BREAKING: Murphy Administration Approves a New Public Charter School

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Late Friday the New Jersey Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan approved a new charter application for Brilla Charter School, which will be located in Paterson.

New charter approvals are rare news in New Jersey because Gov. Phil Murphy promised during his campaign–and fulfilled that promise–to call a “time-out” on public charter schools in order to have the Department of Education conduct a “charter school law review.” The “time-out” was prompted by a formal Resolution from the New Jersey Education Association that promised to “advocate for and support a moratorium on the approval of any new charter schools and on the expansion of currently existing charter schools until specific conditions are met.” Despite a lengthy “review,” which drew parents from across the state demanding the Governor “prioritize children’s needs over politics,” results of the “review” were never released.

While most expansions approved during the Christie Administration were allowed to move forward, approvals for new public charters were essentially halted. Yet somehow Brilla Charter School made it through the logjam. “It’s about time,” New Jersey State Board of Education Andrew Mulvihill told NJ Ed Report. “After almost four years we finally have a new charter school approved. It’s crazy that, with 36,000 students on waitlists for charter schools that this administration— that speaks so often about equity for all —has done so little to facilitate one of the great equalizers, new charter schools.”

Brilla Charter Schools (brilla means “shine” in Spanish) has four pre-K-8 schools in the South Bronx. This is its first schools in New Jersey. Among the students in its current facilities, 76% are Latino, 22% are Black, 22% are English Language Learners, and 25% have disabilities. Thirty-one percent of the network’s teachers are Black and 25% are Latino. In traditional New Jersey schools, 6.6% of teachers are Black and 9.3% are Latino.

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