DOE plans to co-locate charter school in adult learning center
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 6/13/2013, 2:09 p.m.
The Department of Education's (DOE) controversial co-location of charter schools is slated to affect adults who use the system to advance their education. Plans are in the works to co-locate a charter school in the Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center (MMALC) in Harlem.
MMALC was created in the 1960s and offers tuition-free classes and literacy programs for adults, including GED classes, air conditioning and refrigerator repair training and medical billing training. The 120th Street school is best known for being the home of one of the only licensed practical nurse training programs in the nation.
Funding for MMALC, along with the Office of Adult and Continuing Learning, is separate from the public school system. If the plan goes through, a Democracy Prep charter school will be placed in MMALC in September.
Last year, over 2,800 students enrolled in MMALC, and the school is heavily depended on by many looking to get free training in today's tough job market. While the DOE hasn't made plans to close MMALC, several students and elected officials have concerns over just how things will work out.
State Sen. Bill Perkins in Harlem said that instead of putting a charter school in MMALC, the school should be expanded because of the growing number of people who are wait-listed. Students apply for the school often and are put on the list; expanding could accommodate the need.
"Most of the students are on a waiting list to be enrolled in a class," Perkins said. "A co-location would only be disruptive and potentially destructive to the long-term success of this program. MMALC has proven its success and is a model that can be replicated for future models so that more adult learners can be trained for the 21st century."
Perkins sent a letter to the DOE this week asking them to take MMALC off their list of schools slated to be co-located. He added that the community wasn't consulted before the decision was made and he didn't know about the possible co-location until students told him.
The DOE confirmed to the AmNews the plans to put Democracy Prep in MMALC in the fall. Spokesman Devon Puglia said that co-locating in MMALC will have no affect on its current success.
"Democracy Prep has an outstanding track record of getting students to college, and we are excited by the additional opportunities they will provide to students in this location," he said. "We have hundreds of successful co-locations throughout the city and know that these two organizations will be able to work together to make this an even more successful building for the community."