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School Choice by ArtChick

file photo by ArtChick

Expanding Educational Opportunities For Children And Families

August 29,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Governor Christie has improved the authorizing and application process, encouraged more charter school applicants, created greater flexibility with administration and finances, and allowed districts to convert failing public schools into charters. The Christie Administration has increased the overall number of charter schools in New Jersey to 89 in the current fiscal year, while relentlessly focusing on quality and holding all schools accountable for results as 21 low-performing charter schools have closed during the past eight years.

The Host District Support Aid funding category created in fiscal year 2017 continued in fiscal year 2018, and ensured the base per pupil funding provided to charter schools is not less than the prior year base per pupil funding. In addition, the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program is increasing educational opportunities for students and their families by providing students with the option of attending a public school outside their district of residence without cost to their parents.

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget is projected to support more than 52,000 charter school students and more than 5,000 choice students in 129 choice districts in the 2017-18 school year.

Governor Christie continues to support educational options for our children by providing over $51 million for Charter School Aid in fiscal year 2018. This funding supports over 52,000 students projected to be in our charter schools in FY2018. This is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars in State Aid that flow through the districts to charter schools. In certain districts, like Newark and Camden, charter and renaissance schools are educating more than 1 out of every 4 of the public school population.

Easing The Regulatory Burden Facing Charter Schools

In 2016, Governor Christie announced a series of reforms at the 8th annual New Jersey Charter Schools Conference born from input received through meetings with charter school leaders in the fall of 2015. The New Jersey State Board adopted these reforms in 2017. Among the reforms adopted were:

•       The state will allow single-gender charter schools that meet appropriate criteria and single-purpose charter schools for educationally disadvantaged students, such as a school serving over-age, under-credited students who, because of life circumstances, are unable to graduate in four years.
•       Charter renewal will be expedited for schools with a track record of high academic performance and no fiscal or organizational issues.  Charter schools that do not meet fiscal management/ compliance standards or present concerns regarding their fiscal viability will remain subject to deeper review.
•       Weighted lotteries will be expanded by adding language explicitly allowing weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students.  Redundancies will be reduced by removing the requirement that charters send corrective action plans to the Executive County Superintendent as they already are submitted to the DOE Charter Office.
•       The funding monitoring requirement will be relaxed since it has become unnecessary because of the new charter performance system.  DOE will continue to monitor if charter schools are adequately allocating funds to impact what is happening in the classroom.  And, cash fund procedures, which are difficult to navigate, will be updated and simplified.
•       Districts will be required to report to DOE, on a rolling basis, any closed, unused or unoccupied school facility available for lease that would be posted online in order to facilitate cooperation between districts and charter schools.
•       Satellite campus regulations will be redefined to allow charter schools to operate on multiple campuses within their approved district or region of residence.  The requirement that charter leases cannot exceed the length of the charter – a barrier to obtaining financing – will be removed.
•       New regulations will clarify renovations, expansion and reconstruction exemptions from the Charter School Act’s restriction on construction with State of local funds.
•       The Christie Administration approved the expansion of several of the state’s highest performing charter schools.
•   In March, 20 charter schools were approved to expand to provide more than 5,000 additional seats in high performing schools in the coming years.
•       According to an independent report by The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), “Compared to the educational gains that charter students would have had in a traditional public school (TPS), the analysis shows that students in New Jersey charter schools on average make larger learning gains in both reading and mathematics:

In Newark: “When we investigate the learning impacts of Newark charter schools separately, we find that their results are larger in reading and math than the overall state results.”

“On average, charter students in New Jersey gain an additional two months of learning in reading over their TPS counterparts.  In math, the advantage for charter students is about three months of additional learning in one school year. Charter students in Newark gain an additional seven and a half months in reading and nine months in math.”

Among Black Students: “Black students enrolled in charter schools show significantly better performance in reading and math compared to Black students in TPS.”
Among Hispanic Students: “In both math and reading, Hispanic students in charter schools perform significantly better than Hispanic students in TPS.”
•       According to a 2015 independent report on Urban Charter Schools by The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), students enrolled in charter schools in Newark, on average, make statistically significantly greater gains in both reading and math compared to their counterparts enrolled in Newark’s traditional public schools.  While, in Newark, charter schools on average are doing a better job of closing achievement gaps than are traditional public schools.

K-8 Schools:
From 2009 to 2014, charter schools serving K-8 students improved 6 percentage points in Language Arts Literacy and 15 percentage points in Mathematics, in the aggregate, on the NJASK.

