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The mission of the New Jersey Charter School Resource Center (CSRC) is to help organizers and operators create and sustain high quality public schools of choice. No other organization in the state is committed to this singular focus. The CSRC supports educational reform and innovation by helping charter school organizers work through the challenges of designing and operating a public charter school. At every stage of school development–planning, proposal, approval, and operation–the CSRC provides information, resources, and technical assistance. Through workshops, statewide conferences, and site visits, the CSRC assists charter school planners and operators, introduces regional participants to experienced educational leaders, and highlights exemplary schools.

Announcements

Statement on the role of charters in turnaround business

Following up on his remarks earlier this week at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today issued the following statement urging states to work with charter school operators to turn around struggling schools and provide innovation and choice to students and parents: “States need to have a plan to turn around their lowest-performing schools. I’m an advocate of using whatever model works for children and I want charter schools to join that work. But they won’t be able to get into the turnaround business in states that restrict the growth of charters. States that slow innovation are limiting opportunities for students and placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage for $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants. “For example, in Indiana and Maine, state legislatures must act in the best interest of students and open doors to education entrepreneurs, like those running charter schools. While some states limit the number of charter schools, others like Louisiana and Tennessee, have lifted their caps on charters, giving more students the opportunity to attend higher performing schools. “Let me be clear, I am not simply advocating for more charter schools. We need more good charter schools. There needs to be a high bar set for entry during the charter application process, and accountability systems need to link student achievement to instruction.” “Many charter school operators are today’s top education innovators and entrepreneurs. Children need more high-quality educational options, and charter schools have an important role to play in the school turnaround business.”

Involving Teachers in Charter School Governance

As part of our series of state policy guides on charter school finance and governance, this report focuses on involving teachers in charter school governance. The guide outlines the pros and cons of different policy options with illustrative examples from existing state law and practice. The report raises issues that state policymakers may want to consider related to teacher involvement in charter school governance and aims to help them identify approaches that best meet the needs of charter schools in their state. To view this publication, please visit the “read more” link, OR to obtain additional hard copies, please send an email to info@charterresource.org.

U.S. Secretary of Education Issues Statement on Charter Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke at the National Charter Schools Conference and later issued a followup statement saying that he encouraged states to work with charter schools and their operators so that they could use every available resource to help under performing schools and provide students and their families with as many educational options as possible.

In his statement, he claimed that charter schools offer innovation to students and their families, and that states that try and limit the growth of charter schools are often hurting students and their state’s educational standing. Specifically, he mentioned that these states may find themselves disadvantaged in the pursuit of Race to the Top Fund grants.

Some of the states that Duncan hailed as being most receptive to the innovations provided by charter school operators included Indiana and Maine, while some of the states he criticized as trying to limit the number of charter schools included Louisiana and Tennessee.

Duncan ended his statement by clarifying that his overall message was not that he felt that states needed more charter schools, but rather, that they needed more good charter schools, and that these institutions provide incredible options for high-quality education and helping to turn around struggling schools.

Legal Responsibilities of Public School Administrators

Public schools, including both traditional public schools and charter schools, have a variety of different responsibilities meant to ensure the safety of all students on their premises. While many of these responsibilities are fairly obvious, like adhering to established safety standards and making sure that all faculty and staff are properly trained to prevent and deal with any emergency situation that may arise, they are also responsible for addressing any potentially dangerous situations they notice in a timely manner by either getting rid of the problem or installing safety measures to keep these dangers from harming students.

While this may seem like a simply straightforward requirement, schools can be legally liable for hazards that are not so immediately apparent. This was point was illustrated in a legal case a few years ago, Curiel  v. Centralia Elementary School, (PDF) which dealt with an incident in which a driver drove their car up onto the sidewalk of an elementary school and struck and killed two students who were waiting in the student pick-up area. While the driver of the car was found to be 85% responsible for the accident, the school was held 15% liable, as they failed to identify a dangerous situation and take steps to address it and prevent harm to students.

As such, if your child was injured at a charter school because of dangers that you think should have been recognizable and preventable, a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer may be able to successfully argue that the school in question should be held legally liable for the harm that befell your child. This potential for legal liability is a great incentive for schools to do everything in their power to keep their premises safe and do everything they can to not only address obvious dangers, but to also think about what potential accidents could occur on their premises and take measures to prevent these from occurring.

Car Accidents and the Dangers Facing Charter Students

While charter schools do differ from other public schools in a number of ways, namely that they are allowed a much greater flexibility in how they are run, students can often only attend based on a lottery system, and the schools are expected to obtain certain higher levels of results from the students, there are a number of similarities between these two types of schools as well. Each is open to the general public and receives public funding rather than charging students tuition. However, another similarity that may not be initially considered when comparing public and charter schools but is one any car accident lawyer will urge people to consider is the danger that students can face due to car accidents.

For students at charter schools and public schools alike, they must get to and from school. Often parents or other responsible drivers are not able to provide this transportation, causing many students to ride school buses to and from school. While riding a bus itself does not necessarily put a person in more danger of being involved in an accident, waiting for a bus at a bus stop can put a child or teenager in a more precarious position. As pedestrians, students are more vulnerable to being severely harmed should a car accident occur, striking the student. In fact, a recent incident in Charlotte, North Carolina illustrates the serious danger that students getting to and from school can face. On January 8, several high school students were involved in a 3-car collision that caused serious injuries. Not only were these teen drivers harmed, but other, younger students who were at or on their way to a nearby bus stop were nearly injured themselves.

This accident, sadly, highlighted the greater danger of being in a car accident that both students, as pedestrians, and teen drivers face. Although many schools, including charter schools, take precautions to keep their students safe from being involved in car accidents, the actions of other reckless and irresponsible drivers can cause innocent students to be harmed in these often severe accidents.

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