Wednesday, October 05, 2011

NJ sets right course on charter schools with high standards, close review

Kudos to Chris Christie and Chris Cerf for setting the bar high for new charter schools in NJ – lousy charter schools are the bane of our movement:

The Christie administration last week rejected 56 of the 60 applications for new charter schools, a welcome sign that its standards are tough despite its ideological support for the choice movement.

The best of these schools, like the TEAM Academy in Newark, are miracles in our midst. With the same demographic mix of students as district schools, their kids are doing much better in basic skills. And they are doing it for less money, in a setting that is safe and orderly. Expanding on that success should be a top priority.

But not all charter schools are as effective, and some are awful. Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf was forced to shut down two charter schools even before they were up for a scheduled review. And academic studies of student performance in charter schools, on the whole, show decidedly mixed results. If you are looking for a magic wand in education reform, you will not find it.

Given this, the only sensible course is to expand the movement carefully, to kick the tires often, to constantly weed out bad schools and nurture good ones. That appears to be the course that Cerf has set.

He has established a more rigorous review process, based on the best practices of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the gold standard in this field. Outside experts and state officials review the academic and financial plans, and assess the likelihood of success. The schools sign a performance contract, and are reviewed regularly.


NJ sets right course on charter schools with high standards, close review

Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 6:22 AM     Updated: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 1:15 PM

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board   

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