Charter Schools & Privatization
Commonwealth charter schools are publicly funded schools that are privately operated with no local oversight. They hurt students who attend public schools by siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars from Massachusetts school districts every year. In addition, most charters fail to serve as many high-need students as their host districts, creating separate and unequal conditions for success.
In 2016, MEJA and its member organizations formed the Save Our Public Schools campaign to fight Question 2, a ballot initiative that would have greatly expanded the number of charter schools in the state. Question 2 was soundly defeated, 62 percent to 38 percent, even though charter expansion supporters spent a record $26 million to win. Most of the Yes on 2 money was from out-of-state corporate and hedge fund interests. Much of it was anonymous dark money.
In the wake of that victory, the battle against privatization continues. The state continues to approve new charter schools and allow existing charters to expand under the present cap. President Donald Trump and his secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, have made a centerpiece of their education agenda promoting charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers to send students to private and religious schools.
In addition, Governor Charlie Baker is backing legislation to allow “Innovation Partnership Zones” under which the commissioner of education could create charter-like “zones” of two or more schools, stripping democratically elected school committees of all authority over these schools and gutting local collective bargaining agreements.
MEJA opposes school takeover efforts that disempower educators, parents, students and local elected officials and give the state power to impose cookie-cutter solutions to complex problems.