QOD: A Newark Mother Decries N.J.’s Charter Moratorium Bill

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Newark mother Melissa Grant (she’s also CEO of a non-profit that provides transitional housing for homeless women) expresses her dismay at  Assembly bill A4351, which would place a moratorium on all charter school growth. The bill is sponsored by Assembly members Patrick Diegnan and Mila Jasey whom, as Grant points out, represent affluent districts without charter schools. A 4351 is supported by NJEA and Save Our Schools-NJ. Grant’s son attends Marion P. Thomas Charter School. She attended traditional Newark district schools.

About one in three students in Newark attends a free, public charter school. I wish every family in Newark had access to the options my family has had, but some lawmakers in Trenton now want to limit how many children can attend charter schools. They have introduced a new bill, A4351, that would force charter schools to stop growing beyond pre-approved levels. Charter schools want to serve more students, and parents like me want more options, but this bill would slam the doors shut and lock them for three years (and maybe more), leaving many of the city’s children stuck with no choice but to attend a public school that, if it’s anything like my public school was, is failing them. 

Those of us whose children have benefited from access to a free, high-quality education in Newark are working hard to encourage parents to get involved in their children’s education, educate them about their options and break down the myths about charter schools. The last thing we need is for lawmakers in Trenton to put progress on hold and limit our freedom to choose the best school for our kids. What’s worse is that Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, the lawmakers who sponsored the bill and represent mostly white, affluent districts without any charter schools, are trying to pass legislation that makes it harder for mostly poor, black families to get their kids into good schools.

KIPP NJ, which operates some of Newark’s best charter schools, explained earlier this year that A4351, which passed the Assembly unanimously, would halt the expansion of three quarters of their elementary schools and half of their middle and high schools, effectively disrupting the education of between 2,200-2,800 schoolchildren.
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