Finally, Some Unbiased Educational Statistics on Newark Public Schools

Much of the analysis of the public education system in Newark feels unreliable;  everyone, it seems, has an agenda. “New Jersey and local school officials have been involved in a conspiracy to evade laws governing the operation of charter schools in order to allow the wholesale “charterization” of public schools in Newark,” shouts Bob Braun. On the other side of the aisle,  Bob Bowden alleges that  New Jersey public education and, specifically, Newark's traditional schools constitute  “a multi-billion dollar cartel.” Ras Baraka demonizes Superintendent Cami Anderson and, on her coattails, emerges as mayor. Sen. Ron Rice goes to Washington to plead for federal intervention.

So it’s with relief that we turn to the 2015 edition of “Newark Kids Count,” an annual publication from an apolitical and reputable organization called "Advocates for the Children of New Jersey." Finally, a level-headed analysis of the state of public education in Newark (as well as information on childrens’ health, poverty levels, family structures). Here’s a few highlights.

Bottom line: charter schools in Newark are educating an increasing percentage of children with disabilities (the report doesn't include percentages of English Language Learners, the subject of some anti-charter rhetoric)  providing safer environments, and demonstrating higher academic gains for students.

That's why there are 10,000 kids on waiting lists. How could it be different? Regardless of means, any parent wants the best school for his or her children. Families with wealth can exercise school choice by paying for private school or moving to a higher-achieving district. Families without wealth or mobility can exercise school choice by choosing a public alternative like a charter school.

Of course, that only works if there are quality charter school seats available. So it's worth noting that yesterday the N.J. Department of Education released the results of its most recent charter school application process and, in the end,  authorized the opening of a single school. Now that's a bad trend.

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