Monday, January 30, 2012

Can a Man Of God Run a School For The State?

Jersey Jazzman and I have been using our blogs in the last week or so to raise questions about the Regis Academy that was approved by Acting Commissioner Cerf for Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Lawnside and Somerdale.  Jersey Jazzman came up with a great timeline that raises some serious questions as to how and why this application made it through the supposedly tough new application process.

I have some additional questions.

The first question stems from the videos that surfaced of Amir and Aughtney Kahn relishing the defeat of the marriage equality bill and vowing to continue to fight against the bill any time it comes before the legislature.  If you haven't seen them yet, you can catch them here and here.

It is important to note that each and every applicant for a charter school, including Amir and Aughtney Khan, must sign a Statement of Assurances when they apply for a charter that says the charter:

(W)ill be open to all students, on a space available basis, and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, special need, proficiency in the English language or a foreign language, or academic achievement.  

Is it conceivable that two pastors that feel so strongly that the LGBT community should not have the same rights as the rest of us would be able to admit gay students to their school and treat them equally?  Or hire gay teachers?  Or make gay parents feel welcome?

And then today I saw on an online petition (go sign it!) on Twitter against the National Heritage Academy which is trying  to set up a charter against community wishes in Chapel Hill, NC.  This is the charter the Ragin' Grannies were protesting.  

The petition includes a quote from self-described evangelical J.C. Huizenga (cousin of billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga)."   He is the man behind NHA (and big surprise that there's another billionaire in the mix, huh?)

Asked by the Wall Street Journal whether he would hire a homosexual to teach, Huizenga said, "Personally, I don’t believe a gay teacher is an appropriate teacher for a child."

NHA, which currently lists 71 locations on it's website, has also been in hot water for promoting religious activities and teaching creationism.  From a New York Times article in 2000: 

National Heritage has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan over what the group says is the company's promotion of religious activities, including prayer sessions for parents, in a charter school there. National Heritage says it provides parents with a meeting room and some have prayed there, but not with the school's sanction. The suit is pending.
National Heritage policy is to treat both evolution and the Biblical creation story as theories. Carolyn Thompson, a fifth-grade science teacher at Knapp Charter Academy and an evangelical Christian, says she believes in "creationism and then evolution from that point on" - and teaches it that way in class.

Becky Bullen, a fourth-grade teacher at Knapp, told her students about dinosaurs last year - and learned a lesson herself. Some parents protested that fossil evidence of dinosaurs, which became extinct 65 million years ago, contradicted their Biblical belief that God created the world 6,000 years ago. Since then, Ms. Bullen has dropped the dinosaurs and says, "I basically try to steer clear of any hot issues."

No hotter issue in public education than dinosaurs...

And this is from the same Wall Street Journal article:

Charter schools, which operate independently of local school districts, were intended to create a choice for parents discontented with traditional public schools. Under Michigan law, charter schools get almost as much per capita funding as area public schools - nearly $6,000 in National Heritage's case.

It didn't occur to many people that tuition-burdened parents at religious schools would also welcome an alternative, particularly one featuring small classes, strict discipline and moral education. But today, charters are taking market share from fundamentalist schools, their predecessors as the hottest phenomenon in American education. And charters' smudging of the separation of church and state has stirred up an unlikely combination of opponents: private religious competitors and civil-liberties advocates.

"Charter schools are often a ruse for the kind of schooling that the Supreme Court has said violates the Constitution," says Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is suing National Heritage for promoting religion.

About one-tenth of the nation's 400,000-plus charter-school students come from private schools. But at National Heritage, 19.7 percent are private-school transfers. And that doesn't count any of the 17 percent or so of the student body who started at National Heritage in kindergarten, and might otherwise have opted for private school.

The phenomenon goes beyond National Heritage. At Marvin Winans Academy, one of several Detroit charters started by ministers, one-fourth of the students transferred from religious schools. The Rev. Robert J. Coverson, who runs a small Baptist school in Detroit, says he may have to close it because he has lost half of his students to charters. 

Now, I understand these articles are from more than 10 years ago, but there is no reason to think these exact same issues aren't occurring here in NJ in 2012.  If anything, the example of the Regis Academy is more egregious. 

