Charter school advocates disappointed by Senate vote

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – On Wednesday, 22News told you how the state senate decided to not designate more of your tax money to charter schools. We found out what that means now for charter schools, especially those with long wait lists.

“It takes a lot of money to educate the children,” said Ellen Labonte of Chicopee.

Your tax money pays for a public school education. That includes charter schools, many of which have wait lists in the hundreds. On Wednesday, the State Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed these schools in underperforming cities to expand, and accept more students.
Lawmakers didn’t want money to be taken away from traditional public schools.
“I want more funding for public schools. Charter schools have not really been, I don’t feel proven that they’re really better…I attended public schools and I didn’t come out very bad,” said Clyde Van Buren of Easthampton.

Charter schools offer a different type of education, with a focus on peer teaching, and extra staff to enforce good behavior, for example. This vote means Holyoke Community Charter School will not be able to increase the number of enrolled students from 702. School Director, Dr. Sonia Correa Pope, said this hasn’t been the first time they’ve tried to lift the cap and it certainly won’t be the last.

“Our 7th & 8th graders are outperforming the state which is telling the story and I’m pretty sure if you’re becoming a full, k-12 program, our students will be going to top colleges and they’ll be coming to the City of Holyoke back again,” Dr. Correa Pope told 22News.

She said 423 students are on their wait list, and that number has increased every year since the school opened in 2005.

In Springfield, it’s nearly 4,000 children on wait lists.

“If it’s working for so many, why don’t the educators get together and find out why it’s working so well and why so many want to go to charter schools.”

Ten of the state’s 29 underperforming school districts impacted by this vote are in Western Massachusetts.

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