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Keeping Up with School Choice Activist – Angel Cordero

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by Valerie Smith

As a member of the E3 Team, Angel Cordero of Camden has been one of the leading School Choice Activists in the State of New Jersey.  Most recently, Angel has extended his advocacy work in Washington, DC as a guest of Public School Options.  Representing E3 and the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, Angel networked with some of the top Education Choice Campaigners in the nation and got to experience grass root advocacy on Capitol Hill.

“I’ve never been to Washington, DC before and it was great to be able to see such a beautiful city and its’ monuments and to be at Capitol Hill where the action takes place.  Being able to see our Capitol City made me very proud!” he added.

Public School Options, a national alliance of parents supporting and defending parental rights to access the best public school options for their children, is now active in New Jersey and they are calling for more public school options, including charter schools, virtual schools, magnet schools, open enrollment policies and other innovative education programs in the Garden State. The national organization boasts 77,000 grassroot activists in nearly 32 states.

The Trenton based chapter of the national organization represents more than 40,000 NJ families who have expressed interest in public school options, the more than 1,000 families who have already enrolled or sought enrollment in public charter schools using  “virtual” or “blended” learning methods, and the more than 100 parents who have already expressed interest in becoming parent “advocates” for the NJ chapter.

Unfortunately, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranks New Jersey’s charter school laws #29, while the Center for Education Reform gives NJ a grade of “C”.  Not good and definitely not meeting Angel’s standards for education reform for one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the nation – the City of Camden.  Camden’s failing schools have well over a 50% drop out rate!

Angel met Nina Rees, President & CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and got to speak to her about the need for more school choice.  Nina is very familiar with the work of E3 but hadn’t meet Angel before this conference.  Nina had known of Angel’s drop-out recovery program in Camden, Community Education Resource Network (CERN), from the movie “The Cartel” so both advocates got to meet in person and share some thoughts about the school choice movement in NJ.

In addition to meeting Choice Supporters from all over the nation, Angel had the opportunity to reach out to two of NJ’s Congressman.  Staffers from both Congressman Lance’s office  and Congressman Payne’s office greeted the NJ Choice Team and listened with interest to parents, advocates, and a student explain why choice is so important.  Angel gave strong testimony about the sorrowful plight of Camden’s youth.

“This has been a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for me to learn more about the choice movement in other states and on Capitol Hill.  Most importantly, I was able to tell school choice movers and shakers, who have the power to help and better our children, about how important school choice is to the people and City of Camden,” Cordero stated.

If you are interested in learning more about school choice or possibly getting involved in the movement, please contact the E3 team or Angel Cordero at  AngelCordero54@gmail.com

View all the pictures on Flickr

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Alternative Grad School Raises Concerns About Who’s Teaching NJ’s Teachers

Founded by three charter school networks, Relay stresses skills-based modules over academic theory

njspotlight.com

The Christie administration has conditionally approved New Jersey’s first graduate education program not affiliated with an in-state college or university, stirring up the state’s teacher education establishment in the process.

The pushback is more than normal grousing. The administration’s decision puts New Jersey at the center of a nationwide debate over teacher preparation: Just how academic must graduate-level teacher education be to be successful? (more…)

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Christie wins endorsement of black ministers, who call for school vouchers

By Salvador Rizzo |July 8, 2013
The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s strong support of school vouchers today earned him the endorsement of Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of New Jersey’s most influential black ministers.

Jackson, the executive director of the New Jersey Black Ministers Council and a Newark community leader, described himself as a Democrat and noted that he endorsed Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 when Christie first ran.

But Jackson today said state Democratic lawmakers have disappointed him by refusing to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a bill that would give children in low-performing urban schools a publicly funded scholarship to attend a private school or another public school instead. (more…)

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A Lifeline for Minorities, Catholic Schools Retrench

By  | June 20, 2013
The New York Times

Sonia Sotomayor lives in Washington, but she has never forgotten her roots in the Bronx. On a drizzly March afternoon, she returned to Blessed Sacrament School, where she began her celebrated, if improbable, journey from her South Bronx childhood to the Supreme Court. But instead of a joyous reunion, it was more of a valedictory for her and the children — the school is closing for good.

“I’m really upset,” Justice Sotomayor told a fourth-grade class. “It’s hard to say goodbye. I won’t tell you it’s easy. I won’t lie to you.”

The children drew close and peppered her with questions: Why is the archdiocese closing the school? Doesn’t it know their parents worked hard? Why couldn’t it come up with the money? One girl, crying, got up and slumped into Justice Sotomayor’s embrace. The justice, her voice steady and reassuring, reminded the children to cherish the good times and move confidently ahead. But later, she, too, revealed her pain. (more…)

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Study: US education spending tops global list

By Philip Elliott | June 25, 2013

Bloomberg Business Week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States spends more than other developed nations on its students’ education each year, with parents and private foundations picking up more of the costs, an international survey released Tuesday found.

Despite the spending, U.S. students still trail their rivals on international tests.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — which groups the world’s most developed countries — writes in its annual report that brand-new and experienced teachers alike in the United States out-earn most of their counterparts around the globe. But U.S. salaries have not risen at the same pace as other nations. (more…)

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Leadership Changes in the Offing for State Teachers Union

President and executive director both poised to step down from NJEA posts

NJ Spotlight

The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s dominant teachers union and among the most powerful state labor unions in the country, is about to go through a big leadership change, with both its president and executive director planning to step down.

Vincent Giordano, a longtime executive in the union and its director since 2007, has told internal staff and his top officers that he will retire in December, following the upcoming gubernatorial and legislative election. (more…)

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