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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

As Falls Paterson...

The NJDOE declares that Paterson is the new home of reformyness:
The state education department announced on Friday that it has approved two new charter schools in Paterson.
The new schools will be Paterson Arts and Sciences, a kindergarten through grade 8 school with an approved enrollment of 540, and Paterson Collegiate Charter School, a kindergarten through grade 5 school with approved enrollment of 548, according to a press release issued Friday evening. The Arts and Sciences school will be eligible to open in the 2013-2014 school year, while the Collegiate school has a scheduled 2014-15 opening.
The announcement did not say who the owners of the new schools would be, nor where they would be located. Barbara Morgan, a spokeswoman for the education department, said the schools’ applications, which would contain many details about their plans, will be available next week. Officials said the operators of the two schools had a "proven track record of success.'' The Collegiate school's operators have been running the Ascend charter school in Brooklyn, officials said. [emphasis mine]
Yeah, uh, no. As Darcie Cimarusti has reported this past week in a four-part series, (here, here, here, and here), PCCS's operators actually have no such record of success - and far too many close ties to officials within the NJDOE. Given the way PCCS's founders have structured both real estate deals and management contracts in the past, I am very curious to see their application for expansion into Paterson.

And we really know nothing yet about PA&S. I've heard rumors I can't yet confirm about its affiliations; again, their application will most likely reveal many interesting details.

Keep in mind that all of this is happening without the input of the citizens of Paterson, who haven't had control of their schools for over two decades:
Paterson already has three charter schools – Community Charter School of Paterson, John P. Holland Charter Schools and Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology.
In recent years, some city education advocates have expressed concerns about the charter schools, saying they would drain resources and top students from those run by the public school district. But others have argued that the charter schools provide Paterson parents with an attractive alternative to the poor-performing schools run by the city school district.
Last year, controversy erupted when there was talk that part of School 28 would be set aside for a charter school.
They won’t try to pull this stuff in the suburbs, but they want to decimate the public schools in the inner cities,’’ said Board of Education member Jonathan Hodges.
That is exactly the plan right now: expand privatization in the areas where Chris Christie knows he won't win votes, while preserving public schools and local control in his suburban, Republican base. Which is why Riverbank Charter School out in leafy Florence lost its bid for expansion while the NJDOE shoves two new charters down the throats of the people of Paterson.
“They probably want to sell one of our schools off to house them,’’ said Peter Tirri, president of the union that represents teachers in the city school district. “I have no doubt in my mind that what the department (of education) wants to do is break up Paterson Public Schools,’’ he said.
Hodges said his understanding was that the head of the Collegiate school was someone who came from the private school management company that Cerf once had been in charge of. Hodges said the apparent connect may have helped Collegiate’s application. “It raises some questions as to how they got approval.’’ [emphasis mine]
Yes, it does. Add to that the plan to impose merit pay on teachers without any other raises, and the huge consulting gigs to consulting gigs to cronies, and you've got the makings of a reformy Shangri-La right in Paterson.

Let's see how long it takes for NJDOE to release those charter applications...

Paterson: Home of Lou Costello and reformyness!

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