March 8, 2017

PCS Parents Should Examine Their Conscience: Can They Continue to “Choose” a Segregated School?

To the Editor:

The New Jersey Commissioner of Education’s decision to allow the expansion of the Princeton Charter School was unjust and contrary to the clear overwhelmingly expressed wishes of the majority of Princeton residents. To those who had been paying attention, it was a terrible disappointment but not really a surprise. From the beginning, the PCS trustees boasted that approval of this expansion was locked up in Trenton. Operating within the laws, and considering the best interests and wishes of the Princeton community, were irrelevant to them.

Thanks to the PCS trustees’ politically-orchestrated moneygrab and the Commissioner’s arbitrary rubberstamp approval of the expansion, Princeton experienced the autocratic imposition of the kind of the inequitable “school choice” policies that the Trump-DeVos administration hopes to implement nationwide. This expansion has also revealed just what the ideology of “school choice” really means for communities, children and public education. Under New Jersey’s insidious charter school law, unnecessary, inefficient, and segregated charter schools — funded entirely through public funds without taxpayer approval — are allowed to proliferate over widespread community opposition. Charter school proponents use the progressive-sounding label of “school choice” to mask the inequitable, retrograde reality of their goals: the re-segregation of public schools and forced reallocation of public dollars towards privately-run schools that provide a racially-imbalanced, elitist “alternative” to our excellent, open, diverse public schools, and all at a higher overall cost to taxpayers. The Princeton Charter School is no exception; it is chosen by affluent parents as a means to avoid the public schools (and the diverse student populations in them) without having to pay private school tuition. What these parents don’t realize or don’t bother to see is that the Princeton Public Schools that they seek to avoid are innovative, dynamic, responsive, and educationally outstanding. They are excellent by every measure, and serve all children. What they aren’t is segregated.

Parents at PCS should examine their conscience and ask whether they can morally continue to “choose” a demonstrably segregated school, one founded on inequitable, racist policies, and operated in an arrogantly unaccountable manner.

Cara Carpenito

Maple Street