New Jersey’s Christie Signs Charter School Expansion Law

Governor Chris Christie has signed into law legislation that permits nonpublic schools to be converted into charter schools, signaling his intent to expand the availability of charter schools in New Jersey as an alternative for children in consistently failing schools.

The New Jersey Governor has also proposed a new reform agenda which includes tenure reform, reform of the state's charter law, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, and compensation reform to reward outstanding teachers. Christie is targeting what his administration sees as the biggest challenges facing public education.

"With this legislation signed today, we are taking another step to expand access to high quality school options to ensure that more students are stepping into classrooms that will give them a better education and a brighter future." said Governor Christie.

As in line with existing charter law, the former students of the recently converted schools will be permitted to enroll in the charter school, with preference for any remaining enrollment spaces for the charter school for its first year, and for all enrollment spaces in each successive year.

The bill would also permit existing faculty to continue their employment at the charter school following its conversion, subject to each employee's full compliance with New Jersey certification requirements within two years of the conversion.

Democratic leaders have said that they would consider his proposal to tie teacher tenure to performance. But the leadership vowed not go along with Christie's education changes wholesale. The administration is pushing to expand the role of charter schools and enact a school voucher laws funded through tax credits, writes Heather Haddon at the Wall Street Journal.

New Jersey Democrats were buoyed by a win in Tuesday's statewide election. And have pledged to push back against Christie and slow the success he's had in getting his agenda passed in the first half of his term.

Members of the new Assembly and state Senate leadership caucus said Thursday that they intended to advance their own jobs and education bills and revive the "millionaire's tax" that the governor opposes.

But Christie was dismissive:

"The McGreevey, Codey, Corzine years are over," Christie said. "There is no one in this room who is going to sign a millionaire's tax or any tax increase."

Christie said he didn't "lose any sleep" over the Democrat win on Tuesday and intended to keep reaching across the aisle to advance reforms in the state.

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