Last January, the NJ Department of Education approved a record 27 new charter schools, many to be operated by national, out-of-state charter management organizations, such as KIPP and Mastery Schools. The NJDOE signaled that New Jersey is now “open for business,” carrying out Governor Chris Christie’s call for expanding charters statewide.

So it came as a big surprise on September 29 when Acting Commissioner Christopher Cerf announced the approval of only four new charters out of 60 in the latest round of charter applications. Mr. Cerf explained the steep drop off as the result of a more rigorous review process, stating that the NJDOE has now shifted priorities in the charter program from “quantity to quality.”

Many others, however, see the NJDOE’s decision to cut back on the number of new charters as purely political, designed to quell support for pending legislation that would update NJ’s 15-year-old charter school law. Two widely supported bills – both have passed the State Assembly and are pending in the Senate – would strengthen charter accountability and transparency and require local approval before opening a new charter.


Similar Posts