The national spotlight is focused on New Jersey’s largest city as major efforts are launched to improve the quality of public schools district-wide.
Under the leadership of a new superintendent, the Newark public school system is creating a portfolio of high-quality schools, from new in-district high schools to charter schools, that will offer parents and their children wide-ranging options.This special section of Local Talk Newark explores the variety of charter schools in the city, including the four new ones slated to open for the 2011-12 school year. Several of these schools will be located inside traditional district schools, making the best use of buildings with empty classrooms.
Charter schools are innovative public schools that do not charge tuition. And they are not private schools — contrary to some popular mischaracterization — even though many charter students in Newark are receiving a public education that rivals some of the best schools in the state.
Unlike magnet schools, charter schools do not have entrance exams or prerequisites; they accept all students who apply through a random lottery. If there are more applicants than spaces, students are placed on a waiting list. This year, 14 percent of Newark’sstudent population is enrolled in charter schools. Next year, it is expected to grow to nearly 7,900 students — about 17 percent of the total public school population.