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N.J. leaders change their minds, deny application for a virtual charter school academy

Jun 6, 2013 by

NEWARK, N.J. – Talk about being jerked around by government bureaucrats and the greedy union leaders they serve.

The organizers of the New Jersey Virtual Academy Charter School have been waiting for two years for final state approval to begin functioning as the state’s first online charter school.

The school was given initial approval by Gov. Chris Christie and state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, according to a report from NJSpotlight.com.

Then there was sudden opposition from the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. NJEA leaders said they were concerned about the quality of education students would receive.

In truth the union leaders were probably more concerned because the school planned to hire non-union teachers and was a threat to steal students from traditional schools with union teachers.

The union opposition clearly left an impression on state officials.

Last summer Cerf put the school on hold for another year, claiming he wanted to take a closer look at its legal standing and the effectiveness of online schools.

So school officials planned to launch this fall, instead, with about 850 students already enrolled and more expressing interest.

But the entire project came to a half this week when it was learned that Cerf has changed his mind and decided to deny a state charter to Virtual Academy, as well as another virtual charter school that would have served high school dropouts.

“Uncertainty about the legal foundations for fully virtual charter schools and the Department’s serious concerns regarding its ability to effectively oversee such schools precludes the department from granting … a final charter,” Cerf wrote to the school operators.

If there is so much uncertainty on the part of the state, why did it grant initial approval for the school several years ago?

Michael Pallante, chairman of the proposed school’s board, did not take the news happily.

“We now find ourselves in a position of having to tell 850 children, their families, and the teachers your staff insisted we hire as part of the compliance process that, once again, the school will be denied the opportunity to open and prove ourselves,” Pallante wrote in an open letter to Cerf.

New Jersey has gotten a lot of positive news coverage in recent years due to Christie’s frequent battles with the greedy teachers unions. Some people may have even got the impression that the unions no longer called the shots in the state’s education sphere.

But it’s now obvious that the teachers unions are alive and well in Newark and still wield enough power to kill off potential competitors before they open their doors.

What a shame for the many students who may have thrived through online instruction.

N.J. leaders change their minds, deny application for a virtual charter school academy – EAGnews.org powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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