Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stealth Charter Approvals Mask For-Profit CMO Expansion In New Jersey

Did you miss the announcement of the approval of three new charter schools?  Yeah, we all did. There was no glowing press release as per usual, just the stealth approval of three more urban charters.

The New Jersey Charter School Circus Has Left Town

Commissioner Cerf seems to have exited the circus tent this round and denied charters to Pastor Michael McDuffie
Pastor Duffie prayers for our Governor
and former Assemblyman Gerald Luongo. As I've written, it was inconceivable that either of these applications ever made it through the first round.

Pastor McDuffie's connection to the Governor was reminiscent of the Regis Academy debacle.  Kudos to the Commissioner for not repeating that mistake.

The three applications that got the green light from the Commissioner certainly seem to have a far different pedigree. From John Mooney at NJ Spotlight:
  • Great Futures Charter High School for the Health Sciences. The high school in Jersey City will focus on health sciences, including partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club and the Jersey City Medical Center.
  • The International Academy of Trenton Charter School. The elementary school, with 350 pupils, will serve both Trenton and Ewing students. The school will be managed by SABIS Education Systems, a private charter management organization which runs schools in Camden, Paterson and Jersey City.
  • Trenton STEM-to-Civics Charter School. A high school also serving Trenton and Ewing students, it will focus on the so-called STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Trenton STEM-to-Civics charter is especially intriguing, as the school plans to have partnerships with institutions as varied as the Liberty Science Center and Princeton University. (emphasis mine)
Seems the Commissioner and the Governor took great care to avoid the controversy involved with applications like McDuffie's and Luongo's, giving the nod only to ones that, at least on the surface, have deep, solid ties to New Jersey. Hard to complain about that.

And while the pace of charter growth may have slowed, there are still some serious concerns regarding the direction of the Commissioner's charter school program.  

The Rise Of For-Profit Charter Management Organizations (CMOs)

The charter in this batch that concerns me greatly is The International Academy of Trenton Charter School, which Mooney states will be managed by Sabis Education Systems. 

The expansion of Sabis in New Jersey is deeply troubling. I wrote about Sabis as part of my five part series on the approval of the Paterson Collegiate Charter School.
Sabis has had trouble for years all over the country. There were clashes in the late 90's in Chicago, in Springfield in 2000, in 2002 in Cincinnati, and in Schenectady, NY in 2003 and Greensboro, NC in 2004.  Most recently in 2011 Sabis ran into REALLY big trouble in Atlanta at the Peachtree Hope Charter School (PHCS).  The list of complaints against Sabis is staggering.
Throughout June and July, in the process of exercising its oversight responsibility, the Board learned additional disturbing facts. Significantly, SABIS: 
A. failed to meet the targeted scores on the 2011 CRCT as promised to the State of Georgia; 
B. under-reported Title I students, resulting in a loss of federal funds in-excess of one million dollars; 
C. apparently hired a Director for the school who lacked a teaching certificate, and state certification to serve as a school principal;  
D. paid a Black teacher less than a less experienced white teacher; 
E. paid staff $552,000 less than DCSS salary scale for similar positions. 
F. failed to institute a student remediation program; 
G. failed to obtain competitive bids on procurements over $25,000; and 
H. paid out thousands of dollars in expenses without authorization of PHCS.
With this kind of track record, you wouldn't think Sabis would be at the top of the list of CMO's we'd want to expand in New Jersey.

Sabis isn't just a CMO, they also license their "Sabis Education Program" to schools, both public and private. Paterson Collegiate Charter School is licensing Sabis' program, and same in Jersey City at BelovED, they are not managed by Sabis.  

