One of the most talked-about statewide ballot question in this November’s election is Question 2, which asks Massachusetts residents if the cap on charter schools should be lifted. If the measure passes, more charter schools could be created in the state.
Jamaica Plain resident State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, is the chair of the state’s Committee on Education. Jamaica Plain News was able to speak with Chang-Diaz during the recent JP Music Festival and asked her opinion of Question 2.
A yes vote would allow for up to 12 approvals each year of either new charter schools or expanded enrollments in existing charter schools. While new charter schools could be approved every year, overall charter schools enrollment could not exceed 1 percent of statewide public school enrollment.
A no vote would make no change in current laws to charter schools.
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The proposed law, if passed, would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Proponents of the measure argue it would give parents the right to choose the best public schools for their children, and that cities and towns with new public charter schools would receive more state education aid. Opponents say that public charter schools take away funding from other public schools in that district, and that charter schools are not accountable to the local taxpayers who fund them.
This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year. Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.
If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest.
New charter schools and enrollment expansions approved under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board.
Click here and go to pages 6 and 7 for the full text of the ballot question, as well arguments in favor of and against it.