Based on NJASK data in 2014, 64 out of 74 charter schools outperformed their comparative districts in language arts literacy.
Based on NJASK data in 2014, 64 out of 74 charter schools outperformed their comparative districts in mathematics.
°   High Schools:
From 2009 to 2014, charter schools serving high school students improved 17 percentage points in both Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics, in the aggregate, on the ‘Banked’ HSPA.
Based on HSPA data, in 2014, 15 out of 15 charter schools outperformed their comparative districts in language arts literacy.
Based on HSPA data, in 2014, 12 out of 15 charter schools outperformed their comparative districts in mathematics.
Across all charter schools in 2014, the graduation rate was 90% compared to a state-wide graduation rate of 89.

•       2016 Charter Schools PARCC Data

Charter schools continue to outperform their district counterparts.  In the elementary grades 3-5, 63 percent of charters outperformed the average across their district elementary schools in Math and 84 percent did so in ELA.  In the middle school grades 6-8, 84 percent of charter schools outperformed their district middle school average in Math and 89 percent did so in ELA.
Charter schools serving grades 6-8 showed impressive gains in academic performance, as measured by median School Growth Percentiles (mSGPs).  Almost half of all charters serving grades 6-8 achieved growth scores that are better than those of two-thirds of all public schools serving grades 6-8 in the state.

•       Newark Charter Schools PARCC Performance

Charter schools in Newark are effectively accelerating student learning: in a district typically underperforming statewide achievement results, for two consecutive years students in grades 3-8 in Newark charter schools have met or exceeded expectations on PARCC assessments at the same rate as their peers around the state. For example, in 2015-16, the last year with available data, 51 percent of students in grades 3-8 in Newark charter schools met or exceeded expectations on a PARCC assessment in ELA compared to 50 percent of students in grades 3-8 across the state. In the same year, the percent of students in grades 3-8 who met or exceeded expectations on a PARCC assessment in math was 43 percent for Newark charter school students compared to 43 percent statewide.
Charter schools in Newark are effectively accelerating student learning for traditionally underserved subgroups: Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and minority students enrolled in grades 3-8 in Newark charter schools are meeting or exceeding expectations on PARCC assessments at a greater rate than their counterparts across the state. For example, in 2015-16, 63 percent of Hispanic students enrolled in grades 3-8 in Newark charter schools met or exceeded expectations on a PARCC assessment in ELA compared to 36 percent of Hispanic students statewide.

Newark charter schools have virtually eliminated the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students. In 2015-16, statewide proficiency rates for students eligible for free or reduced price lunch trailed those for non-eligible students by 30 percentage points in both ELA and math.  Those gaps shrinks to 3 and 2 percentage points, respectively, in Newark charter schools.


•       Since taking office, state funding to support the local share of funding for students transferring out-of-district to approved school choice districts has increased by over $40 million.


•       School choice funding has increased commensurately, and has surpassed $55 million in fiscal year 2018.

•       Announced pilot educational program between Harlem Children’s Zone and City of Paterson.

Improving Oversight

The Christie Administration has worked to improve accountability for charter schools by instituting an oversight program that sets clear expectations for charter school performance and serves as the basis for school evaluation, monitoring, and intervention.

The Performance Framework sets the academic, organizational and fiscal standards by which all New Jersey public charter schools are evaluated, informing officials about school performance and sustainability.
NJDOE officials expanded the rigorous standards and metrics by which each and every public charter school is evaluated. This enabled NJDOE officials to take multiple factors into account when evaluating public charter schools across the state.

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Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education


The issue is school choice. The opposition is the teachers unions

Shortly after Betsy DeVos was sworn into office as U.S. Secretary of Education, I was invited, as a trustee of Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), to meet with her at the Department of Education. I accepted the invitation with pleasure.

When I posted a picture of myself with DeVos on Facebook, it got some likes from conservative friends and some acerbic comments from others, including my sister, who asked me, “When did you start drinking the Kook-Aid?” I replied to her that I’ve supported school choice for decades and was the only member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to vote for the first school-choice floor amendment in 1994.

Dick Zimmer and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

I am a product of New Jersey public schools, K–12, as are my parents and my children, but ever since I read Milton Friedman’s proposal for school vouchers in “Capitalism and Freedom” as a college freshman, I have been convinced that parents should be allowed to have the government pay for the school they choose for their children, whether it be traditional public, public charter, private, or religious.