Managing a charter school is a whole 'nother ball of wax.  Here's a complete list of Sabis' management services.
Included is an array of all-inclusive products and services designed for the management of Pre-K and K-12 schools, namely:
  • Complete curriculum aligned with country and state requirements
  • Software systems to enhance efficiency and improve standards
  • Ongoing academic quality control through computerized academic monitoring (SABIS AMS®) and automatically generated reports
  • Concept-targeted, well-researched books supporting the SABIS® program
  • Recruitment, training, and supervision of staff
  • Cutting-edge research and development methods designed to optimize results
  • Extensive business management services
  • And much more...
And Mooney mentioned that Sabis also "runs" a charter in Camden. That would be The International Academy of Camden Charter School. Huh, hard not to notice they have the same name as the Trenton charter.  And apparently the same CMO as the Trenton charter.  

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we have our first chain of for-profit charters in New Jersey. 

But Wait, For-Profit Management Isn't Legal In New Jersey!

As Jessica Calefati pointed out in a great story about for-profit behemoth K12 Inc's first foray here, for-profit management isn't allowed under New Jersey law.
New Jersey law allows for-profit companies to play a big role in public schools. 
One thing they can’t do is run the place. 
But charter school experts and one lawmaker said it’s sometime hard to tell if the rules are being followed, and K12’s involvement with Newark Prep is one of those instances. 
"Technically, on the books, K12 is just a contractor hired by Newark Prep Charter School, but in reality it is running the school, soup to nuts," said Luis Huerta, a Columbia University Teachers College professor who studies the impact of virtual charter schools across the country. 
In addition, Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick Deignan (D-Middlesex) called the steep fees and the terms of the contract "deeply troubling." 
"The fact that decisions about hiring and contracts have been taken away from the public and are now in the hands of private enterprise concerns me very much," he said. (emphasis mine)
It concerns me very much too Assemblyman. Very much indeed.

Are There Any More For-Profits?

Sabis and K12 Inc aren't the only for-profit management companies that Cerf has managed to sneak in the back door. He has also given the nod to a third for-profit operator this year, CSMI, which is running the newly-opened Camden Community Charter School

Jersey Jazzman has written extensively about CSMI and the mad, mad money pulled in by its founder, Vahan Gureghian, but here's a basic low-down from the Philadelphia Daily News.
CSMI, the firm that runs the Chester and Camden schools, is a for-profit company founded by Vahan Gureghian, a politically connected Gladwyne lawyer who donated more than $300,000 to Gov. Corbett's gubernatorial campaign and served on the education committee of his transition team.
Where's he get all that money? Right out of the public funds that flow through his CMO.
Bond documents and court filings show that CSMI's contract with the charter called for it to be paid $5,873 per student last school year, and an even higher per-student payment - $6,445 - for 2012-13. That totaled more than $17.6 million due last year to CSMI. That is more than the school spent on instruction and more than a third of the school's total expenditures of $46.8 million.
In 2010-11, the latest year for which figures are available, the school spent the highest percentage of any district or charter on business expenditures, a category that includes the management fee, while spending the eighth-lowest percentage in the state on instruction.
Crawley said the management company performed far more services for the school than most do. CSMI, he said, is giving school employees "what they need to provide a quality education for these kids."
CSMI has refused to disclose how much of its fee is profit. (emphasis mine)

Are We OK With This?

Commissioner Cerf has a long background in for-profit education, and he is well aware that public schools haven't exactly pulled up the Welcome Wagon for the private sector.
And it was with Edison that Cerf learned “the power of politics to thwart the effort. I’m not just talking about the unions, but there is a tremendous and deep resistance—here we are in the center of capitalism, right—there is a very deep resistance to the private sector that’s embedded in the culture of public schools.” 
Cerf knows that for-profit management is not allowed under New Jersey state law, and that there is "very deep resistance" to the private sector entering the public schools. What better way to circumvent the laws of this state, and the will of the people of this state, than to approve charters in the dark of night.

Wake up New Jersey! Your public schools are being privatized!! Cerf wouldn't dare try to open a for-profit charter in a suburban district.  But in Camden and Trenton he thinks no one will notice or even care.  

And it looks like he's right.

They have absolutely no idea what I'm really up to...


  1. It's an unfortunate truth that people who have been falsely socialized to equate money and elitism with quality believe that charter schools are better because they get more money, or cost more money and they exclude more students than they include.

