Pro-charter school groups urge Mayor Baraka to work with them

A group of charter school and education reform advocates on Thursday fired off a letter to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka requesting that he work with them to restore education funding to Newark to where it should be under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.

The letter was signed by seven groups Better Education Institute – New Jersey, Black Alliance for Education Options – New Jersey, Democrats for Education Reform – New Jersey, JerseyCAN, Newark Charter School Fund, the New Jersey Charter Schools Association and Parent Coalition For Excellent Education.

charter680.png

Its release comes amid a controversy sparked by another letter Baraka wrote to state Education Commissioner David Hespe in December requesting his office not approve any further expansion of enrollments in Newark charter schools until shortfalls in the Newark Public Schools budget are addressed.

After the letter was reported on TheNewarkReport, the Newark City Council penned its own letter to Hespe, agreeing that all schools in Newark must be properly funded, but disagreeing with the mayor's call for a moratorium.

In the latest letter, the seven groups note that a 2008 law known as the School funding Reform Act was designed to deliver state and local funding to ensure every public school student was fully supported.

"The ideals and promise of SFRA were to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students," the letter states. "If Newark were fully and fairly funded, as mandated by law, all of Newark’s schools would be in a much different financial situation."

But SFRA has never been fully funded because of the state's fiscal challenges.

"Rather than blaming our schools for causing the district’s financial issues, we should all be working together to restore everyone’s funding to where it should be according to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008," the letter states.

A full transcript of the letter follows:

January 21, 2016

The Honorable Ras J. Baraka
Mayor of Newark
City Hall
920 Broad Street
Newark, New Jersey 07012

Dear Mayor Baraka:

As community advocates and institutions committed to Newark, we have seen and been forced to address firsthand how under-funding has affected the many different public schools in our City – district, charter and magnet – and reject the scapegoating of any one group. Indeed, public charter schools in Newark are among the highest performing in the entire nation, despite receiving much lower funding than the district, and over the last two years, charter school funding in Newark has been cut more than that of any other type of public school. Rather than blaming our schools for causing the district’s financial issues, we should all be working together to restore everyone’s funding to where it should be according to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.

Our financial situation affects all of us, because in Newark we stand together as one. If one of our children suffers, we all suffer. Each of our organizations has worked tirelessly through the years urging state policymakers to support full and fair funding for all Newark public schools - district, charter and magnet. We disagree with anyone who positions public charter children, parents and advocates as those who do not care about the entire City of Newark and prefer to work with you and Superintendent Cerf to address these issues facing all children aggressively and strategically.

As you know, in 2008, the New Jersey Legislature enacted a statewide weighted student formula, through the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA). The formula was designed to deliver state and local funding to ensure every public school student was fully supported. The formula was designed to take into account changing enrollment patterns and aimed to deliver additional funding to support programs for students in poverty, limited-English proficient (LEP) students, and students with disabilities, regardless of where those students live. Unfortunately, since the student funding formula was put into law it still has not yet reached its full promise for the families of Newark due to the State’s fiscal challenges.

The facts on this issue are clear. The ideals and promise of SFRA were to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students. If Newark were fully and fairly funded, as mandated by law, all of Newark’s schools would be in a much different financial situation.

Tens of thousands of children and parents demand public options. We hope that you will provide leadership that represents the aspirations of all Newark parents and hope to continue a productive dialogue that will ensure high quality education for every public school - district, charter and magnet.

Better Education Institute – New Jersey

Black Alliance for Education Options – New Jersey

Democrats for Education Reform – New Jersey

JerseyCAN

Newark Charter School Fund

New Jersey Charter Schools Association

Parent Coalition For Excellent Education


Cc:

The Honorable Mildred C. Crump, Newark City Council President

The Honorable Augusto Amador, Newark City Council

The Honorable John S. James, Newark City Council

The Honorable Carlos M. Gonzales, Newark City Council

The Honorable Anibal Ramos, Jr., Newark City Council

The Honorable Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, Newark City Council

The Honorable Joe McCallum, Newark City Council

The Honorable Eddie Osborne, Newark City Council

The Honorable Luis A Quintana, Newark City Council

Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2016-01-22 17:02:39 -0500
    Must be nice to have corporate marketing scoundrels write your such heart felt opinions. These parents are not the voice of Newark Public School Parents! They are not the voices Newark is needing for change! They are bought out! Funny mostly all of these groups are listed as having been given funds by the Walton Foundation. They are being masterminded by corporate marketing executives who do not even live in Newark!

    These are the same people when asked " where do you get your funding from? " delete the comments and ban you from commenting. I see finally they are calling themselves pro charter. All along they posing as concerned Newarkers. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Let’s not forget the over 60 million that was taken from traditional public schools to aid in the charter expansion. The charter expansion is not about choice! It’s about an invasion of an urban school district by corporate crooks using Newarkers as pawns.

    Lots of holes in this letter! Newarkers do your research and homework who these “organizations” are, where they get their money and their agendas. You will be surprised what you find
  • commented 2016-01-22 09:39:43 -0500
    This letter is correct that the Christie Administration has underfunded SFRA.

    However this letter is not accurate regarding charter school funding and the impact that it has had on the Newark school district.

    Newark charter schools received $63 million in additional funding transferred from the Newark school district, for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years.

    This was part of a statewide $107.6 million charter school funding increase by the Christie Administration.

    This funding is beyond what the NJ charter law indicates charter schools should receive, and was the result of a political decision by the Christie Administration.

    The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services provided an analysis of how this impacted individual districts (see pages 25 and 26 for Newark) http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/budget_2016/DOE_analysis_2016.pdf

    The Education Law Center further detailed the impact of this funding transfer from the Newark district to charter schools, in this recent research report:
    http://www.edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/NPS%20Budget%20Impacts%20of%20Underfunding%20and%20Rapid%20Charter%20Growth.pdf

    The ELC report notes that Newark charter schools are carrying a substantial surplus (more than $34 million) even as the district struggles to meet basic expenses.

    For a detailed explanation of NJ charter school funding, please see: https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/47968/
  • followed this page 2016-01-22 09:36:32 -0500

get updates