1-20-12 Department of Education approves 8 new charter schools
Announced later today by Department of Education: 'Christie Administration Continues to Expand School Options for Students'...Across the State with the Approval of 8 New Charter Schools

Charter School for Global Leadership/Camden 9-12... City Invincible Charter School/Camden K-8... COMPASS Academy Charter School/Millville,Pittsgrove,Vineland K-5...Hope Community Charter School/Camden K-4...Jersey City Global Charter School K-6...Newark Prep Charter School 6-12...Paulo Freire Charter School 9-12...Trenton Prep Charter School 6-12

Star Ledger - Department of Education approves 8 new charter schools, 2 in Newark (Published: Friday, January 20, 2012, 7:27 PM)..."Noticeably absent from today’s list were proposed charter schools in high performing suburban districts like Highland Park, South Orange-Maplewood and Montclair..."

4:31 PM (5 hours ago) - Christie Administration Continues to Expand School Options for Students
Across the State with the Approval of 8 New Charter Schools

Trenton, NJ - Continuing the Christie Administration's commitment to
expanding the number of school options for high-need students across the
state, the Department of Education today announced the approval of 8
charter applications eligible to open in September 2012.  These eight
options will help to ensure that every student in New Jersey, regardless
of zip code, has a high-quality school option available to them.

"Since Governor Christie took office, we have committed to being
unapologetically impatient when students do not have access to the
high-quality school options that they deserve.  In addition to working
to improve all public schools by ensuring that every classroom has an
outstanding educator and implementing the new Common Core State
Standards aligned with college and career readiness, we are also
committed to expanding the number of high-quality charter schools so
that every student can choose the school option that is the best fit for
them," said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.  "The applications we
approved today have demonstrated a strong educational program and the
capacity to implement that program, in addition to articulating a
clearly defined need for the school in their specific community."

Over the past year, the Department of Education has worked closely with
the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) to
strengthen both the state's application review process and overall
authorizing capacity.  The Department has a three stage charter review
process.  Using both internal DOE staff and qualified external
reviewers, each application is reviewed against a defined set of
benchmarks to determine which applications will move on to the second
stage of the process.  As one example, benchmarks include whether an
application proposes an educational program that integrates the school's
mission and clearly indicates how it will educate all students,
regardless of any theme or other specific focus.

Typically, about half of the applications move on to the second round of
the process.  In this round, 17 of 42 applications moved onto the second
stage of the process where applicants receive "addenda" questions for
clarification on their application.  The Department provides both the
original application and "addenda" to districts for comment.  The
Department also receives and reviews significant public comment during
this process.

In the third part of the process, the Department brings each team in for
an intensive, in-person interview where applicants are asked about both
the academic and operational components of the proposed school.  In
addition, the public and district comments received are incorporated
into the interview questions. The review team also closely examines the
school's financial plan and budget.  The Commissioner of Education then
makes a final determination about which applications to approve.
Approval decisions are made based on the quality of the proposed
educational program, the capacity of the founding team to implement that
program, and the need for the proposed school in the community.

In addition to the decisions today, Acting Commissioner Cerf repeated a
call that he made in September in a letter to charter school leaders
(http://www.nj.gov/education/chartsch/090911letter.pdf) that charters
have clear and transparent enrollment and accountability processes.

"According to data over the past several years, charter schools on
average across the state are outperforming other district options for
students in high-need communities.  However, we must also be honest that
just as some district schools are failing students, some charter schools
in New Jersey are also not performing at the level their students
deserve," said Acting Commissioner Cerf.  "Charter schools are granted
autonomy in exchange for accountability, and we will continue to hold
all charter schools accountable for results as we did last year when we
closed two struggling charter schools.  In addition, charter schools
must continue to focus on both quality of education and equality of
opportunity.  At the state level, we will continue to hold charters
schools accountable to ensure that they offer all students a
high-quality education.  I applaud the effort of Newark charter schools
in this area to step forward through a charter compact and commit to
equal access both in terms of recruitment, selection, and retention."

