With Cory Booker’s help, one in three Newark students now attends a charter school

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Today, a look back at Sen. Booker’s longtime support of Newark charter schools, an enrollment deadline, and more school news. Enjoy!

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

One of the biggest stories in Newark education over the past two decades has been the rapid spread of charter schools. And at the center of that story is Cory Booker.

Booker, the U.S. senator and former Newark mayor who recently jumped into the 2020 presidential race, has been one of the city’s biggest charter boosters. He encouraged new charter schools to open, helped them find space, and raised gobs of money to fuel their growth.

To be sure, Booker also made big changes to traditional schools through his fundraising and partnership with former Gov. Chris Christie. But his promotion of charter schools may be his most enduring education legacy. After all, local leaders can reverse the district reforms he supported or renegotiate the teachers contract. But only the state can revoke charters — a move that’s unlikely to happen to the city’s sprawling and high-performing charter-school networks.

Nationally, charter schools remain controversial within the Democratic party. On the campaign trail, Booker will have to decide whether to downplay his record in Newark or embrace it, perhaps by pointing to the charter sector’s academic success.

Locally, charters are less controversial in Newark than they were several years ago. Yet critics argue that their growth has hurt traditional schools. As one former principal put it: “The district is still struggling after all these years as the charter expansion continues.”

Read the full story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

Only a few days left for Newark families to apply to schools for the fall

  • What to know: Families have until Friday to submit applications for the 2019-20 school year, which they can do on the district’s enrollment website.
  • Families can use the site to apply to up to eight district or charter schools. (Some charter schools require families to submit separate applications.)
  • Superintendent Roger León convinced the school board to keep the enrollment system intact, despite some critics who think it has fueled the growth of charter schools.
  • Also on Friday: Any students hoping to attend a magnet high school must take a new admissions test. Magnet schools will consider the test results when deciding which students to admit.
  • Students will learn their school placements in April.
  • One big question: Will León’s administration manage its first admissions cycle without any major mishaps?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.


“Celebrity Read”…

  • An actor from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” read from her debut novel to Newark students. TAPinto Newark

NPS news & events…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

School safety…

  • Every public school in New Jersey will now be required to install silent panic alarms for emergencies, including school shooters., NJTV
  • State lawmakers want to expand the pool of people who can be armed safety agents in schools to include retired transit police officers and prison guards, and more.

Graduation requirements…

  • State lawmakers are hoping to pass a stop-gap measure keeping graduation requirements in place for current juniors and seniors until the PARCC exams are replaced. NJ Spotlight

Teacher diversity…

  • Just over 15 percent of New Jersey teachers are people of color, compared to 56 percent of students. Now, state lawmakers want to close that gap. TAPinto Newark, NJ Spotlight

School bullying…

  • Advocates want to strengthen the state’s anti-bullying rules. NJTV

National news…

  • For the first time in 25 years, Denver teachers went on strike Monday calling for across-the-board raises instead of targeted bonuses. Chalkbeat
  • Here are five lessons from a decade of research on school closures. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

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