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After years of denying new public charter school applications, as well as reversing previous approvals for expansions of high-performing charters, the New Jersey Department of Education has approved the application for Kindle Education Public Charter School, to be located in Jersey City. The schools is only the second charter school to be approved during the Murphy Administration.
Kindle Education Public Charter School was notified last Friday of the DOE’s approval. Kindle Education will open the doors to a brand new facility in Journal Square in the fall of 2023 with grades 6 and 7 and plans to grow each year until the school serves grades 6-12. As a free, public school open to all students, Kindle Education will enroll a diverse student body and will not require entry exams or other selective criteria for admissions. The school’s founding team, which is composed of educators and parents, says it has been working to bring Kindle Education to Jersey City for the past two years because of a need for more middle and high schools that offer student-centered, 21st century learning.
“Most schools are designed to educate the average learner,” says DJ Hartigan, one of Kindle Education’s co-founders, “but we know that the average learner doesn’t actually exist. Each student has a unique identity, talents, and interests, and schools should be environments that nurture this diversity.” Kindle Education plans to do this by using workshop-style classes and multiple learning pathways to cater to different learners while providing each student with coaching to help them identify and achieve individualized goals. Curricula will challenge students to investigate and problem-solve with appropriate support from teachers and full-time tutors so that young people develop the critical thinking and self-management abilities that a growing body of research indicates is necessary for success and wellbeing as an adult.
“Another important part of our mission is to help students grow into adults with the mindsets and skills necessary to transform the world,” says Katie Hahn, Kindle Education’s second co-founder. She explains, “In order to do that, we must make sure that young people feel seen and cared for in school, and that they learn to see and care for others across lines of difference. The most powerful learning happens through relationships and in community.” Kindle Education plans to be an intentionally diverse school with a student body and staff that reflects the vibrancy of Jersey City. The school’s curriculum will emphasize multiple perspectives and collaboration so that students learn from difference and see diversity as an asset.
Kindle Education has amassed an impressive array of supporters, both within Jersey City and beyond. The school’s application to the state included 37 letters of support from elected officials, community leaders, and nonprofit organizations, and 585 forms submitted by Jersey City parents indicating their desire to enroll their child at Kindle Education should the school be approved. One such supporter is the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA), the nonprofit membership association that represents New Jersey’s charter school community. “Ensuring that a student’s race, ethnicity, or zip code does not determine the quality of their education is essential,” says Harry Lee, president of NJPCSA. “We are excited that Kindle Education Public Charter School will provide students in Jersey City with a unique, student-centered learning experience in an intentionally diverse school environment. We need to create more nonprofit public charter schools like Kindle to ensure that more children can attend tuition-free, diverse-by-design public schools that work for them.” Kindle Education is also one of only 16 schools to be accepted into NewSchools Venture Fund’s Innovative Public Schools portfolio this year. NewSchools is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in skilled teams of educators and innovators that have bold visions to reimagine learning.
Kindle Education is currently accepting applications for students who will enter grades 6 and 7 in the fall of 2023. To learn more or apply, visit KindleEducation.org or email info@KindleEducation.org.