You have two pastors closing their private Christian school to open a publicly funded charter.  The charter will be located on the same premises as the pastor's church.  Are we to believe that a large portion of the parents that paid to go to Children of Promise will not be the first in line to attend Regis for free?  

Not to mention, Children Of Promise was charging $5,400 per child as a private school.  But Regis Academy will be allotted 90% of the per pupil funding of the sending districts.  Let's do the math.  The Cherry Hill district stated they have been billed $9,551 for each student that chooses to attend Regis, based on the preliminary estimates from the NJDOE.  That's a nice jump of $4,151 per child in tuition for the Khans, and all they had to do was apply for a charter!  

Are we really expected to believe that they can just switch gears from a curriculum that is based on the teaching of bible verses to a secular curriculum with no religious content at all?  This is the program description from the website for Children of Promise:

Elementary Education: Bible is taught in a deeper level at these grades. Oral recitation of memory verses is integral at this stage as it will greatly aid in their cognitive and memory recall development.  History, geography, health, safety, manners, arithmetic (number recognition to the hundred thousands, metric system, carrying, borrowing, story problems, multiple combinations and estimations) are just a few of the things your child will be learning.

When Khan responded to being awarded the charter by the NJDOE he said:

I thank God that we got approved

And here's a video (that is also backed up if it gets taken down…) of the interior of the school.  There's an awful lot of religious stuff that's gotta come down for this to be a public school. 

like the music?

Remind me again how this will be a secular school?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Students Take On Cerf. And Win.

Today Jersey Jazzman pointed out that while ed reformers use students to bolster their weak arguments or show numbers at their protests, many of the kids don't seem to know what school they supposedly want to see closed down or why they are protesting.  

In contrast, check out these intrepid high school reporters in Cherry Hill and Highland Park.  They are all over this charter thing, and they get it.  No high tech wizardry, just good old fashioned student work.  This amazing illustration went along with an article on Regis Academy in the Cherry Hill High School East paper, Eastside.  

In the same paper there was an Editorial as well:

The detrimental effects of the charter school on Cherry Hill's public school finances and ultimately the success of existing public schools make it completely unwelcoming to most Cherry Hill residents.  Although it sounds absurd, the current process surrounding the charter school system application offers Cherry Hill representatives little room to influence the final decision.  On November 4, the district filed notice of intent to appeal the State Commissioner of Education's approval of the Regis Academy Charter School, and is asking residents to voice their opinions regarding the charter.  

The kid is dead-on.

And speaking of dead-on, Highland Park High School junior Charlotte Finegold has been writing about Tikun Olam in her school paper, the Highland Fling.  Not only has she written several articles, she testified before the Assembly Education Committee, spoke at the Highland Park Save Our Schools NJ rally for local control and emailed Acting Commissioner Cerf DIRECTLY about her thoughts on the fourth application!  The kid has guts!  

Here's a bit from her letter:

My public high school is not failing, nor is it in danger of doing so. Not only are we a good school, but my school district has taken numerous efforts to compromise with the founders of Tikun Olam. The district implemented a Hebrew language program in the high school, even though it could have created a program for a more in-demand language like Mandarin or Hindi. Even when these changes are disregarded, it still remains clear that this charter school has no place in my community. 

And then she nails her conclusion:

It is not fair for local taxpayers, Highland Park educators, and students to pay the price for an ill-organized school which lacks a location and support from its sending community and supposed endorsers.

I sincerely hope that the Department of Education sufficiently investigates Tikun Olam’s application and makes the right decision.

What was Cerf's response?     

Thank you for your thoughtful letter.

That's it?  Really?  A student takes the time to write a heartfelt, articulate email, and that's the most the Acting Commissioner of Education can muster?  Why not take the time to engage with a student that clearly wants to be a part of the dialogue?

Note to Cerf.  The students in districts like Cherry Hill and Highland Park are SO well educated that they can see through all of this charter nonsense.   They deserve answers. Real answers.  

Students 2.  Cerf 0.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing…. If You Consider the Corporate Takeover of Public Education Nothing, Then I Guess You're Right Ms. Waters!