    Misled parents support charters because they don't look beyond the bling to realize how communities are being destroyed by them and how charters are also being used to divert the hard earned tax dollars being allocated to educate children. Charter operators are pocketing that money and paying off Christie and other politicians.

    People need to know and understand this. It's one case where it REALLY pays to look.

  2. Charters only get 90% of per pupil funding, while the district keeps 10%, how can you say they get more money?? The hard earned tax dollars ARE being allocated to educate children, at a public school of choice. Apparently, parents do not ALL think traditional public schools are best for their children.

    1. Charter schools are private schools getting public money. They are almost separate school districts unto themselves. They do not work in cooperation with the real public schools, they work against the real public schools, they are in competition with the real public schools. They drain funds and resources from the actual public schools. They steal funds from the district schools because the district schools have fixed costs that do not go down when they lose a student to a charter school. If that student should return to the district school, the charter school can keep his tuition after a certain period of time.

    2. Fact Check:
      #1 Charter Schools are PUBLIC schools.
      #2 Charter Schools ARE considered separate districts.
      #3 Public Schools do not work in cooperation with the charters either!
      #4 Competition is good! Competition with government monopolies forces improvements, remember when the Post Office had no competition before UPS and Fed Ex? Now we have choices. Education is more important than mail.
      #5 The "actual public schools" get to keep 10% of per pupil funding for each student attending the charter, while the charter educating the child only receives 90%
      #6 There are 2 enrollment counts that are use for funding, one in October and one in June.

      Don' believe me?
      State of NJ Charter School Fact Sheet.

      Charter schools are:

      Free. They cannot charge tuition.
      Open-enrollment. They are open to all students on a space-available basis with preference being given to students from the charter school's district or region of residence.
      Public schools.
      A charter school operates under a charter granted by the Commissioner of Education and is independent of the local school district's board of education. It is managed by a board of trustees.

      The state's charter school law was passed to give parents choices for their children's education. The law is intended to:

      Improve student learning and achievement;
      Increase the availability of choice to parents and students when selecting a learning environment;
      Encourage the use of different and innovative learning methods;
      Establish a new system of accountability for schools;
      Make the school the unit for educational improvement;
      Establish new professional opportunities for teachers.

      The parents should decide where the child attends school based on their specific academic needs, not based upon their local zip code.

    3. Boy, you really do hold firmly to the charter cheerleader party line.

      You can keep repeating the 90% funding line, but it doesn't make it true. See the numbers for Hatikvah, HP and EB below for yourself, and again, those numbers don't include the hundreds of thousands of dollars in philanthropy.

      The "intent" of the charter school law is just fine, it's just not the reality of the implementation in New Jersey.

      We disagree about the value of competition and that choice is always good.

      I am fine with agreeing to disagree with you, but please, feel free to comment as often as you like.

    4. Public schools of choice? Choice for whom, for a select few. These charter advocates act as if the school districts have trillions of dollars to throw around for the charter school experiment. There are limited funds, limited resources for the actual public schools which have to educate all the kids, we simply cannot afford parallel school systems competing with the real public schools. The taxpayers get no say or vote whether they even want a charter school in their district or not. Tax payers don't get to vote on the charter school board of directors and they don't get a direct vote on the charter school budget. Talk to me about choice. Should we have a choice between charter police departments and regular police departments?

    5. I think we would all be well served if every local police department was forced to compete with a for-profit police department that didn't have to take on all cases, only cases it could predictably solve, and then went out of its way to prove that its solve rate was higher than the local police's.

      great analogy!

    6. Crime is the same as education?
      Do you get to vote on the police department's budget?
      Do you get to vote on who is chief?
      Not quite, but nice try!

