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 NJTV studio in Newark. Credits: Pool Photo
0ea051429144a86b5382_NJTVGuberDebate3.jpg
Gubernatorial candidates John Wisniewski and Phil Murphy in a debate at NJTV studio in Newark. Credits: Pool Photo
ee6c4df10762330ea580_NJTVGuberDebate.jpg

The question of whether there should be a moratorium on charter schools sparked heated discussion among the four major New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates gathered at a television debate in the studio of NJTV in downtown Newark on Thursday night, putting 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-Sayreville) 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 Thursday's debate, including Wisniewski, Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) 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 time out 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 fifteen 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

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 22, 2018

TRENTON - Well, the state Legislature passed a budget yesterday. But that matters little in the overall drama, as it now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy and his sharp red pen. The governor still remains as odds with his Democratic counterparts who left a meeting with him yesterday claiming no progress. He's "completely dishonest with us," charges Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The Jaffe Briefing - June 21, 2018

TRENTON - No one questions that the state pension system is a mess. And that's why some proposed legislation is getting a critical eye. Politico says the Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that it claims is "expressly written" to fatten the pensions of Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) without them having to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 20, 2018

STATEWIDE - What? So you are saying the state's pawn shops, second-hand stores and scrap metal yards are mob-infested? How could that possibly be? Well, just ask the scrappy State Commission of Investigation, which issued the 100-page report yesterday detailing how the mob is encouraging drug addicts to steal items to fuel this in-the-dark industry. Not only are these ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ddc39ed03fc98f8d63ea_spb-4980_aug_18_newsletter

Sun, June 24, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

York Revolution vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Sports

Carousel_image_9a05e9eb1fc484ef55d3_spb-4980_aug_8_newsletter

Sun, June 24, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Long Island Ducks vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Sports

Carousel_image_0261cd4c5700fd63e54b_spb-4937_newsletter_june_24

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to "HighPoint.com Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

City recognizes New Brunswick ball player inducted into women’s Hall of Fame

June 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Chris Dailey grew up in the city, and played basketball for St. Peter's High School and  Rutgers University, and was on the team that won a national AIAW championship her senior year in college.

She became an assistant coach at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., then was an assistant to Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz before becoming an assistant coach on ...

OPINION

New Brunswick journalism teacher offers thanks

June 22, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

As the year comes to a close, I want to offer you my sincere thanks for how you positively impacted my students this year.

In their end of year reflections, the students recounted what it meant for them to get their stories published.  Assignments were no longer something just connected to a grade, it was also connected to their passion.

The positive ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 20, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities will be ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...