In New Jersey, 20,000 students are on wait lists for public charter schools. Meanwhile, the Murphy Administration has reversed seven previously-approved expansions and approved only two new public charters over the last five years.
In response, on December 1, 2022, public charter schools throughout New Jersey will be applying to the New Jersey Department of Education to request additional seats to serve more students. Decisions on these requests will be announced by February 2023. This advocacy effort is sponsored by the New Jersey Public Charter School Association which last week announced the launch of its #LetMeLearn campaign, a comprehensive, statewide digital ad campaign targeting decision makers in advance of the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) ruling on application requests from public charter schools to allow students to continue learning at the schools that are working for them and to allow more students access to a world class education.
“NJPCSA is committed to ensuring that parents and students continue to thrive in public charter schools that work for them and best meet their individual needs,” said Harry Lee, President of NJPCSA. “Through the unprecedented investment in K-12 public education under the Murphy Administration, school districts in which public charter schools are located have seen significant increases in per pupil funding, eliminating the argument that public charter schools ‘drain funds’ from local districts. The increase in K-12 funding demonstrates that district schools and public charter schools can not only successfully co-exist but they can thrive alongside one another.”
Over the last five years the Murphy Administration has increased K-12 public education funding by $1.8 billion.
Expected decisions by the NJDOE in early 2023 could impact existing students attending charter schools like Achievers Early College Prep in Trenton who want to complete their education journey in the school that is meeting their needs. Other decisions could impact thousands of students who remain on wait lists across the state. “Achievers has been my home for the last three years. My teachers have pushed me to be the best person I can be and to succeed academically,” said Aleslys Mong, a student at Achievers Early College Prep Charter School in Trenton. “My education at Achievers allowed me to fall in love with coding and computer science. I don’t know how I can continue learning about my passion without the curriculum of my school. My future is in the hands of the New Jersey Department of Education and I hope they won’t let me down.”
Achievers Early is one of seven charter schools with a previously-approved expansion that was revoked by the NJ Department of Education, leaving Trenton students educationally homeless.
There is strong support across the State for public charter schools, not just from families whose children are enrolled, but from voters and parents broadly as demonstrated in recent polling conducted by NJPCSA and the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. Earlier this year, the Association released results from a statewide poll that found that a majority of voters and parents support public charter schools by a 2:1 margin with even higher levels of support from Black and Latino voters. The poll also found high levels of support from both voters and parents in several cities across the State where charter schools are seeking to expand, including Trenton and Paterson. Similarly a previous poll conducted by the New Jersey Children’s Foundation found high levels of support of voters and parents in Newark.
“Every day, I work to elevate the parent voice and parents in communities like Newark are screaming for access to a great school like North Star Academy because the teachers and staff produce amazing academic outcomes and believe in the ability of every child,” said Jasmine Morrison, whose children attend North Star Academy Charter School in Newark. “I’m unapologetic when I say I expect my kids’ public school to be a high expectations vessel that prepares them to thrive in the future workforce.”
Economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities are flourishing in New Jersey’s public charter schools and outperforming their counterparts statewide.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated already-existing learning gaps in our communities and our children’s social and emotional well-being has been deeply impacted. Public charter schools that are overcoming these challenges and are meeting the needs of families and communities must be supported to ensure the potential of ALLNJ children can be realized.
For more information, go here.