Paterson regained local control of its public schools today after 27 years! Kudos to everyone who got us there! Since the State of NJ took over the district in 1991, PEF has been on the frontline demanding accountability and advocating for a process by which local control could be returned. Special props to Irene Sterling who led PEF’s advocacy, beginning on day 1.
The initial Takeover was for 5 years but the law did not have any language or process of how local control would be returned. The NJ Legislature approved the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) in 2005, finally providing a system under which districts could qualify for the return of local control. QSAC focuses on monitoring and evaluating school districts in five key components: Instruction & Program; Fiscal; Governance; Operations; and Personnel. Besides providing the same level of accountability for all districts, a principal aim of QSAC was to do away with state takeover.
The state can return local control when a district scores at least 80 percent of the indicators in a component, and when there is substantial evidence that the school district has adequate programs, policies, and personnel in place to ensure that progress will continue, at the discretion of the Commissioner of Education. Paterson regained control of Operations in 2014, then Fiscal and Personnel in 2016. Today May 2, 2018, The NJ Board of Education voted to return control of the final 2 components of Instruction & Program and Governance to the local community.
The district must now develop and submit a transition plan to the state. According to QSAC, the Paterson School Board has up to one year to call a special election to decide if the district will be classified as Type I (with members appointed by the mayor) or Type II (with members either appointed or elected). A plug for Type II!
For now, let’s exhale and enjoy the moment. The people of Paterson now have control over our public schools and our children’s education. Twenty-seven years of occupation is over! #WeChoose!