I’m taking a bit of heat in the comments section for my post yesterday (see below) regarding an essential difference among NJ’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program (IPSCP), magnet schools, and charter schools. This difference, commonly unnoted, is that staff in IPSCP and magnet schools must be unionized and charters leave that decision up to the teachers. My point is that some of the opposition to public charter schools in NJ stems from this difference.
Now, to the comments. Let’s clarify. Indeed, local boards of education decide whether or not they want to nominate one or more of the schools within their districts to be a “choice district.” If their application is accepted by the DOE then students from other districts within the county (the sending districts) can enroll in that school (the receiving district). The students’ home districts pay tuition and transportation.
The sending school – i.e., the students’ home district – has no vote in whether or not to allow students to enroll in the receiving district. Just like charter schools.
On to magnet schools. They are indeed run by the county, but there are no “local control measures built in.” The Chosen Board of Freeholders of each county decides whether to sponsor a magnet, without any input from local districts.
For example, check out the State Board of Education Decision in Board of Education of the Ramapo-Indian Hills Regional School District v. Board of Education of the Bergen County Vocational Technical School District. In this decision, dated Sept. 2000, Ramapo-Indian Hills sought a ruling that would not oblige them to pay tuition for students enrolled in the Bergen County magnet school. They’d already been turned down by the Administrative Law Judge and the Commissioner of Education.
The State Board of Education, however, affirmed the decision, citing the precedent of Board of Education Scotch Plains-Fanwood v. Union County Vo-Tech. In that case, the Scotch Plains School Board didn’t want to pay for tuition for its students enrolled in the magnet school in Union County. From the 2000 decision:
We affirm the Commissioner’s determination that operation of the “magnet school” is not contrary to State or federal law…[O]peration of that magnet school does not violate the New Jersey Constitution’s prohibition on using public funds for a private purpose. We also concur with the Commissioner that summary dismissal of the Board’s claim that it operates a program comparable to that offered by Union County Vo-Tech was appropriate… Accordingly, for the reasons stated herein, we affirm the Commissioner’s summary dismissal of the Board’s petition in its entirety.
So, local boards have no control over the costs incurred by their kids attending county magnet schools, exactly like local boards have no control over kids’ attendance at charter schools. By the way, the Board of Chosen Freeholders in Union joined the suit with the magnet, opposing the local district’s request.
Save Our Schools-NJ could demystify its agenda by giving a little more information on its website. Is there a Board of Directors? Who are they? Is the organization a 501(c)3? What’s the organization’s connection to Parents Across America, which is funded by NEA?
You know the saying, if you can't take the heat…
This is at least starting to paint a clearer picture, but there are still some issues you are missing in the shadows.
At least you are admitting that teachers at charters can CHOOSE to unionize, which shoots a nice hole in your argument.
Now, how about clarifying some of the other issues I raised. How many charters are there in New Jersey versus how many Interdistrict choice districts or magnets (otherwise knows as County Vocational Schools)? This is the main reason to be concerned about charters vs. these other “school choice” options. Is there any evidence that the state is pushing for 45-60 new choice districts or Vo-Techs a year like they stated in their federal application for the charter grant?
I don't think so, and you know why? No one is going to make money off of Interdistrict School Choice or Magnets…
I just spoke with the Superintendent of a county vocational school (he didn't seem to like the term “magnets”). While you are correct that an individual district can not deny it's students tuition for a County Vo-Tech it is interesting that you bring up the Freeholders. He just informed me that county freeholders are the only bonding agents for county vocational schools. So, if the Freeholders, who are local elected officials, don't support a county vo-tech, it won't open, flourish or expand.
This is far different than decisions being made by one appointed bureaucrat in Trenton. Currently, Chris Cerf, who isn't even confirmed in his post after almost a year is the only authorizer
In Highland Park our Freeholders adopted a resolution in favor of 3852 and all of our elected officials, from the School Board to the Mayor to our Assemblymen and Senator have come out against Tikun Olam. But not a single one gets a say in the matter, only Cerf.
Even you called Tikun Olam getting the federal grant a “sticky-wicket” and you have responded to me in the past that you think a Hebrew Immersion charter is “pretty sketchy”. How would you like to have this scenario dropped on your doorstep in Lawrence? How would you respond as the Board President? How would you expect parents in your district to respond? I bet their response wouldn't be much different that ours in Highland Park. And based on the reaction of elected officials here in Highland Park looks like you may be standing alone…
While we're on the topic, how do you think the parents in your district feel about your active opposition to local control? I can't imagine that in a district like Lawrence the residents want to be dictated to by the state or federal DOE any more than we do.
I appreciate that you are finally asking Save Our Schools NJ who we are instead of pretending to know who we are, or playing games to divine who may be funding us. The website does indeed say who we are! We are a “grassroots organization of parents and other concerned residents”. That's who we are Ms. Waters. We have no Board of Directors. We are not a 501(c)3. (Here is a link to all of the the exempt organizations in NJ – please note: we are not on it.) We are not a front for the NEA. We are volunteer parents and residents who are facing the same problem all across the state and have come together to do something about it. It's just that simple.
Maybe you just can't believe that a group of parents could be so organized, powerful and determined because if it's true you are going to be in the hot seat in Lawrence if a charter application gets put before your board. You are going to have some angry parents and residents who are going to want to know where you stand on this issue…
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Sorry, my bad I forgot the link…
While I'm posting links, check out this one:
As you know, a charter was just approved in Cherry Hill on 9/30. They are not too happy about that in Cherry Hill. Make sure to watch the video. The superintendent and the school board president are working together to inform the parents they serve about why their district is slated to lose 1.9 million to a charter they don't need or want. What will you do if this is your district next year? If this problem comes to Lawrence Ms. Waters you will have quite a situation on your hands.
You are fond of saying that Save Our Schools pushes legislation that is good for the thriving suburban districts but bad for the struggling urban districts, and seem to relish pitting the two against each other. You've even gone so far as to call it “Lake Wobegon” legislation.
What do you suggest we do in districts like Highland Park and Cherry Hill? Just sit back and let the state weaken our districts by approving charter after charter that aren't wanted or needed?
I am all for doing whatever needs to be done to fix schools for ALL kids in Camden, Newark or any other districts that are not serving their children well, and am happy to pay my share in order to see that happen. But why should I watch my kids' schools be dismantled by the same forces that claim to want to help kids in struggling schools? Charters are no magic bullet, and their rapid proliferation is not going to help kids anywhere in the state.
So, what will you do if on October 17th an application gets dropped on your superintendents desk in Lawrence?? How will you handle it for your district?
So Laura, no snappy answers to darcie???
“So, local boards have no control over the costs incurred by their kids attending county magnet schools, exactly like local boards have no control over kids' attendance at charter schools.”
Nice try, Laura. The key word here is “their”. Vo-techs cannibalize local school populations, while charters can increase them—to the detriment of local students—via importation of outsiders.