Education Leaders Urge State Education Department To Not Weaken Teacher Training RequirementsOctober 27, 2022
SHUTMAN: Ask Your School Board Candidates These QuestionsOctober 28, 2022
The New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first charter schools in the state with the 2022 NJPCSA 25th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick on October 26, 2022. The gala featured state lawmakers, the mayors of Paterson and Plainfield, Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan, and the CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. More than 300 charter school supporters representing the 85 charter schools in the state that educate 60,000 New Jersey students were in attendance.
The event followed a conference for charter school leaders, board members, teachers and supporters from across the state that included advocacy sessions on topics, such as “Grow Support with Effective Messaging,” “Public Charter Schools and the New Jersey Political Environment,” “Building the Advocate Community,” and “Current Topics in New Jersey Charter School Law.”
“This year’s celebration marks 25 years of the public charter school community making a difference in communities across the Garden State,” said Harry Lee, President and CEO of NJPCSA. “As tuition-free public schools open to all students regardless of zip code, income or ability level, we are proud of the contributions that New Jersey charter schools have made and will continue to make in the lives of students and families.”
New Jersey State Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), a supporter who has previously introduced bills to help shape the landscape of charter school approvals, was recognized with the New Jersey Charter Schools Legislator Champion Award.
“Every child in New Jersey should have the tools necessary for success regardless of their zip code. I am proud to have been a leader in expanding educational opportunities to help our children live up to their fullest potential,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “It is an honor to accept the Charter School Champion Award in recognition of my ongoing commitment to ensuring New Jersey students and families have access to the educational opportunities they deserve.”
The event’s keynote speaker Nina Rees, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.
“New Jersey is undoubtedly one of the charter school movement’s success stories. Over 25 years, charters have been a beacon to thousands of families from Newark to Camden and communities around the state. Thanks to visionary education leaders, community activists, parent advocates, and local, state, and federal officials in both parties, New Jersey’s charter schools have changed the trajectory of students’ lives. As new threats to progress emerge, it’s important to remember that families want charter school options now more than ever, and it will take hard work from our supporters and allies to ensure students continue to have the high-quality charter schools they deserve,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
In 2022, NJPCSA released a poll which found that a majority of registered voters in New Jersey support public charter schools by a nearly 2:1 ratio and parents surveyed have an even higher level of support, with 56% supporting and 24% opposing. These findings have made it imperative for lawmakers at all levels and on both sides of the aisle to pay attention to the need for more high-quality educational opportunities to meet the needs of New Jersey’s students, including public charter schools.
“I have long been a supporter of public charter schools because parents know their children best and should be able to decide which school their child attends,” said Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho. “I am proud that New Jersey’s charter schools are among the best in the country, and I would like to see us continue to invest in charter schools as parents have clearly indicated they want them as an option and as they continue to deliver strong student achievement outcomes for our kids and communities.”
“I am a firm believer in public charter schools and their impact on student achievement. The city of Plainfield is fortunate to be home to some high-performing charter schools. The opportunity that charter schools provide to parents and students as well as the autonomy given to teachers and the smaller class sizes are key factors that promote academic achievement and success. The notion that charters are a drain on resources that should be going to traditional public schools is nothing but a fallacy,” said Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp.
Charter schools operate with more flexibility in exchange for increased accountability including rigorous financial, academic, and operational standards. Eighty-five percent of students attending charter schools are students of color, 72% of students are from low-income households and 10% are students with disabilities.
In Paterson, the need to increase the number of high-quality educational opportunities for kids is a high priority for local leaders. Currently 5,550 students attend the six charter schools that already operate in the city and Brilla College Prep Elementary will open its doors in 2023.
“As Mayor, I want all of the children in Paterson to have a bright future. The job of our public education system is to provide families with many high-quality educational opportunities so that they can decide which one will work best for each child regardless of their background and where they live. I am proud that public charter schools are rising to this challenge in Paterson and are providing students in our community with the ability to reach their dreams. In 2023, we will welcome a new charter school called Brilla and I look forward to working with local community leaders and families as well as with the Governor’s administration to continue to focus on providing educational opportunities that meet Paterson students’ needs,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.