Here’s Newark School Advisory Board member Rashon Hasan after hearing the announcement on Wednesday that KIPP charter schools had filed an application with the state to operate up to 15 schools in Newark, add 5,440 seats, and triple their enrollment:
Newark School Advisory Board chairman Rashon Hasan... said he felt that efforts to stem the expansion of charters were unlikely to bear fruit given the demand from families.
Hasan is also quoted in KIPP’s press release:
“It is a basic civil right that every child in Newark be afforded a high quality education,” said Rashon K. Hasan, MBA, School Advisory Board Member. “That means that our children must have access to the best teachers, the best technology, and the best facilities. Parents should not be forced to accept a subpar education for their children. If we fail our children today we can only blame ourselves if they stumble and fail our city in the future. As leaders we should be developing a plan to improve education for every child in Newark while working diligently to create opportunities instead of stripping them away. Whether it’s a traditional public school or charter school, every school in Newark must be a great school. We owe this to our children and we owe this to our city!”
Hasan’s remarks juxtapose the “demands from families” for “a high quality education” with those unenlightened “efforts to stem expansion.” That’s precisely what’s happening in Newark, its lengthy charter waiting lists at odds with efforts by Newark Teachers Union and local politicians like Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Essex, chair of the N.J. Assembly education committee) to ban charter school approvals for three years.
Shift happens. Mr. Hasan ran for the Board on a slate called Children First Team which coasted to victory on the coattails of Newark Mayor candidate Ras Baraka. The slate initially opposed charter expansion (prompted in large part by distrust of Cami Anderson) but gradually moderated its position.
In fact, last February -- while former Superintendent Anderson still held her post -- the Advisory Board released a comprehensive report called “Assessment of District Progress.” This report acknowledged the preferences of families for charters. as well as the attendant fiscal stress on the traditional district:
Until recent years, Newark Public Schools had a monopoly on public education in the city of Newark, but the emergence of charter schools has created a competitive environment for market share among providers…We acknowledge that the expansion and growth of charter schools has provided a broader variety of school options but we also know that this variety comes at a steep price: declining enrollment in traditional schools means enormous financial pressure on the district and is the root cause for employee lay-offs and reduction in per-pupil resources.
Complexities abound in a changing school district and the Advisory Board must grapple with fiscal and infrastructural difficulties of down-sizing traditional schools while maintaining universal improvement efforts. In this effort, KIPP is the district’s partner. It’s not a war. It’s a school district.
Labels: KIPP, Newark, NTU, school choice