For instance, Tikun Olam founder Sharon Akman DID NOT reapply for a charter in April. As Jersey Jazzman was so kind to point out, both on his blog and at Blue Jersey, this was a huge victory for parents against reforminess! (And geez, what a backlash you got to that post, sorry Duke!)
We're not done yet though parents, not by a long shot! Not here in Highland Park, and certainly not in the state of New Jersey.
Here in Highland Park, Tikun Olam still has that $600,000 grant. The denial in the last round did not terminate the grant. It's still theirs, and they could still reapply to the NJDOE for a charter in October.
I have spoken twice with Congressman Frank Pallone about this issue, as have other Highland Park community members, and he said he will contact the USDOE and ensure they make good on USDOE spokesman Justin Hamilton's statement to Michael Winerip in his Tikun Olam story.
Mr. Hamilton, the federal spokesman, said that if the Education Department “becomes aware of material factual misrepresentations,” it could terminate the grant.
I intend to make sure this happens. If it doesn't, I will update this blog with contact information for both the responsible parties at the USDOE and also for Congressman Pallone's office so more concerned parents can remind him that we do not want this charter in our community and we want his help to make this right.
And hold onto your hats folks, because we are on the cusp of perhaps our biggest charter battle to date in the state of New Jersey. The NJDOE and Governor have faced steep opposition to their charter agenda, leading WNYC's Nancy Solomon to conclude that the suburban charter school battle could be Christie's Waterloo.
Not so fast says the NJDOE! Tomorrow morning the State Board of Education will meet at the NJ Department of Education and on the agenda are proposed changes to the charter school regulations.
The board will get its first look at new charter school regulations that the administration contends will add both flexibility and accountability for charter schools. The proposed regulations would create a two-tier application process that will allow the department to focus more on applicants ready to open, but also provide more time for local districts to review applications as well. The new regulations would also provide new options for the commissioner to deal with lower-performing charters, and ease some provisions in the existing regulations that have been seen as an obstacle to online charter schools.
I got a sneak peek at the new regulations yesterday before NJ Spotlight published them this morning and have already done an analysis, which I hope to post shortly. The proposed changes exemplify EVERYTHING that is wrong with the NJDOE under Acting Commissioner Cerf. They give the Acting Commissioner unlimited power to put charters in former Abbott districts or any district with a Priority School, the ability to control how charters grow and expand into other districts, and grants him limitless control over the renewal or closure of a charter. All of these new powers come with next to no input from the districts and communities that will pay for these charters.
The sweeping changes proposed to the regulations, without the careful review of the legislature, are unconscionable, but par for the course for this administration and this Acting Commissioner.
I will be writing much more about this power grab in the coming days and weeks. We all have to work together - parents, educators, and concerned citizens - to STOP the likes of Acting Commissioner Cerf and his Broad infested NJDOE. Cerf will stop at nothing short of total control over charters to further his agenda to privatize public education.
He is poised to grab the brass ring. Let's show him that sometimes when you finally get it, you don't get the free ride you were hoping for...