Massachusetts Voters Reject Proposal to Lift Charter School Cap

Published December 26, 2016

Thousands of Massachusetts students will remain in schools they want to leave, after the state’s voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have increased the number of charter schools allowed in the state.

The Massachusetts Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion Initiative, known as “Question 2,” would have allowed the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to authorize up to 12 new charter schools per year or expand enrollment in existing charter schools. There are approximately 32,000 students on charter school waiting lists in the state.

Question 2 opponents, led by the Massachusetts Teachers Association teachers union, said charter school expansion would defund traditional public schools.

Sixty-two percent of Massachusetts voters said no to Question 2 during the November 2016 election; 38 percent voted in favor of lifting the cap.

Not Causing Revenue Losses

Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF), says MTF published research in September showing the claims of Question 2 opponents are false, and a study released by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau in April 2016 concluded, “Charter expansion has not been a revenue issue for Boston Public Schools.”

“Our study concluded that charter school funding is proportionate with its enrollment,” said McAnneny. “In 21 communities, there’s no consistent story to tell. In some districts, enrollment grew, but so did the public school, and the opposite. There was no consistent conclusion that could be drawn on the impact of charter schools, [except] that it hadn’t hurt public education funding. There’s a bigger pie for education in the commonwealth, and charter schools get that in proportion to their enrollment.”

Support from Governor

Baker supported lifting the cap on charter schools and appeared in an ad in favor of Question 2. Laura Keehner Rigas, communications director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, says the governor’s administration will continue to work toward better education for all Massachusetts students.

“The Baker-Polito administration is proud to have made historic investments in our public schools, and over the coming months we will continue our expanded investments in career technical education, and we will explore new ways to take the lessons learned from our best charters to enable more district schools to succeed,” Rigas said.


“The True Cost of Boston’s Charter Schools,” Boston Municipal Research Bureau, April 3, 2016: