Education

Panel of Experts Say Charter Schools Adversely Impact Public Education

43c11ea7def534e7a034_IMG_0209.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
92d188ac48013c86214b_IMG_0219.jpg
4346e4e2743d8becb632_IMG_0210.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
2dca36c0c04c81adf3b7_IMG_0212.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
b5040a53c522ea283728_IMG_0213.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
7a67f4620b70101114f7_IMG_0214.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
8c78fb9389c5f447ed69_IMG_0215.jpg
61f4c11a8d05ec139564_IMG_0216.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
90b651173c824dc25d0d_IMG_0217.jpg
5ed0800eb1a38f5d35c7_IMG_0218.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
ea7b49a124a9f177148b_IMG_0219.jpg
66732ff36716286b4869_IMG_0220.jpg
2eb200595a41ce8c4578_IMG_0221.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
7e3673f38a2d57abcce6_IMG_0222.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
d247ae8df6ca2303c629_IMG_2782.jpg
351aaa362d5da44e0bf8_IMG_0221.jpg
2c8ef725f48788dad227_IMG_2786.jpg
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
f00353b4788dfe6821f5_IMG_0223.jpg
43c11ea7def534e7a034_IMG_0209.jpg

MONTCLAIR, NJ - What impact does charter school education have on public school districts? A panel of experts gathered in Montclair on Saturday to discuss.

In a nutshell, most of the viewpoints expressed pointed toward charter schools being not only detrimental to the public school system, but also not serving of the children in most need, as well as a resource drain and a promoter of segregation. Many of the allegations were backed by research presented in a slide presentation by Mark Weber.

Moderated by Michelle Fine, co-author of “Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education,” the panel of experts included Darcie Cimarusti, President, Highland Park BOE; Liz Mulholland, also known as blogger “Mother Crusader “; Sharon Smith, former Special Education teacher and advocate, Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE); and Mark Weber, Teacher, Researcher, blogger known as “Jersey Jazzman,” joined to discuss the impact charter schools have on public education.

Sign Up for E-News

Among the large number of attendees were Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, Councilman Sean Spiller, Gayle Shepard, president of the Montclair Education Association, Anne Mernin who is VP of the Montclair Board of Education, former Montclair school board member David Cummings, Al Pelham of the Montclair NAACP, Newark native actor John Amos, and education activist and Paterson teacher Stan Karp.

Citizens representing Roxbury, Montclair, Bloomfield, Newark, Clifton, Maplewood, South Orange, Morristown, and more, joined on a beautiful May afternoon to sit indoors and attend the presentation.

Some background was given on how charters began with the intent to promote education for families whose needs were not being served, and initially involved parents and teachers. However, what may have started as a social justice issue eventually got taken over by what panelists coined as 'corporate mandates', making this a for-profit endeavor that they felt does not necessarily serve the public needs.

Cimarusti started by pointing out how Arne Duncan, who was U.S. Secretary of Education from 2009-2016, provided grants and how Chris Christie has played a significant role in moving his charter agenda forward, as evidenced in his State of the State speech. One of Cimarusti’s strong suggestions was to persist in demanding transparency.

She said, “Go back to Senator Nia Gill” referring to Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) who filed the request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Cimarusti said often times the state department is deciding approval or denial of charter applications without community involvement. She also warned that neighboring districts can be impacted and should be included in conversations since many times a charter will reach out to families form neighboring towns, further drawing on resources without offering a reciprocal benefit.

Weber provided slides that painted a not so favorable accountability picture of the charter scenario. His research depicted how special needs students can fall into 12 categories that correspond to needed levels of care. Charters tend to take students with a lower cost special need, and leave ones with higher cost needs to the district. However, they receive the same amount of money for a special need student.

He demonstrated through numbers that certain charters “take more white students…fewer special education students…” and when he showed a linear regression adjusting for student characteristics, the data suggested that the charter schools, on many occasions were still not providing higher educational outcomes.

He suggested the communities ask themselves, “What are you getting for the price?” In many examples presented, it seemed there was actually no justification for having a charter school. One such example was Red Bank, NJ.

In recent weeks in Montclair, after NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe approved an application for a charter school last month, the decision was met with rebuke from Interim Schools Superintendent Ronald Bolandi and the Montclair Board of Education. In addition, parents who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision for a charter school to open in Montclair have been encouraged to write letters the Hespe.

Liz Mulholland likewise painted a very grim picture of how the charters affected schools in Hoboken. She specifically referenced HoLa (The Hoboken Dual Language Charter School). She stated some comparative 2010 demographics such as their 11% free lunch, and 0.05% special education at the charter, versus 69% free lunch and 17% special education for the public system.

She quoted the superintendent’s letter that said, “It’s hard to believe 40 years after a civil rights movement, I would be writing about the need to integrate the public schools. The charter school populations do not reflect the overall diversity and immediate intervention is needed from the NJTO.”

Finally, Sharon Smith President of Parents United spoke of the Newark experience. She referenced how Newark schools squandered Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation. She spoke of Newark’s large African American and Latino community and said the government allowed a "destructive policy" into the city as a test to use the prototype in Newark to implement in other cities.

She said, “Most of the money (Zuckerberg’s) went to the charter schools and a small percentage went to the public school but only for innovative work, which was code for TFA teachers and other things like that. Some of the money went toward the teacher’s union.”

Smith told the audience that after the first charter schools were announced, a complaint was filed with the office of civil rights.

According to Smith, high needs students were collocated and ultimately homeless children couldn’t find a way to get to schools at remote locations. It was suggested the parents carpool, which showed a complete disconnect from the community, who did not have cars. Smith referenced white privilege, discriminatory practices, and said a second complaint was filed also with the Justice Department.

In Smith’s opinion the One Newark plan was destroying the community because special needs students were not receiving needed services, the academic transition from one school to another was not working well not only on transportation but she added that this was happening also on many other levels.

Tap into Montclair spoke to an audience member named Jennifer who said she attends many related events. As a teacher in Jersey City she said, “We see a lot of nonsense going on. Kids are losing out in the public schools. Problems aren’t being addressed. The public is made to feel we need a new school.” 

When asked if charter schools could help improve instruction and close the education gap she commented, “The thing with the charter schools is they weed out kids, and basically only take ones who test in.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Montclair

Philip Roth's Childhood Home Still Standing in Newark

May 24, 2018

Newark, NJ—The house at 81 Summit Avenue in Newark's Weequahic neighborhood is otherwise unremarkable expect for a sign attached to its faux flagstone facade noting that the home has been designated a historic site -- the childhood home of celebrated author Philip Roth, who died Tuesday at the age of 85.

There were no crowds outside the home to pay homage to the ...

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 25, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that was ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

Montclair Public Library Auditorium, Montclair

Open Book/ Open Mind: CODE GIRLS with Liza Mundy ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

Studio Playhouse, Upper Montclair

Into the Woods Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Letter to the Editor: Gum Litter and what YOU can do about it

May 16, 2018

Gum is non-biodegradable, meaning it doesn't’t break down ever….

Today, the unlikely problem surfaces. The average person chews 275 sticks of gum per year. With the amount of people in daily society, it’s no mystery why chewing gum is the second most littered item after cigarette butts.  Did you know that gum is banned in Singapore?

In addition to littering human ...

Montclair Police Blotter: Vandalism to Parked Cars, Mysterious Parking Meter Crash, and More

May 23, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The following blotter was compiled and released by the Montclair Police Department on May 22, 2018:

Arrest:
05-15-2018 (Orange Road) Mr. Danny Josama, 42yoa from West Orange, was arrested and charged with
DWI.
05-21-2018 (Wellmont Theater) Mr. Marcelo Dasilva, 40yoa from Montclair, was arrested and charged
with Burglary and Criminal Mischief for entering the Wellmont ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

WALK THE MORRIS CANAL GREENWAY CENTRAL TRAIL

May 26, 2018

  

We’ve Walked the South End. We’ve Walked the North End.  Now We Have Two Opportunities to Walk the Central Trail of the Morris Canal Greenway.

JOIN US!

Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 9:00 AM 

Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The walk will begin at the Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave, Bloomfield, ...