On Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m., the Harvard Graduate School of Education hosts the first of its Askwith Debates. The conversation addresses the upcoming ballot proposal Question 2, which, if enacted, would allow the Massachusetts Board of Education to approve up to 12 new or expanded charter schools each year beginning in January 2017. Here’s what you need to know before the debate.
Background
  • As of 2015, charter schools operated in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Many states, like Massachusetts, cap charter schools either by number of charters or by percentages of total public school enrollment. The charter school cap has risen from 25 to 120.

Question 2: What Supporters Say

  • Charter schools may provide more educational options to families who don’t have them.
  • More charter schools might allow for more innovation — including longer school days and different styles of teaching.
  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds who attend charter schools do better than those who do not.
  • There is a lot of demand for charter schools — nearly 34,000 students are currently on charter school wait lists.

Question 2: What Opponents Say

  • Charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, and expanding the cap would only increase the stress.
  • Private operators are less accountable to the public and who sometimes operate schools for profit.
  • Despite being required by law to recruit high-need students, charters fail to enroll as many English language learners, special needs students, or economically disadvantaged students as their districts’ public schools do.
  • The “Yes” campaign is backed by wealthy out-of-state supporters with little stake in the state.

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