Charter cap debate clouds original intent

Passing ballot question would stymie education innovation

PROMOTING INNOVATION WAS the original purpose of charter schools. As first envisioned by union leader Albert Shanker and others, charters would benefit the educational system as a whole by serving as laboratories for new ideas. With higher levels of autonomy, charters would have the freedom to experiment. Some of those experiments would be incorporated into traditional public schools.  Others, which might not easily translate into traditional public schools, would live on at a smaller scale.

The current debate over Question 2 completely ignores this unfulfilled promise. Instead, supporters generally claim that charters empower parents with choice and foster academic rigor. Critics, meanwhile, tend to question the practices of the increasingly common “no excuses” model and lament the impact of charters on traditional public schools. The contempt of each side for the other has grown so intense that it is hard to imagine a world in which charters and traditional public schools coexist.

Yet an emphasis on the original vision of charter schools—charters as experimental hubs in an integrated network of public schools—might do a great deal to reestablish common ground. Perhaps more importantly, by thoughtfully regulating the charter sector with the aim of fostering system-wide innovation, policy leaders might make it possible to reap the benefits of charter schools without paying the steep associated costs.

Of course, Massachusetts charter schools are regulated. The number of charter seats in each district is limited by the state—a cap being challenged by Question 2. And charters are held accountable by the state for their performance. But current regulations do little to support charters as laboratories. In fact, current state regulatory practices have fostered a climate hostile to innovation.

The chief problem with current regulatory practices is that the state relies chiefly on standardized test scores to determine charter performance—a practice that severely undercuts any impulse to innovate.  Additionally, given some high-profile charter implosions, the state has become increasingly risk-averse, and now only approves “proven providers.” Thus, rather than a thousand flowers blooming, we instead have seen the proliferation of a single model—one oriented towards rigid discipline and test-oriented instruction; three-quarters of the charters in Boston, for instance, are so-called “no excuses” schools.  This kind of monoculture is fine for parents who desire it. But it hardly reflects the wishes of most parents, and it certainly isn’t going to promote systemic improvement.

Eliminating the cap on charter schools won’t solve this problem. In fact, it will exacerbate it, as a small number of chain operators will be in the strongest position to take advantage of the new opportunities to expand. Simply put, another KIPP, MATCH, or Uncommon school is not going to bring new ideas to Massachusetts, or to Boston, where most of the expansion is likely to occur.

So what’s the alternative? How can we promote innovation if we don’t lift the cap?

One option is to capitalize more fully on the Innovation Schools model, which provides traditional public schools with autonomies in six areas: curriculum, staffing, budget, district policies, calendar, and teacher professional development. That’s quite a bit of freedom to think outside the box. The University Park Campus School in Worcester has used its autonomy to develop an early college model and a partnership with Clark University. The Diploma Plus program at Charlestown High School has used its independence to implement a restorative justice program for at-risk students.

Others, like the recently announced Somerville Powderhouse Studios (PHS)—winner of the XQ “Super School” prize—are taking even bolder steps to rethink business-as-usual by eliminating grade-levels and eschewing the traditional curriculum. Even in the case of the latter, however, school leaders are working to strengthen the district as a whole. PHS will soon begin running afterschool programs throughout middle schools in Somerville, and the school’s founders are particularly interested in finding ways for teachers to work together throughout the district.

Another option, of course, is to get serious about the original purpose of charter schools. In districts where families have organized to bring in a charter, and where it would offer something that the district is unable to or unwilling to provide, a new school can bring vitality and energy. Given this fact, it would be worth our time and energy to devise methods for developing charters as true alternatives to current schools.  And we might see even greater innovation if policy incentivized charters and districts to work together to develop a broader range of complementary options. Rushing to expand charters, however, without attending to their unique affordances, would be a colossal missed opportunity for which traditional public schools would pay a very steep cost.

Meet the Author
Charter schools were supposed to be places of innovation—something we have not seen in practice. This vision, however, can still be rescued. Charters can play a critical role in the strengthening of all public schools. But not if Question 2 passes and we eliminate the cap. However ironic it may seem, then, a vote against charter expansion may be the only way to save the original promise of charter schools—as places for innovation.

