Curent Legislation - Oct. 13, 2011
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HOLDS DISCUSSION ON CHARTER SCHOOL REFORMS: On October 13, the Senate Education Committee met to discuss reforms to the existing charter school law. No bills were scheduled for a vote, only for discussion. Senator Ronald Rice called for a moratorium on opening new charter schools in New Jersey. Representatives from Save Our Schools, a parent group focused on charter school accountability, called for the passage of S-2243 (Turner, Buono, Greenstein), a bill that would require local approval before opening a new charter school. The committee also discussed an NJEA supported initiative, S-3001 (Ruiz), a bill that would demand greater accountability and transparency from charter schools by mandating application of NJQSAC, representative demographic attendance, new financial disclosures, and heightened Commissioner scrutiny. On the other side, two lobbyists from national charter organizations argued that current NJ law was too restrictive and that reforms should allow greater proliferation of charter schools. Senator Ruiz, the committee chair, plans to introduce additional legislation to revise the existing charter law, including S-3001, although she did not specify exactly what else that legislation would include. Previously, she sponsored a bill to increase the number of entities that can authorize charter schools. No Republican Senators attended the committee meeting, provoking an outcry from Democrats. No other meeting has been scheduled to consider any of the bills under discussion, but it is likely the issues will arise again in the Lame Duck Session of the Legislature.