There is no reason why all parents shouldn’t be given this choice, but the stakes are particularly high for the poorest families in the inner cities, including those in New Jersey where, despite tens of billions of dollars of supplemental state funding, traditional public schools have abjectly failed to prepare several generations of children for college or a career.

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Charter school tracker: Which N.J. schools are closing, expanding

School Choice by ArtChick

file photo by ArtChick

By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for
on March 06, 2017 at 11:40 AM

TRENTON — The Christie administration last week announced its decisions on more than two dozen applications to expand, renew or open new charter schools.

While four schools were ordered to close at the end of this school year, the state approved more than 6,000 new charter school seats through the expansion of existing schools, a significant increase in school choice.

The state Department of Education also gave 21 schools a five-year renewal of their charter. Here’s the rundown of the decisions:

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When it comes to my grandchildren, I don’t play. That’s why I’ll be in Trenton today

School Choice by ArtChick

file photo by ArtChick

Posted on February 27, 2017 at 7:11 AM

By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

By Barbara Harris

I’m headed to Trenton this morning because I need legislators to know what my grandsons’ public charter school means to them.

I’m raising two African American boys in Newark and we all know in this country what can happen to African American men, especially if they drop out of school.

Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy is providing my grandchildren with an education like nothing that I experienced for myself or for my own children.

When I hear my elected representatives speaking negatively about charter schools, I want to ask them if they have ever visited North Star Academy. If they did, they would quickly see how well it is serving my grandchildren and the other kids who attend.

There are too many lawmakers who have never stepped foot in North Star Academy, or a school like it. They have never come for morning circle. They have not met with our wonderful teachers. They have not seen how well our children are doing in class.

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Ridgewood Teachers Rally Against School Choice for Childern

Ridgewood Teachers Rally Against School Choice for Childern n

February 13,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hackensack NJ, Ridgewood teachers joined the “Bergen County Unity March and Rally” on Sunday, February 12th, at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack . It was promoted by the NJEA , REA and its bought and paid for Democrat allies and claimed,”as we come together to celebrate and reaffirm our American values of freedom, diversity, and inclusively, and to push back against hateful, divisive rhetoric. With one voice, we will send a clear message to those around the country who seek to drive us apart: We will not be divided, and we will not be silenced.”

Very high-minded words but in reality, the rally was another attempt by teachers unions to suppress school choice and charter schools. There is nothing high-minded about repressing a child’s education and forcing kids into failed schools.
The rally commenced in the snow at 2:00 PM at the municipal parking lot near Foschini Park before marching to the Courthouse where we will hold our rally.

Anti-Choice Sponsor Organizations were:

Communication Workers of America
Bergen County Education Association
Bergen County NAACP
Bergen County LGBTQ Advisory Committee
Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack
Central Unitarian Church, Paramus
The Latino Coalition
Women for Progress
WEDO of Bergen County
Democratic Women of Bergen County
Bergen County Brady Campaign Chapter
Women Lawyers of Bergen County
Garden State Equality
Smile for Charity
Northern NJ Chapter, NOW
Latino American Democratic Association
Council of the Unitarian Society, Ridgewood
Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE)
Indivisible NJ 5th
Darulislah Mosque, Teaneck
Young Democrats of Bergen County.

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Oops! NJ elementary school assignment asks kids to honor convicted cop killer

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Sergio Bichao February 4, 2017 6:44 PM

WEST DEPTFORD — A South Jersey elementary school principal got a lesson on checking her work after assigning students as young as 6 a project that honored a convicted cop killer.

The school-wide assignment at Red Bank Elementary School was actually supposed to honor famous black Americans for Black History Month.

But the list of notable black figures included Mumia Abu-Jamal and Angela Davis alongside Louis Armstrong, Mohammad Ali, Crispus Attucks and George Washington Carver.

Abu-Jamal, a black nationalist, was convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. He has maintained his innocence even though he was found wounded from a gunshot at the scene alongside his fired gun.

Davis, meanwhile, is a social justice activist and communist who was a one-time fugitive after being charged as an accessory in a violent and deadly 1970 takeover of a California courtroom. Prosecutors tried to tie her to the incident because the guns had belonged to her, but an all-white federal jury acquitted her.

What the principal failed to notice, many parents did — including Bryan Klugh, who alerted his friends on the police force.

Read More: Oops! NJ elementary school assignment asks kids to honor convicted cop killer |

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School Choice — Who Opposes It and Why?

