The People of New Bedford Said “No!” to Charters -- Did our leaders not hear us?
In 2016, New Bedford voters, along with the rest of Massachusetts, overwhelmingly rejected Question 2 -- the expansion of charter schools -- despite massive lobbying efforts from the private sector.
Effectively, New Bedford voted to protect our public schools from privatization, to keep taxpayer money out of privately run charters, and to support educational institutions which are accountable to democratic oversight and which serve all students.
Despite this, Mayor Mitchell and Superintendent Anderson have struck a deal with Alma del Mar’s Will Gardner and Commissioner Riley to expand the number of charter seats in New Bedford. Moreover, the city plans to transfer school property to the charter to accommodate the expansion.
The Mayor says things could be a lot worse. He praises Alma del Mar for pioneering a new district student assignment system, the first of its kind here in Massachusetts. He tells us that Alma will be responsible for the necessary renovations to the old school building.
The bottom line is that our leaders should not have agreed to the expansion. They are forcing the community, against their wishes, to accept and pay for a privately run charter which will siphon money from our already grossly underfunded public schools.
We need to speak louder to the School Committee and the City Council who need to approve of the transfer of the Kempton school to Alma. We need to speak louder to the state education board -- before January 22 -- who need to approve the charter seat expansion. We need to speak louder because we are not being heard.
Mr. Gardner and Massachusetts Charter Public School Association lobbyists have fought aggressively for the attention of our leaders and for what serves them well, but so can we.