Princeton Public Schools and Charter School Should Work Together

Dear Editor:

I write in the spirit of love and respect for my community regarding the proposed Princeton Charter School expansion. My family and I joined this community ten years ago, when both
Princeton Charter School and Princeton Public Schools were already established and high performing. We’ve enjoyed friendship, laughter and community building with so many families from both PCS and PPS. Though my children attend PPS, we did look at PCS as an option. I count among my closest friends PCS parents. My children enjoy deep friendships with PCS
students. As Superintendent Cochrane has said, they are all our children. This sentiment resonates with me.

There is goodness in our community, and when there isn’t, I’m convinced that it is the result of unintended consequences. While I think the proposed Charter School expansion comes from a place of goodness by the PCS trustees, I believe the unintended consequences will be detrimental to all our children. This, because the resulting budgetary constraints on PPS will be crippling.
Any loss of budgetary strength will be detrimental to PPS. Since so many PCS children matriculate through the upper levels of PPS, it makes sense for the two entities to engage in regular communication and cooperation.

I’d like to voice support for the idea that the good people of PCS and PPS come together to reevaluate the proposed expansion of the Charter School. I support striking a more conciliatory tone and truly stepping into the shoes of the other side. Assuming bad intentions helps no one. None of us try to teach our children to assume the worst, so why should we engage with vitriol?

It is my sincere hope that the trustees of PCS and leadership of PPS will come together to discuss how best to educate all our children without unintended harmful consequences. A withdrawal of
the petition to expand, a withdrawal of the Sunshine Act lawsuit, a reminder that we are all one community and can accomplish great things together. A commitment to work together for the greater good of our community and all our children.


Jean Yelovich Durbin

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  1. Well-said. I think we disagree on particulars, but not on process. We all should get along and remember the goal – the children.

  2. Beautifully stated! We should be able to work together, to listen to each other and resolve this amicably, just as we ask our children to do. After all, we are Princeton!

  3. I have to disagree. I’m sure I’ve never understood why we even have a charter school. It doesn’t address any real need in the district. I’m told the school is more ‘academically aggressive’ than our other schools. There are so many credible reasons to have a charter school that could fill any number of real and urgent needs in the district.

    My child would thrive in a hands on discussion based environment of kinesthetic learning. He’s not alone. Many high IQ, highly capable children attend our public schools who simply do not perform in the traditional school environment. Perhaps that’s a better use of our tax dollars? Or maybe we address the level of stress and depression at the high school level? The sheer volume of IEPs and tutoring tells me that we are PLENTY academically aggressive. Or even look at the overcrowding issues.

    Collaboration in itself starts with attempting to understand the others position. There are so many better ways to support our public learning than being ‘more academically aggressive’ that I can’t even get to the starting point of collaboration.

    Please see below for the text from The National Alliance of Charter Schools. I don’t see that our charter school closes any achievement gap or affects a higher percentage of students that are accepted to college. Nor does it address any learning disabilities or boast any truly alternative ways of educating our children.
    Why Charter Schools

    All children should have the opportunity to achieve at a high level, and charter schools are meeting that need:

    Charter schools are some of the top-performing schools in the country.
    Charter schools are closing the achievement gap. They are raising the bar of what’s possible—and what should be expected—in public education.
    A higher percentage of charter students are accepted into a college or university.

    How Do Charter Schools Work?

    Some specific examples of how charter schools are working to improve student achievement include:

    Adjusting curriculum to meet student needs. A charter school can break up the day to provide students with more time on the core subjects they need most. Charter school teachers have a say in the curriculum they teach and can change materials to meet students’ needs.
    Creating a unique school culture. Charter schools build upon the core academic subjects by creating a school culture or adopting a theme. For example, charter schools may focus on Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) education, performing arts, college preparation, career readiness, language immersion, or meeting the needs of dyslexic students — just to name a few.
    Developing next-generation learning models. Charter schools are rethinking the meaning of the word “classroom.”

  4. Perhaps the people elected to PPS board and PCS board should be people whose kids are attending private schools, people with no children, or people whose children are already out of the house; so there are no strings attached, no conflicts of interest, just Princeton tax payers.

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