EDUCATION

Officials Want Three Urban School Districts To Return To Local Control

By Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

Two decades of state control over three urban districts must end. That’s according to State Sen. Ron Rice who has called for federal regulators to intervene.

“For 20 years, residents in Newark, Jersey City and Paterson have been unable to determine their own destiny when it comes to public education,” said Rice. “It’s very clear we’re being disenfranchised. … This is taxation without representation.”

Under the QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) Law, school districts must meet certain performance benchmarks or face intervention from the state. Of the 563 school districts evaluated, 107 didn’t meet the threshold. But only three — Newark, Jersey City and Paterson — remain under state control despite showing signs of improvement last year.

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“We scored higher in every area,” said Jersey City School Board member Sterling Waterman. “We all know QSAC is flawed … All we want is a chance to govern ourselves without outside intervention.”

Barbara Morgan, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Education, said, “We remain committed to returning control to local districts in a responsible fashion. And in the meantime, our bottom line concern is whether all our students have access to a high quality education.”

Newark’s scores dropped significantly in a recent QSAC review. But critics say it’s flawed and they question the timing because the poor review came just days before a crucial legal deadline. The Education Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the state for failing to give back local control.