|Parents say "NO" to charter regulations, "YES" to local control|
There was significant backlash to the first draft of the regulations, including 40 speakers at a Board of Ed meeting last summer, a Save Our Schools NJ petition to the Board which has more than 5,500 signatures, and push back from the Education Law Center. In response, language that would have allowed virtual charter schools to pull students statewide, despite the fact that New Jersey's charter school law is silent on virtual charters, was removed from the regulations.
Commissioner Cerf has moved ahead however with regulatory changes that would greatly impact districts state wide. The Education Law Center recently renewed their objections to the regulations:
ELC's comments, submitted on November 1, 2012, challenge NJDOE's attempt to expand the charter school program without legislative authorization, in direct violation of the Legislature's requirement that any expansion, modification, or termination of the program should not be undertaken without legislative approval.
Of particular concern is the NJDOE proposal to allow charter schools, once approved, to set up satellite campuses without obtaining separate charter approval, and to broadly amend their charters, even in ways that change the school’s prior approved mission.
The satellite campus proposal would apply only to charter schools in districts with “priority” schools under the NCLB waiver obtained by the State, or within former Abbott districts. ELC notes that NJDOE has not yet adopted regulations governing “priority” schools, and the Abbott designation was eliminated by the Legislature in 2008.Yet another power grab by the Commissioner of Education, for which he lacks legal authority or popular support.
And despite the headlines about the CREDO study, what the research really showed was that there were NO GAINS in four out of five districts that, according to the Commissioner's regulations, would be subject to satellite campuses and a corresponding loss of local control.
The folks from CREDO will be at today's Board of Ed meeting to talk about the report, as will Cerf. I certainly hope some of the board members have done their homework and will look beyond the headlines and press releases that purposefully bury the fact that charters are not showing better results than traditional public schools in Trenton, Camden, Jersey City or Paterson, that kids in suburban charters are only showing modest gains, and kids in rural charters are losing significant ground.
If the largest study on New Jersey charters to date shows such limited results, who exactly is benefitting from the expansion of charters in New Jersey?
Sure doesn't seem to be the kids.