Assembly passes charter reform bills

Assembly passes charter reform bills

The State Assembly passed bills last week to grant local voters more say in approving charter schools, while opening those schools to greater scrutiny.

One bill gives local voters final say in the establishment of charter schools. Currently, only state approval is required.

It was sponsored by three Middlesex County Democrats, Patrick Diegnan Jr., Peter Barnes III, and John Wisniewski.

Another Assembly bill, calling for increased transparency of financial, educational, and demographic records of the charter schools, also passed.

The bills were supported by a bipartisan grassroots group, Save Our Schools, which staged rallies last month objecting to new charters, including a proposal for a Hebrew-language high school in Highland Park.

SOS also supports a Senate bill that would require local approval before the establishment of any new charter schools.

The legislation is opposed by Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature’s Democratic leaders — including Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Camden).

However, Diegnan and Barnes, as well as State Sen. Barbara Buono, also a Dist. 18 Democrat and a sponsor of the Senate legislation, have voiced vehement opposition to the current charter school law and have written letters of opposition to acting education commissioner Chris Cerf.

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