The Christie Administration recently announced both another round of charter school closures and a new wave of approved expansions. The nearly simultaneous announcements raise serious questions about why the Administration continues to puts so much emphasis on a small subset of public schools with such a mixed record of success.
That mixed message, along with increasing public resistance to charter school expansion in communities across New Jersey and growing concerns about the harmful financial impact of charter schools on their host districts, gives new reason to support NJEA’s call for a moratorium on charter school approvals and expansions.
The closure of two semi-“virtual” charter schools particularly highlights the problem with foisting charter schools on communities without any evidence that they will perform as promised. Virtual charters, which have been a disaster in other states, are not contemplated or authorized under New Jersey’s 22-year-old charter school law. Given their dismal record and questionable legality, they never should have been approved or opened in the first place. Their closure will disrupt the lives of students and families who were convinced, without good reason, to entrust their education to those schools.
Several of the recent approvals are for so-called “satellite” schools, which are likewise not authorized by the existing law. Their approval is expected to bring a legal challenge that could be avoided if their approval was delayed until an appropriate review of the law is undertaken.
NJEA is proud to count over 1,000 New Jersey charter school employees among our 200,000 members. Our advocacy for high standards and accountability is an important part of representing those members. We will continue our work to ensure that New Jersey’s charter schools remain truly public, that they are accountable to the communities in which they are located, and that that serve to complement, not compete with, other public schools.
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