NJ Ed Commissioner Denies Children Innovative Educational Options

Refuses to approve two virtual charter schools

Washington, D.C. (June 7, 2013) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today criticized the New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf for depriving students of vital educational options by refusing to authorize two virtual new charter schools. Both charter schools had received conditional approval and spent a year ensuring they met every requirement, only to have Cerf deny their approval.

Less than a month ago at American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit, Sandeep Thomas, now enrolled in college, spoke about how virtual schools helped him overcome numerous hurdles he had faced in a traditional learning environment. Thomas who was born in the slums of India, orphaned as his mother was killed in front of him. He was adopted by an American family and struggled with numerous barriers, personally, emotionally and educationally. Through the use of technology, Thomas later graduated at the top of his class with college credits.

“Commissioner Cerf, meet Sandeep Thomas. His story is but one – and there are thousands just like him who were failing in a traditional status quo system, and now succeeding because of choice,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel for the American Federation for Children. “This decision will directly impact children and denies parents from vital educational options and indicates that New Jersey’s Department of Education is afraid of embracing new technology and innovate ways to reach the minds of children. We will continue to advocate for educational choice and for parents and children who deserve quality educational options.”

Commissioner Cerf, cited the “uncertainty” of the “legal foundation” for virtual charter schools in his determination to not approve the two virtual charter school, despite granting preliminary approval a year earlier.

The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high quality educational options for families.