New Bedford group calls for increased access to public charter schools

By Kirsten Glavin

kglavin@abc6.com

@kirstenglavin

NEW BEDFORD – Concerned parents and members of the community rallied in New Bedford, Wednesday, calling for increased access to public charter schools in the region.

"There are too many, far too many kids on the waiting list here,” said Josiane Martinez, an organizer of the group, Great Schools Massachusetts.

Many parents said their children’s reading levels are not up to par.  When referring to her daughter, mother Mercy Nunez told ABC6, "Her reading level concerns me because it’s not where it should be."

The group claimed that 60 percent of New Bedford 3rd graders cannot read at their grade level.  Currently, more than 45,000 children remain on waiting lists in Massachusetts for 80 charter schools. More than 1,200 of those students are located in New Bedford.

Mayor Jon Mitchell was apprehensive. He said this could negatively affect public schools in the area. "I am not a charter school opponent, I am a proponent of having the best schools in new Bedford as possible,” said the Mayor. “And I think that this proposal may be a threat to our ability to do that."

He expressed concern about the funds that follow students as they move from regular public school, to public charter.  "I am very concerned that this is going to drain resources from New Bedford. We’ll make sure we speak up about it,” he added.

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