Selected readings on US charter schools
On October 31, Cory Booker (D-NJ) was sworn into the United States Senate to complete the term of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Senator Booker (@CoryBooker) has been at the forefront of the national movement to strengthen public education, most notably in his previous position as mayor of Newark. During his time as mayor, Booker encouraged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to donate $100 million to establish the Foundation for Newark’s Future. To date, the foundation has made nearly $80 million in grants to improve access to early childhood education, reform K-12 education, and strengthen community and family engagement in Newark’s schools.
Under state law, the mayor of Newark has limited influence over the city’s public schools. But there is no doubt that the leadership and vision of then-mayor Booker created the right climate to improve the city’s schools. Public charter schools have been an important part of the education reform movement in Newark, with more than two dozen schools opening in recent years, which now enroll 20 % of Newark’s students. A recent report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) shows that students in New Jersey public charter schools–particularly those in Newark–are making significant learning gains in both reading and mathematics.
As part of his reform efforts, Senator Booker also forged a relationship with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) to promote public charter schools. In late September, they joined for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Newark Teacher’s Village, a public-private partnership that will house three public charter schools, subsidized residential housing for teachers, and commercial development.
“Senator Booker worked hard to set the right tone for Newark’s education sector during his time as mayor,” says Mashea Ashton, CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund. “As he noted in a recent video on Newark’s public charter sector, Senator Booker believed that all students in Newark deserve access to a high-quality education. He recognized that collaboration is the only way to provide that access, and challenged stakeholders at all levels to put aside our differences and commit to cooperation. We are hopeful that his successor will continue to foster that spirit of collaboration and support for a portfolio approach to education that includes a strong public charter sector.”
Senator Booker understands that for all children to succeed, families need a variety of high-quality schools that range from neighborhood schools to charter schools. This leadership, vision, and ability to build bipartisan relationships is needed in the United States Senate, and the National Alliance is eager to work with the new senator from New Jersey to strengthen public education across the nation.
Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools – by Gina Mahony, Senior vice president for government relations at National Alliance for Public Charter Schools