TRENTON -- Supporters of New Jersey's charter schools are planning a major lobbying effort in the state capital next week as controversy and criticism surrounding the schools continues to mount.
A group of nearly 200 charter school supporters, mostly parents, will gather at the state house to deliver the message that charter schools are changing lives, adding value to children's education and creating opportunities for students, according to the New Jersey Charter Schools Association.
"I wanted something better for my children and couldn't afford to move or pay for private school," said Haneef Auguste, whose four children attend KIPP New Jersey Schools in Newark. "No one should stand in the way of any child's chance at a better life, especially when the circumstances in some of our communities are so dire."
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New Jersey has 88 charter schools serving nearly 50,000 students, including 42 schools approved by Gov. Chris Christie, an ardent supporter of charter schools. Tensions between charter schools and school districts remain high in parts of the state, and charter schools have come under heavy criticism in recent months.
New Jersey's charter schools have also been accused of contributing to school segregation, and several discrimination complaints were recently filed with the U.S. Department of Education. One complaint led to an ongoing federal investigation of a charter school in Red Bank.
The event is part of effort by charter schools to mobilize supporters as the future of the state's charter school policy is limbo. Though charter schools have long had a friend in Trenton in Christie, he leaves office next year.
Charter school advocates want parents to be more active in state and local elections and lobby with state legislators throughout the year.
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