Pa., N.J. legislators blast loss of charter aid

New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators criticized the Christie and Rendell administrations on Monday for their states’ failures to win federal aid for charter school start-ups, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. New Jersey’s rejected grant application, reported Monday in The Inquirer, “is beyond disappointing and another major setback for [the] education system under Gov. Christie,” said state Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D., Essex). Oliver and Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D., Middlesex) have demanded an accounting from the administration. In Pennsylvania, Jeffrey E. Piccola (R., Dauphin), chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the failure of his state’s application showed Gov. Rendell had not made school choice a priority. Also on Monday, the Center for Education Reform released its annual report card on charter-school laws. New Jersey received a grade of C, falling from 17th to 19th place in a ranking of 41 states and Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania scored a B. Its rank dropped from 11th to 12th place. Deficiencies such as having only the state Department of Education authorized to approve charter applications hurt the Garden State’s chance for the federal money, said Carlos Perez, chief officer of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association. It also was a factor in the state’s C rating, according to the report…

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N.J. activists, parents warn against promoting charter schools as fix for education system

From Washington to Trenton to Newark, political leaders from both parties–including President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Christie–are promoting charter schools as an answer to perceived public school failure, says And the privately run but publicly funded schools receive support from some of the wealthiest and most famous people on the planet. But a few activists based in Princeton, some charter school parents, and a Rutgers researcher want their voices heard above the cheerleading. They warn charters are not panaceas.

“We are not against charter schools,” says Julia Sass Rubin of Princeton, whose daughter attends one. She is part of an organization called Save Our Schools-New Jersey (SOS-NJ). “But we have serious concerns about cost and accountability.”

Bruce Baker, a faculty member at Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education, issues research reports on the relative success of charters and traditional schools. He also writes a blog, “School Finance 101,” where he posts his research……Read More