Majority of Mayors come out in opposition to Charter Question

Photo: Thinkstock
Photo: Thinkstock

BOSTON ( State House News Service) – Claiming their cities will “lose nearly $305 million to privately run charter schools” this school year, the campaign organized to oppose Question 2 on Wednesday said 30 mayors around Massachusetts plan to vote against the question.

Charter schools educate public school students and receive public education dollars to provide that service.

The 30 mayors represent a majority of the state’s 46 mayors, according to the campaign.

On Monday, members of school committees from around the state delivered resolutions to the governor from nearly 200 districts opposing the ballot measure.

Related: Questions raised over charter school campaign funding

Gov. Charlie Baker has been a vocal supporter of Question 2, appearing in an ad and rallying canvassers in Dorchester on Tuesday. The question would allow for up to 12 additional charter schools per year beyond existing statutory caps.

The Massachusetts Democratic Party opposes the question, though some Democrats in the Legislature are in support of it, including House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

“I really don’t think this is a partisan question, because I’m going against my governor on this, from the same party,” said Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, one of the mayors on record in opposition to the question and one of the few Republican mayors in the state.
Describing the ballot question as a “blunt force instrument,” Hawke told the News Service charters should generate ideas for educating students that could be used in other public schools.

The Gardner mayor said charter schools don’t have much effect on his district. He said five students from Gardner attend a charter school. Save Our Public Schools, the ballot campaign organized to oppose Question 2, projected Gardner will lose $114,697 to charter schools in fiscal 2017, a far smaller sum than some other districts.

Opponents of the question argue more charter schools will sap funding from school districts, while proponents say charters offer quality education choices for parents and students in districts that are struggling.

“They are a proven success, educating for the most part kids in school districts and in school systems that have underperformed for years,” Baker said on Tuesday. “And in fact they have been in many cases the single biggest thing that have closed the achievement gap between white students and Hispanic students and African American students here in the Commonwealth of Mass. Those are the facts.”

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