Newark Union President Says Newark Parents Are Too Ignorant to Know if They Support Charter Schools

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I’m always wary of public polls regarding educational issues, whether it be taxpayers, parents, anyone not aligned with the education world.

That’s Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon trying desperately to undermine a new Farleigh Dickinson poll that shows Newark parents, by a margin of 48 to 13, think the city’s’ public charter schools “have been good for students.” 

Indeed they have, but only if you prioritize student learning over district market share. In fact, these independent public schools, which educate about 40% of Newark schoolchildren, do right by their families and outcomes are better than students enrolled in district schools. (One exception: District magnet schools that cream off top students through strict admissions policies.) By all accounts, students in charters–who enroll there through a parent preference system controlled by the district—are blossoming.

Multiple analyses attest to Newark parents’ wisdom. This report examined student growth and found that “attending a Newark charter school has a larger effect than 80% of other educational interventions that have been recently studied using an experimental design.” This one rated cities with large charter sectors; Boston and Newark were in first place. Analysts concluded, “The strong results in Newark and Boston are driven by relatively large and high-performing charter sectors.” A study from Boston University made two findings: 1) students with disabilities and English Language Learners are “more likely” to remain enrolled in charter schools than district schools and Newark charter schools are making learning gains at a faster rate than nearly any other city in the nation.

Also, this brand new study analyzes student achievement among Newark students enrolled in either KIPP or Uncommon (the two largest charter non-profits in the city) and finds “mounting evidence that charter school sectors that enroll a substantial share of local students are capable of producing large improvements in student outcomes.”

New Jersey Children’s Foundation Executive Director Kyle Rosenkrans expressed concerns about the way the Farleigh Dickinson poll worded its questions because the query on charters included the phrase that there’s been “some controversy” with charter school’s role in the Newark school system. A poll commissioned by NJCF found that 66% of Newark parents supported the city’s charter school sector.  But, he added, “the number in support [of charters] is still universally strong no matter, I think, without parsing the methodology and framing of the questions.”

And, really, contrary to Abeigon’s dismissal of Newark taxpayers and parents’ ability to understand questions if they’re not “aligned with the educational world” (what does that even mean?), Newarkers know what’s best for their children. Then again, as Rosenkrans noted in a tweet last night, this is a union leader who claims the Newark Board of Education should “assume some parents will lie” about whether their kids have tested positive for COVID, defended a teacher who dressed in blackface for Halloween, and counseled Newark Superintendent Roger Leon that “anyone associated with education reform or the corporate-charter school agenda needs to be identified, isolated, and let go.”

So, yeah, let’s all rely on John Abeigon for advice on what’s best for Newark students.

 

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