Three Cheers for NJ DOE Commissioner Lamont Repollet!

Boy, I bet you didn’t expect to see that headline from me. I just can’t help myself: After Newark Superintendent Roger Leon —with no guidance from his School Board–demanded that Comm. Repollet close down four charter schools and “deny any and all requests for new charter schools and charter renewals unless the applicant shows that it would serve a specific educational need,” the answer appears to be “no.” Or close to that: Of the three charters Leon wants shut down, only M.E.T.S Charter School will get the ax, according to New Jersey Children’s Foundation Executive Director Kyle Rosenkrans.

M.E.T.S. was already on probation and had facilities issues. But the other three public charters — People’s Prep, Roseville Community, and University Heights — will keep their doors open. For earlier coverage from NJLB, see here, here, here, and here.

Hmm. Four posts. That seems excessive. But Leon’s demand to the DOE was bigger than the closing of four schools. It was a deliberate obstruction of the largest factor in Newark’s educational renaissance and a deliberate silencing of Newark voices. After all, the majority of Newark parents see public charter schools as an important part of the city’s public school landscape and the majority choose a charter school as their first choice on the universal enrollment system.

Leon clapped his hands over his ears — or, worse, maybe he didn’t even care what Newarkers want —to make a “request” that had nothing to do with parents and their children and everything to do with money and market share. But Repollet didn’t fold. From TapInto:

“We applaud Commissioner Repollet for looking past the rhetoric and focusing on the individual merits of each of the four Newark charters up for renewal,” Rosenkrans said. “We are still awaiting the details, but by renewing three and closing one, we think he made decisions that balanced the interests of Newark children and families against the urgent need for accountability for performance that all charters sign up for.”

One note of caution: There is no official word from the DOE and M.E.T.S.’ website says it is still accepting applications. But if TapInto (which interviewed Rosenkrans) is right, then maybe, just maybe, the DOE has, to at least a small degree, thrust off the shackles binding them to NJEA’s agenda. The majority of Newark families thank the DOE and Commissioner Repollet.

What do you think?

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