One other bright spot in national election returns: The Waltons and other billionaires came out losers in their backing of a ballot measure, Question 2, to take the cap off charter schools in Massachusetts.
The measure was being defeated 62-38. A broad coalition opposed the measure as damaging to real public schools. The billionaire charter school backers spent more by a wide margin, with almost $2 million coming from Jim and Alice Walton, the Walmart heirs who’ve had more luck charterizing Arkansas. They won’t have to spend so much to get most of what they desire here, given past investments in the controlling powers. But there’s a growing sense in the country that charter schools hold peril for good public schools, just as people came to understand the damage of publicly financed school vouchers. Charters aren’t much different. Public money pays for privately run schools that typically have far less accountability than real public schools operated by taxpayers.
Massachusetts wasn’t the whole story. Georgia voters turned down a proposal to allow state takeover of schools to create “opportunity school districts.” The Waltons tried this in Arkansas to take over Little Rock schools before they did it the easy way, through a Republican-controlled Education Department and Board of Education. Also, Washington voters re-elected state Supreme Court justices who’d ruled — to displeasure of billioniaires like Bill Gates — that charter schools were not truly public schools.