Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Jersey Charter Schools Association's Carlos Perez Misses The Point Yet Again

It's tough being the President and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association. A fair number of the headlines about charters in this state seems to be about conflicts like the one in Florence, so this is often when reporters go out to Perez for comment. On the Florence situation, Perez came up a day late and a dollar short.
“This is just another example of the education establishment firing its engines back up to stop the growth of a successful public school,” said Carlos Perez, director of the state’s charter school association. “This fight, and the others like it, continue to polarize communities and not focus on moving education forward.”
Poor Carlos, if only you had seen Republican Senator Diane Allen's letter BEFORE you made these comments. Is she part of the "education establishment" trying to "stop the growth of a successful public school" you were referring to?  
Unfortunately, I do not see Riverbank's expansion as being in the best interests of the Florence community at this time.  I have made this position clear to Education Commissioner Cerf as well as to Riverbank Charter School's leadership; that the charter school is a valued part of the community serving grades K-3 but that an expansion right no to grades 4 and 5 is ill-advised in this small township.
I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that Sen. Allen, who is a member of the Senate Education Committee for heaven's sake, is not focused on "moving education forward" in our great state, because that would be so awkward for you!  

As I said last night when I first learned that the expansion application had been withdrawn, I put the blame for suburban flare-ups like Florence's square on the shoulders of the NJDOE. In an interview with WHYY's David Heller yesterday, John Mooney rightly pointed out that New Jersey's 15 year old charter law is a culprit as well.
Heller: Do you foresee state policy evolving on this or will it continue to play out on a town by town basis?
Mooney: It needs to, and you know, whether it's going to happen this year, an election year, is a big question. I'm not sure that we're going to see it any time soon, but we have a 15 year old charter school law that didn't envision a lot of these issues and so these things are certainly going to play out and I think there's some folks who want to re-write that law, but there's no doubt that there's a feeling out there among legislators, and some powerful ones, that the state needs to get ahead of thie game before it really gets out of control. (emphasis mine).
So I'm sorry Carlos, but your analysis of the situation was far too shallow for someone in your position.  Until you and your organization come to terms with the problems at the NJDOE and the failings of New Jersey's charter school law, you will be caught time and time again railing against the education establishment, when what you're really butting up against is the common sense of parents and legislators fighting back against a broken system. 

I'm telling you, it's the education establishment again!
Why doesn't anyone believe me?


  1. I've seen the same CSA talking points regurgitated in East Brunswick and Highland Park, where they also do not apply. I think individual charter schools would do themselves a favor to speak for themselves and also communicate with community members, instead of using blanket statements that lobbyists (as unfamiliar with local concerns as the DOE) have crafted for them.

  2. I would like to see funding for Charters coming from the DOE and not have such a direct impact on the districts in which they reside. The problem is the DOE supports them on paper, but not financially! That is the case with most school funding! Until the DOE changes their funding practices, all schools will suffer from some group opposing another. To truly unite a town is to help all individuals involved have less burden on their bottom dollar.


  3. Senator Allen's letter talked about the disharmony in the community, not the bottom dollar. You continue to fuel the fire in my broken town when you won! It's over! Now jump up and down, click your heels together, put the feather in your cap and move on and leave us alone!

  4. To quote Senator Allen "an expansion right now to grades 4 and 5 is ill-advised in this SMALL TOWNSHIP." to quote DOE commission Cerf, “When you have a charter school in a smaller community, it has a larger impact.” Not sure how you can interpret that any other way. Darcie, you are welcome in our community anytime. "Leaving them alone", is what brought about this mess in the first place. They came in, without any input whatsoever from the citizens of this community, then to just assume that they could expand, again without any input, is simply wrong! No acknowledgment along the way of the major negative inpact they were having. Constantly pointing the finger and blaming others (school board, our wonderful superintendent, etc.) I seriously hope there are some major changes to charter school laws to consider the community inpact and to allow for community involvement. I know this is one Florence Citizen who plans on keeping closer tabs on the charter school. I wish I had been more involved in 2008 when they were seeking approval..