  3. So, let's compare the academic results:
    1. Hatikvah Charter:
    12% special ed, using the lottery system of enrollment
    100% of students school wide passed math (50% advanced proficient)
    2. Highland Park Traditional Public Schools
    14% special ed, NOT using the lottery system of enrollment
    73% of students school wide passed math (5% advanced proficient)
    How about the costs??
    #1. The Charter
    Total Spending Per Pupil
    2010-11 Costs Amount per Pupil: $14,122
    2011-12 Costs Amount per Pupil: $12,611

    #2 Highland Park Traditional Public Schools
    2010-11 Costs Amount per Pupil: $20,120
    2011-12 Costs Amount per Pupil: $20,172

    Maybe the Crusader can explain how Highland Park Public Schools are so much more expensive but produce worse results?

    1. Is you plan just to spam my blog with nonsense on multiple posts? Here's my response, again...

      Gosh, you folks are unreal. I can explain it, and in the most basic terms possible. First, Hatikvah is an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with less than 200 kids. Elementary school students are LESS EXPENSIVE to educate. All spending is broken down K-5, 6-8, 9-12.

      Here's a breakdown from the STATE, that puts HP K-5 spending at 13,526 and EB K-5 spending at 12,702.

      Huh, so Hatikvah spends just about the same as it's host district.

      And this is just the money from the state. This does not factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars HCSC funnels into that school, and the millions of dollars Avery Eisenreich used to buy them a warehouse.

      See my comment above about the student demographics in my district. Here's the demographics at Hatikvah.

      The most commonly spoken language in homes of the students other than English. Yeah, that would be Hebrew...

      Regarding the special ed percentages, I suggest you read Professor Bruce Baker, who has made it painfully clear that charters tend to enroll students with less severe disabilities, leaving students with more severe disabilities in the public schools (and yes, the MOST severe in OOD placements with the district footing the bill - never the charter)

      From Dr. Baker:

      "In short, charter schools in NJ serve about 1.7% of the population.

      They serve about 1.05% of the population of children with disabilities.


      they serve only about .23% of the population of children with disabilities other than Specific Learning Disability or Speech/Language Impairment!

      That’s a big deal! It’s a big deal because this leaves behind significant numbers of high need disability children to be served by districts. And, to the extent that charter expansion follows the same trend, this will lead to even greater concentration of children with disabilities in general in district schools and children with more severe disabilities in particular."

      I'm sorry, what was your point again?

      Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Special Ed is "Spam?" School Funding is "Nonsense?" What was my point? ALL parents in ALL zip codes should be able to choose the appropriate school for their child's academic needs.

      FACT CHECK!!
      Language Diversity, according to the DOE:
      HP Bartle reports 68.8% of homes have English as the main language.
      Hatikvah reports 71% of homes are English as the main language.
      Nice try!

      You say "The most commonly spoken language in homes of the students other than English. Yeah, that would be Hebrew..."

      Yeah. I'm going to ignore the overtones and guess you are unaware that language is stored in a separate part of the brain if it is acquired before the age of 7 years. Yeah.

      FACT CHECK - Special Ed:
      HP reports 14% Special Ed
      Hatikvah reports 12% Special Ed, using a lottery system.

      Regarding Special Ed you say "the district footing the bill - never the charter" It is the TAXPAYERS money, not the district's. You act like the district has it's own money. It does not. It has the TAXPAYER'S money.

      POP QUIZ!! Is $13,114 MORE than $12,611 or is it the same?
      You say Hatikvah spends "just about the same" as it's host district?
      If the per pupil costs of HP = $13,526 and EB = $12,702 then the average is $13,114 per pupil. The charter spends LESS at $12,611 per pupil.

      Wouldn't it be fun if our taxes were LESS?

      If the money followed the student, you could choose to send you kids to a school that spends more but achieves less. I might make another choice.

  4. From Dr. Baker: Limited Public Access

    Charter schools are limited public access in the sense that:
    1.They can define the number of enrollment slots they wish to make available
    2.They can admit students only on an annual basis and do not have to take students mid-year
    3.They can set academic, behavior and cultural standards that promote exclusion of students via attrition.

