Not only did the reforms of traditional Newark Public Schools produce some real benefits, but the relatively small portion of the gift invested in Newark charter schools paid off big. Real big.
The gains are so striking, in fact, that they raise a key question: Why didn’t the Newark reforms emphasize charters from the beginning? If you look across the Hudson River where former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein produced striking gains by pulling in the region’s top charters with offers of $1 a year rentals to use existing buildings, it’s reasonable to ask (with the admitted benefit of hindsight): Why didn’t Newark do the same?The answer is more complicated that "either-or" but this quibble doesn’t detract from Whitmire’s own narrative, which is mostly focused on the “stunning” student growth at Alexander St. School.
That simple reality makes Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s recent plea to the state — please refuse KIPP’s petition for five more charters; their expansion plans would drain my schools — sound morally suspect. (He’s also fighting Uncommon’s already approved expansion plan.) How can you justify maintaining a system where fourth graders can’t count to 100? Why not view top charters as just another flavor of top schools within Newark Public Schools?I get that. But I also get the intense political and fiscal pressure on Newark Public Schools to carefully control charter school growth. Newark Superintendent Chris Cerf explained to Whitmire,
“We spend $231 million per year of public money on charters. That comes directly out of NPS’s $850 million budget. We’ll spend $50 million more on charters next year …The real limit on charters growth is supply and capacity.”The question isn’t whether Newark’s charter school sector will expand. It will. Next year 40% of Newark’s public school students will attend charter schools. Parent demand is high and, increasingly, parents are empowered. A new group called Hands Off Our Future Collective is actively registering Newark voters to hold anti-charter politicians accountable to city residents, regardless of teacher union largesse and pressure.
Assemblywoman Jasey and Assemblyman Diegnan want to pass a bill that will stop your child's school from growing and put thousands of our kids out on the curb.So how does N.J.’s largest school district manage this shift to a diverse public school landscape that comprises traditionals and charters, perhaps in equal number? That’s the story that hasn’t been written yet.
Teachers, Charter parents, alumni and community members will unite to learn more about how we can join forces to tell legislation to get their hands off our kids future! #handsoffourfuture
Child care will be provided and dinner will be served.
Labels: Baraka, Cerf, charter schools, Diegnan, Newark, school funding