Below is my comment on the opinion piece posted today on NJ Spotlight by Ms. Laura Waters, President of the Lawrence Township School Board.  I have emailed John Mooney numerous times to ask why he continues to give voice to the weak arguments presented by Ms. Waters.  I won't bother this time.  Instead, I kind of want to thank him for the opportunity to bring everyone together to take her on.  It's kind of cool how everyone came together to debunk her opinions.  The comments today from so many people were just stellar. 

And don't miss Jersey Jazzman's blog response.  In classic Jersey Jazzman style it makes you think and laugh at the same time.  

Here's my take on it.  

Is there any point where a district can do anything other than roll over and allow a charter to set up shop in your opinion, Ms. Waters? Highland Park has been fighting Tikun Olam pre-approval, South Brunswick, Princeton and West Windsor-Plainsboro have been fighting post approval, but prior to the final charter being granted, and East Brunswick is fighting Hatikvah post approval. 

At NO POINT in this process is the local district or community allowed access to the NJDOE as they are deciding on a charter that will siphon hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars out of it's budget. Districts are not granted meetings without significant pressure. In our case it took a Town Hall, Occupying the NJDOE and a NY Times article in order to be able to make our case directly to the NJDOE. Without these extraordinary measures the ONLY RECOURSE a district has is to submit written responses. Districts have every right to have these responses drafted by their district council. If a charter is approved against the wishes of a district, they are also entitled to appeal, which is also handled by a lawyer.

Do you not see that these written responses and appeals are the only way districts can make their case to the NJDOE, but when they do they risk lawsuits from charters claiming they are wasting district resources? Not only that, but in the case of PIACS, the New Jersey Charter School Association threw their weight and money behind the suit as well. Oh wait, I mean the Walton Foundation's money that keeps the NJCSA in business. How silly of me.

And by the way, Walton is a major funder of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools whose report you mention in your piece. Oh, and the National Alliance of Charter School Authorizers, too. And all three organizations, all bought and paid for by Walton etal. testify before the Senate Education Committee to push for the legislation that will give even more advantages to charters and even less to districts. Oh, and lets not forget that NACSA is also advising the NJDOE on their application process and paying for the reviewers. And we only know this because of OPRA requests and lawsuits from lawyers and Senators. But, yeah, you're right. Much ado about nothing...

So HELL YEAH. We are fighting back. Get used to it Ms. Waters. We're not going away either. I doubt we have scared the NJDOE and Governor out of the suburbs entirely, and even if we have we will fight them in the urban districts as well if those district don't want more charters. 

Ms. Waters, I have asked this of you before and you have failed to answer me. What in the world will you do if a charter application is dropped on the desk of the superintendent in Lawrence Township? Do you honestly think the MAJORITY of parents and residents there would be any happier than those in East Brunswick, Highland Park, or any of the districts facing PIACS? How will you respond to them when they come before your board to ask what you will do to protect the budget they vote on year after year? 

Until the day you are in that position Ms. Waters, I can't imagine how you feel so entitled to pass judgement on districts that are faced with not only the loss of funds that charters represent, but have to fight special interests that are connected to both the legislature AND the NJDOE.

I'll try to come back to this post later and add links and stuff, but I am a mom after all.  Need to go feed the troops...

Ragin' Grannies v. For Profit Charter Operator

One of the founders of Speak Up South Jersey (yes, you heard that right, Speak Up Highland Park is branching out…) posted a link to a YouTube video on their Facebook page that, I'm not ashamed to admit, literally brought me to tears:

I say we take the Ragin' Grannies on tour.  Their fight in Chapel Hill is in many ways the same as the fight in Cherry Hill.  What sets their fight apart however is the inclusion of a for-profit entity, in this case National Heritage Academy, which prides itself on it's "mandatory and extensive" use of testing data to "inform and adjust teaching."

But it's only a matter of time before New Jersey is confronted with a massive for-profit invasion.

