Parents and Lawmakers Urge Senate to Take Up Charter School Reform

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, October 17, 2011

A group of parents and legislators urged the Senate to pass several measures that would create more accountability and oversight when it comes to charter schools in New Jersey.

Legislative bills approved in the Assembly that would change the way charter schools are established and operated, were posted for “discussion only” before the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.

Mila Jasey, (D-Essex), sponsored the successful Assembly bills and has advocated requiring voter approval before charter schools can be established in a given district since taxpayer money supports the schools, and testified before the committee Thursday.

In testimony, released by Jasey Thursday, she noted, “School budgets account for more than one half of local taxpayer dollars, and I strongly believe that voters should have the opportunity, indeed the right, to decide if they want a charter school located in their school district.”

She went on to say: “I believe that charter schools play an important role as incubators of innovation, and should be collaborating with our traditional public schools to share best practices. However, in these challenging economic times, as our school districts struggle financially to provide all of our students with the excellent education to which they are entitled, a proliferation of charter schools competing for scarce dollars is fraught with problems for all the students of a school district.”

The Committee also heard from representatives of charter school organizations who argued that the current law is too restrictive and the reforms should place fewer limits on charter schools.

During the debate over the idea of public approval of charter schools Carlos Perez, president and CEO of the New Jersey Charter School Association, said, “Requiring a referendum on charter schools is not only bad public policy, it undermines the entire premise of a charter school. It’s a reaction to a challenge of the status quo by the entrenched education establishment to stop the thriving charter school movement in New Jersey in its tracks.”

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