Chris Christie is touting his promised reforms to NJ’s public education system (press release here; New Jersey Newsroom story here), which center on increasing commitments to charter schools. He’ll do this by choosing an education commissioner to advocate for charter approvals, by facilitating funding streams when a kid leaves a failing school to attend a charter, and by eliminating “undue school board influence over charter school applications in failing districts.”
Sounds good, but it’s unclear what he means by “undue school board influence.” Right now, new applications get screened by the DOE and local districts can forward “recommendations.” Invariably, of course, those recommendations will be “deny! deny!” After all, why would a traditional public school want to divert 90% of the per pupil cost (is the withheld 10% for paperwork or something?) to the upstart charter. But the DOE guidelines are clear: “The Commissioner will approve or deny an application for a charter.”
Trust me here: school boards don’t have much undue influence, let alone due influence. Impediments to the charter school movement in N.J. reside in higher echelons, like the Legislature, the NJEA leadership, and the DOE.