The State Legislators need to hear from the charter school community. We need your help!
On Thursday, February 2, 2012 the Assembly Education committee will hold a hearing to consider the vote on two charter school bills A- 1877- and A-2147.
A-1877- would require community approval on all charter applications and petitions for expansionsbefore the charter application goes to the Department of Education for review.
A-2147- Would require automatic enrollment of all students in the charter school district.
NJCSA does NOT support A-1877 and A-2147 for the following reasons:
- The charter approval process will become a political campaign, diverting scarce resources intended for children to operate and fund a campaign.
- It creates an unfunded mandate. Referendums require the expenditure of funds at the county and local level.
- Voter referendums will impede the development of innovative schools in urban and suburban communities.
- Parents vote with their feet. If parents did not want more options, then a charter school would not open.
- This will cause a logistical nightmare for all charter schools.
- However, this bill does attempt to address increased accountability and collaboration between school districts and charters. We feel that any change to current charter law should come from the people within the charter community who know it best.
Our recommendation is to OPPOSE A-1877 and A-2147 and amend the current Charter law to provide for more diverse authorizers and more community input throughout the process.
How Can You Help?
We would like to ensure that the people who will be impacted by these proposals be informed about them and be a present voice in the discussion of the future of charter schools in New Jersey. If you are free, please
- · Attend the hearing in Trenton on Thursday. It will be held in the State House Annex, Committee room 11, 4th Floor at 2:00 p.m. If you plan to attend, please contact the Community Outreach Manager, Jay Wright firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 989-9700 ext. 4416.
- · If you can NOT attend the hearing, you can voice your concerns by calling the following committee members and/or your local representative. Tell them you are a “charter school (parent, teacher and/or advocate) and you OPPOSE A-1877”.
Assembly Education Committee Members
-Patrick Diegnan, Jr.
-Bonnie Watson Coleman
NJCSA believes that the current process under which charter schools are authorized must be improved to allow for more community input and involvement. Stay involved and make a difference for our charter school kids!
Not a big surprise that the NJCSA is asking charter school parents to oppose legislation that would allow communities to decide their own fate. Especially when the current system is working so well to expand charter schools, whether districts and communities want them or not.
But here's the part that gets me. The NJCSA got close to 1M from the Walton Foundation alone in 2010.
I can't easily access where the rest of their money comes from, and they do not list their donors on their website like some other organizations do. But clearly Mr. Perez has access to mad cash to fund his association and their activities (like sending out the above email missives, testifying before the Senate and Assembly against legislation, and supporting charters in lawsuits against the school districts they intend to serve.)
In a press release supporting the PIACS lawsuit Mr Perez stated:
The school districts participate in the evaluation process of charter schools. Their concerns and objections are taken into consideration. If the authorizer approves the application, the school districts have the opportunity to appeal. If, as in this case, they do not appeal, the school districts should not continue to expend public resources to obstruct the school from opening and, by extension, the children who are enrolled in the school from attending.
So let me get this straight. Mr. Perez can use his foundation money any way he sees fit to increase the number of charter schools in the state of New Jersey, even if those charters are approved despite the concerns and objections of the effected districts. Yet NJCSA supported (and funded??) a lawsuit brought by a charter school against districts in an attempt to prevent them from spending relatively few tax dollars to prevent the use of millions of tax dollars to create a charter many parents and residents in the community do not want but can not vote on?
Looks like we are back to Mr. Perez protecting the good citizens of New Jersey from that "tyranny of the majority" he is so concerned about.
Don't let the NJCSA and Carlos Perez get away with this! Let's use their foundation money to spread the word ourselves and show them how democracy really works. Let's take his call list and blast it out to everyone that cares about public schools and ask them to call the Assembly Education Committee in SUPPORT of A-1877 and A-2147.
Are you with me?
Here, I'll make it easy, just cut and paste the following and email it to your friends and post it to your Facebook wall. If you're on Twitter, tweet this post!
CALL TO ACTION! Please call the members of the Assembly Education Committee TODAY and let them know you are a PROUD PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPPORTER and you want them to support the following bills that will be considered and voted on tomorrow, Thursday, February 2nd!
- Assembly bill 1877 (bill A3852/S2243 last session), which would require local approval before the establishment of new charter schools, and
- Assembly bill 2147 (bills A3356/S3005/S3001 last session), which would increase charter school educational and financial accountability and transparency and address the fact that NJ charter school students do not represent the demographics of their sending districts.
-Patrick Diegnan, Jr.
-Bonnie Watson Coleman
Critics worry that requiring public approval will dampen the growth of charter schools. They’re right, but that’s the way it should be if communities don’t want them, and don’t want their tax dollars going toward schools that are free to operate with little public scrutiny over spending decisions and curriculum choices.
To date the state’s charter-school approvals have mostly been clustered where they are needed, in the struggling urban districts. But other “luxury” charters have popped up in some high-performing districts, with the specter of additional ones hanging over public schools all across the state. Meanwhile, state officials continue to ignore any broader community opposition to specific applications.
If state policy cannot properly reflect the stark differences between the urban charters of need and the suburban charters of want, the public needs the power of approval to assure those differences are recognized and respected.
Yeah, what they said...