After the free-for-all expansion of charter schools in New Jersey during the Chris Christie administration, it is clear there is a new sheriff in town.
The State Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet has turned down every charter application, saying that time is needed for the state to review the 20-year-old law and figure out how many new charters are needed.
No big surprise, Gov. Phil Murphy’s promise of a “timeout” on new charter schools is coming to fruition, with the Murphy administration rejecting two more charter schools that had been hoping to open next year.
State Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet on Friday informed the last two finalists in the current cycle — which would have opened next year, if successful — that their applications had been denied.
It was the first time in at least a decade that the state has rejected every charter school bid in a cycle, and this time without even interviewing the applicants, according to charter-school advocates.
With five other expansions also rejected last spring, just one new charter is now slated to open next year.
The charter industry, as is now customary, responded with rending of the clothes and wailing about the “35,000” on the waiting list for charters. The waiting list is usually a myth, composed of students who applied to multiple charters, students who applied and were accepted, students who applied and returned to public schools, and non-existent students. These lists are never audited. You just have to take the word of the charter lobbyists.
Governor Phil Murphy is calling for a time-out that is much needed. He wants to review the process for granting charters. He might also have professionals audit that waiting list and decide whether the state needs a dual system of schools, one that accepts everyone, and the other that chooses its students and kicks out those it doesn’t want.