Conservative Group’s Report Offers Glowing Forecast If Charter Cap Lifted

Opponents of Question 2 say Wall Street billionaires are behind the study.

Photo via Governor's Office/Joanne DeCaro

Photo via Governor’s Office/Joanne DeCaro

Not only would the state spend more on each student in its public schools if Question 2 passes, but their performance will improve as well, according to a new report released Wednesday by the right-leaning Manhattan Institute.

Voters will decide this November whether to lift the cap currently limiting charter school expansion to 12 per year. Critics of Question 2 say lifting the cap would drain state aid from already cash-strapped traditional public schools, while proponents maintain it would improve access to high-quality charters for disadvantaged students.

“The enrollment in Massachusetts’ charter schools means that local school districts lose more than $400 million in the state’s Chapter 70 aid. But, that figure ignores the role of local contributions and the fact that charter enrollment also effectively increases per-puli spending by over $85 million,” senior fellow Max Eden concludes in the report. “On the whole, the evidence lends far more support to the arguments of charter proponents than those of charter opponents.”

A spokesperson for Save Our Public Schools said the conservative think tank’s report was “bought and paid for by the same Wall Street billionaires who are funding Question 2.”

“Right-wing think tanks can fiddle with the numbers all they want, but parents and educators see the impact of this financial drain in classrooms every day: schools without librarians, larger class sizes, school buses eliminated, and other serious cuts,” Steve Crawford said. “Schools across Massachusetts can’t afford to cut any deeper. That’s why parents, teachers, and community leaders are standing up against Question 2.”

Eileen O’Connor of Great Schools Massachusetts, a pro-charter group, said the opposition has built a campaign “founded on blatant and willful lies.”

“This study, grounded by indisputable facts, clearly demonstrates that public charter schools have led to $85 million more in public education funding,” O’Connor said in a statement. “Voters deserve to be told the truth—and the truth is that Question 2 will increase public education funding and give parents more opportunity to choose the best school for their kids.”

Voters will decide on Question 2 on November 8.