Camden BOE 3/24/14: Strengthen Camden from Within to Survive


As a public school advocate, I liken the recent trend of districts allowing the influx of different charter schools to a by-product of the throw-away society that has recently developed as a result of the overabundance of products on the public market. The norm these days is to throw an item out and purchase another if one crack occurs to diminish the performance of that item. Instead of valuing the process of learning how to mend what may be broken, we simply look for a quick replacement. This trend has moved into our public schools system.

Charter schools are being brought in as that shiny, new apple of promise to provide every child the opportunity that a solid education can give. But what about when that apple really has a rotten core? We are learning that the opportunity presented is merely a false pretense as ‘no excuse’ policies and subtle discriminations are applied to different populations of students that are eventually sent back to the public schools where funds are being constantly gutted, taking away more and more resources that children need.

I stand before you tonight asking if new charter schools should play a part in the fulfillment of the Camden Commitment. I don’t understand why you are allowing outside interest gain a foothold in a city that needs to build its strength from within in order to survive. Recent studies have shown that students in charter schools do not learn any better than those in public schools. A recent study from Stanford University found that, in 26 states, the results of reading assessments showed that more than half of the charter schools produced no improvement and 19% had worse results. For math, 40% showed no difference and 31% were worse.

Financially, charter schools have not been shown to spend taxpayer money more efficiently. Researchers from Michigan State and the University of Utah have found that they spend $774 more per student on administration, and $1,140 less on instruction.

The truth is, charter schools are an attraction to real estate investment companies. They become part of a firms portfolio of investments, along with malls and movie complexes. Charter schools have become a way for politicians and corporate CEO’s to funnel money while receiving a tax credit, even as high as 39%, doing so through the federal “New Markets Tax Credit”. In late 2010, Goldman Sachs announced that it would lend $25 million to develop 16 charter schools in New York and New Jersey. In return, their portfolio values will increase as investors receive the tax breaks of being involved in these ventures.

The war on drugs was started as a political move to distract the public from the real issues of segregation in our nation. The war on education has become nothing other than such an attempt. Instead of dealing with the real issues of what is lacking in our communities, we are diverted to apply the blame to the public school systems. What is needed, instead of the systematic breakdown of our schools is a real attempt to analyze the resources that communities have available, research the gaps, the needs and the wants of our citizens and provide a conduit for these resources to be made available. They are directing attention from the underlying cause of the main deterrent to a child having a successful future, poverty. Those with the financial resources to help the rest of society in need are simply refusing to do so. Instead they are crying out that the public schools are to blame. Instead of fixing what they perceive to be in need of repair, they are simply gutting resources, purchasing a shiny, new product, and falsifying the dream of every parent to provide their child with every imaginable opportunity.

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*Italics:  I was cut off before I was able to finish the end of my speech.  My allotted 3 minutes was up and microphones were being shut off.  

Video can be found at



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