Opinion: Charter Schools Community Needs a Seat at the Table
NJ Charter Schools Association president wants his community represented at Monday's meeting.
Letter to the Editor:
The New Jersey Charter Schools Association represents charter schools throughout the state. After learning about the May 9 meeting at Millburn High School, our organization reached out to Dr. Jim Crisfield to ask if we could have if a representative on the panel. The superintendent declined our offer, saying the panel was in “good shape with regard to charter school knowledge.”
I strongly feel a public forum, discussing value of charter schools, should have representation from the charter school community on the panel to address questions and concerns raised about charter schools. Without our views represented, those attending the meeting in search of answers will be left shortchanged and misinformed.
Dr. Crisfield has already been quoted in the press mislabeling charters as “private schools using public money.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Charter schools are unique public schools that foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are given the freedom to innovate and students are provided the structure they need to learn with all three held accountable for improved student achievement.
By law, charter schools cannot have special entrance requirements and do not charge tuition. In exchange for certain levels of freedoms, charter schools are held to high levels of accountability.
Our children need to be challenged so they can compete in a global economy. If charter schools shake up the status quo and force good suburban schools to become great world-class schools, then charter schools are serving their purpose.
Critics are quick to dismiss charter schools that teach languages like Mandarin Chinese, derisively referring to them as “boutique schools.” But now, more than ever, the children of today will have to compete in an interconnected world where having language skills and a deep appreciation of culture will be in high demand.
New Jersey charter schools are responding to that need now. As a nation and a state, we need to reject the notion that a one-size-fits-all approach to public education works. It’s an antiquated way of thinking that does more to protect the people who work for the public school district and their vendors, rather than focusing on what our children need to succeed.
President and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association