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...

1 comment:

  1. My students call me old; I say I'm "classic"!

    Thanks for the shout out, Darcie. As always, keep up the great work!