Massachusetts Democrats Vote to Oppose Charter School Question

The divide within the party grows wider.

Photo via Governor's Office/Joanne DeCaro

Photo via Governor’s Office/Joanne DeCaro

The Massachusetts Democratic Party voted Tuesday night to oppose the upcoming ballot question that would lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state.

Question 2, which will be put to voters in November, has been particularly divisive for Democrats. “The notion of a middle ground on charter schools within the Democratic Party…it just doesn’t exist,” one party insider told the Globe ahead of the party meeting in Lawrence.

“Our local communities cannot afford to lose even more money to charter schools,” former state Rep. Carol Donovan, a Democratic State Committee member from Woburn, said in a statement. “Already, cities and towns [are] forced to make budget cuts every year due to the state’s underfunding of education and the money lost to charters. If this ballot question passes, it will create budget crises in hundreds of Massachusetts communities, and hurt the students who remain in our local district public schools.”

If approved, Question 2 would allow state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year. Teachers unions across the state strongly oppose the measure, while supporters, like Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, say it would create more opportunities for students in disadvantaged areas.

“We applaud the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee for joining the campaign to save our public schools and opposing Question 2,” said Juan Cofield, chair of Save Our Public Schools, which opposes Question 2. “They join more than 70 local communities and a broad coalition of families, parents, educators, students, and local leaders who understand that Question 2 is bad for our schools.”