Newark charter school leaders blast Trump budget proposal that increases funding for charters

A teacher instructing a student at Uncommon Schools North Star Academy. Credits: TAPintoNewark file photo

The heads of two Newark charter school networks – KIPP New Jersey and Uncommon Schools North Star Academy – were among a group of charter school leaders who blasted President Trump in an op-ed published in USA Today.

Although charter schools stand to benefit from Trump’s proposed “skinny budget” that provides an additional $168 million in funding, the leaders said they could not support the proposal because it would drastically cut programs that are critical for underserved students.

“We realize that expressing concerns about a budget that benefits our schools might seem counterintuitive,” they wrote. “But we want to join with all those who are fighting to defend public education as an essential pillar of our democracy.”

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The leaders wrote that they are “determined to do everything in our power to work with Congress and the administration to protect the programs that are essential to the broader needs of our students, families and communities.”

The leaders represent schools that serve more than 220,000 children across 24 states. The op-ed was bylined by Richard Barth, the CEO of KIPP, a national charter network with schools in Newark and Camden, Brett Peiser, the CEO of Uncommon Schools, which operates schools in Newark as well as Camden, Boston, Brooklyn, Rochester and Troy, N.Y., along with Dacia Toll, co-CEO of Achievement First, which operates schools in Brooklyn, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

In Newark, KIPP serves 4,500 students while North Star Academy serves 4,600 students in Newark.

Writing in the 74Million, Richard Whitmire called the op-ed a “rebuke of an administration that vows to pursue successful school choice options — an accomplishment these charter groups have already achieved.”

For the charter school leaders, Whitmire wrote, “witnessing the racism and nativism stirred up by both the Trump campaign and presidency has been nothing short of horrifying. Those issues aren’t mentioned in the op-ed, but absent those issues, there’s no way these leaders would be biting the hand trying to feed them.”

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