New Jersey Court Upholds Charters to Blended Learning Schools

 

A New Jersey State Appellate court agreed with the ruling made by the New Jersey Education Commissioner to give charters to two Newark schools that make use of online technology in the classroom. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), did not agree with the ruling, according to Peggy McGlone for The Star-Ledger.

The NJEA maintains that the charter school law is only for brick and mortar schools and not for schools that use blended learning. Blended learning consists of a mix of traditional, face to face teaching and online instruction. The NJEA is the state’s largest teachers’ union and plans to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The problem, the NJEA says, is that the ruling would take away tax payer money for traditional district and local public schools as well as having an adverse effect on teacher union members because these schools could take away the union’s membership of employment.

The New Jersey State Appellate Court decided that the  two charter schools coincide with the 1995 Charter School Program Act’s goal by supporting “a variety of educational approaches which may not be available in the traditional public school classroom.” The court was also not convinced that approving the two charter schools that use blended technology would adversely effect the membership of the NJEA.

“The court’s ruling makes it clear that virtual instruction in a ‘blended’ charter is merely another ‘learning tool’ within the walls of a brick and mortar school, staffed by real teachers,” Wendell Steinhauer said in a statement. ‘This ruling makes it clear that there must be further consideration of this matter by the Legislature, and NJEA will be discussing this issue with legislators in the very near future.”

This ruling helps to clear the way for the blended learning schools, Newark Preparatory School and Merit Preparatory School, and other ones like it in the future, reports John Mooney for the New Jersey Spotlight. It also sets the potential for the growth of online classes and schools. Another blended learning school has been proposed by the for-profit company, K12 Inc., which runs the Newark Preparatory School.