Congressman Seth Moulton votes in Salem

Congressman Seth Moulton prepares to cast his ballot at St. John's the Baptist in downtown Salem on Tuesday morning.

SALEM — After meeting with people on both sides of the charter school debate, Congressman Seth Moulton, D-Salem, announced Tuesday he voted yes on Question 2, a ballot measure that would lift the cap on charter school expansion.

"Voting no is for the status quo, but clearly the status quo hasn't worked," Moulton said in a prepared statement. "It hasn't done enough for our kids, and it hasn't changed the minds of our politicians. I believe voting yes has the potential to do both."

Moulton, a freshman congressman who faced no opponent in his re-election bid, was scheduled to vote at St. John the Baptist Church on St. Peter St. in Salem at 11 a.m.

Question 2 would allow the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.

The issue has been fiercely debated. Leading the opposition to Question 2 is the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which calls it "bad for our schools," as well as many local school committees. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, a Swampscott resident, has campaigned heavily in favor of charter school expansion.

Moulton, a Marblehead native, said Massachusetts has many excellent schools, and noted that his sister, Eliza, is a teacher. But he supports expanding charter schools, he said, because of the disparity in education in the state.

"There remain too many kids who are not being well-served by our schools. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the largest disparities between high- and low-income students," Moulton said.

Moulton also lamented the contentious ballot debate now ongoing.

"It's a shame how vicious, partisan, and often devoid of facts this argument has become." He blamed folks on both sides of the debate, including Baker and the state Legislature for failing to come to a compromise. He also said that it does not help that Question 2 is poorly written, saying it should have been designed to take on the charter school cap in cities where it is an issue.

Moulton said the main problem is how the funding follows the student, and the need to fully fund reimbursements.

"Gov. Baker and the Legislature have failed our kids by refusing to fully fund the mandated reimbursements," he said. "For that reason, in many ways Question 2 boils down to this: which option will force our elected leaders to act?"

He singled out the Bentley Academy Charter School in Salem as having a positive impact on the community.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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