The New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first charter schools in the state with the 2022 NJPCSA 25th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick last week.
The gala featured state lawmakers, the mayors of Paterson and Plainfield, Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan, and the CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. More than 300 charter school supporters representing the 85 charter schools in the state that educate 60,000 New Jersey students were in attendance.
“This year’s celebration marks 25 years of the public charter school community making a difference in communities across the Garden State,” said Harry Lee, President, and CEO of NJPCSA. “As tuition-free public schools open to all students regardless of zip code, income or ability level, we are proud of the contributions that New Jersey charter schools have made and will continue to make in the lives of students and families.”
New Jersey State Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), a supporter who has previously introduced bills to help shape the landscape of charter school approvals, was recognized with the New Jersey Charter Schools Legislator Champion Award.
“I am proud to have been a leader in expanding educational opportunities to help our children live up to their fullest potential,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “It is an honor to accept the Charter School Champion Award in recognition of my ongoing commitment to ensuring New Jersey students and families have access to the educational opportunities they deserve.”
Nina Rees, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, was the keynote speaker. “New Jersey is undoubtedly one of the charter school movement’s success stories,” she said. “New Jersey’s charter schools have changed the trajectory of students’ lives,” she said. To that end, Rees said new threats in the educational system continue to emerge. “Families want charter school options to ensure students continue to have the high-quality charter schools they deserve,” she said.
In 2022, NJPCSA released a poll that found that most registered voters in New Jersey support public charter schools by a nearly 2:1 ratio, and parents surveyed have an even higher level of support, with 56% supporting and 24% opposing. These findings have made it imperative for lawmakers at all levels and on both sides of the aisle to pay attention to the need for more high-quality educational opportunities to meet the needs of New Jersey’s students, including public charter schools.
Lastly, in cities like Paterson, the need to increase the number of high-quality educational opportunities for kids is a high priority for local leaders. Currently, about 5,500 students attend the six charter schools that already operate in the city, and Brilla College Prep Elementary will open its doors in 2023. “I look forward to working with local community leaders and families as well as with the Governor’s administration to continue to focus on providing educational opportunities that meet Paterson students’ needs,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. For more information on charter schools, visit www.njcharters.org