I had the opportunity to view the applications for the two proposed charter schools: The Math & Culture Charter School and Noble Preparatory Charter School. The lead founder and qualifying founder are both from North Haledon (makes you wonder “Why Paterson?”). The principal candidate is a social studies teacher with the Paterson Public Schools. The Math & Culture will be a charter school with a model focus on College Prep for grades 6-12 with 150 students in year one and up to 250 students in year four. One of the programs they plan to focus on is Bimodal but the educational overview is Literacy-Math-Science-Technology-Family-Life Skills-Classroom Management-Safety and Assessment, as well as Parent and Community Engagement.
The demonstration of needs that they provided in the application is to focus on small class sizes of 20 students, but they show a chart breakdown of 25 students in a classroom. How does this reflect small?
The Lead Founder, who lives in Jersey City, is also the co-founder of the John P. Holland Charter School. Out of the five qualifying founders, only one is from Paterson and has a child in Paterson Public Schools. Another is a Paterson Public Schools teacher who lives in Oakland and the others live in Jersey City and Wayne. John P. Holland was put on probation by the State of New Jersey seven months after it opened because test scores were low. This will be a small school with 100 students in 9th grade and will increase by 100 students annually. The model is College and Career Readiness through the Blended Learning Model, which is a rigorous online data-driven curriculum.
So my question again is “Why?” Why are people so interested in bringing charter schools to Paterson? What improvements, if any, will they bring? Will it be different than what we have now?
Local districts are required to pay 90% of the district’s per pupil cost for each child attending the charters. The 2014-2015 Paterson School Budget line item transfer to charters is $32,867,734. We have teachers who have not had a contract in four years who are well aware of the money shortage in the district, yet have signed on to take additional dollars away from it. How will this affect them and their colleagues?
Charter enrollment is supposed to be open to all that apply. However, most charters have very little, if any, enrollment in special needs, at-risk populations, or ESL. This makes me wonder how this is an equal opportunity for all when not all children are being served?
I have nothing against charter schools. I support the notion of parents having a choice, but not at the expense of the other 28,000 students who may not get into a small school. What happens to those kids who don’t make it in the charter school? What happens if these students leave on their own or become expelled and have to go back to their district school? Will the money go back with that child or will the district have to take the little they have and spread it to ensure that all children are provided an education that they are entitled to?
So, why Paterson? Why our children? Why don’t the qualifying founders open charter schools in their own town? And therein lies the mystery…