As I've detailed previously, Imagine Schools, the nation's largest and perhaps most controversial for-profit charter operator with huge problems in Florida, Washington DC and Indiana just to name a few, has already been behind four applications in New Jersey.   Last October the Star Ledger reported:

Among the proposals were some with ties to out-of-state charter school networks, like Imagine Schools, which helped local residents write applications in Jersey City, Newark, Camden, Trenton.
Imagine serves 40,000 students in 72 schools in 12 states, according to its website. "New Jersey is an area that is favorable for (education) alternatives," Samuel Howard, Imagine School’s executive vice president, said.
Christie has said he hoped to attract charter networks to New Jersey, but out-of-state companies face a roundabout process. A local group must first win approval for a charter then, if it wants to outsource the operation, must ask for bids. (emphasis mine)
Meanwhile, in St. Louis Missouri Imagine schools are an unmitigated disaster:

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro advised Jim French, chairman of the university's education division, to announce "immediately" the closure of the underperforming schools after this school year.
Nicastro's recommendation comes days after French said the university needed more support and direction from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as it scrutinizes the charter schools operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc.
The six schools, which enroll about 3,800 students, fared worse on standardized tests this year than nearly all traditional and charter schools in St. Louis. French said the university is not getting the direction it needs from the education department or from state statutes to ensure the schools are living up to their charters.
Nicastro wrote that it is the sponsor's role, not the state's, to regulate charter schools.

So with Imagine's abysmal track record across the nation, clearly New Jersey should be wary of for-profit operators.  And since a university authorized and oversaw Imagine in St. Louis, and then seemed not to know what to do with the ensuing disaster, clearly we should also be careful about who we select as authorizers.

What's that Governor?

Earlier this week in his State of the State speech, Governor Christie urged the legislature to make much needed changes to the state’s charter school law through bill A-4167 introduced last June.  Sweeping changes to New Jersey’s charter school laws are needed to remove barriers and roadblocks to the growth of high-quality charter schools. The current laws and rules governing charter schools act as a deterrent to growth instead of fostering expansion. It is time to aggressively encourage some of the nation’s most-respected and successful charter school operators to come to New Jersey while making it possible to implement the same model of innovation and results in other new and existing charter schools. (emphasis mine)

Guess the Governor got tired of that "round about process."  So, what is added to, and taken away from, the charter school law in bill A-4167 to make it easier for for-profits to step in?

10.  Section 4 of P.L.1995, c.426 (C.18A:36A-4) is amended to read as follows:
     4.  a. A charter school may be established by:
     (1) teaching staff members[, parents with children attending the schools of the district, or a combination of teaching staff members and parents.  A charter school may also be established by an institution of higher education or a private entity located within the State in conjunction with teaching staff members and parents of children attending the schools of the district] who either reside or are employed in the State;
     (2) community residents who reside in the State;
     (3)  a public institution of higher education, except that a charter school authorizer which is an institution of higher education shall be prohibited from reviewing and approving a charter application submitted by that same institution of higher education;
     (4)  a private entity that is either for-profit or not-for-profit;
     (5)  a charter school that is currently operating in the State; or
     (6)  a combination of any of the above. (emphasis mine, and for damn good reason, too)

Here's your lesson for the day on how to read a proposed bill, if you don't already know that is.  Everything not underlined is the original legislation, and everything underlined is new and what's in [brackets] comes out.  

In the original law, an eligible applicant had to either teach in the district they wanted to serve or have kids in the PUBLIC schools of that district.  But even with this supposed limited pool of eligible applicants, who were supposed to represent the needs of the community, the charter school movement in New Jersey easily managed to subvert the intent of the law and to override local wishes.   

Bill A-4167 will REMOVE the part about being a public school parent or teacher ENTIRELY, and will open the door to everybody and anybody, unless you are the actual authorizer.  That sure does make it easier, now doesn't it?  

So who is going to do the authorizing?  The bill will allow public institutions of higher education in New Jersey to be authorizers.  

The fact that the Imagine Schools in St. Louis were authorized by Missouri Baptist University doesn't lend much credence to the fact that adding universities as authorizers will increase accountability.  Did you notice that when the Imagine Schools blew up in their face MBU looked to the state and said, "What should we do?" 

