NJ Politics Digest: Is State Running a ‘Stealth Moratorium’ on Charter Schools?

Charter school advocates say Repollet issued his denials to 13 schools without even interviewing the applicants.

Lamont Repollet (left) and Phil Murphy.
New Jersey Education Commission Lamont Repollet (left) and Gov. Phil Murphy. Christian Hetrick for Observer

He says charter schools represent “an exciting opportunity” to design “innovative ways of helping children reach high levels of academic achievement.” But State Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet also said “no” to every charter school bid in the latest cycle, according to a story on NJSpotlight.

Charter school advocates say Repollet issued his denials to 13 schools without even interviewing the applicants. That’s leading some to worry that behind his gung-ho words, Repollet and the Murphy administration have imposed a stealth moratorium on expanding charter schools in the state, according to the NJSpotlight story.

Murphy has said he favors taking a timeout on expanding charter schools, and on Friday, the state announced a “comprehensive review” of New Jersey’s charter school law.

But, as commuters have learned to their regret, Murphy’s calls for a review can drag on well past the time frame promised. Ten months ago, the governor ordered an audit of New Jersey Transit, saying the review would be completed in about three months. It’s still not done, and commuters have become increasingly vocal about how bad service on the beleaguered transit system has become since Murphy took office.

Charter school advocates tell NJSpotlight that the refusal to approve charter schools is harming families—particularly those in low-income communities of color—who want an alternative to sending their children to local public schools.

Quote of the Day: “With more than 35,000 students on charter school waiting lists, it’s clear families, particularly in low-income communities of color, are desperately seeking additional public school choices.” — Harold Lee, the interim president of the New Jersey Charter School Association.

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NJ Politics Digest: Is State Running a ‘Stealth Moratorium’ on Charter Schools?