For the third year in a row, New Jersey has failed to obtain a federal grant for charter school startups.
Federal reviewers cited weakness in the state’s oversight and support for charters in denying New Jersey’s request for $15 million in federal funds.
Carlos Perez, CEO of the New Jersey Charter School Association, said the state’s failure to get the grant shows the need for the Legislature to approve changes to the 15-year-old charter school law.
“It’s a clear message that the law here creates a weak environment for high-quality charter school growth,” he said. “So for us, the task is how do we work together to make sure that we can pass legislation that will create a strong charter school environment, and that’s what the Obama Administration is really looking for us to do here.”
New Jersey Education Department spokesman Justin Barra said some components of the state’s 15-year-old charter school law put it at a disadvantage in getting the federal funds.
“We only have one authorizer in the state versus multiple authorizers. Charter schools do not have as much flexibility in New Jersey as they do in other places,” Barra said. “These are things we’re trying to address with the legislation that’s currently in front of the Legislature.”
Perez said not getting the grant money significantly hinders the ability of new charter schools to open.