Selected readings on US charter schools
CAMDEN — Another approach Camden education officials and experts have welcomed are alternative routes to public education such as charter schools. Charter schools receive public funding but operate independently of local school districts.
Camden hosts seven charter schools which have long waiting list indicating the high demand for them.
“Charter schools are not run by the school district and that’s why they are doing so well in this area,” said Dr. Gloria Bonilla who is also the founder of Leap Academy. “ I have 2000 students in a waiting list.”
In 2012 the Department of Education listed the 75 districts with perfect graduation rates which revealed that the majority of the schools from urban areas achieving 100% graduation rates are charter schools, among them was Leap Academy which is located on Cooper Street in Camden.
“We have a corrupt (public school) system, a system that is not working and it cannot be fixed with just more money or traditional approaches,” said Bonilla. “That is why we have to entirely transform our educational system and options, public schools in urban areas are no longer viable options for children,” she added.
The concept of Charter schools has received bipartisan support from Gov. Chris Christie and Sen.-elect Corey Booker.
While Camden has been adopting the charter school model more readily, Trenton has recently picked up the pace. According to DOE three charter schools are due to open in 2014, two of them will be serving Trenton children.
“The department’s goal is to approve high-quality charter schools that provide families with additional choices in the education of their children,” said Michael Yaple, the Education Department’s chief spokesman, in a statement earlier this month.
“All parents should be given a choice to find the school that is the best fit for their child, and we believe these schools will offer that high-quality choice,” he added.
There are currently 87 charter schools state-wide.
Trenton and Camden have very similar demographics, education and social challenges. Camden has embraced Gov. Christie’s take over while also moving in the direction of promoting charter school education. Trenton has had mixed results with charter education and is at arm’s length with the Christie administration. Trenton education leaders are still hopeful about improving its public education system thus avoiding a state takeover. However, if the state’s taken over turns out to be fruitful for Camden, Trenton could be next.
Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard was not available to comment for this story.
Source: The Trentonian – by Carlos Avila