This is a press release from the New Jersey Children’s Foundation.*
At risk today is the fate of 8,500 children and countless parents who have, or will soon, enroll at seven Newark charter schools since the state approved their expansion in 2016.
Five years later, it’s clear that the horrors warned of by the ELC’s Chicken Little rhetoric in this case have turned out to be false in every way. The sky didn’t fall, in fact, the opposite happened:
- District and charter school students have posted massive learning gains in math and reading–on just about any absolute or relative basis;
- High school graduation rates in both sectors are up;
- The district was not left bankrupt with an over-concentration of students in poverty and students in need of special education services.
- In fact, annual state aid to the district has gone up nearly $200M since 2015 and local funding for the district has gone up as well.
A mountain of research is now showing that these learning gains at BOTH Newark’s district and charter schools are not just significant in New Jersey, but are nationally significant and outpace the progress we’ve seen in just about every other city in America.
Newark City Study, Stanford University CREDO, 2021.
The Effect of Attending a Charter School in Newark, New Jersey on Student Test Scores, Marcus Winters, Boston University, Wheelock Graduate School of Education.
Resilience: Will Urban Schools that Beat the Odds Continue to Do So During the COVID-19 Pandemic?, Jesse Margrady Ph.D., Margrady Research.
A New Baseline: Progress in Newark’s District and Charter Schools from 2006 to 2018, Jesse Margrady Ph.D., Margrady Research.
- Newark’s ratio of Black/Latinx to White students is the same today as it was in 1999, before charters had taken root (in 1999, 95% of Newark schools were ones where 75% or more were Black or Latinx; in 2018 that figure was basically the same, at 93%).
- More importantly, a recent nationwide study by researchers at the Urban Institute proved this point, and found that NJ charters are not exacerbating school segregation in the state.
“As the record plainly reflects, the charter schools at issue embody precisely what the Charter School Program Act of 1996 (~~CSPA”), N.J.S.A. 18A:36A-1 to -18, was designed to achieve. All seven schools have served students and families of Newark for several years, yielding successful graduation rates, high test scores, and innovative learning environments for Newark’s students. As a result of that success, more and more families each year have expressed a desire to send their children to these programs, as reflected in the extensive waiting lists that continued year to year. And it stands to reason that those schools would strive to accommodate those desires. With the resulting demand, the schools sought to expand their capacity to accommodate the public need and provide a quality education to more of Newark’s student population. This is precisely the type of growth envisioned by the Legislature through the CSPA.”
“Both the ELC and Amici overlook not just the law and evidence to the contrary, but a more fundamental point: a thorough and efficient education is being provided to students in traditional public schools and in charter schools, and the record is devoid of any evidence that the success of the charters was achieved at the expense of the quality of education at the district schools.”