Defeat of Question 2

On Election Day 2016, a coalition of educators, unions, parents, students, civil rights and social justice groups made national news by soundly defeating Question 2, a well-funded campaign to greatly expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. The MTA was a leading member of the Save Our Public Schools campaign. Opposition included 215 school committees, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, the NAACP, the Democratic State Committee and dozens of statewide and local organizations.

The “Yes” campaign was called Great Schools Massachusetts. It was backed by corporate funders and dark money, most of it from out of state. Key supporters were Governor Charlie Baker, Democrats for Education Reform and various business alliances.

In the spring of 2016, polls showed Question 2 winning by 20 percentage points. And that was before Great School Massachusetts announced it was planning to spend at least $18 million to win. Supporters of charter expansion were clearly attempting to convince opponents to support a compromise cap lift bill in the Legislature. The MTA and other coalition leaders refused to do so, deciding to take the fight directly to the public. On November 8, Question 2 lost by a margin of 62 to 38.

Because of the historic nature of this effort, this section of the MTA website retains some of the materials used during the No on 2 campaign.

Media Highlights

Crushing defeat leaves charter-school movement in limbo, The Boston Globe, Nov. 10, 2016
"Only 18 cities and towns out of 351 voted in favor of expanding the number of charter schools."

With Question 2 defeat, voters ignored the elites , The Boston Globe, Joan Vennochi, Nov. 14, 2016
“What we found is most every voter we spoke to was connected to public schools — they went to public schools, sent their kids to public schools, or were grandparents of children in public schools.” — Lynda Tocci, veteran Democratic strategist who directed the “No on 2” campaign

The Basics

MTA Today Spring 2016

OUR CONCERNS ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS Charter schools have not shown themselves to be the hubs of innovation or academic success that they were intended to be when they were conceived in Massachusetts in 1993. Charter Fact Sheet (English) | Informativo de Chárters (Español) | Charter Impact (Two Pages)

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS COALITION FIGHTS CHARTER CAP LIFT The Save Our Public Schools campaign is a coalition of education, parent and community groups charged with stopping a ballot question that will allow the state to open more charter schools and drain millions of dollars from public school districts. Read about the campaign in MTA Today.

CHARTER BALLOT QUESTION Attorney general’s official summary of the initiative petition allow 12 new charters schools a year anywhere in the state, regardless of the impact on a local school district’s budget.

Action Items


RESOLUTIONS  We created a resolution against lifting the cap on charter schools that could be used by local associations, school committees, parents, school groups and other community organizations. At the close of the campaign, 215 school committees had passed resolution in opposition to the ballot question and/or raising the cap on charter schools.

SPREAD THE WORD We drafted sample messages for letters to the editors and social media posts to help educate the public about the negative impact of charter schools on public education and students. (MTA user name and password are required.)

A training video with tips for canvassing parents and community members about the campaign.

Sampling of #NoOn2 Headlines

Save Our Public Schools Campaign

Save Our Public Schools A grassroots effort led by Massachusetts, parents, educators, students and community leaders opposed to the proposed ballot initiative to lift the cap on charter schools.
Get Charter Facts MA Learn about the exaggerated claims made by charter school promoters about the number of students on waiting lists for charter schools.


Simple Truth

Monique Burks

All in a Day's Work

#NoOn2: The Path to Victory

Additional videos on charter schools are available on our YouTube page.