Following on the heels of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s State of the State address where he declared that it is no longer acceptable for a child to be stuck in chronically failing public schools in New Jersey, the Christie Administration today welcomed the approval of 23 new charter schools. This marks the largest number of charter schools approved in an application cycle since the Charter School Program Act was signed into law in 1995.
“It is not acceptable that a child who is neglected in a New Jersey school must accept it because of their zip code. Charter schools give parents and children a choice and provide a much-needed alternative to help ensure every child in New Jersey receives a quality education. We cannot ask children and families that have been relegated to failing public schools to wait any longer for relief while their hope is stolen away,” said Governor Christie. “Today, we are taking action to ensure that more students are opening the doors to new opportunity, a better education and a brighter future.”
In September, the most recent round of charter approvals before today, the Christie Administration granted approval to six new charter applications. Governor Christie’s commitment to high-quality charter expansion and greater choice will allow for a total of 97 charter schools serving approximately 25,000 students to be operating by September 2011, offering students and parents more and better educational choices.
“I’ve come back to the Robert Treat Academy because it is a shining example of the excellent results and restored hope that high-quality charter schools give to their students and communities,” added Governor Christie. “While 100,000 New Jersey children are trapped in nearly 200 failing schools, it is unconscionable to further delay the reforms needed to provide real educational opportunity for our children. We are taking steps now by approving more charters and aggressively implementing the Interdistrict School Choice law signed in September, but we must go further. Today, I am also proposing sweeping changes to New Jersey’s charter school law, in line with my education reform agenda outlined in September, to improve the application and approval processes, provide additional flexibility to charter schools and encourage new and innovative types of charters.”
“Increasing the opportunity and choice available to families is crucial to reforming the education system and building a foundation for its excellence,” said Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. The record number of new charter schools approved today is a tangible example of Governor Christie’s commitment to bold and ambitious education reforms to put children first in New Jersey.”
A Department of Education report released today shows the majority of charters in urban areas last year outperformed other public schools in their host districts on required standardized testing. The charters, located in former Abbott districts, scored higher on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge and the High School Proficiency Assessment tests in 2010. For eighth-grade students, 79 percent of the charter schools in former Abbott districts scored higher than their home district in Language Arts, while 69 percent of the charter schools scored higher than their home district in Math. The report can be accessed here.