Thursday, June 14, 2012

In New Jersey, One Form of School Choice that Makes Everyone Happy

Check out my post today at WHYY's Newsworks. Today's question addresses NJ's Interdistrict Public School Choice Program (IPSCP):
Just consider the woes: unanticipated expenses for sending districts; a drain on local public funds; erosion of local control; participation dependent on parental advocacy. It's everything the anti-choice community loves to hate about school choice, particularly charter schools and corporate-sponsored scholarships.
Yet IPSCP remains unscathed. What is it about this form of school choice that makes it palatable to everyone from teacher union officials to legislators to school boards?


Valarie M. Smith said...

My first hand experience with the Interdistrict Public School Choice began with it's start as a pilot in 1998. I am the person who kicked off the implementation of 2010 expansion.

To say that the program has been a success & is wanted by parents throughout the state for numerous reasons would be an understatement.

The fact has to be made clear that the IPSCP is not just for seeking a more challenging academic environment for children. When Governor Christie signed the bill, the phone lines at the statehouse & at the Dept. of Ed were jammed for days with parents wanting to learn how to enroll their students in another school.

It needs to be pointed out that public school choice has been around for decades for those parents fortunate enough to be able to pay the tuition rates.

Parents want this program because of wanting to give their student a fresh start at a new school (bullying), it's also wanted for day care purposes, & some working parents would rather have their children in a school that is close to where they work. I also spoke with several parents who wanted a less stressful academic environment for their child.

Communities like it & are finding that it's enriching schools by building up declining enrollment, helping to create specialized programs, & creating some diversity in the student body.

What is of concern are the new proposed regulations. The language is not precise and it leaves too wide of a berth for arbitrary decision making by the Department. We must keep this program as a Choice for Parents not one of rewarding high ranking academic schools or of political preferences.

We have a great group of Superintendents led by Bob Garguillo (Folsom) that pushing to keep the program one of Choice!

Valarie M. Smith
Former Secretary's Regional Representative US Dept.of Ed
Region II, NY, NJ, Puerto Rico, US VI
Former Director, School Choice & NonPublic Options NJDOE

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