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Local Voices: A Letter to the Governor

Justin Escher Alpert contributes: Charter Schools in Top-Performing School Districts.

Dear Governor Christie:

Oh, Governor, you may wish to reconsider not running for President in 2012.  I fear that if you wait for 2016, you will not have the chance after having been voted out of office in 2013.

I’ll explain…

Governor, you should have been there last night.  It was at a school board meeting in your own high school alma mater in Livingston, New Jersey.  The Townspeople came together in a way that you might imagine when you think of the best of The Garden State.  In the vacuum of your leadership on the issue, the People would not sit idly by as their towns are deconstructed on quasi-Conservative think-tank principles.  They are fighting for laws to protect them and their towns and their top-performing school districts.  Unfortunately, the law, when it does come, may be too late to save the towns and the top-performing school districts.

The applications for the Mandarin immersion schools have landed on the desk of your administration.  If they are not roundly rejected, whether on principle or on the flimsiness of their applications, then you will have lit the wick for the complete destruction of the top-performing school districts in the State.  First come the Mandarin immersion schools, then the Hebrew immersion schools, then the math and science immersion schools, then the arts immersion schools.  We will have cuts and filets to tempt every palate, but the living breathing animal that is public education, the tent pole of the communities that put you into office, will be exterminated.  All of those important lessons of what it means to live in a community, and what it means to be able to experiment learning a new language, challenging yourself with a new subject, getting up on the stage for the first time to face an audience, and interacting in the hallway of the public school with others who may have different interests and foci than you… all of that will be lost.

Governor, in the vacuum of your leadership, in the darkness of no direction from your administration as to any standards for charter schools in top-performing districts, and with an acting Education Commissioner who was president of the world’s largest for-profit operator of charter schools, the People… regular everyday folks who normally are not involved in the political process, have lost faith in your administration and are fighting for their communities.  In their course of action, they are meeting their elected public officials and they are reading documents and they are proposing meetings and legislation and demonstrations, and they are learning that leadership is not something that you wait for or are elected or appointed into.  Leadership is something that is constructed out of the combination of principles and life skills and passion and sweat equity. 

Governor, the will of the People is overwhelming and has to date fallen on deaf ears on your administration.  A simple public statement on your part would do.  “For any charter school application which seeks to draw students from a top-performing district that is largely self-funded, there will be a rebuttable presumption that such district is meeting the needs of its students.  The top-performing school districts and townships of The Garden State will not be frayed by ethnicities or other special interests on my watch as Governor.”

Governor, I welcome you to come to one of your alma mater’s school board meetings and demonstrate what leadership is.  In the meantime, you are rapidly losing your flock, which is devising its own methods of defending against the wolves, and in the process, realizing that they don't really need your leadership going forward.

Sincerely,

 Justin Escher Alpert, Livingston, NJ

Brian Hurrel May 24, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Well said!
Concerned Livingston Resident May 24, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Justin -- Great letter. Others should follow-up with similar letters. You should send the letter to the Star Ledger.
Matt Stewart May 24, 2011 at 03:21 PM
I guess Justin raises the key question...namely: "Where is the Governor on this Issue?"... Has he articulated a position? If not - why not?
Chuck Granata May 25, 2011 at 03:18 AM
As a fellow resident, I would respectfully ask Testy11 to rethink the way you are expressing your frustration. It really is unfair to slam an entire race simply because a small group - mostly non-Livingston residents - have made a request that they are entitled to make. I am sure you're a decent person, and that you don't really believe that boycotting Asian businesses - or those of any other cultural/religious/racial group because a particular individual of that extraction pissed you off - is the right thing to do. This issue really isn't about a Mandarin school; it is about the overwhelming opposition to ANY Charter School being forced on the community - in light of the fiscal limitations and ramifications, and the superiority of our public schools. I would beg you - and anyone else who feels frustrated and is looking for someone to blame - to not turn your frustration and anger toward a group who has a strong and proud presence in our community - and whose children are an important part of the successful, diverse mosaic of our schools. I can attest that MANY Asian constituents have expressed opposition to the proposed Charter Schools, as we as Board members have received hundreds of letters - a good many of them from Asian residents. As well, there were many, many Asian residents who signed the various petitions circulating that encourage our elected officials to deny the Charter School applications. Please bear in mind that, "United we conquer; divided we fall."
Kirby Ehret May 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Very good.
KLF May 25, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Are you kidding me, Matt? Chris Christie loves charter schools. Opening new charter schools is a huge priority in his administration. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie Leaves Charter School Budget Untouched http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/gov_chris_christie_budget_leav.html Christie Expands Number of Charter Schools in NJ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/01/19/christie-expands-number-charter-schools-new-jersey/ Christie Moves Forward with Charter School Plans http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/education/press/article_04eeef3c-0d5c-11df-b259-001cc4c002e0.html

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