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Askwith Education Forum

Askwith Essentials: Debating Charters

What you need to know before the Askwith debate, "More Charter Schools? The Massachusetts Vote and the National Debate."

On Tuesday, September 27, at 5:30 p.m., the Harvard Graduate School of Education will host the first of its Askwith Debates. The night’s conversation will address the upcoming ballot proposal Question 2, which, if enacted, would allow the Massachusetts Board of Education to approve up to 12 new or expanded charter schools each year beginning in January 2017.

Debate Prep

The Basics

  • As of 2015, charter schools operated in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Many states, like Massachusetts, cap charter schools either by number of charters or by various percentages of total public school enrollment.
  • Since their introduction in Massachusetts, the charter school cap has risen from 25 to 120.

Question 2: What Supporters Say

  • Charter schools may provide more educational options to families who don’t have them.
  • More charter schools might allow for more innovation — including longer school days and different styles of teaching — because charters are exempt from many regulations.
  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds who attend charter schools do better than those who do not.
  • There is a lot of demand for charter schools — nearly 34,000 students are currently on charter school wait lists.

Question 2: What Opponents Say

  • Charter schools already siphon money away from traditional public schools, and expanding the cap would only increase the stress.
  • Charter schools are run by private operators who are less accountable to the public and who sometimes operate schools for profit.
  • Despite being required by law to recruit high-need students, charters fail to enroll as many English language learners, special needs students, or economically disadvantaged students as their districts' public schools do.
  • The “Yes” campaign is backed by wealthy out-of-state supporters with little stake in the state.

Event details:

Tuesday, September 27, at 5:30 p.m.
Askwith Hall, Longfellow Hall
13 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA, 02138

NOTE: Seating is first-come, first-seated.

This debate is part of HUBweek, a creative festival founded by the Boston Globe, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Massachusetts General Hospital to celebrate innovation at the intersection of art, science, and technology.

Askwith Education Forum

Bringing innovators and influential leaders to the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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