The "Hypocrisy" and Political Gamesmanship of Those who Support a Charter School Moratorium

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex and Morris) got a taste of urban families’ wrath on Tuesday morning when more than one hundred parents gathered in front of her Maplewood office to protest her call for a moratorium on charter school authorization and expansion.  Her response to the protest, which goes by the twitter handle #handsoffourfuture, is both dismissive and dishonest.

After refusing to acknowledge the parents’ presence outside her office, she made the following statement: "I understand their feeling that I don't represent them, but I like to think that I (am coming from) a broader perspective in terms of the state.”

That’s exactly wrong. Her “broader perspective” is about passing charter school laws that would shut down charter school growth, thus satisfying her suburban constituency (not to mention anti-charter lobbyists) while ignoring the needs of families in districts with failing traditional schools. That's why she’s one of the sponsors of a bill that would require a community referendum for each charter approval, effectively passing an eternal moratorium, not just the three-year stoppage she's pushing right now.

(Think about it. A typical charter school opens with a small number of students. The dynamics of balloting are such that residents without children are likely to vote “no.” So will some public school teachers, especially given NJEA’s anti-charter bent. So will some public school parents who, understandably, worry about N.J.’s school funding system that requires traditional public schools to write checks for charter tuition payments.. Count up the votes and toss the application in the trash.)

Today’s Star-Ledger Editorial Board has a good column that points out Ass. Jasey’s other response, that she was pushing the bill for “political reasons” in order to encourage her colleagues in the Statehouse to pass new charter laws. In other words, children are pawns in her legislative chess game.
And pawns they would be if her bill passes. (Unlikely, but you never know.) As the editorial notes,
Seek Academy, one of KIPP's newest elementary schools, currently only has permission from the state to grow up until second grade. When those kids hit third grade, under Jasey's bill, they'll have nowhere to go. They'll all be kicked back into the district schools.
Children and their parents, especially in Newark where “tens of thousands of parents lined up on the most recent waiting lists at KIPP and NorthStar,” are “held hostage” to Jasey’s political games.

Shavar Jeffries attended the rally (he lost to the Newark mayoral race to Ras Baraka on the coattails of animus towards Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson). Here's what he said, as reported by PolitickerNJ:
“How dare you think you’re going to deny our children an opportunity to change their lives?” said Shavar Jeffries, of Newark, an attorney who unsuccessfully ran against current Mayor Newark Ras Baraka in last year’s highly contentious mayoral race. “A couple of generations ago, there were politicians who stood in the school house door, and they stood in the door to deny opportunities to children of color. They did it for political reasons. We’re dealing with the same thing today. This looks more like a mountain top than Valley Street to me.”
“We’re here to stand against the hypocrisy of those political leaders who want to deny options to families that they crave for themselves and their own children,
He might have been speaking directly to Ass. Jasey.

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