Privatizing The Camden, NJ Schools

The wave of school privatizations couched under the banner of “reform” may be headed to Camden, New Jersey.

Taking advantage of what he described as a crisis in the Camden school district, Governor Chris Christie announced Monday that the district “has proven undeniably to be broken and incapable of change on its own,” and said the state was going to take over the district because “decisive action and reform are desperately needed.”

Describing part of the plan, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Most significantly, the current school board search for a superintendent is stalled, with Christie now in charge of appointing a new school leader. He said the board may have some valuable candidates whom the state would consider, but the board will now serve in an advisory role — so members no longer have control of the process. Christie also gets to appoint three more members to the advisory board.

Part of the problem Christie described were low test scores and graduation rates for Camden students:

The school system for this city of about 77,000 across the Delaware River from Philadelphia long has been plagued with low test scores, falling graduation rates and declining enrollment. During the 2011-12 school year, graduation rates plummeted by 7 percentage points to 49.3%, down from 56.9% the year before. The graduation rate statewide is 86%, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

Camden, the sixth largest school district in New Jersey, has the second lowest graduation rate. Only Trenton, N.J., schools are lower…

Really sad.  My high school class from Trenton Central High School sent 75% of its graduates on to additional training.  Camden High and Trenton High had legendary sports programs, producing successive state basketball championships in 1960 (Camden) and 1961 (Trenton).  Now there is little industry, the schools have failed and the vultures are circling.  Without jobs, there are slim prospects for improvement in education.

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