N.J. approves nine new charters, delays decision on cyber schools

The New Jersey Education Department has given final approval for nine new charter schools to open in the fall. A decision on 10 other schools, including the state’s first virtual charters, is being delayed for another year.

Carlos Perez, CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, says cyber charters are a viable option. But he supports the one-year delay in deciding whether to give approval to the first two.

“Every single charter school that opens up must be of high quality and able to meet the needs of students at day one,” Perez said. “I see the idea of a planning year as ultimately a good thing, allowing these schools to be better prepared to achieve the high results necessary for the parents and kids that they serve.”

A coalition of education groups — including the New Jersey Education Association and the Education Law Center — opposes the online-only charters. The group maintains the state charter school law does not allow them.

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“The history of these schools has been dismal in other states,” says Julia Rubin with the group Save Our Schools. “Academically, students who start at the same level in the traditional school and the virtual school end up four years behind.”

Members of the coalition have threatened to take legal action if the cyber charters are approved.

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