    [may vary and/or be restricted under state policies]

    A traditional public school or “district school” or “government school” must accept students at any point during the year and but for specific disciplinary circumstances that may permit long term suspensions and expulsions. Traditional public schools cannot shed students who do not meet academic standards, comply with more general behavioral codes or social standards, such as parental obligations.

  5. Charters are privately managed entities whose only claim to the word public is the fact that they drain public funds. Dozens of court cases have ruled that charter schools are not "public entities." Two well known examples include the following:

    The California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) which ruled that charter schools are NOT "public agents." [SEE LINK BELOW]

    The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04) which ruled that charter schools are NOT "public actors." [SEE LINK BELOW]

    The courts aren't the government entities that have stated incontrovertibly that charters are private entities. So have other authoritative agencies.

    The US Census Department expressed difficulty in obtaining information from charter schools because they are NOT public entities. [SEE LINKS BELOW]

    The National Labor Relations Board joins a host of other government agencies that have unequivocally ruled that that charters are "private entities." [SEE LINK BELOW]

    We understand in the light of all the scandals and bad press ( that supporters of lucrative charters are desperate to paint them as public schools, but outside the corporate spin cycle that is the the school privatization camp, charters have been found to be anything but public. Charters are one in the same with the 501C3s or other organizations running them. Here is an excerpt from one of the court cases cited above: "The Court determined the charter schools did not qualify as "public entities" under the CFCA. (Id. at p. 1203, 48 Cal. Rptr. 3d 108, 141 P.3d 225.) Because they competed with the traditional schools for students and funding, neither did the Court find them to be "governmental entities" exempt from the UCL's restrictions on their competitive practices." Moreover, nonprofits are PRIVATE sector. In many cases, businesses and industries are actually far more regulated than 501c3s. This excerpt from a Census Department Document sums this up: "A few "public charter schools" are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private."

    1. Nice try!
      The argument is not whether charters are public or private.
      The issue is how can we raise the academic outcomes and future success of our children! Including raising people out of POVERTY. Which after 100+ years of public education has NOT happened.

      The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals you refer to refers to Horizon, a private, non-profit corporation that operates a charter school in Arizona. A public charter school can contract with private non profits, similar to public schools contracting with private non profits.

      The California Court of Appeals case you refer to clearly cites the law: “[C]harter school officials are officers of PUBLIC schools to the same extent as members of other boards of education of public school districts. AND:
      Effective 1999, Education Code section 47604 provided that charter schools may also elect to operate as, or be operated by, a nonprofit public benefit corporation, formed and organized pursuant to the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law...In 2000, the Legislature added the provision that a charter school, including one operated by a nonprofit public benefit corporation, may be considered a “public agency,” as defined in section 6500, for the purpose of being eligible for membership in a joint powers agreement for risk-pooling.
      Again, nice try!

      The US Census Department counts how many people live in the USA. The US Census Department does not determine a school's legal status as public or private!

      The National Labor Relations Board does not determine a school's legal status as public or private! The NLRB is an agency that deals with union matters. As in teacher's unions...

  6. Diane Ravitch 1-4-13: Courts have repeatedly ruled that charter schools are not public schools. These rulings have been sought not by charter critics, but by the charters themselves, to enable them to avoid complying with state laws.

    Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas warns African American students and their families that charters are not considered public schools by the courts when it comes to discipline policies. Student rights are protected in public schools, but with few exceptions, not in charter schools. On matters of student discipline, the courts have decided that charters are not public schools.

  7. From the same Diane Ravitch 1-4-13 blog: Just a few days ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that charter schools are “private entities,” not public schools, and are therefore subject to different requirements when dealing with employees. This means that teachers at charter schools “are now subject to private-sector labor laws, rather than state laws governing public workers.” Charters sought this ruling when two-thirds of the teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy voted to unionize. The board said that charters are akin to private contractors that win government contracts. The charter schools view this ruling as a victory because they prefer to be treated as private organizations, not public schools governed by state law. See Valerie Strauss’s report of this decision here.

