Boston City Council Opposed Ballot Initiative To Raise Charter School Cap

By Beth Treffeisen

The Boston City Council voted 11–2 to support the charter cap resolution filed by Councilors Tito Jackson and Matt O’Malley opposing the 11–2 Question 2 ballot initiative to raise the charter cap in Massachusetts.

By voting against it, the city council helped to prevent the raise of the state’s charter schools through a ballot initiative that would have allowed lawmakers to approve up to a dozen new public charters a year in the lowest-performing districts.

Councilors Andrea Campbell and Josh Zakim were in the minority. Both noted that they are personally undecided on the ballot question and therefore did not want to take a position through advancing a Council resolution, according to City Councilor Michelle Wu.

“I just thought it was too early in the process,” said Councilor Zakim as to why he voted against the measure. “It is a very complicated issue and it is not broken down so simply.”

Councilors speaking against the ballot question pointed to budgetary concerns with lifting the cap and draining funding from struggling public schools.

Every councilor spoke of the need to improve access to quality school options across the board including traditional public, charter, and parochial schools.

A poll released this past April by the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association showed that parents by a 3-1 margin are in support of the charter ballot question and expanding charters in the city.

Support for the charters is strongest among two groups, minority parents and parents with lower income levels.

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