TEN IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT NEW JERSEY CHARTER SCHOOLS… AND FIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE THE NEW JERSEY CHARTER SECTOR
Mark Weber, Ph.D.
Full Report: NJCharterReport4_22_19
“Let’s get one common set of facts and make sensible decisions.”
– NJ Governor Phil Murphy, speaking about charter schools, 3/29/18
Over the past decade, the charter sector has boomed in the Garden State. In the 2017-18 school year, charter enrollments had grown to nearly 50,000 students, or 3.6 percent of the state’s publicly-funded student population, more than doubling the 21,300 students just eight years ago.
Unfortunately, during this period of charter growth, little if any attention has been paid to many of the realities of charter school expansion. Too often, claims of “success” based on the test outcomes of a handful of charters have replaced a clear, data-driven view of the entire sector in New Jersey.
In this report, I explain ten important points about New Jersey’s charter schools that are often ignored yet are critically important for policymakers and stakeholders to understand. Good charter policy simply isn’t possible unless we agree on this common set of facts.
Next, I suggest five ways the Murphy administration, the NJ Legislature, the NJDOE, and the State Board of Education could improve the state’s charter sector. All of these suggestions could be implemented within a year, would have minimal cost, and would improve both the state’s charter sector and the state’s public district schools.
The NJDOE’s recent pause in granting new charters makes this an excellent time to provide new perspectives on New Jersey’s charter sector. I hope this report spurs a long overdue conversation about how to make our state’s charter sector better.