Below is the testimony I presented to the Senate Education Committee when Senator Ruiz held a hearing on several pieces of pending charter legislation, including Senate Bill 2243, which would require voter or board of ed approval before charters could open in a district. This would solve so may of the problems we are facing here in Highland Park, and I was honored to testify about our experience. I testified alongside other organizers from Save Our Schools NJ, a grassroots organization that advocates for public schools, specifically on charters, vouchers and the funding formula.
Several things were quite striking about the hearing. First, the members of the Education Committee we most wanted to hear our testimony because they were not supportive of the legislation, Senators Kean and Allen, just didn't show. Second, the lobbyists there to argue against the legislation, the New Jersey Charter School Association, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, all came in their crisp suits carrying shiny brochures, and chit-chatted in the hall with the representatives from the Department of Education. The DOE folks certainly weren't looking for any hallway chats to hear the concerns of any of the Save Our Schools folks...
Most importantly, all three lobbying organizations, there to argue against the reforms advocated by ACTUAL New Jersey parents with children in the public schools, are funded by the Walton Foundation. In 2010 alone they received:
New Jersey Charter School Association $950,000
National Association of Charter School Authorizers $1,874,274
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools $1,175,000
While these lobbying groups may be called "New Jersey" this, or "National" that, they are all CORPORATE reformers. Make no mistake about it. Their agenda has nothing to do with what's good for this state or this country. It has to do with what's good for them and the foundations that support them.
Without further ado, here's my testimony: