How The Charter Cheerleading Industry Is Abetting The Destruction Of Public Schools
This all started on Tuesday, July 5, when NJ Spotlight (full disclosure -- I write regularly for them) ran an excerpt of an address a graduating senior at North Star Academy Charter School gave to his classmates. Which is fine: all kids should be proud of their accomplishments and their schools (although it's a shame Spotlight has not, to my knowledge, published the excerpts of any other graduating senior's speeches -- especially students graduating in Newark).
So why does that matter? Well, this past month Governor Chris Christie proposed a radical shift in the allocation of state aid for schools -- one that would slash funding and jack up taxes in urban school districts while giving the state's wealthiest districts, already payingrelatively low effective tax rates, a huge infusion of state aid (I wrote about it forSpotlight here).
How did Christie justify such a radical plan? Simple: if urban charter schools, like North Star, had higher graduation rates than their hosting public district schools, that then "proves" the extra funding New Jersey sends to urban districts is going to waste. Here's Christie's very first press conference where he justified his scheme:
Do not let anyone tell you that failure is inevitable for children in those 31 districts or that money is the answer. The Academy Charter High School in Asbury Park had an 89% graduation rate compared to 66% in Asbury Park; Academy spends $17,000 per pupil while the traditional public schools spend $33,000 per pupil. The LEAP Academy Charter School has a 98% graduation rate in Camden, while the district has a 63% rate; LEAP spends 16,000 per pupil while the school district spends $25,000 per pupil. In Newark, the North Star Academy Charter has an 87% graduation compared to the citywide rate of 69%; North Star spends $13,000 per pupil compared to $22,000 per pupil district wide. [emphasis mine]I'll get to Academy Charter High and LEAP in due time; for now, let's concentrate on North Star. First of all, let's ask the obvious question: is an 18 percentage point difference really Jersey Jazzman: How The Charter Cheerleading Industry Is Abetting The Destruction Of Public Schools: