By Desiree Taylor
The state has approved eight new charter schools that are expected to open in September in Trenton, Camden, Newark, Jersey City, and the Vineland area. State Education officials say these eight options will ensure that every student in New Jersey, regardless of zip code, has access to a high-quality school option.
There were winners and losers in this latest round of applications. Among the 34 rejections were two language immersion schools, one in Mandarin, the other in Hebrew. Both drew fire from opponents that included residents and some lawmakers.
Darcie Cimarusti, from the group “Speak Up Highland Park,” helped lead the fight against the Hebrew Immersion school. She says one reason she opposed the Hebrew school application is because it would have cost the district “well over a million dollars.”
The argument that charter schools take resources away from other traditional public schools has helped fuel the anti-charter school movement. It’s an argument that is having an impact. Tracie Williams of Montclair had her application for Quest Academy Charter School denied for the fifth time. She points to a letter to the state’s Department of Education by Montclair School Superintendent Frank Alvarez. In the letter, Alvarez writes that the 2.1 million diversion in funds for the proposed charter school would severely impact the K-12 program.
The DOE defends its three-stage review process for new charter school applications. In a release, Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said, “the applications we approved today have demonstrated a strong educational program and the capacity to implement that program, in addition to articulating a clearly defined need for the school in their specific community.” The eight charter schools approved will undergo a readiness review in July before opening in September.