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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Charter Schools Fail on Massachusetts Ballot

From the Special Education Law Prof Blog

By Derek Black
November 10, 2016

The issue of charter expansion in Massachusetts has raised cutting edge issues over the past year and a half. Initially, plaintiffs filed suit, seeking to use the state education clause to argue that the state was obligated to provide more charters in light of its failure to provide an adequate education in its regular schools.

That theory built on much of the flawed thinking in California, where a trial court had struck down teacher tenure as a violation of students fundamental right to education. More recently, the higher courts in California rejected that tenure theory.

In Massachusetts, however, the theory regarding charters migrated into the political domain and was offered as leverage against legislators who opposed charter expansion. With no victory there, the issue moved to the voters.

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters roundly rejected the expansion of charters. Initially number showed a large margin of 62-38. The New York Times reported that those favoring expansion had spent $26 million to promote the measure. Opponents spent $15 million.

The president of the Massachusetts Teacher Association said it was a victory for public education in general: “We held the line. . . . Money can’t buy our public schools.”

Given the flaws in the litigation claims, one would expect the same result there, although it may be slower coming. These types of suits, however, are becoming more and more prevalent.

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