NCSF Celebrates 20 Years of New Jersey Public Charter Schools at 6th Annual Compact Signing Event
[Newark, NJ – December 14, 2016] - The Newark Charter School Fund (NCSF), a non-profit organization that provides grants to support the quality, growth and sustainability of Newark’s public charter school sector, hosted the 6th annual Newark Charter School Compact Signing Event at the Newark Museum last night. The Newark Charter School Compact, created by NCSF in 2011, provides a framework of common values and principles that guides the long-term work of public charter schools across the city. The Compact Signing Event also celebrated 20 years of New Jersey public charter schools by honoring legendary Newark political and education leader, Stephen N. Adubato, Sr., founder of The North Ward Center and one of the city’s first charter schools, the Robert Treat Academy Charter School.
“As we come together to sign our 6th annual Charter Compact and celebrate 20 years of New Jersey public charter schools, we are more motivated than ever to fight for high quality educational options for all of our children,” said Michele Mason, Executive Director of NCSF. “I am inspired by the collaborative spirit of our school leaders, district leaders, parents and the broader community to achieve educational excellence and equity for all of our children and families. We are grateful to our partners, parents and students for their steadfast commitment to attain the great outcomes that all of Newark’s children deserve.”
18 of Newark’s 21 public charter schools signed this year’s Compact including two new charter schools slated to open next fall. In signing the Compact, Newark public charter schools commit to upholding the highest principles of transparency and public accountability, serving an unmet need in Newark, striving for educational excellence and fulfilling their mission to educate all students in the most equitable manner possible. The Newark Charter School Compact is believed to be the first urban public charter school compact in the United States.
“It is critically important for educational leaders and parents to remain united in the struggle to achieve full funding for all of Newark’s schools,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “The Newark Charter School Compact embraces that principle and represents a commitment from our charter educational leaders to work in partnership with the City and the Newark Public Schools to achieve a world class education for all Newark families, whether in a traditional or charter school.”
The event also celebrated 20 years of New Jersey public charter schools by honoring a distinguished political figure and education advocate, Stephen N. Adubato, Sr., the founder of The North Ward Center, a nationally-recognized non-profit organization that provides high quality educational, healthcare and social services to Newark residents. Through his leadership at The North Ward Center and unwavering commitment to Newark families, Mr. Adubato established the Robert Treat Academy Charter School in 1997, one of the first public charter schools to open in New Jersey and one of the very first charters in Newark. In 2008, Robert Treat Academy was designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for its superior academic performance. Additionally, for four consecutive years, the State of New Jersey has recognized Robert Treat Academy as a Reward School for its consistent academic achievements.
“My father, Stephen N. Adubato, Sr., has spent his entire life fighting to ensure that every child has access to an excellent education and I am thrilled to accept this honor on his behalf,” said Michele Adubato, CEO of The North Ward Center. “He was a pioneer in educational leadership, understanding the importance of placing strong leaders in our schools to open up opportunities for students. He knew that by focusing on high quality instruction, students in Newark would excel both inside and outside the classroom. His deep commitment to serving Newark families, through the creation of The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy, has and will continue to bring transformational change to our city.”
The New Jersey Charter School Program Act, which was signed into law by Governor Christine Todd Whitman in January 1996, enabled the first cohort of New Jersey public charter schools to open their doors in 1997. Over the past 20 years, public charter schools have provided New Jersey families with additional high quality public school options and have expanded opportunities for children across New Jersey, growing from 13 public charter schools serving approximately 1,340 students in 1997, to 88 public charter schools serving nearly 50,000 students across the state in 2016. In Newark, public charter schools currently educate about one-third of the city’s public school children.
“The Compact signing brought together a wide-range of education and political leaders from across our city to reflect on the collective impact the Newark charter sector has had on families and children over the past two decades,” said Dale Anglin, trustee of the NCSF Board. “Our Newark charter sector, under Michele’s skillful leadership, continues to be a shining example of what is possible in urban education and will continue to be a model sector for education advocates across the country.”
Public charter schools across the state provide families from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds with access to excellent educational opportunities. In communities like Newark, public charter schools are providing high quality school options to traditionally underserved student populations: in Newark, about 83 percent of students are African American and 82 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch, compared to the New Jersey statewide public school averages of 16 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
“We are pleased to join the Newark Charter School Fund to celebrate 20 years of public charter schools and to honor the contribution these schools have made,” said Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf. “The continued collaboration between Newark Public Schools and Newark’s charter sector strengthens all schools across our city, and we look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that every Newark child has access to a high-quality public school.”
The Newark public charter school sector ranks second out of 41 urban districts in reading and math impact, according to a Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) 2015 study. Additionally, a 2015 study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) found that a majority of Newark public charter school students are enrolled in schools that significantly outperform other schools throughout New Jersey with similar demographics. Data showed that more than 86 percent of Newark public charter students are enrolled in schools that are considered to be “beating the odds” in math, and 76 percent that are “beating the odds” in reading. These studies further demonstrate that the Newark public charter school sector has made an undeniable impact on the quality of education in Newark and on the number of high quality educational options available to the city’s families.
“As we celebrate this important milestone for New Jersey public charter schools, I am excited by the extraordinary progress the sector has made over the past two decades,” added Mason. “Thanks to the pioneering leadership and commitment of individuals like Stephen N. Adubato, Sr. and the continued work by our incredible charter school leaders today, public charter schools continue to provide significant opportunities for children across our state, putting more students on the path to and through college.”
Education Leaders and Advocates Weigh In on 20 Years of Charters
“The children of Newark have unrealized promise and immeasurable potential and over the past 20 years, public charter schools across our great city have succeeded in unleashing that potential for thousands of Newark’s children. Launching the Newark Charter School Fund in 2008 was truly transformative for our city and its students, and over the past eight years the Fund has successfully served Newark’s children with extraordinary results. I am excited to watch the progress Newark’s public charter schools continue to make as they collaborate with the district to improve the city’s education landscape to more effectively meet the needs of all students, no matter what school they attend.”
-United States Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey
“We want to live by choice, not by chance. As parents we cannot wait idly for our education system to fix itself, and thanks to public charter schools, parents have been empowered to choose a different way forward for our children. The Newark public charter school sector has given thousands of children and families access to excellent educational opportunities. These schools have also invested time and resources in parents, knowing we all must be FULL partners in the development of our young scholars, families and community.”
-Altorice Frazier, a Newark North Star Academy and KIPP Thrive Academy parent.
“It is an undeniable truth that Newark students, if given access to quality educational resources and opportunities, can unleash their potential and excel beyond measure. Public charter schools across our city have proven this over the past 20 years, continuing to be game changers for our community as they bring transformational change into the lives of Newark children.”
-Newark’s North Ward Councilman, Anibal Ramos, Jr.
“The hard work, dedication, and grit displayed by our scholars and parents drives the work we do each and every day to provide an excellent education to every child who walks through our doors. As we move into the next 20 years as a charter sector, we look forward to continuing to fulfill this commitment to our students and families from across this great city, preparing each of our scholars for college and career success.”
-Jared Taillefer, Executive Director, Great Oaks Legacy Charter School
About the Newark Charter School Fund
Established in 2008, the Newark Charter School Fund (NCSF) is a non-profit organization that makes grants to support the quality, growth, and sustainability of Newark’s public charter school sector. The Fund’s mission is to improve Newark’s public charter schools in order to provide all of Newark’s students with access to great schools in collaboration with district efforts to improve the quality of Newark public education. http://ncsfund.org/