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Ciattarelli Criticizes Murphy’s Position on Charter School Funding

Republican candidate for governor Jack Ciattarelli today attacked Democrat Phil Murphy’s position on funding for charter schools in New Jersey.

Murphy, a national board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, voted at a board meeting last Saturday for a host of resolutions proposed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, including one that calls for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools nationwide.

Ciattarelli claimed Murphy is doing the bidding of special interests like the state teachers’ union, which endorsed him last week. Ciattarelli said if schools are failing, parents and students should be allowed to chose other options, with charter schools offering the best alternatives.

“Demand for charter schools in failing school districts has exceeded the supply,” Ciattarelli said. “In Newark, for example, that demand is driven overwhelmingly by people of color.  Charter school studies, like the one from Stanford University, conclude that Newark’s charters are among the best in the country, with nearly all graduates enrolling in college. That’s why Phil Murphy refusing to wholly support these charters – not to mention parents, guardians and students – is so disappointing.  Mr. Murphy is placing his allegiance to the New Jersey Education Association over the rights of people who only want what’s best for their children.”

At the “NJ Spotlight on Cities” conference Friday at the NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark, Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador and Goldman Sachs executive, said he opposed the NAACP resolution, but said he might support a pause in new approvals of charter schools to improve the process.

After the Saturday vote, Murphy said he opposed the resolution as written and the reduction of public funding for charters.

“As I have said publicly, the resolution as presented went too far from my own position,” Murphy said in a statement. “A time-out to gather facts would have relevance to policy, but an immediate defunding of charter schools would put kids at risk.

Murphy expressed his support for the formation of an NAACP task force to look at charter school issues.

At the Friday forum hosted by NJ Spotlight, Ciattarelli said while he supports charter schools in failing districts, he has never been a big advocate of charter schools in school systems that are phenomenal already. “That makes no sense to me,” he said. “You don’t make a school system better by taking money out of the school system.”

Democrat Thomas Byrne said he would not support a moratorium, while Democrat John Wisniewski said the state should take a pause in granting more charter school approvals.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Julia Rubin

    Dan – school choice might sound great in theory, but that’s not how it works in practice.

    Charter schools are rarely closed. In some states, even flagrant abuses are not punished because of the powerful and well-funded state charter lobbies and lucrative political donations by for-profit charter entrepreneurs.

    The reality is that what is sold as parental choice has become a mechanism for increased segregation by race, income, special needs and language proficiency. In all states, charter schools educate an easier and less expensive-to-educate population of students. There are individual charter schools that break this pattern, but they are few and far between. That leaves the local public schools with the most challenging and expensive to educate students, but without the resources they need to do so.

    For example, a recent Duke University study found that North Carolina charter schools are being used by whites to leave integrate local public schools, and this study is not unique.

    The lax regulations around charter schools in most states also have resulted in numerous scandals and abuses of taxpayers and children.

    Vouchers are an absolutely disaster. Not only do they substantially increase segregation and discrimination against students with special needs, they also are an academic failure. Although private schools that accept vouchers can basically select their students, they have been underperforming the local public schools on standardized test scores.

    Ironically, what you are referring to as “choice” has been forced upon many communities, particularly low-income communities of color. Such communities have been denied local democratic control of their local public schools through mayoral control and various forms of state takeovers even as their local public schools are forcibly closed and replaced with charter schools. Where is the choice in that?

    The NAACP resolution, the Black Live Matter resolution, and the Journey for Justice resolution all condemn this kind of forced “choice” and demand the right to democratically govern their public schools – something most of us take for granted.

    Charter schools don’t have to be segregated or abusive. Strong regulations that require charter schools to educate the same demographics as the local public schools and that hold charter schools to the same accountability and transparency requirements as local public schools would go a long way towards correcting these problems. For-profit charter schools and charter
    management companies also must be abolished.

  • Pat Palmer

    It seems to me that the public school system was once a monopoly, and that it is run by a rather awful bureaucracy which does stupid things. For example, I have multiple advanced degrees, but I am not considered qualified to teach in a public school unless I go back to school and get yet another degree specifically in “education”–NJ has no effective alternate route to teacher certification.

    It also seems to me that charter schools bleed the public schools of much-needed funds. So you get more charter schools at the expense of making struggling public schools even worse (because even poorer). And (in the case of Princeton, where the schools are already very good) the charter schools aren’t necessarily so needful anyway.

    Hence, to me, there is no simplistic answer to this issue. The devil is in the details for each specific community.

    So far, I support Murphy because he sent me a mailer touting the need to preserve the good quality of residential neighborhoods in the center of Princeton, which IMO have suffered at the poor zoning under consolidated Princeton. Thus, the tear-downs and huge houses being built in neighborhoods of former modest-sized homes. The weakening of noise protection laws. Allowing old growth trees in town to be cut down (yes, I know what’s on the books but none of it has been enforced well). And allowing most of yards to be paved for more parking, with houses built right up to the edges of lots. And so on. To me, zoning for in-town residential areas is THE political issue, along with rising property taxes.

    Incidentally, related to schools and taxes, I learned that Cranbury students are allowed to attend Princeton schools, which are so full that we’ll probably have to raise taxes to increase their size. Now that is just stupid. Even if Cranbury residents pay something to attend, it can’t be worth it. Let Cranbury build its own schools, and leave our schools at a manageable size. Poor management all around.

