MA Receives $12.5 Million from Feds to Expand Charters– Before Public Votes on the Issue
On November 08, 2016, voters in Massachusetts will decide whether or not to lift the state’s charter cap. To date, almost $20 million has been spent on this ballot item, called Question 2, with most of the money being in support of lifting the cap– and coming from out of state individuals and organizations.
We can add to that the influence of the US Department of Education (USDOE), which announced on September 28, 2016, that it will be sending $12.5 million to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA-DESE) for the purpose of allowing Massachusetts “to run its own grant competition for charter school operators to support… new and expanded public charter schools.”
Presumably, MA-DESE applied to USDOE for this charter creation and expansion money, and it did so in FY 2016, likely in anticipation that Massachusetts voters would indeed vote in November to lift the charter cap.
However, despite the out-of-state millions rolling into MA to raise that cap, there is no fantastic, notable grass roots indication that Massachusetts voters are on their way to being bought off by that out-of-state charter expansion push. So, MA-DESE might well find itself in the position of having $12.5 million that it cannot spend because its own state laws will not allow it.
Moreover, the USDOE advertisement of awarding MA charter expansion money prior to the vote on Question 2 could well backfire in the estimation of MA voters, as it adds one more layer to the reality that charter school expansion in MA is being promoted by those outside of MA– and in this case, the federal government, no less.