Those on both sides who have been involved in the debates about New Jersey charter schools all seem to agree that the current charter laws need reinforcement.
Now a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has been released around the same time that New Jersey is expected to announce a new class of charter schools. And it’s not good news for the state.
According to njspotlight.com, the report ranked New Jersey's charter school law 31 out of 42 overall, dropping from 26th place in 2011. The low ranking came from a lack of accountability based on a school’s performance, not enough authorized people to approve and review charters, and insufficient funding.
Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) is introducing a bill that would increase that level of accountability on schools, require greater data on those schools accepted and those remaining on the waiting list, more transparency in the budgets, and specific rules on revoking a charter. Even Governor Christie has said that the state's existing charter law needs big changes.
Spokesperson for Save Our Schools NJ Julia Rubin said, according to newsworks.org, "New Jersey's charter school law is better than those in places like Florida which allow for-profit charter school management companies - which has lead to significant abuse and corruption. But we're right up there with the worst in the country in terms of how undemocratic our approval process is."
According to their website, Save Our Schools NJ is a nonpartisan, grassroots, all-volunteer organization that supports full funding of schools, and community control over charters.
The NAPCS report says the stronger points in the New Jersey charter law, enacted in 1995, are that it is cap-free and considers start-up and virtual schools. Maine ranked at the top of their list.