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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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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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Press Advisory

June 12, 2013

Contact: Angel Cordero 609-635-0101 or angelcordero54@gmail.com

THE CERN PROGRAM CELEBRATE’ ITS 14TH GRADUATION 

The Community Education Resource Network (CERN) will hold its 14th graduation ceremony at Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church. CERN is an alternative program dedicated to rescuing and educating the community of Camden, by preparing Students for  Career  Technical Schools. The CERN Program was established 7 years ago by co-founders Angel Cordero and Pastor Tim Merrill. CERN’S mission to Fill a need, by guiding the students through the challenge they have with education, and social  problems that STOPS Camden Residence from bettering them selves,

The keynote speaker will  be The Rev, Amir Khan Mayoral Candidate for Camden City

 

WHEN:  Friday, June 14, 2012

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

 

WHERE:  Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church in Camden

831 Kaighn ave.

Camden NJ 0104

 

NOTE:   Angel Cordero at 609-635-0101

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Christie’s Proposed School Voucher Program At Latest Crossroads

Democrats claim Opportunity Scholarship Grants will never make it to the final budget, but can they deliver?

NJ Spotlight

At $2 million, the Christie administration’s proposed school voucher program is a very small piece of the $12.4 billion that the state projects it will spend on public education next year.

But the puny dollar amount belies the provocative and polarizing debate that the Opportunity Scholarship Grant has already kicked off, one that shows no sign of subsiding as the Senate budget committee nears the close of deliberations on Gov. Chris Christie’s $32.8 billion budget plan today.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), the Democratic majority leader, this weekend repeated earlier comments that she was convinced the Democrats would put an end to the pilot, which would provide $10,000 vouchers for low-income students to attend qualifying schools, public or private.

“We negotiate a budget, and when we take it out, the governor can’t put it back in,” she said yesterday. “I am of the firm conviction from both of our caucuses that we will remove it. I really believe it is dead.”

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the chairman of the budget committee, last month said much the same thing: there were too many Democrats against it being part of an appropriations bill — if any law at all.

“We are going to negotiate a budget, and there is strong Democratic opposition to including that in there,” Sarlo said. “It is hard to justify [paying for this] when you have some districts having a hard time surviving.”

Still, despite stiff opposition, the advocates aren’t giving up.

Bishop Reginald Jackson — head of the state’s Black Ministers Council — said Friday that he remain positive about its prospects, although he demurred when it came to providing specifics.

“I am optimistic it will stay in the budget,” said the long-time advocate of the voucher program. “I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I remain an optimist.”

Given the small amount of money at stake, the voucher program was always seen by some as a bargaining chip that the governor and Democratic leaders could add or subtract without much concern for its impact on the bottom line.

But the stakes are high for advocates and adversaries, who have long fought this battle and not likely to let this opportunity pass.

Christie has been pressing for vouchers since he first ran for governor, and it is the one piece of his education agenda still unfulfilled. If he makes it a priority in finishing up a budget — and is willing to sacrifice elsewhere — school vouchers may be back in play, some said.

It’s not going to be easy. The New Jersey Education Association is starting to gear up for the fall gubernatorial and legislative campaign, and it is sure to keep a sharp eye on what it has always called a seminal issue.

It has argued that the latest proposal would be legally suspect if included in an annual budget act, rather than enacted through its own legislation.

“The governor’s proposal isn’t just bad policy, because vouchers do not lead to higher achievement while weakening public schools,” said Steve Wollmer, the NJEA’s communications chief. “It’s also most likely unconstitutional as a budgetary maneuver.”

Meanwhile, the scholarship program is only one of several issues that are expected to come up today in the Senate committee’s deliberations.

A big question remains the Christie administration’s whopping increase in assessments to make districts pay a share of the state’s bonds for school construction grants.

While Christie has maintained that no district would see a cut in state aid in his next year’s budget — which he has called largest state aid package in history — once the assessment increases are factored in, 270 districts seeing less money than last year.

Christie’s office has said the assessments are separate from aid, but Sarlo last month said that was a “matter of semantics” and close to half of the districts are seeing a loss in state money.

“When you ask the PTA mom, it’s the total amount the schools get from the state, that’s what they care about,” Sarlo said.

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Christie faces potential legal fight over school vouchers

Jarrett Renshaw/The Star-Ledger
May 1, 2013

TRENTON — If Gov. Chris Christie gets his coveted pilot school-voucher program through a stubborn Legislature next month, he may quickly find himself battling in another arena: the courtroom.

The Republican governor’s proposal to allow public school students to get vouchers to attend private or parochial school has hit a legislative roadblock, so he’s put a $2 million pilot program in his proposed state budget and hopes to use it as a bargaining chip during talks with Democrats. (more…)

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Christie hopes budget will bring elusive success to school vouchers

By Jarrett Renshaw/The Star-Ledger 
April 12th, 2013 

TRENTON —After three years of failing to get his school voucher program through the state Legislature, Gov. Chris Christie is using a new strategy: make it a bargaining chip in state budget talks. (more…)

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