A statewide ballot question on charter schools went down to defeat in November after a polarizing debate, but this does not mean that the discussion is over—neither locally, in Massachusetts, or across the country. There remain unsettled issues about charter schools in Massachusetts, and these issues are intertwined with issues about education reform, accountability, alternatives to charter schools, and national trends.
In 2015, local Leagues suggested a study on charter schools because of the continuing public debate about charter school funding, numbers, location, authorization, outcomes and accountability. Recognizing that LWVMA did not have positions that specifically focused on charter schools, the 2015 state convention delegates agreed that a study was necessary to allow LWVMA to participate in the development of policy and legislation regarding charter schools. The statewide study committee prepared consensus questions and supporting material. The results of local Leagues consensus meetings are due by February 1, 2017.
LWVA held two consensus meetings in January. You can view the results at http://www.lwvamherst.org/content/lwvma-charter-school-study-consensus. The study materials, available at the LWVMA web site, include:
- Fundamentals, a 22-page compendium of facts about charter schools in Massachusetts, from statistics to state regulation, judicial decisions to survey results. At a minimum, please look through this concise summary before attending the consensus meetings.
- A separate 10-page document on charter school funding.
- Eleven consensus questions. This document provides pointers from each question into the Fundamentals document for the appropriate background information as well as pros and cons.
- A glossary, mostly acronyms.
- A list to guide your further on-line reading.
Also of interest, an Annenberg report on charter school governance in Massachusetts, prepared before the November 2016 election.