The New Bedford Educators Association strongly opposes any increase in the number of charter school seats in the district. The proposed charter school expansions would- if approved- cause irreparable harm to students in New Bedford Public Schools by draining resources, cutting staff and possibly closing whole schools. The NBEA stands with New Bedford’s elected leaders in opposing Alma Del Mar’s proposed expansion of 1,180 charter seats for students in grades K to 8, Global Learning’s expansion of 100 seats for students in grades 5 to 12 and the opening of a new 1,008-seat New Bedford Cheironeum for grades 6 to 12. We must protect our public schools and the educators who are dedicated to teaching every child.
FUNDING: New Bedford is projected to pay $13.8 million to privately run charter schools this fiscal year. That is the tuition to cover the approximately 1,175 students attending charter schools. The state will allow an additional 1,225 charter school seats in New Bedford, so the city’s tuition to charters stands to effectively double.
Imagine our schools losing $30 million ANNUALLY!
Already, New Bedford is barely spending what the state considers a minimum amount necessary to the needs of all students. The Legislature did not fix the broken Foundation Budget formula used for state aid to public schools, so communities, including New Bedford are actually underspending on public education.
Spending more on charters will only undermine the schools working with the vast majority of New Bedford students.
FAIRNESS: New Bedford’s current mix of charter schools does not educate all students. Compared to district public schools, the charters do not educate similar rates of English Language Learners or students with special learning needs. As grade levels increase at charter schools, the student population shrinks, indicating persistent “push out” of students who do not conform to the charter school’s environment.
If enrollment shrinks as grade levels increase, the state should not approve adding seats to programs that either do not meet their obligation or whose services are not wanted by the community.
COMMUNITY: NBEA members must connect with families to let them know the harm posed by these charter school expansion plans. The environment we faced when we successfully defeated Question 2 has not changed. The funding formula used to pay for charter schools still robs district schools and the students attending them.
There is no local control over charter schools, and in cases of the proposed expansions there will not be any public hearings before the state. Only the new school proposal, which is being submitted for a fourth time after three previous rejections, requires a public hearing if it moves forward.
The charter schools in New Bedford have not been good partners, despite the city’s willingness to assist them. Last year, New Bedford High School allowed students from Alma Del Mar to access academic services not available to them at their own school.