By Steve Gunn
TRENTON, N.J. – The New Jersey Education Association has won its fight to keep the state’s first two fully online schools from opening this fall.
But the state’s largest teachers union is not settling for that single victory. Now it’s pressuring state officials to reconsider approval for the opening of two new hybrid charter schools, according to a report published by NJSpotlight.com.
The state has given the green light for the Merit Preparatory Charter School and the Newark Preparatory Charter School to open this fall. The schools, both located in Newark, are planning to bring students into a common space every day to mix online learning with face-to-face instruction.
Somehow the union finds this plan objectionable. We’re guessing it’s because the two new charters will not be hiring union teachers, so they will produce no dues revenue for the NJEA.
As we’ve seen so many times before, the unions have no interest in any plan that doesn’t funnel tax dollars into their account.
Leaders of the NJEA sent a letter to acting Education Commissioner Chris Serf earlier this week, demanding that the state reconsider its approval of the new schools.
They claim that the state’s charter school law, passed in 1995 before the explosion of online education, does not include provisions to properly regulate or monitor cyber or hybrid schools. The suggestion is that the schools would not properly serve their students.
That’s the same argument the unions used last week to convince state officials to postpone the opening of two cyber schools this fall.
How ironic. The union defends dozens of traditional schools around the state that fail to properly serve students, just because those schools emply union teachers. Yet they’re worried about hybrid or cyber schools trying a new and unique approach?
The NJEA needs to relax. State officials are elected and appointed to oversee all publicly funded schools. If the new hybrid charters perform poorly, those officials will be held accountable. This is not the union’s concern.
In the meantime, we hope the citizens of New Jersey are noticing an emerging pattern from the NJEA. The union only seems to fret about the quality of education when a potential competitor wants to try a different approach using non-union teachers.
Union leaders don’t want any type of new schools to steal students (and the state money attached to them) from traditional unionized government schools. This is all about money and nothing else.