Jack Schneider is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross. His latest book, about how to measure school quality, will be released by Harvard University Press in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @Edu_Historian

  • pbomass

    Hear, hear!

    Voting No on 2 is not anti-charter, it is anti this proposal.

  • sbrsb

    Definitely good to recognize and celebrate what Innovation Schools can do! Thanks for that.

    Where the article states: “the state has become increasingly risk-averse, and now only approves ‘proven providers.'” kindly correct me if I’m wrong but my understanding is that that restriction only applies to a limited number of districts where academic performance has been particularly low.

    You write: “Thus, rather than a thousand flowers blooming, we instead have seen the proliferation of a single model—one oriented towards rigid discipline and test-oriented instruction; three-quarters of the charters in Boston, for instance, are so-called “no excuses” schools.”

    I don’t think that properly appreciates their fairly rich diversity… whether, here in Boston, it’s the Mandarin taught at Academy of the Pacific Rim, the ballet barre and music room full of xylophones at Brooke Mattapan
    or the enormously impressive tutoring program at MATCH.

    When Rev. Oliver Brown’s daughter Cheryl Brown Henderson spoke recently in Boston she urged those who would speak against charter schools to hesitate until they have first become intimately familiar with them.

    Use of “no excuses” as if to imply that this is a harsh, unforgiving attitude towards students doesn’t properly appreciate the origins of the phrase. My understanding is that the original intent is that those who engage in education should not try to evade the problem by making self-excuses when historically under-served populations of children don’t succeed in a broad variety of ways in school.

    • Mhmjjj2012

      “No excuses” means out-of-school suspensions. In 2013 Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston had a 59.8% out-of-school suspension rate. During the following two year reporting period that rate dropped down to 40%…still high…no matter how you look at it. Charter schools in Boston had the highest out-of-school suspension rates. I don’t know what a “no- excuses” policy accomplishes when it results in students not being in school. VOTE NO on Question 2.

      • sbrsb

        “I don’t know what a “no- excuses” policy accomplishes when it results in students not being in school.”

        Isn’t it the case that charter schools in Massachusetts typically have a longer school day/longer school year, and compare very favorably to nearby traditional district schools on a wide variety of additional measures of “being in school”?

        For example, from MCPSA:

        “Boston Charters Have Better Stability, Attendance, Unexcused Absence and Dropout Rates.
        * Boston charter schools also have a higher stability rate—the rate at which students stay in the same school for an entire school year—than BPS (92.2% to 86.5%), as well as higher attendance rates (95.4% to 92.2%), fewer unexcused absences (19% to 32.3%) and far lower dropout rates (4.7% to 0.9%).

        “While Boston Charter Schools Have Higher Suspension Rates, They Have Lower Attrition Rates.
        * Data does not show a causal relationship between out of school suspension and students leaving school. In fact, despite have a higher out of school suspension rate (12.6% to 4.8%), far fewer children leave Boston charter schools than their district school peers (9.3% to 14.2%).”

        • Mhmjjj2012

          The MCPSA is the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. According to its website, the MCPSA “has played a critical role in advocating for and creating community among the growing network of charter schools across the Commonwealth through public policy advocacy, sharing of best practices, and providing resources and services to schools.” So that’s not an independent, unbiased source to use. In addition, the MCPSA didn’t have “Public” in its name when it was first organized. When “Public” was added to its name years later the MCPSA urged charter schools across Massachusetts to add “Public” to their names too. The MCPSA’s founder and executive director Marc Kenen is the author of Question 2. VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • sbrsb

            If you think MCPSA made any errors in compiling and conveying that data from DESE, I would encourage you to inform us and them.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            I’m not a grad student with grant money to burn for an analysis to verify the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association’s “Boston Charters Have Better Stability, Attendance, Unexcused Absence and Dropout Rates.” So you can throw that analysis out there and who knows what it’s worth? I don’t. The link you provided and the document itself give no hint as to who prepared it. VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • sbrsb