REA Members come out to greet our Board of Ed

School Choice — Who Opposes It and Why?
1)The leaders of teachers unions(NJEA), though not all of the teachers themselves, see school choice as a threat to their “virtual monopoly on education.”

2)Other critics of school choice think that it violates the First Amendment’s clause separating church and state, because some religious schools can end up receiving taxpayer funds.

5 Myths About School Choice

To help you better understand the ongoing debate, we want to dispel some common myths about school choice. But first:

What is school choice?

School choice isn’t just about charter schools. It refers broadly to a range of options and policies which provide alternatives to public school, including but not limited to publicly funded charter schools, magnet schools, school vouchers, and tax credits.

The goal of school choice is to improve student outcomes by giving parents a wider range of educational options and find what works best for their children.

Myth #1: School choice promotes inequality.

Opponents of school choice believe that increasing choices will benefits mostly middle and upper class families, leaving low-income students stuck in failing public schools with dwindling resources. They believe parents, if given a choice, won’t want to send their kids to school with minority or low-income students, and that increased choice will lead to increased segregations.

Fact: Public schools are already segregated; charter schools see increased diversity.

Under the current public school system, the school you go to is determined by where you live. What happens under this system is that higher-income households move to communities with other high-income families and better schools, while low-income families who can’t afford to move are stuck with the local public school. The segregation of race and income in public schools is a direct result of this self-segregation in housing.

School choice programs can create more diverse schools by overcoming this location-based segregation. Indeed, research shows that school choice programs create to more integrated, less segregated schools.

Myth #2: School choice harms public schools.

Opponents worry that school choice programs will harm public schools by diverting away much-needed funds, and forcing public schools to compete with other alternatives.

Fact: Losing students can help public schools, and so can competition.

There are several assumptions in this argument: 1. That losing students will cost public schools money, 2. That losing money will lead to a decline in school quality, and 3. That competition is harmful to public schools.

First, while public schools may lose money when students leave, the money lost may be less than the cost of educating the student, leaving more resources to educate the remaining students.

Second, more money doesn’t always lead to better outcomes. For many schools, budget concerns are less about how much money they have, and more about how that money is spent.

Finally, research shows that competition improves performance in public schools. When public schools are forced to compete, they have to show improvement in order to keep students and resources. When there are no alternatives to public schools, there is no incentive to prioritize student-focused improvements.

Myth #3: School choice is bad for teachers.

Opponents of school choice argue that holding teachers accountable by measuring their students’ performance on standardized tests punishes teachers and does nothing to improve the quality. They also argue that more charter schools, whose teachers are often non-unionized, harm the teachers unions, and by extension teachers.

Fact: School choice is good for teachers.

While it might be unfair to punish teachers for poor test scores when outside factors like poverty and lack of funding affect student performance, it is also unfair to students to keep poor-quality teachers employed.

It can be very hard to fire bad teachers in public schools. When budget cuts require layoffs, tenure rules can protect older, less competent teachers, while newer, more competent teachers are let go. Increased school choice means more options, not just for students, but also for teachers.

Myth 4: it doesn’t empower parents.

While the goal of school choice is to provide families with more educational options, opponents argue that through school choice, parents actually have less power to control their children’s education. Without parent-teacher associations at charter or private schools, parents would have less direct influence over school policy. Meanwhile, opponents express concern that parents aren’t equipped to consider all the different educational choices available and determine what’s best for their children.

Fact: Parents get to choose what’s best for their children.

In a public school system, parents might be able to influence some policies at their child’s public school—but if they can’t, or that school doesn’t have the resources their child needs, they have no other options.

Parents know their children’s education needs best, and school choice empowers parents to pick the option that’s best for their them. Indeed, when asked, most Americans favor some form of school choice.

Myth #5: School choice doesn’t work.

Opponents argue that charter and privates schools perform no better than public schools. This myth often refers back to Myth #2, saying that if charter and private school don’t perform better than public schools, then they shouldn’t be allowed to divert resources from them.

Fact: School choice improves outcomes across the board.

School choice improves educational outcomes for those in choice programs, but it also improves educational outcomes of the public schools which compete with alternative educational choices.

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Family income levels can play a major role in the quality of a child’s education

Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education

January 25,2017

compiled by the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, According to Sterling Lloyd, assistant director at the Education Week Research Center and coauthor of the Quality Counts report, the grading framework rewards states with a “well-rounded approach to education.” Broadly speaking, in states at the top end of the ranking, parents have the resources to support their children’s learning in well-funded schools; students report high academic achievement in the classroom; and graduates are able to pursue careers in an economy where opportunities are available to them.

