New Jersey’s Department of Education has approved a proposal for a Hebrew-language charter school in East Brunswick. (Read the news release.)
According to our story on the school proposal in March, founders of the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School said it would focus on language-immersion and would be precluded by law from teaching religion.
A department spokesman said at the time that charter schools can “teach about religion, but you can’t teach religion. You can teach about the language and the history, culture, and religious influence on the language in the public schools, but you can’t inculcate religious beliefs.”
Parents in the area worried, meanwhile, about its impact on the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in East Brunswick, a private school that would ostensibly compete for many of the same students. And rabbis and educators said a curriculum “about” the culture from which Hebrew springs would be no substitute for a Jewish education.
Danna Nezaria of E. Brunswick, who is listed by the DOE as the contact person for the charter school, told us in March, ”We are not trying to start a school to hurt anyone or any institution. We want to enhance the educational options in our community.”
She said the school’s curriculum would reflect the local community and its student body would be made up of a variety of ethnicities and religions.
According to the Star-Ledger report on the approval, “the proposed school is slated to be located in a vacant building on Cornwall Court that had been home to a New York Sports Club.” In its first year, it will be K-2. According to the report:
Hatikvah, Hebrew for “hope,” will offer “in-depth study of Hebrew and Hebrew culture,” and open in fall 2010 with 108 students from kindergarten through second grade, according to the founders’ application.
Charter schools are independently run but survive on taxpayer funds, provided through the local district on a per pupil basis. Hatikvah would get about $1.3 million a year. Charters are required to offer their services to all students by lottery, must follow state curriculum standards and need state approval to open.