• It doesn’t get much more cynical and dishonest than this!

    Days after the Christie Administration’s Camden superintendent lamented that he was forced to lay off hundreds of teachers due to budget shortfalls, he approved two new Renaissance charter schools, to open in Camden next September.

    The superintendent actually recruited these two schools to the district and obtained extra time to enable them to file applications under the Renaissance charter program. Those applications have not been shared with the people of Camden.

    The superintendents is now sending recruitment literature from the charter schools to families in the public schools, to encourage them to leave the public school system and go to the Renaissance charter schools.

    Students at two public schools will be displaced to make room for the two Renaissance charter schools.

    Renaissance charter schools take even more funding from the district than regular charter schools – 95% of average per pupil funding vs. 90% for regular charter schools – leading to quicker destruction of the public school system, which is clearly the goal sought by the Christie Administration.

    This is part of an intentional plan to turn Camden (and Newark) into all-charter school districts, destroying the public school systems and replacing all the experienced teachers (and staff) currently working in those public schools with 22 year-old Teach for America recruits with five weeks of training.

    That plan was leaked by a NJ Department of Education employee several years ago.

    Here’s how that vicious cycle works:

    Money to pay for privately-managed for-profit and nonprofit charter schools comes directly out of the host district’s finances. That leaves less to educate the children left in the public schools. The district then says they don’t have the enrollment to support all the teachers in the district and they start firing them, as Camden announced they would do a few days ago and as Newark announced earlier.

    The Christie Administration has not maintained the Camden and Newark public schools, which are the Administration’s responsibility to rebuild and maintain with funding from the Schools Development Authority. As the public schools deteriorate, parents have to decide whether to send their children to a crumbling local local public school or to a brand new charter school.

    The charters also recruit and market themselves and, at least one of the Renaissance charter schools is actually taking the place of the public school that was serving that community, so parents would have to send their children across town if they wanted to stay in the public school system.

    The charters promise greater safety and deliver it by expelling any children who misbehave. As those children return to the public schools, the ratio of easy- to difficult-to-manage students in those public schools shifts, making it more and more challenging for teachers in the public schools to control a classroom. This encourages more parents to send their children to the charter schools.

    As more parents send their children to the charter schools, there are fewer and fewer dollars left in the public schools to pay for what the children need, which results in fewer teachers, larger class sizes, no money for nurses or art or music, so more and more parents choose to send their children to the charter schools until the public schools are basically gone.

    This is what is happening in Philadelphia due to severe underfunding of the public schools by the State.

    The end result is New Orleans, which has a horribly-performing, all-charter district that greatly increases inequality by skimming off the wealthier and easier to educate children into the highest quality charter schools and leaving the rest to shuttle between terrible charter schools while giving parents NO public school options. The New Orleans district has very few supportive, nurturing, accepting environments for children (especially those who are very low-income or have special needs or are different in any way).

    This is being intentionally and methodically done in one urban district after another across the US, destroying public education for low-income, majority Brown and Black children.

    This is the plan that the Christie Administration has for Newark and Camden, as internal memos documented. Now, they are executing this evil plan in front of our eyes.

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    “Two more “Renaissance” schools enrolling up to 700 students in total will open this fall in addition to the one previously approved, the Camden School district announced Friday.

    Mastery and Uncommon Schools will use temporary facilities beginning in the 2014-2015 school year while constructing new buildings, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said in a Friday statement.

    Neither school has received state approval, as required by law, to operate the district-charter hybrid schools, and plans for permanent facilities are vague, but the district made the announcement anyway to allow the operators to get a jumpstart on enrollment, spokesman Brendan Lowe said.

    “It’s a way to support these schools moving forward, to begin getting the word out, making sure they have students for the fall, which begins awfully soon,” Lowe said.

    The plans come in a series of changes released just two days after the district said it would lay off up to 400 employees, including as many as 250 teachers, to bridge one of the largest budget gaps in city history.

    Uncommon Schools, which operates several charter schools in Newark, will open an elementary school at a to-be-determined temporary location, Lowe said. The school will enroll 90 to 100 kindergarten students in the fall. A permanent facility, the location of which has not been finalized, will be built in Whitman Park, Lowe said.

    Mastery, which operates 15 schools in Philadelphia, will begin construction on a K-12 school in Cramer Hill, the exact location of which is also undetermined at this time. Beginning in the fall, Mastery is prepared to enroll up to 600 students in two temporary locations.

    “Mastery Charter Schools is honored to be officially announced as a Camden partner,” executive director Scott Gordon said in a release. “Today marks a wonderful new chapter for Camden, and we are excited to be part of it. We will partner with Camden’s families and community leaders to create real opportunities for all children.”

    Up to 220 K-2 students will attend school at the location of the former Washington Elementary School on Cambridge Street, which currently houses one of the district’s Camelot programs. At this location, Camelot, a transitional-education program, serves students in grades six through 12, many of whom are older than their typical grade-level age.

    The 90 students served by the Camelot program, which is also offered at Camden High and Woodrow Wilson, will be relocated to a different facility, Lowe said.

    Up to 380 students in grades kindergarten through five could attend Mastery’s second temporary facility at Pyne Poynt Family School, an operational six-through-eight middle school, which currently uses only about half of its building. Mastery and Pyne Poynt will co-habitate the building next year, but Pyne Poynt could be phased out of operation.

    Beginning in the fall, the school will not take in a new sixth grade class, Lowe said. Lowe cited a special education audit released in February that found sixth-grade students in special education and ESL programs were offered no access to a general education setting.

    Lowe said the district would launch a special-education task force to address similar issues districtwide.”


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