I have mixed feelings about this. There's no denying that New Jersey's schools are highly segregated; this is an attempt, however, small, to address that. You could make a good argument that our small suburban districts and "home rule" contribute greatly to the problem; if Jersey had county-wide districts like some states, there might be more movement in the student population. This is an attempt to correct for that.
I am concerned, however, that IPSC creates the same trap that charter schools do: the kids who will use it are going to be the kids with fewer special needs, fewer language issues, and aren't as poor as the kids staying in their home districts. So the money follows the children who are the least expensive to educate, leaving the home district to educate the rest of the kids with fewer resources.
Whatever the case, we are now only a few scant weeks away from the start of school... and we don't even know which districts are participating in the program. At the NJDOE's "Choice" website, it says:
The department has listed the participating schools for the 2012-2013 school year on our Web site under the link for “Approved Choice Districts.” The link for this site can be found in the yellow right-hand column labeled “Approved Choice Districts.”Well, as of this morning, when I click on the link, I get:
How are families supposed to make plans when they don't even know which districts they can apply to? I hope the NJDOE isn't thinking kids will transfer after the school year starts - that would be a disaster for obvious reasons.
APPROVED CHOICE DISTRICTS 2011-2012
Maybe it's just a website error. If anyone would have published a story about the new districts, it would be John Mooney at NJ Spotlight. But the last reporting I can find from him on IDSC is that the state BOE was adopting regulations back in July. How do we know which districts this affects?
All this is on my mind because yesterday I was wondering about Larrie Reynolds, the superintendent in Mt. Olive and one of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf's good buddies. According to the Star-Ledger's Bob Braun, Reynolds was working out a sweetheart deal for himself and his side project, GEMS Education, using IDCS as a conduit for state funds.
Well, did it go through? Is Reynolds going to be setting up GEMS within the district where he is the superintendent - a move that is fraught with more than a little conflict of interest? Who knows - I can't even find out of Mt. Olive is an IDCS district this year.
On that last post of mine, a commenter says that the IDCS districts have already been chosen and training already happened. I would hope so: again, we're only a few weeks away from the start of the school year. If that's the case, what's the hold up? Release the names of the school districts so families can make their plans.
And let us know if Larrie Reynolds is going to be using Mt. Olive as a pipeline to bring in state funds to his company like he proposed. I know you guys at NJDOE like your secrets, but enough's enough.
The names of the IDCS schools are safe with me, chief!