CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – New Jersey governor Chris Christie today unveiled a plan that, if approved by the state legislature, would launch a five-year pilot program to form public/private partnerships to run public schools in New Jersey.

Called “transformation schools,” they’d be held to the same standards as any other school but be managed more like a business.

“It is unacceptable to me to have children in this city and other cities across New Jersey continue to be consigned to failure factories that we have neither the will nor the guts to stand up and fight to stop,” Christie said today in Camden.

Unlike charter schools that, in effect, compete with a school district, these “transformation” schools would be under school district control and subject to the approval of the state education commissioner.

Acting education commissioner Chris Cerf said a district would have to ask for permission to convert a school to “transformation” management.

“It is, essentially, a decision of the local, democratically elected authority to create a different kind of public school, one that is under the direction and management of a new entity,” he said,  “but in the end is accountable to and reports to the public authority.”

Only five schools statewide would be authorized under the pilot program, which would be reëvaluated upon its completion.

School districts that get state approval for one of the pilot schools would spend no more than 90 percent of the average per-pupil education cost — the same as is now spent on those attending charter schools.

Christie says more than 700 schools in 31 states have similar programs in place.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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