The Education Law Center, an independent organization that advocates for the children of New Jersey, obtained a copy of a proposal that the Chris Christie administration made to the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation in Los Angeles.
The plan calls for aggressive state intervention in the state’s lowest performing schools. Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf wants to set up an “achievement district” for the low-performing schools. These schools would likely be closed and handed over to private managers as charter schools. The state plan calls for eliminating collective bargaining in these schools.
The amount requested was $7.6 million, of which the Broad Foundation has thus far supplied $1.6 million.
This should not be a difficult sell for Cerf. He is a “graduate” of the Broad Foundation’s unaccredited Superintendent’s Academy. And the chairman of the board of the foundation is his former boss, Joel Klein.
It’s somewhat strange that people like Cerf (and Arne Duncan, for that matter) think that a school gets “reformed” or “turned around” by firing the staff, closing the school, and handing it off to a charter operator. Cerf is a smart enough guy, and he surely knows that charters on average don’t produce better results than the public schools they replace unless they push out the low-performing kids.
One of the news stories says that Cerf wants to use New Orleans “recovery school district” as a model for New Jersey, but I wonder if he knows that 79% of the charters in New Orleans were graded either D or F by the state, and that New Orleans ranked 69th of 70 districts in the entire state.
How long can this shell game go on?
I understand that the people in the Abbott districts (the poorest cities where the lowest-performing schools are) may be accustomed to getting pushed around by the state, but how will the people of New Jersey feel about Christie and Cerf bringing in a raft of charter school operators to privatize what used to be their public schools?