Thursday, January 21, 2016

Save Our Schools-NJ Misses the Point on Charter School Authorization

Save Our Schools-NJ posts today that “there is mad rush by charter schools across NJ to grab more market share & tax dollars from local public schools, while Governor Christie is still in office.” This tidbit comes from a charter school principal in Red Bank, who worries that a new and less charter-friendly governor will stymie charter school expansion.

Save Our Schools misses the point. Charter school authorization should be independent of current leadership’s political leanings and, instead, be an apolitical process. However, the State Legislature’s failure to reform charter school law – on the books in its present form for twenty years – allows only the Commissioner of Education, appointed by the governor, to approve charter school applications.

This is why N.J. charter school law ranks only 36th out of 43 states. Here are the latest recommendations from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools:
New Jersey’s law does not contain caps on charter public school growth and provides a fair amount of accountability, but it includes only a single authorizing path and provides insufficient autonomy and inequitable funding to charters.  
Potential areas for improvement include expanding authorizer options for applicants, ensuring authorizer accountability, providing adequate authorizer funding, increasing operational autonomy, and ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities.
We need multiple authorizers, not dependence on political whims.

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