We have four guiding stars in the JerseyCAN Vision Guide: excellence, equity, options and innovation. What are these guiding stars, and why are they important? What is JerseyCAN doing to implement these values in our state, and how have we been successful?

There are many ways to get a great education in New Jersey. There are neighborhood schools, magnet schools, charter schools and more.  All of them are well-represented in our state.

In JerseyCAN’s Vision Guide, readers can follow a student along a map of New Jersey educational options from pre-K to college. Although we show one set of choices in that example, the map can be completed 3,456 ways. This shows the extent of customization available to our state’s kids and families.

The journey of choices highlights another JerseyCAN Guiding Star – Options:

“A child’s educational experience is among the most formative experiences of their life. Every child deserves to learn in a safe, supportive and academically rigorous environment. Yet, many New Jersey students are limited to just one educational option: their neighborhood school. When a school is not meeting the academic or social-emotional needs of a child, families need options.

To reach this destination, we will help foster a system of diverse educational choices available to all families. We will prioritize programs that provide options to our most vulnerable student populations and support families in choosing the right educational home for their children. Families will navigate an education system with the right tools and valid information, and we will work to ensure policies and programs are in place that recognize and support those choices.”

With this Guiding Star in mind, we work to ensure that a range of high-quality options are available to all New Jersey students. While not all families can afford private school tuition, every family deserves the ability to access an educational environment that best suits their child’s needs. And we need to center the voices of parents and community members in these discussions. They know their children, what their children need and what they would like to see in their neighborhoods.

JerseyCAN supports events that elevate parent voices on the subjects of choice and options. In March of 2018, in partnership with several organizations, we supported the CharterStrong Parent Action Day rally in Trenton. The event was attended by more than 500 charter school parents and advocates from Newark, Paterson, New Brunswick, Plainfield, Camden, Trenton, Jersey City, Hackensack, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Atlantic City and others. It also attracted support from many legislative leaders.  

JerseyCAN also helped elevate parental voices on the importance of maintaining educational options during the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) statewide review of charter schools. In November, we partnered with the Charter Schools Association, Parents Engaging Parents and Parents for Great Camden Schools to co-host a collaborative in Camden with the Department of Education. We invited local parents, community members and other stakeholders make their voices heard on charter policy and worked with our partners to mobilize parents and advocates to show up to these collaboratives all over the state.

Throughout 2019, we will continue to advocate for high-quality schools for all New Jersey kids and elevate parental and community voices to demonstrate the need for school options in our state.

Annie Salorio is the communications associate for JerseyCAN. Learn more about her!

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