  • Joe

    A public school is a public service, a public good. This failing public school meme is so much garbage perpetuated by the billionaire charter cheerleader industrial complex. Yes, there are public schools that are dealing with tremendous problems of poverty, crime and violence in cities like Camden or Newark. The schools aren’t failing, they are struggling with big social problems. The answer is to supply more counselors and wrap around services. What’s next, charter police departments to compete with the regular police departments?

  • Dan D’Menny

    There are a lot of Charter school cheerleaders grateful to win that lottery so their kids don’t have to go the failing public school that is their only other choice.

  • Dan D’Menny

    I love that Charter schools can FAIL, if they don’t meet outside standards, or more importantly, if/when not enough students sign up to go there. The successful ones are sustained by those who direct their share of school costs to be used and who get value from enrolling there.

    Lousy public schools hardly ever fail. It’s never the fault of the administrators or hard-working teachers (and to be fair, it might not be). Our Democrat-Education power structure tiresomely claims -always- that any failing school needs more more money ($30k/year per student!?), not often spent in the classroom. Increasingly most voters realize that this hasn’t worked.

    Charter schools, vouchers, choice – especially to those who can not afford to own a home in Princeton / West Windsor, or send their kids to Notre Dame or Peddie – is the easiest way to break this failure cycle. The “partnership” between the NAACP and the NEA is a politically disgraceful sell-out.

    I realize that school choice is not a panacea, but it does offer a path away from the failed government monopoly of bad public schools for the families and children bold enough to follow it.

  • Joe

    The billionaire charter cheerleaders do not send their kids to charter schools, they go to elite private schools with class sizes of about 12 kids or less. Christie’s kids went to an elite private school, Delbarton School.

  • Robert Dana

    If Mr. Murphy has children, I would guess that he sends them to private school. Just a hunch.

    Anyone? Buehler?

    Ah yes. According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong:

    “The children have been educated at Rumson Country Day School and the Philips Academy.”

  • Joe

    How can there not be heated rhetoric when the charter cheerleaders (Christie, Bloomberg, Cuomo, Arne Duncan, etc.) constantly vilify, demean and demonize the public schools as failure factories. Charter schools are not designed to cooperate with the district schools, quite the opposite. Charter schools are unaccountable to the duly elected school board and to the district superintendent. The charter school has its own board (unelected) and its own CEO or mini superintendent and its own financial administrators. A charter school is a parallel school system, a separate school district unto itself. Cooperation is impossible when you have charter schools leeching off of the district schools for limited funds and resources. Why are we abandoning our public schools for charter schools which (overall and on average) are no better than the district schools. Why can’t the residents and tax payers be allowed to vote on whether they want a charter school or not in their district?

  • PrincetonResident

    The heated rhetoric on both sides of this issue is unfortunate. Charter schools are neither the solution nor the evil that proponents/critics suggest. They offer an alternative to the traditional public schools. Working together, the traditional public schools and the charter schools should both be able to improve. It’s tragic that the political interests on both sides have reasons for not wanting this.

  • krystalknapp

    FYI all comments with links must be approved by the moderator because of SPAM. That is why your comment was held by the disqus system.

  • Wolf Krochmal

    “That makes no sense to me,” he said. “You don’t make a school system better by taking money out of the school system.”

    Unless, of course, you take the money away from certain people’s public schools, right?

    So which is, Jack?

  • Julia Rubin

    Mr. Ciattarelli says that he believes in charter schools for “failing districts” but not for wealthy ones because “You don’t make a school system better by taking money out of the school system.”

    In that case, how will charter schools improve so called “failing districts”?

    Is Mr. Ciattarelli just giving up on local public schools in those districts and arguing that they should be replaced with charter schools?

    If so, then what would happen to all the students not being educated by charter schools? Newark charter schools – and virtually every charter school in New Jersey – educate fewer very low income students, substantially fewer special needs students (particularly expensive special needs), and virtually no Limited English Proficient students relative to the district schools. Does Mr. Ciattarelli have a plan for those students or will they be the only ones left in the district schools without the resources to provide them with a high quality education?

    Mr. Ciattarelli is also inaccurate about the Stanford study that he cites. The study is actually by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). CREDO is part of the conservative Hoover Institute, which happens to be located on the Stanford University campus, rather than being an academic unit of Stanford University. In other words, it’s a Hoover Institute study, not a Stanford study.

    In evaluating that study, the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center found that it “fails to provide compelling evidence that charter schools are more effective than traditional public schools, whether or not they are located in urban districts.”(Source: http://nepc.colorado.edu/…/2…/04/review-urban-charter-school)

  • Joe

    Special interests? What about the special interests of the billionaires boys’ club which propagandizes for charter schools? The billionaires behind the charter school movement: Gates, Broad, the Waltons, Mike Bloomberg, Mike Dell, The DeVos family, Bezos, Icahn, Whitney Tilson, Paul Tudor Jones II, Daniel Loeb, Bryan Lawrence and Paul Applebaum and many other Wall Street hedge fund managers. Charter schools bleed funds and resources from the district schools.

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