Winning charter school strategy: protect wealthy towns?

Here is a curious turn of events in the ongoing debate over whether local school districts can be forced to spend taxpayer money on charter schools at the expense of public schools and without any local vote.

It concerns the Hua Mei charter school proposal, a Mandarin-immersion school. Earlier this year, the proposal would have included – and thus drawn funds from – Christie hometown Livingston, tony Millburn, and middle-class South Orange, Maplewood, West Orange, and Union. That proposal got rejected by the Christie Administration. And they gave feedback as to why.

Now, taking that feedback into account, there is a revised proposal – that takes out Livingston and Millburn. And according to a new list from the Christie Administration it’s still in the running, much to the chagrin of local officials from the towns that would be impacted.

One of those officials, Asw. Mila Jasey, has sponsored a bill to give local communities a choice as to whether their tax dollars get spent on charters. It has passed the Assembly and awaits action in the Senate.

But for Livingston and Millburn, no legislation was needed. Was it because they had enough influence in the Christie Administration to stop their wealthy districts (one of which the Governor went to) from being de-funded – while places like South Orange don’t have that clout? I don’t know, but it seems worth digging deeper.

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