The bill does however say that the local school board may be an authorizer…

NOW we're getting somewhere.  Until districts and/or voters have local control over their schools, I think we can expect many more disasters like Imagine schools in St. Louis.  

And with the Christie administration behind legislation that will open the door to non-profits, we NEED local control more than ever.  Keep up with Save Our Schools NJ to help fight for legislation that will work for students, not for-profits.  

Take it grannies:

Let's say no to charter schools
They don't follow any rules

NHA will rip us off
For-profit at a very high cost

What to do, oh, what to do
Support Carrboro and Public Schools

Great, now I'm crying again...

Demi-Billionaire and Consultant v. Parent Advocate (I Think This Is a New One…)

In an article today Debra Rubin (she's been busy with all of these Hebrew charter dramas) reported on the fourth denial of Tikun Olam.  And in it she dropped a couple of bombshells!   

The first was from the Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC).  We'll get to that bombshell in just a moment, but first let me tell you about the HCSC.  They describe themselves as "a nonprofit organization created by the Areivim Philanthropic Group in 2009 to help advance the Hebrew language charter school movement."  

So what's the Areivim Philanthropic Group you ask and who runs it?  

Why, it's run by none other than Michael Steinhardt, who was called a luminary of the hedge fund world by New York Magazine in their 2007 rankings of the hedge fund elite.  What's a reform movement without a billionaire backer, right?  Although to be fair, Steinhardt is only described as a demi-billionaire by Forbes.  Poor guy.

How crazy is it that here in tiny Highland Park we are fighting off the direct impact of the billionaire boys club on public education?  

Julie Weiner of the New York Jewish Week reported in February of 2010 that:

The fledgling Hebrew charter school world has two major players right now, although only one — the newly launched Hebrew Charter School Center — is actively seeking to build the movement beyond Florida.
Quietly launched over the past year by the Areivim Philanthropic Group, a Jewish funding partnership established by Birthright Israel co-founder Steinhardt and the late William Davidson (whose estate Areivim is currently suing), the $3.2 million Hebrew Charter School Center is providing seed money and free consulting to aspiring Hebrew charter schools throughout the country.
HCSC gave Tikun Olam a $30,000 start-up grant in 2009.  When I reached out to them they would only go on record as saying that they were no longer working with high schools.  However, after Michael Winerip's NY Times column about the misrepresentations in the application, the HCSC sent Ms. Rubin an unsolicited statement confirming that the HCSC:

“is not involved with Tikun Olam, we do not support their application, and we share many of the concerns that the Times and others have raised about it.”

Whoa.  They really couldn't put any more distance between themselves and Tikun Olam, could they?  

Ms. Rubin's second bombshell was a quote from Tikun Olam "consultant" Jeffrey Lischin, who claims that:

founders have been “harassed through misinformation and disingenuous traditional district leaders who love their monopoly.” They are flouting the spirit of the charter school law, he said, which envisions the concept as establishing vehicles for “educational improvement through competition and choice. Sadly that vision is being harmed and most sadly students are being harmed.”
Lischin, an associate of the NJ Charter School Resource Center, said Tikun Olam’s founders are “committed to a multicultural, ethnically diverse, economically diverse secular school.”
He added he would “not address the accusations of misconduct because of legal implications other than to say it is my personal opinion that the founders were slandered.”
Monopoly!  Competition!  Choice!  Man, that's a lot of reformy speak for one quote!!!

Every claim that has been made by our community is backed up with documentation.  Enough documentation that the NY Times was able to run with our story.  The HCSC, who is not exactly a friend of our cause, seems to be saying they noticed some stuff too and they share the concerns in the NY Times. 
Yet Mr. Lishcin, who by they way is not just a random consultant, he's their grant writer, sees fit to state that "it is his personal opinion that the founders were slandered."

That is quite a claim, sir.  You got anything to back that up?

Anything I have told reporters regarding Tikun Olam is based on written documentation from individuals and organizations.  Nothing has been based on my "personal opinion."  I and other members of the Highland Park community like Chris Rodda, did the due diligence that the state and federal governments did not see fit to do. 

Apparently, neither did Mr. Lischin.  

Charter v. Board of Education, Again

The New Jersey charter invasion has created such a ruckus because many towns have great schools and the parents of the students that are well served in those schools are willing to go to the mat to protect them.  

