that it won’t go through. I definitely think there needs to be changes in education, but Question 2 is not the answer. For now, though, it’s good that no further money is being taken from public schools the way that Question 2 would have if it passed,” Meyers said.

Charter schools provide an alternative to families who desire another option besides traditional public schools. This is especially true in low-income areas where public schools may underperform.

Governor Charlie Baker has been an outspoken proponent of charter schools, but said he remains positive.

“While Question 2 was not successful, the importance of that goal is unchanged,” he said, according to WGBH. “I am proud that our administration has made historic investments in our public schools, expanded support for vocational schools and proposed new solutions to make college more affordable.”

While over 60 percent of the state voted against the expansion of charter schools, some were unhappy with the results. Nick Kioussis, a junior legal studies major and former charter school student, feels that voters were ill-informed about the topic.

“I’m disappointed because from who I have talked to, the people who voted no only did so because they saw more signs of it. They were less educated on the topic,” Kioussis said.

According to the Boston Globe, the “Yes on 2” campaign spent millions of dollars on advertisements, though they fell short of victory Tuesday. Opponents of Question 2 also spent millions of dollars on campaigning, awareness and lawn signs.

Editor’s note: Amherst Wire writer Summer Kaeppel was interviewed about Question 2 during Amherst Wire’s first-ever Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday. You can find that coverage here.

Email Summer at [email protected].

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