I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another "Happy Coincidence" for NJ Charters!

So the NJDOE releases a report that glowingly (and inappropriately) touts the "success" of New Jersey's charter schools on Tuesday morning. It took Education Commissioner Cerf 631 days to get around to making and releasing the report, which he promised "as quickly as is humanly possible."

But here's an amazing coincidence: the report just happened to be released on the same day the Camden school board reversed its previous vote and let a previously failed charter operator come back into the city:
It was the second time the board had voted on the plan, which previously fell a vote short. In a meeting held predominantly behind closed doors Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the board reconsidered and approved the plan with just one dissenting vote.
But the resolution approving the measure left open some uncertainties. The board still has to sign off on specifics of the proposal, which calls for five schools to be build by the partnership and run by KIPP over the next decade.
The closed session was to negotiate the contract that will include those details, so it was allowed under the state’s Open Public Meetings Act, officials said.
So the vote just happened to come on the night of the release of a smiley-faced charter report. And it just happened to be behind closed doors. And it just happened to override the previous vote to reject the KIPP application.

Well, isn't that convenient?

Can we at least show enough respect for the intelligence of the citizens of Camden - and, indeed, the entire state - to leave aside the Kabuki and just admit the fix was in long ago?
Camden is the only of the three to take up the idea so far, requesting proposals and ultimately picking the Cooper/KIPP proposal out of a total of five submitted. The proposal had been by far the highest profile of the bids, with the backing of George Norcross, the Cooper chairman and powerful Democratic Party leader in South Jersey.
But the state approval is just one step, as the parties also still need to negotiate the purchase of the property next to Cooper’s healthcare campus in Lanning Square from both the state and the local district.
The property is owned jointly by the district and the state’s Schools Development Authority, which had been slated to build a district school on the site until plans were stalled and the KIPP plan emerged.
The people of Camden were promised a public school at Lanning Square. Instead, they will get a private charter school, publicly funded, that does not have to serve all of the children in the surrounding neighborhood, is run by a management organization with a history of high student attrition - particularly for black males - and will not have to answer to the people of the city of Camden, but only to the NJDOE Commissioner.

Again, KIPP already failed in Camden. Doesn't matter, though: a powerful white man wants them there, so that's where they go. The only thing that could possibly stop them is the will of the people who actually live in the city:
But community activists against the proposal from the start said their battle was not over, saying there were a number of areas open for potential challenge.
Moneke Ragsdale, a Camden parent-activist, said the meeting itself was curious, with no agenda released and the meeting going into closed session away from the public before several board members came back and appeared to switch their votes.
“It was a mess,” she said. “Nobody got a direct answer. It looks like they came to do what they wanted to do.”
“We’re going to put our heads together to see what we do next,” she said.
God bless people like Moneke Ragsdale: they are true patriots. They are also the last, best hope for the children of Camden KIPP admits it will inevitably leave behind. They are the antidote to paternalistic meddling:
Back at Science High, even the Facebook gift was regarded with suspicion.
“The foundations are interfering with public education and dividing our community,” says Cassandra Dock, a local resident. “Leave us alone. We don’t want white people coming in here and doing what they do — taking over. Destroy and leave.” [emphasis mine]
It's becoming a theme around here, don't you think?


Deb said...

You got this one down pat Duke (like usual). The quotes in the press from the Camden BOE about Lanning Square are infuriating - voting for KIPP because they do not believe there will ever be the funds to build Lanning Square?! What a self- fulfilling prophecy. They refused, when Moneke and others demanded, to file lawsuit to compel the release of SDA funds to build Lanning Square public school. So now parents have filed a lawsuit to get that school built. And most of the board undermines that by voting for KIPP. While Camden fights we need to support -pass the legislation to strengthen OPMA to get complete agendas as a start. And we have to realize that their fight is our fight.

The real question is how did that first vote - the tied 4-4 - happen at all? What seed of insurgence was planted? Something happened that yes, has been undone, but something happened and it can happen again.

Tiffany Streat said...

Jazzman - research needs to be done. Recently, there was an article about KIPP pulling out of some mid-west (?) city. Trying to find it but having difficulty. KIPP promotes its success stories (which is fine) but never talks about their non-proficient status.