That said, there will always be a percentage of parents, no matter how good the schools are, that will avail themselves of choice for whatever reason.  And when the Governor and Education Commissioner are hot for charters and all too happy to steamroll districts that stand in their way, you end up with these two groups of parents pitted against each other, and the charters and the districts as well.  

Great, now what?  

What do the parents that don't want to "avail themselves of choice" do when they see their district losing funding to support the niche wants of a select few at the expense of the majority?  What do the districts that don't want to lose funds do?

A story in the New Jersey Jewish News yesterday really brings home the pickle districts are in.  Debra Rubin reported that Hatikvah International Academy Charter School has filed an OPRA request to make it's host district, East Brunswick, disclose financial documents related to it's opposition to Hatikvah.  East Brunswick filed a suit against Hatikvah that claimed they did not have the enrollment required to open their doors.  The district lost the last round in the appellate court, but recently decided to bring the case to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  

This is reminiscent of the lawsuit Princeton International Academy Charter School lost when they unsuccessfully sued the South Brunswick, Princeton and West Windsor-Plainsboro boards of education, claiming they misused public funds to prevent the opening of the charter.  Davy James of the Patch reported that:

In her decision, Judge Beavers found that the three districts have "discretionary authority to perform all acts and do all things, consistent with the law and the rules of the state board, necessary for the lawful and proper conduct, equipment and maintenance of the public schools of the district."
"The discretionary authority includes activities at issue here, which were taken to protect the financial interest of the resident districts," Judge Beavers wrote in her decision.
Hatikvah asked the district to turn over all financial documents surrounding legal action from March 1, 2009.
“We believe that our fellow citizens should be aware of exactly how much this baseless case, which the town is actually subsidizing both sides of, is costing them,” Hatikvah board member Pam Mullin said in a statement given to NJJN. “East Brunswick’s taxpayers have a right to know how their public funds are being used, or in this case, misused.”
Mullin claims that the board has “wasted tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars” in challenging Hatikvah, the state’s first Hebrew-language charter school, on enrollment issues.
In a series of legal salvoes, the board claimed the kindergarten-third grade school did not meet the state-mandated requirements for enrollment when it opened last year.
Here is the part of the article that makes me the saddest, although I have to admit this sadness quickly turns to anger:
“Hatikvah is now in its second successful year in operation and has a waiting list of parents who desire to enroll their children in Hatikvah,” he continued. “Rather than collaborate with Hatikvah officials to advance the best educational interests of East Brunswick children, your client persists in its campaign, however meritless, to close Hatikvah.”
East Brunswick Superintendent Dr. Jo Ann Magistro wrote a letter to Acting Commissioner Cerf for our opposition to Tikun Olam.  In it she states that East Brunswick lost 1.2M to Hatikvah and she details the services that had to be cut in her district to make these funds available.  It is a striking example of the sacrifices public schools are forced to make.
In order to pay the Hatikvah bill, East Brunswick Public Schools had to cut programs affecting thousands of our public school students; including:            
  • The elementary foreign language program
  • The Summer Academy for at-risk students
  • 21 extra-curricular clubs
  • 3 sports programs
Got that?  To provide language immersion to 108 students in K-3, thousands had to lose programs and services -- most notably, the entire elementary foreign language program!  How does this make sense??  And how is the district's advocacy on behalf of ALL of the students in East Brunswick "meritless?"
Hatikvah released a statement on their website that details their reasons for the OPRA request.  The title of the statement reads:
Voters deserve to know how much in public money
is being wasted on legal fees for baseless case


Voters didn't have a say in wether they wanted public money to go to this charter in the first place, but now that it's been approved against the wishes of the district, the voters "deserve" to know how much money is being wasted.  And remember, those same voters that can vote yes or no on the school budget have no say in the charter school's budget.  But I digress...

Hatikvah was approved to take students from East Brunswick, but students from Edison, Highland Park and New Brunswick currently attend as well. If Hatikvah is so successful and there is a waiting list, why are they admitting students from other districts?  Wouldn't they be able to fill their seats with the East Brunswick kids that are supposedly clamoring to get in to this successful school?  
And if they don't have enough interest to fill all of their seats in the only district they listed on their application, how can they claim to be so successful?  

