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

Friday, January 13, 2012

More New Jersey Charter Malfeasance

You could make a good argument that one or even two school board members not following the law is an anomaly and not necessarily indicative of a systemic problem. But three or more? I'd say something's not right.

Here are the New Jersey school districts and charter schools that have three or more board members who did not complete a criminal background check in time and now have to vacate their positions. Remember, for all intents and purposes, a charter school in New Jersey is its own school district; I've underlined the charter schools on this list.
  • Bergen Arts And Sciences Charter School, Bergen - 3 members
  • West Wildwood, Cape May County - 3 members
  • Adelaide L. Sandford Charer School, Essex - 3 members
  • Arete Academy Charter School, Essex - 10 members
  • Great Oaks Charter School, Essex - 5 members
  • Newark Educators Comm Charter School, Essex - 3 members
  • Peoples Preparatory Charter School, Essex - 4 members
  • Dream Prep Academy Charter School, Hudson - 6 members
  • East Newark, Hudson - 4 members
  • Liberty Academy Charter School, Hudson - 4 members
  • Central Jersey College Prep Charter School, Somerset - 4 members
  • Central Jersey Arts Charter School, Union - 4 members
  • Union Cty. Teams Charter School, Union - 3 members
Again: more than half of the school board officials removed from their positions yesterday serve on charter school boards, even though those charters constitute only 11% of the boards in New Jersey.

Now here's what's interesting to me: the good people of West Wildwood and East Newark will have the ability, come the next school board election, to make it known how they feel about a school board that allows so many members to evade the law. They can make a decision about whether their schools need new leadership. That extends beyond the members who lost their positions; they can ask the remaining members and the district administration how they could allow this to happen, and they can vote out school board members if they don't get a good answer.

The people who live in the cities and towns that pay for the charter schools, however, have no such remedy. Their tax dollars will continue to flow to schools that can't even get their trustees to follow the law, and they will have no say about the leadership of those schools.

I am, again, calling for a moratorium on all new charter schools until the Cerf report is released, but that's not nearly enough. There must be a higher level of accountability for New Jersey's charter schools - they must have to answer to the people who fund them.

All charter schools must be subject to local control.

ADDING: Chris Christie, with no trace of irony, says this:
Gov. Chris Christie today signed the first of what he hopes will be a series of education reforms: a measure giving private nonprofit companies the authority to build a total of 12 schools in Newark, Camden and Trenton.
"Just like charter schools that are already operating all over New Jersey," he said in the auditorium of Landing Square School in Camden, "these renaissance schools will be subject to strict accountability by the Department of Education in meeting the bottom line, which is improving student achievement." [emphasis mine]
So the renaissance schools will be just as "accountable" as all of these charters that broke the law?



Anonymous said...

Jazz -- I say this with all due respect. Is your vitriol against charter schools because they are largely unpenetrated by the NJEA, so they generate no money toward NJEA coffers, and you are (I assume since you say you are a teacher) an NJEA member, and therefore don't personally benefit from the expansion of charter schools? Your headline expresses concern about your pension -- is personal financial motive behind some or most of your personal attacks and editorialing? Thanks, and I find your blog entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I say this just out of curiosity, but I wonder how many board members these checks "caught"? Did a bunch of BOE members just quietly resign, or is the state going to start going through the info now and catch the clild molesters and potheads, or what? Just curious since you seem to know the info, JM.

Duke said...

Anon, with the same respect, I am very upfront about my union membership. I am very upfront about teacher compensation, and, yes, I am a teacher.

What's your point?

Anonymous said...

Well, with all due respect, I have been reading for awhile and did not know what flavor of teacher your were -- magnet, Abbott, charter, private, urban, suburban, NJEA, AFT, or something else.

And, again with all due respect, you daily ascribe political, financial and ego motives to all the characters you spear, it is only fair to have some idea where your voice is coming from, don't you think?

You obviously have a great deal of data and this is a good place to pick up breaking news and links, but I never have read you are an NJEA member -- it isn't in your "About Me", in your link to "Complete Profile" or in any recent posts, I don't believe.

I'm curious as to your charter experience. Was it at the beginning of the program or recently? Were you in the union then or what kind of contract....do you think it was fair?

Anonymous said...

Also...obviously you went to some considerable research to come up with the list of charter boards with at least three members, etc...

Are any of those where you taught? You know....I think a reasonable person would want to know whether there was some disgruntled former employee sneaking into the editorializing here....with all due respect.

Duke said...

Anon: the list was in the Star-Ledger. I imported it into a spreadsheet. The charters were all listed as charters. It took me all of 10 minutes.

I did not teach at any of those schools.

The day may come when I decide to no longer use a pseudonym. Until that time, if it bothers you so much that I do, enjoy one of the many other fine blogs about education you see on the left.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole point is that it is understandable from your worldview, but very different when you have children to raise like many posters her, Duke.

Anonymous said...

I have children to raise in New Jersey.

I agree with Duke.

Are you shocked?

Anonymous said...

Duke, I think a lot of respect is due.

When YOU start pouring money into educational experiments, we can question your ethos.

I hope you are preparing a template response to trolls--please don't let them suck you in. (We've had students who wish to monopolize a discussion {or waste time} even though they haven't done the reading or noticed that their questions have already been asked and answered. At least these have youth as an excuse.)

Trolls, add something besides ad hominem. With all due . . . you know. Rusalka

stop the freeze NJ said...

I have kids and am on the same page as JJ/Duke. How incredibly presumptuous of you to claim any knowledge of his worldview or family.

Anonymous said...

Right back at you. He has previously stated he does not have children in the public school system. Are you still on the same page?

Anonymous said...

My children are in the public school systems. I agree with Duke wholeheartedly. What's your point?

Duke said...

Anon: when did I ever say I don't have kids in the pubic schools?

I'm not playing this game any more. Address my arguments and I'll consider responding; otherwise, this is boring for me and my readers.