            It shouldn’t require any grant money… The DESE web site doesn’t charge a penny for full access to all the relevant data.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            It’s taking the time, developing a format, coming up with a spreadsheet, etc. It’s interesting how the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association went through the exercise but didn’t put its name on the results. The MCPSA didn’t have confidence in it? VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • sbrsb

            Here is the version MCPSA has been highlighting most recently, which does have their name on it.
            Why do you suppose the MTA/Save Our Schools doesn’t attempt to similarly gather information on these issues from DESE, other than out-of-school suspensions? And instead currently relies most prominently on false information from the MTA’s error-riddled 2009 report and on a faulty understanding of out-of-date information from the Boston Opportunity Agenda’s 2015 Report Card. Presumably they have the resources to come up with a spreadsheet, yes?

          • Mhmjjj2012

            My guess is the MTA has shown local public school districts are losing more than $400 million this year to charter schools while the state’s Foundation Budget is underfunded by $1 billion. That’s a $1.5 billion financial hit to local public school districts. You’d have to supply the reference to the MTA’s 2009 report. I’ll look up the Boston Opportunity Agenda’s 2015 Report Card and the MCPSA’s link. In the meantime, VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • sbrsb

            This was the 2009 report, major parts of which, to put it kindly, were highly misleading: “Charter School Success or Selective Out-Migration of Low-Achievers? Effects of Enrollment Management on Student Achievement”. You should have no trouble locating it. MASC hired the same author to produce similarly misleading materials that they’ve been disseminating on an ongoing basis.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            I looked up the Boston Opportunity Agenda’s 2015 Report Card and found their section on early education most enlightening: “A child’s brain develops more during the first five years of life than at any other time. Infants and preschoolers experience enormous social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth during this period. This is also the time when a child’s ability to self-regulate begins to emerge. A high-quality early education program provides preschoolers with the opportunities that they need to grow and thrive, and those who participate in these programs are 40% less likely to repeat a grade, 30% more likely to graduate from high school and all are more than twice as likely to go to college. They develop better language skills, score higher on school readiness tests and have fewer behavioral problems once they enter school. Finally as adults, they have higher annual earnings and are more likely to be homeowners.” The Foundation Budget Review Commission’s report also identified “high-quality preschool” as a priority because it “increases the school readiness of students, especially high need students,” That’s where this state’s efforts should be early education and fully funding public education. If students a ready for 1st grade then they are on track to succeed. The charter school debate simply diverts attention away from the real public education issues in Massachusetts. VOTE NO on Question 2.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            I just looked up the “Charter School Success or Selective Out-Migration of Low-Achievers? Effects of Enrollment Management on Student Achievement.” Unlike the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association’s analysis the MTA’s analysis breaks down each category by charter school so it’s much easier to follow. What’s misleading about it?

          • sbrsb

            “What’s misleading about it?”

            Well, imagine a charter school that has:
            9th grade 2012 100 students
            10th grade 2013 80 students
            11th grade 2014 70 students
            12th grade 2015 60 students

            and at a traditional public high school:
            9th grade 2012 100 students
            10th grade 2013 100 students
            11th grade 2014 100 students
            12th grade 2015 100 students

            By 12th grade, what percentage of the charter school students who started in 9th grade have transferred out or dropped out? And what percentage of the traditional public school students who started in 9th grade have transferred out or dropped out?

            That MTA report would have you believe that 40% of the charter school 9th graders had transferred or dropped out and 0% of the traditional pubic school students had transferred or dropped out.

            That’s misleading, because the reality is that there’s no way of knowing the answer for either school without knowing how many students have been retained in which grades for an extra year, and how many students have transferred in.

            As just one of many hypothetical scenarios, take the traditional public high school, it could have had a terrible bout of mononucleosis hit 1/2 of the class during the summer before 12th grade, all of those dropping out, with the other half flying off to star in a film in Hollywood. With 100 students transferring in from other schools…

          • Mhmjjj2012

            I’d like to know exactly what schools are losing students to charter schools and where students leaving charter schools go. I read a CATO analysis a while back showing charter schools get significant numbers of their students from private and Catholic schools. That shifts the burden of educating those students from their parents to taxpayers. Perhaps those are the students leaving charter schools too. That would explain why there may not be an increase in public school enrollments when charter school enrollments drop.

