On November 8, 2016, while the rest of the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, a subset of voters with a keen interest in education had their eyes on Massachusetts. This was the day Bay Staters would vote on Ballot Question 2, a proposal to raise the state’s cap on public charter schools by up to 12 new schools per year.
Massachusetts is home to some of the highest performing charter schools in the country, with especially impressive gains at schools serving urban, low-income and minority students. In Boston, one of the eight districts in the state to have reached its cap on charter schools, students at charters learn the equivalent of an extra year of math and reading each year, when compared to their peers with similar demographics and past test scores at the city’s traditional public schools.1The local school district, Boston Public Schools (BPS), enrolls about 53,000 students in a city of about 77,000 students. Currently, public charters enroll only about 10,000 students, but there are more than 32,000 children on waitlists for these schools.