New Bedford Standard Times
March 9, 2012
Charter schools are intended to help students
A March 1st op-ed in The Standard Times ("Guest View: Let's get the facts straight on innovation schools") comparing the proposed innovation schools to charter schools is a bit misleading.
It's time to get the facts straight on charter public schools, too.
New Bedford is served by two charter public schools, Global Learning Charter Public School and Alma Del Mar Charter Public School. Both of these schools — like charter schools throughout Massachusetts — are open to any student from the district. Charter schools are required to have an open enrollment policy as well as a district recruitment plan. However, many of the state's charter public schools, including the charter schools in New Bedford, have waiting lists for admission. Clearly, New Bedford's charter schools are meeting a need.
New Bedford's charters receive funds when families make the choice to enroll their children. Since the district no longer educates these children, it does not keep the funds. New Bedford receives additional state aid to reimburse the city when funds are allocated to charters. The district gets more than double its money back over a six-year period. It's the most generous reimbursement policy in the country and it recognizes that a district has fixed costs it is still responsible for.
Charter public schools are also accountable for their results, and every five years they must seek charter renewal by meeting tough student performance standards. And charter schools do collaborate with local schools on strategies to improve education for all district students.
As New Bedford develops a plan for the future of public education in the city, charter public schools should be considered an important part of the education reform effort. New Bedford parents, like all parents in the state's Gateway Cities, deserve more choice in public education.
John R. Schneider
Director, Gateway Strategic Initiatives
Mass Charter Public School Association