CAMDEN, N.J. – Saying that the Camden school district is at a “breaking point,” Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that the state of New Jersey has begun the process for an eventual takeover of the beleaguered school system.
The state intervention could be made official in six to eight weeks, barring a court challenge, reports the Associated Press.
Camden schools’ long history of failing its students led Christie to decide that “enough is enough,” reports Philly.com.
“We’re acting because inaction is immoral,” Christie said. “Let’s treat all these children – and make all these decisions – as if they’re our own children.”
The 12,000-student district is a complete academic embarrassment. Its four-year graduation rate in 2012 was an abysmal 49 percent.
The AP reports that of the students who manage to graduate, “only 2 percent … score 1550 or higher on their SATs, a metric defined as indicating a high likelihood of college success and completion.”
Significant changes will occur once the state officially takes over the district.
The governor will appoint a new school superintendent, and state officials will appoint three additional members to the Camden school board, which will become advisory in nature, the AP reports.
The state will hire full-time teachers to replace long-term substitutes, revamp the curriculum and purchase textbooks and technology that students currently lack, reports Philly.com.
New Jersey education officials may choose to close a number of school buildings in the district, while allowing new charter or Renaissance schools to open, the news agency reports.
During Monday’s conference, Christie was vague about how a state takeover would impact contract negotiations with the local teachers union.
New Jersey officials were clear about one thing: Camden’s lack of student success is not due to a lack of resources.
In its “takeover” paperwork, state officials noted that Camden spent $23,709 per student in the 2011-12 school year compared with a statewide average of $18,045, the AP reports.
Unbelievably, Rosemary Jackson, a Camden teacher, still blamed the district’s failure on a lack of resources, reports the AP.
But as one New Jersey official put it: “The problem isn’t a lack of funding. The system is broken, and it’s clear that additional state involvement is necessary to truly address the systemic problems and get the Camden School District on the right track.”