BOSTON (CBS) – For more than twenty years, public charter schools have provided an option for Massachusetts families dissatisfied with the conventional public schools. Thousands are on the waiting list to get into them.

But the teacher unions and their allies see charters as a threat, and are pouring millions into a campaign to stop ballot Question Two, which would allow the state to authorize up to 12 new charter schools each year.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

(WBZ-TV graphic)

However, the new WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll of 700 likely voters finds near majority support for lifting the current cap on the number of charter schools – 49-percent for “yes” on Question Two, 39-percent opposed and 12-percent undecided.

“We see support for charter schools across all demographics – men, women, all age groups, all educational groups,” says Tatishe Nteta, associate director of the UMass Amherst poll.

Read: Eye On Education: Emotional Debate Over Charter Schools

“The only folks that are opposed to charter schools are Democrats and liberals. So the ‘No on Two’ folks have a lot of work to do to get to a point in which their view of the impact of charter schools resembles the view of the voters.”

That’s good news for a pro-charter campaign that has also gained extensive financial backing. But a closer look inside the poll suggests the final outcome may well be linked to voter turnout in this presidential election year.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

(WBZ-TV graphic)

A “yes” vote on Question Two draws some of its strongest support – in the mid-fifties – from voters aged 30 to 54, the prime demographic of parents with school-age children, and from independents, who are the largest bloc of registered voters.

But activists and partisans tend to be reliable voters, and the poll suggests a strong Democratic turnout could at least erode that pro-charter edge.

Then again, presidential elections tend to pull large turnouts across the spectrum, so stay tuned.

Comments (13)
  1. Stu Dent says:

    I am for the question, if only because the Mass.Teachers Association is against it. The MTA is the most self-serving group in existence, They have no interest in education, just their own selfish agenda (which is mostly money for teachers).

    1. bees_knees_6 says:

      The average teacher’s salary in MA is 69,000. Any individual who signs on as a teacher is hardly after money. If the MTA is working for money, it is because the teachers are underpaid and deserve it.

      1. Sy Clops says:

        $69,000 for 9 months’ work. Not too shabby. Add on all the other benefits, not too bad.

  2. bees_knees_6 says:

    Charter schools are selective. Yes, I know on paper it does not appear that they are but they have workarounds to not select kids with IEPs or anyone less than high scoring. Giving monies to them will only take monies from our public schools. It makes absolutely no sense to me that we do not put the money toward replacing service our public schools have lost.

  3. mikey says:

    Reflecting upon the Gong Show-like, circus-like and merry-mixer-like presidential race I’m lamenting that recreational marijuana isn’t legal in this state – I could use some.

    I’m with Liz Warren on Question Two – she’s against it.

  4. The Owl says:

    Charter schools wouldn’t have a chance if the various community school systems were actually doing a good job at educating our youth.

    “Give the school systems a chance” we hear from the teachers unions, school administrators, and liberal.

    Well, you’ve had decade upon decade of “chance” to improve performance and you’ve just blown it…along with trillions of dollars of the taxpayers money.

    Time to give an alternative that appears to be able to address the problems the chance and the money.

    Vote for MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS ! ! !

    1. bees_knees_6 says:

      The fact that MA schools are the best in the nation takes a bit of wind out of your sails, Owl.

      1. The Owl says:

        Best of a failing lot, Bees.

        Our schools are just a little less of a mess than the others.

        Nice platform on which to stand, though. It’ll get a lot of Grubers marching in lockstep.

      2. bees_knees_6 says:

        The difference, owl, is that you are looking from a high level. I absolutely believe that the United States needs to revamp its school system. Adding charter schools is hardly going to be a step in that direction. Many schools in this state, as I accurately stated, are beginning to implement on their own the policies and approaches of the better school systems in the world. They are hardly marching in lockstep. Perhaps, you are too removed to understand that. Now being in a third generation of direct involvement in the schools, I am beginning to see innovative ideas far beyond anything I or my children experienced.

    2. The Owl says:

      Charter schools, Bees, are not failing their students, and, they are contributing heavily to the overall standing or Massachusetts students vis the students in the rest of the nation.

      They are only going to be approving, at maximum, 12 per years, so in the short term there is not much skin being worn off the publicly employed teachers and administrators.

      And, surely, the charter school students will be better educated there than they would be in very high percentage of the other schools in the state.

  5. PayYourOwnWay says:

    No Way Jose’

  6. I am voting for more charter schools-not all but many public schools are terrible – I would never send any kids to our local school-they have helped many students and I feel care more for the kids than public schools-I realize teachers can sometimes have it tough and there are many great teachers, but I feel the charter schools are better

  7. Jony says:

    More charters or less charters…completely irrelevent. Everyone who thinks that it makes one bit of difference whether or not a kid goes to a public or charter school is unenlightened at best. It does not, I repeat, does not matter where a kid goes to school. Some students will succeed, some won’t irregardless of what you do. That is the law of nature folks. Not all are meant to succeed. The people who think that ALL students can do so are delusional. To believe that ALL students can succeed is an implied utopian society where everyone lives a middle class or better life, the prisons are empty, there is no crime, etc. That has never happened in the 4.5 billion year existance of this planet, and never will. Charters will do absolutely nothing to change that, neither will public schools.

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