Family income levels can play a major role in the quality of a child’s education. As Lloyd explained, “it certainly helps for parents to be able to provide stability and resources.” A child from a high-income family may enjoy greater access to books and a personal computer, as well as access to extracurricular activities that require some monetary investment. These educational tools and learning experiences are generally less available to poorer children. (

The Education Week Research Center rated New Jersey Schools second best in the USA:

2. New Jersey
> Overall grade: B
> Per pupil spending: $15,946 (6th highest)
> High school graduation rate: 89.7% (2nd highest)
> Pct. 3 & 4 yr. olds enrolled in preschool: 63.7% (2nd highest)

Only three states report a higher median annual household income than New Jersey’s $72,222. Partially because of its strong tax base, New Jersey invests heavily in its public school system. The Garden State spends the equivalent of 4.8% of its taxable resources on its schools, second in the country only to Vermont. Each year, nearly $16,000 per student are spent on New Jersey schools — more than all but five other states.

While the connection between school spending and educational outcomes is complex, in New Jersey, high spending accompanies strong academic performance. The state has some of the largest shares both of math and english-proficient eighth graders, and about 38% of 11th and 12th grade advanced placement test scores in New Jersey are 3 or better — high enough to qualify for college credits — the sixth largest share of all states.

States With the Best (and Worst) Schools

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The Democrats’ Fight against School Choice Is Immoral

Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education

by DAVID HARSANYI January 20, 2017 12:00 AM @DAVIDHARSANYI

Betsy DeVos wants better education for minority and low-income kids. There’s something perverse about an ideology that views the disposing of an unborn child in the third trimester of pregnancy as an indisputable right but the desire of parents to choose a school for their kids as zealotry. Watching President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answer an array of frivolous questions this week was just another reminder of how irrational liberalism has become.
Democrats often tell us that racism is one of the most pressing problems in America. And yet, few things have hurt African Americans more over the past 40 years than inner-city public-school systems. If President Obama is correct and educational attainment is the key to breaking out of a lower economic stratum, then no institution is driving inequality quite as effectively as public schools.

Actually, teachers’ unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, typically those who are black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

Read more at:

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Poor Children Deserve an Education too

Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education


January 17,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, so who’s Afraid of Betsy DeVos? “Mrs. Devos’s Most Important Qualification is that She Has the Courage of Her Convictions”, in an editorial the Wall Street Journal attempts to answer the critics and make the case to provide poor children with better educational opportunities. We know the unions don’t like it and neither do Democrat, lawmakers looking to stifle their constituents keeping them fat, dumb and happy.
Who’s Afraid of Betsy DeVos?
The Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal Opinion
January 14th, 2017
Click Here to Read

Democrats are searching for a cabinet nominee to defeat, and it’s telling that progressive enemy number one is Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump’s choice to run the Education Department has committed the unpardonable sin of devoting much of her fortune to helping poor kids escape failing public schools.

Mrs. DeVos’s most important qualification is that she has the courage of her convictions.

The DeVoses have donated tens of millions of dollars to charity including a children’s hospital in Michigan and an international art competition in Grand Rapids. They’ve also given to Christian organizations, which the left cites as evidence of concealed bigotry. Yet education has been their main philanthropic cause.

During the 1990s, they patronized a private-school scholarship fund for low-income families and championed Michigan’s first charter school law. In 2000 they helped bankroll a voucher initiative, which was defeated by a union blitz. The DeVoses then turned to expanding charters, which have become Exhibit A in the progressive campaign against her.

Two studies from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (2013, 2015) found that students attending Michigan charters gained on average an additional two months of learning every year over their traditional school counterparts. Charter school students in Detroit gained three months.

The real reason unions fear Mrs. DeVos is that she’s a rare reformer who has defeated them politically. Prior to being tapped by Mr. Trump, she chaired the American Federation for Children (AFC), which has helped elect hundreds of legislators across the country who support private school choice.

AFC has built a broad coalition that includes black and Latino Democrats, undercutting the union conceit that vouchers are a GOP plot to destroy public schools. In 2000 four states had private-school choice programs with 29,000 kids. Today, 25 states have vouchers, tax-credit scholarships or education-savings accounts benefitting more than 400,000 students.

You know progressives have lost their moral bearings when they save their most ferocious assault for a woman who wants to provide poor children with the education they need to succeed in America.