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Franklin Township School District and local parents are unaligned. The district has been trying to halt the expansion of an independent public charter school called Central Jersey College Prep (CJCP), one of the highest-performing public schools in the state. Meanwhile, over 1,400 parents have applied for only 150 open slots at CJCP.
According to a statement issued by the charter, “almost 90 percent of all enrollees will not be allowed entry to the school. On March 17 and 18th, CJCP will be forced to conduct a lottery to determine acceptance.”
“This time of year is always bittersweet. While we are so thrilled and thankful for the passion and interest of parents, we also are concerned and frustrated that there are thousands of families waiting for the State to provide greater opportunity and access to our classrooms,” stated Dr. Namik Sercan, Chief Education Officer for CJCP. “Parents are demanding that their children attend CJCP because we have the greatest track record of achievement of any public school in the area. Our students are provided the strongest academics and support possible – and we ensure that every one of our students attends and stays in College. We look forward to our lottery this week and ushering in our allotted 150 new students. Still, CJCP will continue to fight for the many families who continue to wait, hoping for equity, respect, and the hope for a better life for their children.”
As previously reported, one resident, Randal Pinkett, a Newark businessman, says in challenging expansion plans, the district is “marginalizing the voices of Black and brown families, a behavior he calls “Trumpian.”
The school has amassed many plaudits. In 2016 it was awarded the coveted Blue Ribbon School award and since 2013 has been designated by the state Department of Education “Tier 1,” the highest level of NJ’s charter accountability system. In 2020 CJCP was named a National Character School, a College Board AP Capstone School, and a GreatSchools College Success Award. Since 2011 it has had a 100% high school graduation rate and 100% admission to four-year colleges, even though (in 2019) 35% of students are first-generation college students. The average college scholarship is $270K per student. In 2020 88% of students got 3’s or higher on their A.P. tests (17 A.P. courses are offered) and state standardized test results are higher than both state and local district averages.
CJCP graduate, Christine Nguyen said,
If I hadn’t attended CJCP, I wouldn’t have access to the amazing opportunities that the school has to offer and the strong support system from the faculty, staff, and other students attending here as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today at Princeton University without the inspiration from those around me. Every day I realize that the day I was picked by the lottery system to enroll in this school was a big turning point that enabled me to grow as a student, and as a person through my experiences here that I felt I would not have gained enrolling in a public school in my township. I’m proud to attend this school and hope that in the future, others will recognize that the values CJCP enforces works to encourage students to reach success in their own ways, and the fate of our community is dependent on allowing more students to attend a great school like ours.