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New Jersey’s first virtual charter school still on hold after two year wait

May 15, 2013 by

TRENTON, N.J. – It appears that New Jersey lawmakers are looking for any excuse not to give final approval to the Garden State’s first online “virtual” charter school.

NJSpotlight.com reports the New Jersey Virtual Academy Charter School was “given preliminary approval by the state Department of Education two years ago.”

But last summer, Education Commissioner Chris Cerf delayed final approval so state officials could investigate the school’s legal merits and overall viability, reports NJSpotlight.com.

A final, final decision about the alternative school is expected by July 15.

Whether it’s successful or not, the entire approval process for a single, 850-student school will have taken about twice as long as Washington D.C. lawmakers took to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system.

Obviously, New Jersey leaders don’t want virtual charter schools in their state.

That’s probably due to the opposition the alternative schools are receiving from politically powerful teacher unions officials, who don’t want public schools to lose students to charter schools. After all, the fewer students in public schools, the less need for union teachers.

If logic rather than politics were applied in this situation, the state would simply let the school open and closely monitor its performance. There’s only one way to know whether it will benefit students – by giving it a try.

Officials of the New Jersey Virtual Academy Charter School, meanwhile, are doing everything they can to prepare for the upcoming school year, on the chance they may be able to open.

The news site reports that K-12 Inc. – the education company that owns the school – has 1,000 potential students registered and has made job offers to 25 teachers.

Allies of virtual charter schools are even preparing a demonstration in the Statehouse to show lawmakers how the schools work in real time.

“All 120 legislators have been invited to the session,” reports NJSpotlight.com.

Lorna Bryant, interim director of the school, said many families were “heartbroken” when the school’s opening was put on hold last summer.

“ … We’ve told them that we will need to wait until July 15,” Bryant said.

New Jersey’s first virtual charter school still on hold after two year wait – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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