NJEA supports high-quality public charter schools as one component of an innovative, progressive system of public education. While no single school model can provide all the answers to the challenges faced by our public schools, public charter schools, along with magnet schools, vocational schools and traditional public schools can all play an important role as laboratories of innovation and provide a broad array of choices for parents.
It’s not uncommon for public school educators and educational support professionals to move between traditional public schools and charter schools. If you find yourself considering employment in a charter school, below are a few things you should know.
Charter school educators are in the same pension system as traditional school employees and work under the same New Jersey laws and statutes. Certification requirements are also identical. In fact, NJEA has fought successfully to keep the state from weakening certification requirements in charter schools.
While not all charters in New Jersey are unionized, NJEA has made significant progress in organizing charters. Over 1,000 NJEA members work in charter association locals that are affiliated with NJEA. Unionized charters represent one quarter of the state’s charter schools.
Many unionized charters gained NJEA affiliation after traditional public school members transitioned to employment in a charter and brought their expectations of a fair and equitable work environment and contract with them. After contacting NJEA for assistance, these members often organized brand new locals for the benefit of staff and students.
Charters serve a variety of student needs and ideally provide components of education that traditional public schools in the area are not offering, serving as laboratories of innovation. Some charters offer advanced STEM programs while others may have a focus on the arts.
All students living within the school district in which a charter school is physically located are eligible to enroll. A school may be approved to serve a “region of residence” or a population of students with a specific need or interest. A “region of residence” includes the school district within which a charter school is located and all school districts contiguous to it. Most charters institute a lottery system if there are more student applicants than the school has approval to enroll. Many charters have a lower number of enrolled students than the traditional public schools in their area.
Several charters in New Jersey are among the 94 schools in the state to be awarded National Blue Ribbon status. A list of Blue Ribbon schools can be found here.
If you would like more information on charter school employment or organizing a union in your current charter school, email NJEA Organizational Development Field Representative, Marguerite Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org.