NJ Education Department Again Rejects Asbury Park Charter School’s Expansion

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College Achieve Greater Asbury Park, part of the College Achieve public charter school network, just received word that the New Jersey Department of Education has rejected its appeal to expand its K-8 school to grades 9-12. Therefore, 38 rising 9th grade College Achieve students will have to make other plans. The DOE rejected the expansion because ““College Achieve Greater Asbury’s amendment request fails to articulate local assessment data that would bolster the Department’s confidence that College Achieve Great Asbury continues to make academic gains.” The rejection also cited a letter from the superintendent of Neptune Public Schools (next door to Asbury Park) who said the charter shouldn’t be allowed to expand.

In College Achieve’s other sites, especially Plainfield and Paterson, student outcomes are higher than in district schools. Asbury Park? Not so much, even slightly worse than Asbury Park Public Schools District. In the 2018-2019 school year 13.4% of charter school students were proficient in reading and 17% of district students were proficient in reading. 

However, that data is from two years ago because the NJ DOE cancelled state standardized testing during the pandemic. The Asbury Park Press quotes College Achieve Asbury Park’s principal,Jodi Henderson McInerney. who said “that testing was from years ago so we are going to provide our in-house testing results on a monthly basis to show them the strength of our school” and  “vowed to keep working toward an expansion approval.”

Also from the Press:

State officials have declined to comment on the College Achieve status and appeals. Gov. Phil Murphy was elected to office nearly four years ago with backing from the New Jersey Education Association, which opposes further expansion of charter schools.

NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said, ‘We called for a moratorium on charter school expansion and approvals in 2017, and we stand by that position.”

Parent Desiree Whyte said,

Families living in more affluent communities have the choice to send their kids to a high performing school district or private school based on what they believe is best for their children. We respect that choice. Shouldn’t our choice be respected as well? Our family has also made a decision we believe is best for our child, and we expect those who represent our educational interests to honor that choice as well…I urge Governor Murphy to do the right thing and allow these kids to finish what they started and go to a school that will offer them a future.

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