First of a two-part report from New Jersey on the often poor performance of charter schools in New Jersey, though they’re still being aggressively pushed by the Republican governor. Forty have been shut down for academic and financial reasons in the past decade.

The charter school backers say, big deal. Some schools fail and they are closed. The article observes, however:


Yet the high number of failures is of concern to public officials, traditional schools and taxpayers. Not only do charters compete with public schools for limited resources, they also cause major disruption to local districts and communities when they fail.

In Trenton the district struggled to get student records from Trenton Community Charter and scrambled to find teachers and textbooks for the nearly 500 children from the two failed schools. Parents complained that the public school the Trenton Community students transferred to last week was dirty and had broken equipment, prompting an apology from the school board president.

Once a charter school closes, “it creates chaos and havoc,” said state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence). “The school district has to absorb these students more or less overnight.”

And don’t forget the lost years. And don’t presume that the students were failing in lost cause public schools to begin with. Charters in Little Rock have drawn heavily on students who were already demonstrating academic proficiency, a point noted when the state Board of Education denied a LISA Academy expansion because it hadn’t demonstrated greater performance with disadvantaged students.