Steady Improvement in the School Enrollment System in Newark
Steve Adubato sits down with Michele Mason, Executive Director of the Newark Charter School Fund, to discuss the success and improvement of the school enrollment system in Newark.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. Coming to you from the North Ward Center. A community based organization, a not for profit, where we're taping a series of interviews with some very talented, committed leaders to urban education, and we're also doing a forum on the future of urban education in New Jersey and in the nation. We're pleased to be joined by Michele Mason, the Executive Director of the Newark Charter School Fund. Michele, let me ask you, define a charter school. Thank you, Steve, for having me here today. Great to have you. I appreciate it. Charter schools are free public schools that have allowed students to access a great education across... here in Newark and across the country. Okay, let's break this down a little bit. Yeah. But charter schools, while they are public...? Mm hmm. ...do not function exactly the way...? I mean, to fully disclose, the North Ward Center... Yeah. ...has an organization connected to it, an independent entity called the Robert Treat Academy. I've known it well. My dad founded it, my sister... my older sister is one of the leaders there, the principal. But here's the question. I know that they don't have the exact same rules as a traditional... Yeah. ...public school, what are the differences? The difference is that the charter school has a little bit of autonomy to hire, fire teachers, and actually meet the needs of students. So there's a little bit of freedom that, the school leader has the opportunity to manage their budget. They are... again, able to hire teachers that meet the needs of students, and so it gives a little bit of freedom for them to be a little bit more creative, than what has been historically traditional public schools. How are charter schools doing not just in Newark, not just in... Yeah. ...New Jersey, but across the nation? Yeah, you know, charter schools are an option for parents, and here, particularly in Newark, Newark is the second highest performing charter school... Is it 40%? 40%... 40% of the students in public schools go to...? A third of students. A third? Okay. A third of students. So over the last ten years, the number of students who have parents who've chosen a charter school as an option has risen from about 10% to about 30% of students are... Why you think that is? I think because what's most important is parents are choosing, that the sector is a high quality sector which means that more and more students are reading and doing math on grade level, are graduating high school and enrolling in college and being prepared for life success, and so, you know, here in urban communities, it's most important that parents have an option or a choice, because..."