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Mandarin immersion charters called “boutique,” unecessary in NJ

May 16, 2011

What we don’t understand is why, if there’s clearly so much interest in Mandarin in this part of NJ, the school district’s don’t simply launch Mandarin immersion programs. Generally speaking, MI programs don’t cost that much more as bilingual teachers aren’t paid more.

From Maplewood Patch

Cerf’s Comments Spur Questions About Support for ‘Boutique’ Charters in Suburbia

Acting Education Commissioner says there’s room to debate special-interest charter schools.

By Marilyn Joyce Lehren | Email the author | May 15, 2011

Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf acknowledged that what he called “boutique” charter schools, such as those offering language immersion programs, might not be needed in suburban districts that are “humming along.”

At a forum sponsored by NJ Spotlight last week in Newark, Cerf cited a proposed Mandarin-immersion charter in Princeton in questioning whether the harm such charters could cause to their districts outweighs their potential to enhance a “portfolio” of educational offerings.

“I think you really can have a very serious debate, the outcome of which is unclear, as to whether that rounds out the portfolio or impairs the success of the overall district,” Cerf said.

What Cerf’s statement means for the future of applications to open two Mandarin-immersion charters in some Essex County districts — including one in Maplewood — is unclear, but it could signal a change in the acting commissioner’s thinking about the role on charters in high-performing suburban districts.

Charter schools are public schools that use tax dollars but operate independently of the school district. Nationally, charter schools do about as well as regular public schools, though the best charters in the country are credited in raising the achievement of low-income children.

More here.

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