          • sbrsb

            So those parents believe that charter schools are better than private/parochial schools while the latter are better than the traditional public schools that they have as an option in respect to providing their childrens’ scholastic education?
            I guess it’s also true that good high schools are likely to have fewer dropouts than weak high schools. Which has some short-term costs. Let’s hope that the long-term impacts of a quality education are worth the price. I’m optimistic that that’s the case.
            Relatedly, as you likely know, there is some controversy as to whether the BPS exam schools should directly admit students from private and parochial schools.

        • Jack Covey

          Marc Kenan, the head of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Associationand the co-author of Question 2, engages in specious race-baiting to pass Question 2, as do his allies.

          Playing the race card or the white guilt card (or wealthy guilt car) is a pretty lame and divisive tactic on the part of Marc Kenan — the Executive Director and Foiunder of the Massachusetts Charter School Association, and who helped draft Question 2 — and all the folks allied with Marc to pass Question 2.

          Go here:

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          ( 35:02 – )

          ( 35:02 – )
          MARC KENAN: “We have our strongest opposition from the teachers unions across the state, whose leadership is primarily white… (So-effing-what, Marc?! JACK) … our goal, and whom we are trying to serve, are those black and brown parents and young parents who are trying desperately to get alternatives for their children.”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          With tens of millions of dollars going to political campaign operatives, I’m guessing this specious race-baiting was dreamed up by those guys, and then tested on focus groups where those experts found out that these messages worked in getting folks to vote YES on 2.

          This scuzzy and divisive tactic works two ways:

          ON WHITES: it’s a way to use white guilt to pressure white voters into voting Question 2.

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          MESSAGE to Whites:

          “You don’t want to be one of those racists who keep blacks from getting a good education, now, do you? Vote ‘YES’ on Question 2, and earn your ‘I’m-No-Racist!’ merit badge.”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          For whites, it’s an easy way to prove you’re not a racist, and make yourself feel good in the voting booth… regardless of how off-base that thinking actually is.

          ON BLACKS: it’s a way to use historical black anger against white oppression and mistreatment to vote “YES” on 2.

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          MESSAGE to African-Americans:

          “White folks in upscale Massachusetts cities and neighborhoods are stealing black kids’ promise of a great education and keeping black kids from having good schools, just the way they’ve been doing this forever. Stick it to those racist whiteys and vote ‘YES’ on Question 2.”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          As a Los Angeleno, this demagogic re-framing of the issues reminds me the way attorney Johnny Cochran, in the O.J. Simpson trial, successfully manipulated the black jurors and black population into abandoning their common sense and critical thinking to render their verdict, and act the way they did. He brought in an irrelevant and inflammatory context of historical racism, and attached it to the way a true black person should think and act regarding O.J.’s guilt or innocence.

          “Here’s your chance to even the score with The Man. Vote to acquit!”


          “If you’re in the black community, back your brother O.J. in his time of need, and stick it to the racist power structure.”

          That’s how and why you got this abomination. (Note the different reactions of blacks and whites to the live announcement of O.J.’s acquittal):

          ( 1:01 – )

          ( 1:01 – )

          For Marc Kenan and his Massachusetts Public Charter School Association (which Marc founded) to stoop to this level of pernicious exploitation of historical racism is pretty scuzzy and skeevy. However, I imagine this is what the high-priced political campaign experts whom the “YES” on Question 2″ folks hired told him to say at the debate and elsewhere. … and Marc figures,

          “Oh what the heck. As scuzzy and skeevy as this tactic is, all’s fair in politics, and you do whatever you have to in order to win. The ends justify the means, blah-blah-blah … ”

          In all my campaigns for which I’ve volunteered — for school board members, politicians, initiatives, etc. — I’ve never had to be associated with such sleazy campaign tactics or messages that violated my own moral code, and I never will be, as I will drop out if engaging in this kind of stuff is what you have to do in order to win.