Earlier this week in his State of the State speech, Governor Christie
urged the legislature to make much needed changes to the state's charter
school law through bill A-4167 introduced last June.  Sweeping changes
to New Jersey's charter school laws are needed to remove barriers and
roadblocks to the growth of high-quality charter schools. The current
laws and rules governing charter schools act as a deterrent to growth
instead of fostering expansion. It is time to aggressively encourage
some of the nation's most-respected and successful charter school
operators to come to New Jersey while making it possible to implement
the same model of innovation and results in other new and existing
charter schools.

The list of approved charter applications is below.  Each of these
charters will need to be approved during the Department's readiness
review before it is able to open in September.

 Grades served (at scale)
 Enrollment (at scale)

Charter School for Global Leadership

City Invincible Charter School

COMPASS Academy Charter School
 Millville, Pittsgrove, Vineland

Hope Community Charter School

Jersey City Global Charter School
 Jersey City

Newark Prep Charter School

Paulo Freire Charter School

Trenton Prep Charter School

In addition, below is a list of the external reviewer that supported the
Department by reviewing applications in the current round.  These
reviewers bring a range of experiences to the review process to ensure
diverse voices are heard in the process.  These reviewers include
charter leaders, current and former educators, and operational experts,
among others.  These external reviewers read applications and
participated in initial review conversations with the Charter Schools
Office.  However, they did not participate in the interview process or
in formulating recommendations to the Commissioner, which were handled
solely by Department staff.

External reviewers

Sulafa Bashir

Natasha Campbell

Elena Day

Barbara Greene

Radhika Parithivel

Amy Pozmantier

Ray Regimbal


Star Ledger - Department of Education approves 8 new charter schools, 2 in Newark

Published: Friday, January 20, 2012, 7:27 PM Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012, 7:27 PM

By Jessica Calefati/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger
Applications were approved today for eight new charter schools that will open in September in some of the state’s most troubled cities where public schools have been failing.

The eight schools — in Newark, Camden, Trenton, Jersey City and Vineland — were selected from more than 40 applications. Last year, the Christie administration endorsed a record 23 new charter schools, though many have not opened yet. Four additional schools earned approval in the fall.

"The applications we approved today have demonstrated a strong educational program and the capacity to implement that program, in addition to articulating a clearly defined need for the school in their specific community," acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement.

Noticeably absent from today’s list were proposed charter schools in high performing suburban districts like Highland Park, South Orange-Maplewood and Montclair.

In recent months, parents, teachers and elected officials in these communities have rallied to block the controversial schools from opening. Christie and Cerf have both said charters are not necessarily needed in the suburbs, and this round of approvals clearly reflects that thinking.

Sharon Akman of Highland Park, who has applied four times to open a charter high school focused on Hebrew language instruction, said this latest denial would not end her quest for approval.

Akman said "of course" she would submit a fifth application.

Tracey Williams can already tally a fifth failed attempt to start the Quest Academy Charter School in Montclair. She said state officials have previously told her the application "did not inspire them."

Williams said she is not sure whether she’ll submit a sixth application.

New Jersey Charter School Association President Carlos Perez said only applicants that have demonstrated the capacity and commitment to create a "top-performing" school deserve to be approved.

For Robin Ruiz, a teacher and mother from Sicklerville in Camden County, earning state officials’ blessing to open Hope Community Charter School is "an honor."

"I’m so grateful for my neighbors in Camden who have already begun spreading the word and rallying around our school’s mission — literacy," said Ruiz, who has been a teacher in Camden County for nine years. "Helping our young students become literate will open the door for so much more learning."

The Department of Education denied Ruiz’ first application, but she said she did not use help from a charter management organization to prepare the second, successful application.

"The DOE asked us for some minor clarifications, we took care of them and we resubmitted," she said. "We are pretty excited about both the possibilities and challenges ahead."

One approved elementary school, COMPASS Academy, will serve pupils in grades K-5 from Millville, Pittsgrove and Vineland, where the public schools have a mediocre track record of academic success.

The other schools approved include: two high schools in Newark, a high school in Trenton, an elementary school in Jersey City and three schools in Camden.

See the list of approved N.J. charter schools here