Five Democrats are sponsoring legislation that would give Rutgers University the authority to approve new charter schools. Right now only the DOE has that authority, an oft-mentioned criticism of our tightly constrained charter school authorization process. Here’s Assemblywoman Mila Jasey in the Asbury Park Press piece:
Jasey said the goal in giving Rutgers that authority is to shift some of the burden from the short-staffed Department of Education and improve New Jersey’s prospects of getting federal funds through the Race to the Top program, which favors states in position to generate and support more charter schools. “I’m not looking to expand the number of charter schools exponentially,” Jasey said. “I want it to be a very measured, deliberate, careful growth process.”
Exponential isn’t our problem. Right now we have 67 charter schools that serve 1.5% of NJ’s 1.38 million schoolchildren, 2/3 of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch. The Education Law Center, by the way, opposes the legislation.
Two other charter items: Capitol Quickies reports on the State Appeals Court’s rejection of a class-action suit brought by 3,100 Newark kids who want charter school regulations changed so that local districts have to give 100% of per pupil funding to the relevant charter, instead of the current 90%. No dice, said the trial judge: the suit’s claim that the 10% withholding violates equal protection rights isn’t “viable” because those kids can always go to their neighborhood traditional public school.
Finally, battle wages on, reports the Trenton Times, between planners for the Princeton International Charter School, which intends to offer immersion Mandarin to 170 willing children of Princeton, West-Windsor-Plainsboro, and South Brunswick, and the sending districts, which are lobbying fiercely against the DOE’s approval. The technicality is a necessary site variance from the Plainsboro zoning board; the meeting was set up but the zoning board cancelled it “after public school officials contended the group had not given proper public notice.” Anyway, those kids buy their own lunch.