East Brunswick, like many New Jersey towns, can not afford full day Kindergarten and only offer half day.  Hatikvah offers full day Kindergarten for the select few that can get in, and I am sure many parents are looking for a free full day option and would gladly get on a waiting list to get one of those spots.  Here is the Hatikvah "brochure" from their website which touts it's full day Kindergarten.  

Did you catch the 11:1 student/teacher ratio with two teacher in every classroom to go along with that full day Kindergarten and dual language partial immersion?  
Until New Jersey funds public schools so that ALL students have the benefit of a partial immersion, full day kindergarten program with a 1:11 ratio, how can we provide these services to a few while we take services away from the rest?
East Brunswick has my gratitude for taking on this fight, and I hope the parents and residents of that district rally behind their board and administration as they take this to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  They certainly have my support.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Amir Khan Doesn't Want YOU to Have Local Control!

Apparently the Khan's have not only been to Trenton to deny the LGBT community the right to marry, they have also made the trip to lobby the state to deny voters the right to control their school budgets and keep out unwanted charters.  Like his.

It make perfect sense that he would be against local control.

The way the system is set up works so well for him and the other members of the Black Minister's Council, why wouldn't he defend how the state is running the show!

Check out this YouTube video, PK on 3852.  Notice it's PK, not AK.  This is coming to you from Pastor Khan, not Amir Khan.  He is delivering this message straight to other pastors and the members of their churches.  (And don't worry, if it gets taken down I have it backed up…)

Pastor Khan encourages the pastors to come to Trenton and asks their congregants to contact their legislators to make sure that YOU won't have local control over charter schools in your community.

Let your legislators know exactly how you feel, and let them know you are in support of charter schools, and you are not in support, you oppose this bill, you want to keep it in the hands of the state, and not the local township. -- Pastor Khan

And then he prays that those pastors will let their members use their smart phones to call and email their legislators to oppose the bill right in the middle of their sunday sermons!

Now check this one out…

If we have a couple hundred churches and pastors rally behind us, and each one of us as pastors make the phone calls, send out an email, and we get our congregation members to do the same, we can bombard the senators and the speaker with thousands and thousands of phone calls and emails, that will put enough pressure to bring about change. -- Pastor Khan

Now here is my favorite part.  Did you catch that when he is talking about local control the decision should be in the hands of the state, not the local township.  But when he is talking about school choice, he says:

I believe that school choice should be in the hands of not the politicians or the government or the city, but back in the hands of the parents. 

What it REALLY sounds like to me is what Pastor Khan believes is that decisions about public education should be based on whatever is best for HIM and whatever enables HIM to re-open his private school as a charter with public money.  And he's not afraid to lobby Trenton for what's best for HIM.

Funny, looks like Khan could lose his tax exempt status if he get's caught doing it:

A church or religious organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation .

Churches and religious organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying . For example, churches may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consid- er public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

Uh oh PASTOR Khan.

Let's get back to how Khan got his charter for a minute though.

When the approval of Regis Academy was announced in September of 2011 Jessica Calefati reported:

Amir Khan, the principal founder of Regis Academy Charter School in Cherry Hill, said earning approval was an "honor."
"I thank God that we got approved," said Khan, the senior pastor at Cherry Hill’s Solid Rock Worship Center who also runs a private, Christian school associated with the church. "We applied last year, but our first application was denied."

He really should have thanked Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.  Regis Academy's approval was one of only four that round; the first round COMPLETELY overseen by Cerf.  In the press release to announce the decisions it was stated that:

The Department has expanded its strategies for growing the state’s charter sector and increasing the number of high-quality seats available to students.  One shift in focus includes expanding efforts to attract high-quality charter applicants.

Which "expanded strategy" allowed for Amir Khan to be considered a "high-quality applicant?"

Guess only Acting Commissioner Cerf and the Governor know for sure.  But when Khan is on the dais, and the Governor preposterously claims not to know him, it sure makes you wonder, doesn't it?