          Indeed, on her pro-charter blog, Erika Sanzi engages in this as well in her response to ultra-progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement of the “NO” on 2 campaign. Sanzi makes Warren out to be the Second Coming of George Wallace, standing in front of the University of Alabama door and barring black students from entering:

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          ERIKA SANZI: “Perhaps those zip codes that act as barbed wire fences for poor kids have simply fallen through the cracks of her broken foundation where principles have given way to power and money and special interest. Adult interest in this case.

          “It’s actually hard to imagine the disgust that low income parents, especially black and brown ones, must feel that their world famous Senator, their fighter for the ‘little guy,’ has now lost interest in that proverbial ‘little guy’. ”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          Oy vey!

          Here’s another piece, this one from Campbell Brown’s “The74” blog that goes all in this specious race-baiting. Michelle Rhee hagiographer Richard Whitmire calls out those rich white Massachusetts folks who back “NO on Question 2.”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          ‘It’s Heartbreaking’: Boston Parents Ask Why Their Wealthy Neighbors Are Fighting Charter Schools”


          “However, recent polls, along with unexpectedly intense anti-charter activity in places like Newton, suggest that support may be soft. Just before school opened in Newton this year, the union staffed a table outside its ($200 million) high school to encourage teachers to oppose the cap lift. Recently, Tillman attended a meeting in Newton where she said she heard plenty of talk against lifting the cap.

          “All of which makes her ask: Why would Newton teachers and parents, who are unaffected by charters, vote to deny better schools for the low-income neighborhoods of Boston?

          “ ‘It’s heartbreaking,’ said Tillman (an African American in favor of Question 2 and expanding charter schools). ‘This does not affect their budget. Why don’t they want to help their brethren in our ZIP code?”

          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

          Because they’re evil racists, Ms. Tillman. Shame on them.

          What nonsense.

          How do the pro-charter, pro-Question 2 folks reconcile this line of argument with both the NAACP and the Black Lives Matters leaders coming out strongly against Question 2, and the expansion of privately-run charter schools in general? Are those black leaders all stupid, or dupes of the white racists?


          Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:

          Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad:

          • jeanabeana

            yes, and the dog whistle in this past ad over the weekend… implying that white caucasian or whatever (those are false categories anyway) are harmful to minorities (I guess they imply intentionally we do this to our students?) They have called me “Little Sally of the 1960s rock band”; then anti-catholic , and now they play the race card in the weekend ads to accuse school committees and teachers. Stephen Ronan goes from one site to another showing that his ego has to maintain his belief in his own superior debating and research skills. I have seen him do it repeatedly in different places.

          • jeanabeana

            Mr.Ronan continues to report his comments here filled with references to studies that support charters, insisting that charters will not take money away from public schools, even though as a practical matter, charter schools everywhere have led to budget cuts for public schools that enroll the vast majority of children. Northampton, Haverhill, Lawrence, other cities , the mayor sand City Council and School committees know the truth. To quote Diane Ravitch,
            “unless you believe that scores on standardized tests are the purpose of public education and the best measure of educational quality, these “studies” [that he constantly cites} are meaningless and lacking in any understanding of democracy, civic responsibility, and the common good.”

    • jeanabeana

      the definition of “no excuses” has become harsh and punitive towards minority students…. “Stephen,

      The phrase “no excuses” refers to the harsh disciplinary tactics imposed on students to teach them the “dominant” (white) culture. In some such schools, black students have been disciplined for “black hair.” There are elaborate rules for suspension, punishment, and expulsion for failure to comply. The kids can always be returned to real public schools.” this was toiled to Stephen Ronan on the Diane Ravitch blog but he continues to attack people like me everywhere he goes; he tried to humiliate me even when I said that local control was a New England value long before Horace Mann… so he had to insult me … they do this to professional women in particular and the Fordham Institute uses special insults towards females in the profession and Jay P Greene calls me/us “little Sally from the 1960s rock band.” This is juvenile for them to be using “frat humor ” on the well educated females in the profession and they re-define the harsh terms that they have for students …. make a caste system with the people in the public schools being denigrated constantly.

