NJEA: Charter moratorium urgently needed

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) released a position paper about the NJ 2020 budget, set to be voted on by the NJ legislature. NJEA took a neutral position on the proposed budget and did not reiterate its case for the millionaire’s tax.

Earlier this week, a scathing five-part report entitled “Cashing in on Charter Schools” was published, highlighting the disturbing abuse and misuse of public education funds directed to charter schools. Proclaiming, “millions of your tax dollars have disappeared into NJ’s flawed charter school experiment,” the report reveals how certain charter school and charter school-related entities and individuals have gamed the system for personal gain.

NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty released this statement:

“We are outraged, but not surprised, by the abuses detailed in the investigative report about charter schools in New Jersey. This is not a new problem. We have long raised the alarm about the potential for abuse under our inadequate and outdated charter school law. That is why, in 2017, NJEA called for a moratorium on the approval and expansion of charter schools and a thorough review and revision of the entire charter school law.

“This week’s news underlines the urgency of both an immediate moratorium and a review. We must not allow charter schools to open or expand until we have reviewed and fixed the current law that has allowed these abuses to occur.

“The abuse and misuse of funds that are supposed to educate New Jersey’s children is particularly galling right now, when so many districts are facing dramatic funding shortfalls and cutbacks. Despite increased funding for public schools last year, and another proposed increase this year, hundreds of thousands of students across the state are attending schools that lack adequate resources to educate them according to the standards set forth in our funding law.

“In many of the hardest-hit districts, one of the primary reasons for the shortfall is the money being diverted from district schools to fund charter schools. It is unconscionable that students in district schools lack the basic necessities for a thorough and efficient public education while there are entities and individuals abusing charter school funds to enrich themselves.

“NJEA represents over 1,000 members in those charter schools as well. As educators who care deeply about the well-being of their students, they share our dismay that resources intended for their students are not reaching their classrooms. Students in both district and charter schools are paying the price.

“In light of this damning report, we urge the New Jersey Department of Education to impose a complete moratorium on the approval or expansion of any charter school until the law can be reviewed and fixed. We stand ready to participate in that process to ensure that the voices of educators are part of this vital work. We must ensure that the abuses that have been uncovered will never happen again. “

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