New Jersey is preparing to announce the confirmation of at least six new charter schools this week, but proposed charters in Princeton, Teaneck and Flemington won't be on the list, dealing a blow to a movement to widen school choice to affluent districts.Assuming this is the same Princeton Regional School District that fought the founding of the Princeton Charter School tooth and nail, I think it's safe to say the district learned nothing from that experience.
A zoning technicality tripped up the Princeton International Academy Charter School, a Mandarin-immersion program that faced strong opposition from the three school districts whose students it would serve. When nearing an already-extended July 15 deadline for the state to approve the school's certificate of occupancy before granting final approval of its charter, the districts raised legal questions about the charter's variance request to occupy a Plainsboro seminary building.
That, in turn, postponed a zoning hearing that could have given the school its certificate of occupancy. Last week, the commissioner of education declined the school's request for another extension, forcing dozens of families to find an alternative for the upcoming school year.
At the heart of these New Jersey cases is the question of who can and should be served by charter schools, which receive public money but can be run privately. School-choice advocates assert that charters should be open to parents who want something different from what public schools offer. They argue that demand alone should be the test.
Those who oppose charters in high-performing areas—a group that often encompasses the public-school districts themselves—say that charters are only viable in urban areas where parents are faced with failing schools. "Within the public-school system, we need more definition around the circumstances and conditions for when choice is necessary," said Judith Wilson, superintendent of the Princeton Regional School District, who called the Mandarin-immersion school a "narrowly defined option."
About 160 families in the Princeton area wanted that choice, despite the district's argument that language immersion is a luxury amid budget cuts. Lydia Grebe, a nurse practitioner who moved to Plainsboro two weeks ago to send her daughter to second grade at the new charter school, is one of them.
"This is being ripped away like a Band-Aid," she said. "I'm stunned."
Charters Derailed in Areas of New Jersey
By JOY RESMOVITS
JULY 19, 2010
Either that, or they learned all the wrong lessons.
Those who oppose charters in high-performing areas—a group that often encompasses the public-school districts themselves—say that charters are only viable in urban areas where parents are faced with failing schools.Does the group "those who oppose charters in high-performing areas" include anyone other than "public-school districts themselves"?
Is there a political movement against charter schools for suburban kids?