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, March 10, 2011

"It's All About the Kids..."

TRENTON — Two of New Jersey’s most well-established charter schools are on probation and a third was warned to improve its student test scores or face a shut down, state education officials said today.
Trenton Community Charter School and University Academy Charter School in Jersey City were placed on 90-day probation last week and given a long list of problems discovered during a recent state review.
The deficiencies ranged from low student test scores and improperly locked classrooms to inadequate lesson plans and sloppy record keeping.
Christopher Cerf, the acting state education commissioner, warned the schools they could close if they don’t come up with an improvement plan in the next few weeks. Trenton Community has been open 16 years and University Academy had been around nearly a decade.
I guess these schools didn't grease the right palms?

This is a blatantly political move designed to sell the charter concept right at the time Christie and Cerf are close to closing the deal. "See, we're going to shut them down if they don't perform! It's like the real world!"

Except this world is all too real to the kids who attend these schools:
Officials at Trenton Community Charter School received their probation letter by fax Wednesday, said Christi Pemberton, the school’s principal. The 540-student school is assembling a team to review the state assessment.
"We are continuing to make improvements," Pemberton said.
At Jersey City Community Charter School, the warning letter from the state made the staff "feel like they had the wind knocked out of their sails," said Carletta Martin-Goldston, the head of school.
But the 594-student charter school is developing a plan to boost test scores that includes more professional development for teachers.
"We feel quite certain we will be able to pull up the test scores," Martin-Goldston said.
Natasha Carter, whose son has attended Jersey City Community since kindergarten, said she has no plans to move her third-grader because of the school’s lagging test scores.
"I really do like the school. I love the teachers," said Carter, of Jersey City. "I’m really not worried. I see what’s going on here every day." [emphasis mine]
Over 1100 kids and their families now have to go through the year wondering if their school will even be around next year. Because they need to do a better job filling in the right bubbles on a test they get once a year. 

Sounds like a great learning environment...

The cynicism that runs rampant in the corporate reform movement is really stunning. Throw a bunch of kids in a school, see if it sinks or swims, board it up if it fails. No continuity for the children, their families, or the staff; plus, a nasty sense of failure for everyone - kids included - when their school is shuttered.

That these guys want charters springing up like weeds with no regard for this consequence tells you all you need to know about their priorities.

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