PEF has observed Paterson charter schools over the years as a viable option for Paterson families, but hardly a cure all. Charters will never serve all of our students.

Now, we have two new charter school applications on a fast track for Paterson.  Both come from charter school operators with schools in other places.  The Paterson Arts and Sciences Charter School come from a local consortium that already operates two schools in New Jersey: one in Garfield and the other in Passaic.  Their director of curriculum is Deidre Simon who was an assistant superintendent in Paterson under Dr. Glascoe.

The Collegiate Charter School comes from the Ascend Charter School network with school in Brooklyn. It’s curriculum comes from an international education business called Sabis. Here is a about one of their schools. I find it very troubling.Why? Turn off the sound and watch the students and teachers. Teachers are standing at the front of the room, lecturing. Students sit at desks in straight rows with textbooks and notebooks.  It’s the sage on the stage with students as knowledge absorbers. In the Collegiate application, they expicitly say that they do not believe in “differentiated instruction.” They teach all students the same way, no matter how the student learns best.

What does that mean? It means no active learning. No investigation. No exploring.  It means learning by rote. It means going back to the 1950’s.

It’s true that this method works for some students. But it punishes students who are active, kinesthetic learners. It inhibits the development of creativity and inquiry.

Sabis propoents will argue tht they get high test scores. Parents will  need to ask themselves, “What kind of learning experience do I want for my child?”

I want a school experience that equips children to learn throughout their lives, that develops joy in exploring new experiences and that gives them confidence in their own judgement.  What do you want?


BTW: we’ll be discussing student learning with local charter and choice operators on March 9th at the Parent Summit at JFK. Join us.