Elections

Charter schools moratorium sparks sparring at Democratic gubernatorial primary debate

ee6c4df10762330ea580_NJTVGuberDebate.jpg
Democratic gubernatorial candidates John Wisniewski, Phil Murphy, Jim Johnson and Ray Lesniak. Credits: Pool Photo
f867a4dfc69a924f0059_NJTVGuberDebate2.jpg
Gubernatorial candidates Phil Murphy and Jim Johnson in an exchange during a debate at the NJTV studio in Newark. Credits: Pool Photo
0ea051429144a86b5382_NJTVGuberDebate3.jpg
Gubernatorial candidates John Wisniewski and Phil Murphy in a debate at the NJTV studio in Newark. Credits: Pool Photo
ee6c4df10762330ea580_NJTVGuberDebate.jpg

NEWARK, NJ — The question of whether there should be a moratorium on charter schools recently sparked heated discussion among the four major New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates. During a televised debate in the NJTV studio in downtown Newark on May 11, the dialogue placed a direct spotlight on a critical educational issue in the state's largest city. 

While the candidates were led through a series of back-and-forth exchanges by NJTV's chief political correspondent Michael Aron on a range of policy issues that included the pension system, transportation, health care and property taxes, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) opened the door to a candidate exchange about the issue when he mentioned the concept of a moratorium on charter schools as part of a discussion on the state's public school funding formula.

Wisniewski expressed his desire for a moratorium on charter schools and noted that the flow of funds toward charter schools further hurts the efforts of a state public school system that is already underfunded. 

Sign Up for E-News

At a meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in October, Murphy, a voting NAACP board member, expressed reservations before the organization approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school growth, trying to temporarily put a break on the vote, as reported by TAPintoNewark. 

Murphy tried to open a discussion about the controversial resolution that has bitterly divided the African-American community in Newark and across the nation. But the other NAACP board members were not in a mood for dialogue and pushed forward with the resolution, one of 47 adopted by the organization during the meeting.

All of the other three Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates present at the recent debate, including Wisniewski, Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and Montclair attorney Jim Johnson, have stated that they are for a moratorium on charter schools. 

Aron pressed Murphy on the issue, asking him directly if he supported a moratorium on charter schools.

"This is a complicated one. This is hard," Murphy said while sitting under the lights at the NJTV studio in Newark's Gateway Center, the stage exposed to the viewing public behind glass. "I've never been a heck-no charter guy, but the way [funding] has been done under [Republican Gov. Chris] Christie is extremely troubling. So I had said let's call a timeout and get some rules of the road in place here. We over-label this discussion. I want to be the guy that supports schools that are working. But there are very troubling governance issues, funding issues and demographic issues."

Wisniewski then interjected, asking if Murphy was for a moratorium or not.

Murphy answered that he voted against the NAACP call for a moratorium because he felt that it was "implying that federal money would have been cut off the next day, and kids would have been thrown out of school. And I'm not for that."

Johnson initially expressed confusion as to why Murphy brought up the NAACP board debate, then took a moment to clarify his position on a charter school moratorium. 

"I've called for a pause ... but the other thing we need to be concerned about is that there are districts in which there is a choice between funding for charter schools and funding for traditional public schools," Johnson said. "We need to support our public schools but also take advantage of the knowledge and learning experience from charter schools." 

After the debate, which was co-sponsored by NJ Spotlight, Wisniewski continued to criticize Murphy's answer during the debate on the issue of a charter school moratorium. 

"He was multiple choice, like he was taking the PARCC test and filling in a couple of the boxes at the same time," Wisniewski told TAPintoNewark. "He's inexperienced, doesn't understand New Jersey policy or politics, and he was all over the place." 

Murphy countered by further clarifying his position on the charter school moratorium. 

"I absolutely stand for a timeout on charter schools. I was trying to make a point on what is the definition of a moratorium," Murphy told TAPintoNewark. "(The NAACP)definition was to cut federal money from schools, close schools tomorrow, and throw kids on the street. I'm not going to sign up for that."

Murphy received the endorsement of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), which supported a charter school moratorium in New Jersey.  When asked how this endorsement affects his stance on a charter school moratorium, Murphy said that it did not. 

"My view has not changed. In fact, (the NJEA) is probably organized in about 12 or 15 charters. This is not the black-and-white issue that people make it out to be. It's also a different dynamic in Newark than it is in Montclair. As I mentioned, we're way over-labelling this."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

Princeton Students Achieve Success: Bog Turtle Designated State Reptile

June 19, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Legislation inspired by students from Princeton designating the endangered bog turtle as the New Jersey state reptile has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I am so proud of the successful effort of students at Riverside Elementary and their teacher, Mark Eastburn, to name the bog turtle as New Jersey’s official reptile,”  said Sen.

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e39a6027bb97b7e5457b_jumblesale

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Calvary Baptist Church, Belmar

Calvary Baptist Church's Giant Jumble Sale

Carousel_image_ed119faeffa218b57791_belmar_logo__2_

Sat, June 23, 11:00 AM

Mitzi and Emily's Playground, Belmar

Belmar Mini Town Hall Meeting

Keep 12th Avenue with ‘Normal Height’ Homes

June 21, 2018

To the Editor:

Attend the (Belmar Zoning Board of Adjustment) hearing on (Thursday, June 28) to voice your opposition to having two five-story condos of 24 units each on the first block of 12th Avenue. Join your neighbors in protesting this density of buildings and 62-foot height of housing units that will have a negative impact on the residential quality of the neighborhood.

The Belmar Inn ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

JCP&L Completes Inspections and Projects Before Summer to Enhance Customer Service Reliability

June 12, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed inspections and projects across its 13-county service area, including Monmouth County, to enhance customer reliability in preparation for the summer season.

The work included upgrading transmission and substation equipment, upgrading circuits and trimming trees along power lines.

Helicopter patrols are ...

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...

Belmar and Lake Como

June 2, 2018

Belmar Police Department reported the following arrests occurred in Belmar and Lake Como from April 1, 2018 to April 28, 2018.

BELMAR

Ryan Miles, 33, of Belmar was charged with contempt on an outstanding warrant after his arrest on April 1 on Route 35 by Police Officer Patrick McGill.

Lisa Perrault, 49, of Long Branch was arrested on 16th Avenue on April 6 by Police Officer Patrick ...