August 15, 2017
I am deeply concerned about a proposal to allow students enrolled in the Alma del Mar charter school to take classes at New Bedford’s public high school, and the New Bedford Educators Association urges the school committee and city leaders to halt the plan rather than move forward with a “pilot” program.
While New Bedford public school educators believe that every child deserves a great education, extending dual enrollment to Alma del Mar so that students there can attend English courses at New Bedford High School is bad policy.
New Bedford public schools already lose more than $11 million to charter schools in tuition payments. That funding loss is felt by each and every student who attends New Bedford public schools. To then allow a charter school to send its students into the public schools for courses is plainly inappropriate double-dipping. It is unconscionable that the school committee would allow our public schools to in effect pay twice to educate students who choose to attend charter schools.
Perhaps some of our city officials are flattered that the charter schools recognize the quality of education available in New Bedford public schools. But our school committee and mayor need to best advocate for New Bedford public school students. Protect their resources. Protect their class sizes.
I highly doubt that New Bedford public schools would want to begin the practice of educating students from the other charter schools and private schools in our city. And on a larger scale, I hope that this situation helps make clear why it is wrong to set up competing school systems that vie for the same public funding sources. No matter how this plays out, some students will face a negative consequence.
I truly hope that the students at Alma del Mar are able to experience a high-quality education, but that cannot occur at the expense of the needs of students attending New Bedford Public Schools.
Dual enrollment is designed to enhance the opportunities of public school students ready to take on work beyond their grade levels. Let’s not turn dual enrollment into yet another siphon for charter schools that takes opportunity away from public school students.
Lou St. John
New Bedford Educators Association