      • sbrsb

        The phrase “no excuses” refers to the harsh disciplinary tactics imposed on students to teach them the “dominant” (white) culture.”

        You are certainly free to use the phrase however you like, but if you would like to understand its use by others, I would commend to you this video:

        If you think, after watching that, that your very different definition is more appropriate than that of people like Shawn Hardnett and Scott Gordon, kindly explain why.

        “I said that local control was a New England value long before Horace Mann… so he had to insult me”

        Would you kindly provide a link to the specific posts that you are referring to? We know from your message here: that you are unable to distinguish adequately between a variety of different people, and I don’t recall any such interaction with you, jeanabeana.


  • Jack Covey

    During the remaining three weeks leading up to Tuesday, November 8, as you see or listen to the slick and expensive Madison Avenue-level TV/radio commercials promoting “YES” on Question 2 promulgating such lies as …

    “Question 2 will add more money to public schools (LIE: it won’t. In fact it will do just the opposite.


    “Question 2 won’t take money away from existing public schools (LIE: it will… a lot of money, in fact.)

    … or when view the slick mailers you find in your mailbox, or when listen to robo-calls, think about this following post:

    The latest is that over $21.7 million of out-of-state money from the most ruthless capitalists who have ever walked the Earth — Eli Broad, the Walton family of Walmart, Wall Street hedge fund managers, etc. — is pouring into Massachusetts to pass Question 2.

    Read this well-researched article here for that $21.7 million figure:

    These profit-minded plutocrats who are pouring in this money obviously …

    — do not live in Massachusetts,

    — have no children, grandchildren, or other relatives that attend public

    schools in Massachusetts

    — have never given a sh#% about the education of middle or lower income until recently, when they realized they could make a buck off privatizing Massachusetts schools via the expansion of privately-run charter schools,.

    They want to these corporate charter schools to replace truly public schools— the ones that, for generations, have been accountable and transparent to the public via democratically elected school boards, and which are mandated to educate ALL of the public… including those hardest or most difficult to educate … special ed., English Language Learners, homeless kids, foster care kids, kids with difficult behavior arising from distressed home lives.

    Are proponents of Question 2 seriously making the argument that out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers are pumping in all this money because those folks care so much about the education of kids in Massachusetts?

    You really think they are NOT seeking a big money return on these ($21.7 million campaign donations?

    Does that pass the smell test?

    Can you provide an example of JUST ONE TIME in the past where they poured in this kind of cash to something … no strings attached, and with no expectations of return?

    If, as Q 2 supporters like Marty Walz claim, the most ruthless capitalists that have ever walked the Earth are now kicking in this kind of cash to pass Question 2 merely because they care about children’s education —

    … and if they are not about their profiting through the privatization of public schools brought about by the expansion of privately-run charter schools,

    … then I’m sure one of you Q 2 supporters could google and find a past example where they have done something similar .. .again out of generosity… with no expectation of an eventual monetary return…

    Something like …

    “Well, back in 2000-something, or 1900-something, these same folks donated $20 million to the (INSERT CHARITABLE CAUSE HERE). Here’s the link that proves this.”

    No, I didn’t think so. When this was brought up in a debate, Mary Walz refused to address it, saying, “We need to talk about the kids, not the adults.” Well, keeping money-motivated scum from raping and pillaging Massachusetts public schools IS CARING ABOUT THE KIDS, Marty! (By the way, those are many of the same folks who raped and pillaged the housing/mortgage industry a decade ago … go watch the film THE BIG SHORT to get up to speed on that … they’ve just moved on to new place to plunder.)

    So the real question is:

    To whom do the schools of Massachusetts belong? The citizens and parents who pay the taxes there?

    Or a bunch of money-motivated out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers who are trying to buy them via Question 2, and the expansion of privately-managed charter schools which they control, or also profit from their on-line and digital learning products that will be sold to these charter school chains?

    If you believe the former, THEN FOR GOD’S SAKE, VOTE “NO” ON QUESTION 2.

    Send them a message: Massachusetts schools are NOT FOR SALE!!!

    Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:
    Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad: