By: Najla Alexander
Today, at the 107th Annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference, one of the largest gatherings of statewide and local government officials in the Garden State, the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) announced the launch of a comprehensive, statewide digital ad campaign targeting decision makers in advance of the New Jersey Department of Education's (NJDOE) ruling on application requests from public charter schools to allow students to continue learning at the schools that are working for them and to allow more students access to a world-class education, NJ officials reported.
According to officials, the #LetMyChildLearn campaign will feature New Jersey parents who have been able to secure a quality public education for their children at public charter schools.
This campaign is for all families in Garden State to have equal access to high-quality public education, which requires the approval of several requests to add grades and seats by charter schools in communities like Newark, Paterson, Trenton, and beyond this coming year, officials say.
"NJPCSA is committed to ensuring that parents and students continue to thrive in public charter schools that work for them and best meet their individual needs," said Harry Lee, President of NJPCSA.
"Through the unprecedented investment in K-12 public education under the Murphy Administration, school districts in which public charter schools are located have seen significant increases in per pupil funding, eliminating the argument that public charter schools' drain funds' from local districts. The increase in K-12 funding demonstrates that district schools and public charter schools can not only successfully co-exist, but they can thrive alongside one another."
Officials say with approximately 20,000 students on charter school wait lists, the future remains uncertain for families demanding school alternatives that fit their children's needs.
The campaign seeks to inform and convince lawmakers, Governor Murphy's Administration, and the New Jersey Department of Education to listen to the voices of thousands of families and students.
According to officials, the campaign includes families eager to remain at their current public charter school with approval for their expansion for different grades, thus securing education continuity and development support for additional seats at high-performing public charter schools.
"Our goal is to help build stronger communities through the smart growth of high-performing public charter schools," said TJ Best, Senior Advisor of NJPCSA.
"With 20,000 students on wait lists, we continue to urge the New Jersey Department of Education to consider how their decisions impact families across the Garden State, including how they will disproportionately impact students of color and from low-income communities."
Expected decisions by the NJDOE in early 2023 could impact existing students attending charter schools like Achievers Early College Prep in Trenton who want to complete their education journey in a school that is meeting their needs, officials report.
Other decisions could impact thousands of students on wait lists across the state.
"Achievers has been my home for the last three years. My teachers have pushed me to be the best person I can be and to succeed academically," said Aleslys Mong, a student at Achievers Early College Prep Charter School in Trenton.
"My education at Achievers allowed me to fall in love with coding and computer science. I don't know how I can continue learning about my passion without the curriculum of my school. My future is in the hands of the New Jersey Department of Education, and I hope they won't let me down."
There is strong support across the state for public charter schools, not just from families whose children are enrolled but from voters and parents broadly, as demonstrated in recent polling conducted by NJPCSA and the New Jersey Children's Foundation.
According to officials, earlier this year, the Association released results from a statewide poll that found that most voters and parents support public charter schools by a 2:1 margin, with even higher levels of support from Black and Latino voters.
The poll also found high levels of support from both voters and parents in several cities across the state where charter schools are seeking to expand, including Trenton and Paterson, officials say.
Similarly, a previous New Jersey Children's Foundation poll found high levels of support from voters and parents in Newark.
"Every day, I work to elevate the parent voice, and parents in communities like Newark are screaming for access to a great school like North Star Academy because the teachers and staff produce amazing academic outcomes and believe in the ability of every child," said Jasmine Morrison, whose children attend North Star Academy Charter School in Newark.
"I'm unapologetic when I say I expect my kids' public school to be a high-expectations vessel that prepares them to thrive in the future workforce."
For more information about the #LetMyChildLearn campaign, visit www.letmychildlearn.org and follow the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association on Facebook and Twitter.