Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NJ Governor Signs Bill To Let Nonprofits Run Public Schools

Nonprofits will now be able to run failing public schools thanks to a new bill signed in New Jersey.

Business Weekly reported last week that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed The Urban Hope Act, which creates a 10-year pilot program that allows nonprofits to build and operate "renaissance schools" in Newark, Trenton, and Camden.  Renaissance schools are similar to the charter school programs that have been running in New Jersey for more than a decade.  While charters get reimbursed as much as 90 percent of the district's per-pupil costs, these new schools will get 95 percent.  Organizations will be able to apply to local boards and then the state Education Department for up to four schools in each city.

This is the first education-related victory for Christie, a first-term Republican, after he declared 2011 "The year of education reform."  The Governor and sponsoring Democrats say The Urban Hope Act will create choices for students who are stuck in districts with failing schools.  The original version of the bill would have also allowed for-profit firms to run schools, but that measure didn't make it into the final bill.

The Urban Hope Act is part of a four-bill package that also includes a privately funded school-voucher program, among other reforms.  Christie has vowed to renew debate on those measures later in 2012.  Make sure to read the full article in Business Weekly.

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