    1. Take look at the Ravich blog post and then the underlying matter she cites: in sum, charters are state creations so that treatment will vary depending upon state law. And note as well that New Jersey has many quasi-public corporations that serve the public good: one example local to you Darcie is DEVCO over in New Brunswick. If not for DEVCO, New Brunswick would not be in that fancy new building that they have, nor would the city have a full service supermarket......

  8. Anonymous at 9:59 said: "#4 Competition is good! Competition with government monopolies forces improvements, remember when the Post Office had no competition before UPS and Fed Ex? Now we have choices. Education is more important than mail."
    This is a bogus comparison because the USPS does not use tax dollars to fund its operations, it operates on the fees it generates from postage stamps. Plus - the USPS is Constitutionally mandated to deliver mail to every address in the country and beyond while UPS and FedEx can pick and choose where they want to deliver mail or packages. They are not Constitutionally mandated to deliver packages to every address in the country. Is the US military a monopoly? Or the CIA, NSA, FBI, NIH, Supreme Court, our judicial system?

  9. The discussion in this comment section is interesting and demonstrates the value of these blogs. However, the comments did stray from the reality that for-profit companies are hijacking our tax dollars under guise of not- for profit boards paying management fees, expensive curriculum fees, etc. (and I remain curious as to the thought process behind approving a charter school that at the outset says we need outside management to run us well). We must be prepared to see these companies siphon off increasing amounts of profit unless we both strengthen and enforce our charter laws. Thanks for the post Mother Crusader.

    1. The point of excessive profits being taken out of the budgets of any public or non profit school is a very important question: but we need to be asking it in the broader scope as the issue reflects bad conduct regarding both public and non-public schools.

      While this blog is constantly seeking to vilify charter schools, the same question can be raised against public schools who have paid excessive compensation packages to superintendents, privatized certain services within the schools (eg cleaning and food service), and through the purchase of books/curriculum.

    2. I'm not a big fan of any privatization, but I do think that putting the management of a school in the hands of a for-profit company is far more egregious than cleaning services or text books. See above where CSMI pays themselves $6,445 per student!

  10. We agree that the fee per student in the case of CSMI is excessive and deserves to be highlighted.

    The point of my response to your post however is not whether the costs incurred are a result of private actors or public ones, but rather where are the excesses. You have spoken about your district being a small one. On a cost per student basis, how much does the superintendent earn when his/her entire compensation package is considered?

    1. I should have looked before I posted:
      It appears that Highland Park superintendent is paid $117 per student
      by contrast East Brunswick is paid is paid $23.97.

      Now I agree that there is a bit of a gap between the salary of the HP super and the CSMI contract, but when we then layer in all of the other management costs that HP spends per pupil on its small (boutique?) district, are we really that far apart.

      There is a theme to this blog that costs are out of control when charters are involved: I do not disagree,but I see this is the broader picture where the costs are out of control relative to outcomes across our state.

    2. Your link is from 2010, and I don't know what our current Superintendent's compensation is off the top of my head. But even from the old data, looks like HP was in line with the rest of the state:

      "Average Salary Per Student Statewide: $204.40

      Median Salary Per Student Statewide: $116.95"

      If you are concerned with excesses, what is more excessive than a district of less than 200 children? Most folks don't seem to want to acknowledge that a charter is it's own district. If HP is too small for your taste, then why support a charter that's almost 1/10 the size?

      Here's a link to salaries for Hatikvah. It must be from 2011/2012 at the latest, because Naomi Drewitz was not the Lead Person/Principal last year. It states her salary was $90,000.

      At that time Hatikvah's enrollment was (supposed to be...) capped at 152 students.

      That comes to $592.11 per student.

    3. Oops. Forgot the link.

    4. You did not address the issue: my point is that there need to be real hard questions posed to ALL schools not simply the charter schools that you focus upon. (Indeed, in my opinion this should also apply to non-public parochial schools as well, though from a slightly different viewpoint.) Are the schools doing the best they can with what they have? Should they even exist in their current construct? etc. The core issue is ensuring the best allocation of public and yes philanthropic resources so that each child is afforded the opportunity for a great outcome.

