Advocates Put Forth 31 Possible Ballot Questions

By Sarah Birnbaum

Aug. 4, 2011

BOSTON — All told, advocates in Massachusetts want to see over two dozen questions on the the 2012 ballot. Numbering 31 in all, initial question filings cover issues ranging from medical marijuana to the sale of wine in food stores to voter identification. See the full list here.

One measure would force schools to base hiring and firing decisions on teacher effectiveness, not seniority.

Jason Williams is the executive director of Stand for Children, the group behind that ballot measure. Right now, he said, schools get rid of their newest teachers first when there are layoffs. He believes the worst teachers should be the first to go.

“You should first look at what’s the effectiveness of the educator. And in situations where you’ve got two teachers that have equal levels of effectiveness, then seniority absolutely should be the tie-breaker but it should never be the primary factor that you’re looking at,” Williams said.

The measure will likely meet some resistance from teachers' unions, who say seniority protections are important, otherwise principals could discriminate against more experienced and expensive teachers.

Another potential ballot question would legalize medical marijuana. The proposal would allow patients with diseases like cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to buy marijuana from non-profit distribution centers. Advocates say there’s a real chance the measure could pass. Last election, voters in nine districts were asked in nonbinding ballot questions if they’d support legalizing medical marijuana. All nine districts said yes.

Organizers still need to collect almost 70,000 signatures by late November to get their proposals on next year's ballot.

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