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New York Times Looks at Charter Schools in Suburbia

'Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs' examines tensions in top-performing affluent school districts.

The tension over charter schools is the focus of a Sunday New York Times article on the shift of the debate to "affluent suburbs."

The story features the who started to block approval of so-called "boutique" charter schools many say will drain resources from already successful school districts.

As Patch readers know, the story has been unfolding in the suburbs for months. In Millburn and Livingston, parents have collected about 800 signatures to to deny the applications of two Mandarin-language immersion schools. Last month, ljoined Millburn and protestors from other suburban school districts in a “Save Our Schools” .

Sen. Richard Codey told the crowd that the fight over charter schools is a “watershed moment” in education. Codey said if ike the Mandarin-immersion charter schools proposed for Livingston, Millburn and neighboring districts are approved, the “the domino effect would be mind boggling.”

The issue caught the interest of the New York Times, which on Sunday carried a front page story, on the debate in the suburbs of Jersey.

The Times reports on issue being played out in suburbs around the country, focusing mainly on the battle over — which could start in 2012 with kindergarten through second-grade students drawn from Livingston, Millburn, Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange and Union. The applications have and prompted calls for to require l to open charter schools.

Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools' leader and Millburn Superintendent of Schools are featured in the Times story. The NJ Department of Education is expected to this September.

In its report, The Times also looked at the situation in other states, including Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia and Maryland and Virginia.

Jutta Gassner-Snyder, ’s lead applicant, tells the Times: “This is not just about the education of my child. If we just sit back and let school districts decide what they want to do without taking into account global economic trends, as a nation, we all lose.”

Read the entire story in The New York Times: Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs; July 16, 2011.

Susan1 July 19, 2011 at 12:04 AM
One key clarification: our superintendent and BOE did not "[opt] to modify the world languages program...". They were forced to cut the program and staff under duress (state aid cuts) and have been desperately trying to come up with alternatives that won't cost more $. Budget cuts don't provide for "progressive and robust public schools" and allocating desperately needed money for charters will only make the situation worse.
Susan1 July 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM
I should add that I like your point about the goal being to evolve, not maintain. However, I have little faith that will happen while Christie is Governor.
G. Anderson July 19, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Susan1: I absolutely agree that Charter Schools are not the answer in certain districts especially districts that are "humming along". However, it still compels one to challenge the status quo and that is the crux of my question. For example, Everyday Math. Both educators as well as students (not all) have questioned the effectiveness yet it is only after more than a decade that we are looking into alternatives. Another example that addresses the budget cuts and effectiveness is the world languages program. Dr. Crisfield had noted that the new technology based program is both cost effective as well as more efficient. Although we have not heard any details it goes to say that perhaps we can possibly do more with less. How good is a school system if we don't continually look to progress even in economic challenged times? Shouldn't we always look to improve and amend if needed or should we only do that when our hands are forced?
Susan1 July 19, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I totally agree with you, and that's where the idea of strategic planning comes in. A number of our BOE members have stated that they see no reason/value in long-term planning, but I disagree. Our district languished under Brodow's tenure with no forward thinking at all. I feel for Dr. Crisfield having to take the reins when the situation is critical. It forces him and the BOE to be reactionary instead of doing the type of strategic thinking you alluded to.
G. Anderson July 19, 2011 at 02:46 PM
I ask these questions not to sway from the topic but because I feel it is the topic. Themed Charter Schools are submitting applications b/c they are challenging the status quo albeit in a very rogue manner - I would like to see it done within our already excellent school system. Themed Charter Schools will only create segregation and duplicate costs in certain districts. If we don't progress with the times, will we see more applications for Charter Schools (math, science etc..)?

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