      As to the comparison of Hatikvah to the HP school district: Doesn't each of the schools (Irving, Bartle, Middle and HS) each have their own head of school (principal) serving below the Super? That position would be a more appropriate comparison to the Hatikvah principal as there is no layer of administration above the Hatikvah principal. So unless the Irving school principal is working for free, which I do not think or ask to be the case, the parallel is just not there.

      As to the date of the data: While dated, is it that far off even with the cap set by the state?

    5. and more on that same topic to try and make a real comparison using the APP database:

      The HP superintendent is reported to earn $186,000.
      The Irving School Principal is reported to earn 133,000
      The Bartle School Principal is reported to earn $135,000

      If the population of the Irving and Bartle schools (the Prek to 5 population) is 750, then the cost per pupil of the administrative burden of the principal and the Super is approximately $605.00 per student. This is a more accurate comparison to the Hatikvah principal at first glance.

      But the reality is that the Hatikvah principal does all three jobs with fewer administrative support staff. While those calcluations are possible but more complex that I have time for right now, from that perspective, the Highland Park costs have to be much higher per student.

      Now having said all this, my point is not to attack the HP schools for what they are doing or argue that they need to be abolished in the name of efficiency. But rather I raise a broader question, are ALL schools using our resources to the achieve their goal - using public and philanthropic resources to education our children. If the answer is yes, great. If there is room for improvement we need to identify and embrace the opportunity.

      BUT from my perspective the obsessive focus on charter schools while not looking at other educational providers is a mistake. I do not agree with a lot of what Diane Ravich has argued but she, unlike this blog, is not singularly focused on one slice of the system.

    6. Just a couple corrections, again with the reminder that you are looking at numbers that are at least two years old.

      The Hatikvah Principal/Lead person is not doing three jobs. She is at most doing two, which is why above in my earlier comment I referred to her as the Principal/Lead Person. This is quite common in small charters when they first open. It would be outrageous to have both a Lead Person (which seems to be the charter equivalent of a Superintendent) and a Principal for 150 kids. And in your example you used all of the Superintendents salary for only half the kids, so your example is not quite copasetic either.

      I agree that you would have to look at all of the administrative costs to make an equal comparison, but also keep in mind the difference between running a one school district of less than 200 and a four school district of over 1,500.

      I would never dare compare myself to Diane Ravitch. She has a PhD, is a professor of Education History, former Asst. Secretary of Education, and author. I'm just a mom who fought off a charter school her town didn't want or need.

      So no, the scope of my blog is not as broad as hers. And yes, I write mostly about charters, because that is the fight that landed in my backyard.

      I can respect if you want to challenge my facts or ideas, and that is fine, but so far it looks like we just have some disagreements (if I can figure out which posts are yours...) But again, it is really hard to have discussions with anonymous critics.

    7. While I appreciate the reply you are not addressing the real question that I pose. Instead you focus on a single school - which despite your focus - does not in any way appear to be sending public monies to private companies for management fees.

      Rather the opposite is true, from a cost of administration per student, the school appears to have a lower cost per student of administration than your local small school district. I would point out that presuming their administrative model is static, as the Hatikvah charter school adds grades going forward they will further lower the cost per student.

      Now, I know that the data for the two schools is old - but if from the same year it gives a guidepost to understand the undeniable reality that Highland Park's, and many other small districts, are not economically efficient from an administrative point of view.

      Now to tie this together with my Ravich comment: What I am pointing out is that you have a particular distaste for charter schools that is clear. But you do not recognize that many of the critiques that you level at the charters can be directed towards your own small school district. I see this as a blind spot that deserves to be addressed. Something about glass houses......

    8. I disagree completely. Hatikvah was approved by the state, not the voters. Hatikvah gets it's funding mandated by the state, from the district, and does not have to answer to the voters at all. This is part of my main issue with charters. The lack of local control.

