Charter schools in Newark are not replicable on a large scale because they do not serve the same students as public schools.I've pointed out Moran's cluelessness on the Newark teachers contract. I've pointed out his ignorance on school funding in Newark. I've pointed out his misunderstanding of tenure law and his inconsistency on assigning blame for the "tone" of New Jersey's education debate.
So I won't go through that again in response to his piece today on restoring local control to Newark; instead, I'll merely point out the illogic of this:
Yes, it is difficult to argue against local democratic control. But remember that only 7 percent of Newark voters turned out for the last school election. That’s a limited mandate. And by other measures, including the thousands of families still on waiting lists for charter schools, Newarkers remain hungry for the type of reform this board would reject. [emphasis mine]Tom, is it not possible that the turnout for school elections in Newark is so low because the citizens know their votes don't matter?
Why would anyone go to the polls and vote for an office that has no actual power to change anything? The state commissioner, up until now, has made all of the decisions regarding schools in Newark; the school board's role has been purely advisory. Considering the vote literally does not matter, I'm amazed even 7 percent of Newark's citizens showed up.
Further, turnout is low in even the wealthiest districts in New Jersey; Bergen County's districts averaged about a 10 percent turnout in the last election. Does that mean those communities should have to relinquish local control?
As to the alleged "long waiting lists" for charters: do we know how many children on those lists are duplicates? Do we know how many would actually be accepted into and remain in charters, given that many of those schools have high attrition rates and student populations substantially different from the neighboring public schools?
There is simply no reason to believe that there is more public demand for charter expansion than for local control. As I wrote before:
Newark is being sold a lie, and they've had enough. The elected school advisory board has had enough. The elected city council has had enough. The students have had enough. The teachers have had enough. The parents have had enough. Everyone in Newark is rightly sick and tired of the empty promises of state control under Chris Christie, Chris Cerf, and - to be fair - their predecessors.Most of these stories were covered by your own paper, Tom. Maybe you ought to take your head out of the sand and start reading them.
Star-Ledger Editorial Board