Wednesday, May 22, 2013
State issues guidelines that are far less stringent than new rules for evaluation of district school educators.
Following a parallel but very different path from their district school brethren, New Jersey’s charter schools are finalizing plans for how they will evaluate their teachers and principals. Unlike district schools, charter schools do not fall under the state’s new tenure reform bill, known as TEACHNJ, which specifies much of how evaluations must be conducted and teachers rated. And very unlike district schools, New Jersey’s charter schools are not required at all to use student achievement measures, including in state testing, to measure their individual teachers – avoiding an issue that has roiled school districts and their educators. But the charter schools are still required to submit evaluation plans for state approval. Facing a June …
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
One of the few things educators and administrators agree on: charter schools need multiple authorizers.
By Laura Waters [Laura Waters has been president of the Lawrence Township School Board in Mercer County for eight years. She also blogs about New Jersey education policy and politics at NJLeftBehind.com. A former instructor at SUNY Binghamton in a program that served educationally disadvantaged students from New York's inner cities, she holds a Ph.D. in early American literature from Binghamton.] Here’s a rarity within New Jersey’s education reform community: consensus. The NJ Education Association, Gov. Chris Christie, Commissioner Chris Cerf, Education Law Center, and NJ Charter Association concur that the state's charter school law is broken. In response, several members of the state Legislature are working on overhauls, and last week a…
Monday, April 29, 2013
Bill sponsor -- Assemblyman Diegnan -- hopes to build consensus before Legislature tackles NJ's 18-year-old charter law.
The outlines of a new charter school bill are taking shape, with a draft being circulated by Assembly Democrats that would add tighter controls on new charters and expand the number of organizations approving and overseeing the schools. State Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), chair of the Assembly’s education committee, has completed a draft that would require local voters to approve new charter schools and would add up to three “reviewers” from colleges and universities. The draft would also restructure parts of the application process for charter schools and place new requirements on them to annually report and post their enrollment breakdowns and budgets. Diegnan said Thursday that he expected still more changes to come …
Monday, March 4, 2013
Are charter schools the latest instrument intended to transfer wealth from public to private hands?
By Chigozie U. Onyema [Chigozie U. Onyema is a policy analyst at a national nonprofit. He is interested in the impact of race and class on public policy. He earned his J.D. from NYU School of Law and his B.A. from Howard University.] There was an interesting, and telling, article recently in NJ Spotlight. It looks at a charter school debate in Florence Township, a small suburb in Burlington County. The article sheds light on the tension between the public and private sector, and the crisis of the original identity politics -- white identity politics. It is interesting, because the local school district, and many in the community, oppose the expansion of a K-3 charter school. If the charter school expands, the district is required to foot …
Friday, March 1, 2013
Democratic lawmakers in state Assembly, Senate both drafting new legislation.
Talk of revising the state’s charter-school law is picking up again, with one major player now saying that he plans to have a bill ready by spring or early summer. State Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Assembly’s education committee, said this week that he has sent the broad outline of a bill to the Office of Legislative Services. Provisions include adding organizations able to approve new schools and tightening accountability for existing ones. “It will be start to finish,” Diegnan said, “covering the whole life of a charter school.” Diegnan’s progress on his Assembly bill comes as talks continue in the Senate regarding a bill being crafted by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). And Gov. Chris Christie isn’t …
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Legislature grapples with basic issues concerning online charters, starting with working definitions.
As New Jersey’s Legislature grapples with how, or if, it will step up the state’s oversight of charter schools, a vexing issue remains as to what will happen with schools relying on online instruction. The Joint Committee on the Public Schools last week held the third of four hearings on online schooling, both strictly virtual and blended models, which use a combination of online and in-class instruction. The plan is to develop legislation to address the state’s oversight. But frustrating question remain about where draw the line between schools that rely on online instruction and where it is only a piece of an overall program. And regardless of the model, is cyber-education more appropriate for some ages than for others? The chairman of …
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Charter schools are just one of many ways to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to education says acting Commissioner of Education.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
By Chris Cerf, acting Commissioner of Education for the state of New Jersey. This week, the Department of Education will announce which charter schools will open in September, along with additional strategies to hold all charter schools accountable for results. Since charter schools have been in New Jersey for 15 years, it makes sense to go beyond the frequent misrepresentations to have an honest conversation about what charter schools are and why they are important to New Jersey. Let me be clear from the start -- I support great public schools, whether they are district, charter, magnet, or vocational. A child in a classroom does not care about the governance structure of a school; what matters to children and families is whether they …
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Legislation halts the approval of new virtual charter schools pending a taskforce examination.
The state Assembly's Education Committee advanced a bill last week that creates a 12-month moratorium on the approval of new virtual charter schools in New Jersey, pending a review by a government task force. Bill A-3105, sponsored by Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), prevents the Commissioner of Education from approving any application for a virtual charter school for one year, while a task force develops recommendations for the structure that governs virtual charter education. "This task force will play an important role in determining whether virtual charter schools should play a role in the future of education in New Jersey," Johnson said via release. "It's important to proactively examine …
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Save Our Schools NJ, the Education Law Center and Speak Up Highland Park held a panel discussion on charter reform Tuesday night at the Bartle School.
More community input was the recurring theme at a Tuesday panel discussion in Highland Park about charter school reform. Held at the Bartle School, panelists discussed the problems in existing charter school laws set forth by the state and the legislative solutions that their organizations are trying to get off the ground. The panel was hosted by the Education Law Center, Save Our Schools NJ and Speak Up Highland Park. Panel moderator Stan Karp of the Education Law Center said charters are a "growing and contentious issue." Highland Park and recently, New Brunswick have been the setting for a controversial charter discussion with the application of a Hebrew-language charter high school petitioning to open in New Brunswick. Tikun Olam …
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Save Our Schools NJ and the Education Law Center will host a panel discussing charters at 7 p.m. tonight at the Bartle School in Highland Park.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Editor's Note: The following information is a press release from Speak Up Highland Park. Save Our Schools New Jersey, Speak Up Highland Park and Education Law Center are jointly sponsoring a panel discussion titled The Promise, the Evidence, and the Politics of Charter Schools in New Jersey. The event, which is open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, April 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bartle School, 435 Mansfield Ave. in Highland Park. The panel will include: Highland Park is a natural choice of venue for the discussion. The town’s struggle against an unwanted boutique charter, that was funded by a hedge fund demi-billionaire’s philanthropic group, and was earmarked for a $600,000 federal grant despite overwhelming community …