      If it was put to a vote, I am pretty darn certain it would not have opened.

      By contrast, the Highland Park budget was passed year after year by the voters of this town (until of course Christie's 2% cap deal started last year).

      That is a huge difference.

      Check out the comments earlier, and you'll note that the amount HP pays Hatikvah increased by 18% this year, while we were held to a 2% cap. The fastest rising expense in our district is payment to charter schools. So yeah, this sticks in my craw a bit, and I am not alone.

      Highland Park is not the biggest district, but it is far from the smallest. You seem to be suggesting that our district should be consolidated. While three small districts (which only consisted of elementary schools that fed into South Hunterdon Regional High School, they were not K-12 districts like HP) did recently consolidate, this is far from a trend.

      Who would you suggest we consolidate with? Edison? East Brunswick? New Brunswick? Will that improve educational outcomes for our students?

      And for the record, I didn't bring Hatikvah into the discussion of for-profit charters. You can thank POP QUIZ!! for that!

    9. Where DO voters get to vote on charters? Can you point to ONE state that allows voters to decide? Be careful what you ask for, a lot of voters would vote to close ALL public schools, as approximately 1 out of every 4 households has school age kids!

    Hatikvah's highest paid employee
    NAOMI DREWITZ - Principal $90,000
    Just for fun, let's see how many in HPSD make over 90k shall we?
    $182,000 FRANCES R WOOD Superintendent (Wow! DOES HP HAVE OVER 10,000 students?? Because 182k is over the state cap!)
    $152,338 KAREN LEWIS Assistant Superintendent
    $146,295 LINDA HOEFELE School Business Administrator
    $135,016 LAUREN FRASER Elementary School Principal
    $133,171 NANCY ROMANO Elementary School Principal
    $129,010 FREDERIC WILLIAMS High School Principal
    110,282 MICHAEL LASSITER Assistant Principal High School
    $105,080 JILL DOBROWANSKY Middle School Principal
    $100,362 JULIE DKLIMOWICZ Health & Physical Education
    $100,362 KEISHA F STEPHEN Science Chemistry
    $100,362 REBECCA SANDERS Science Physical
    $97,014 DANIELLE FINKLIN Math Non-Elementary
    $97,014 JOSEPHINE WAY-PHILLIPS Spanish
    $96,006 ZSUZSANN HAVAS French
    $92,358 IGNACIO ESTEBAN-GINER Spanish

    NJ Salary Cap for Superintendents:
    # of students Salary
    0-250 $125,000
    251 – 750 $135,000
    751 – 1,500 $145,000
    1,501 – 3,000 $155,000
    3,001 – 6,500 $165,000
    6,501 – 10,000 $175,000



    1. You're just a bad joke POP QUIZ!!!

      This is two year old information. Jill Dobrowansky was the principal 2 years ago, and Frances Wood is no longer the super. Your nonsense about her salary being over Christie's arbitrary cap is just more sputtering of useless numbers you don't understand.

    2. First - I am the anon.poster above who is calling out your blind spot - but not fact check. (perhaps I can set up a blogger account so as to differentiate)
      But, OK, so the information is two years old and there is a new super. in the distric. But, unless there has been wholesale changes in the salaries posted above the table is very telling: it shows that there are a rather large number of employees who are compensated at or above the head of the Hatikvah school - a person who you admit holds not one, but two jobs, still making less than any of the principals or the super. alone.

      I would also add, how in the heck does Highland Park have a GYM teacher making that kind of money?

    3. I named this commenter POP QUIZ!! but I guess you can call him/her fact check if you want.

      You are both now so far from the original topic of this post that I am done responding. If you would like to debate teacher salaries and what pay individual teachers are entitled to, you are welcome to do it here, but I am not interested in participating.

      Have a great afternoon.

    4. The gym teacher has been in that position at HPHS since about 1982, if I am not mistaken. She was there when I was a student. Yes, it is reasonable to pay that salary to a gym teacher with several decades of experience.