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Spotlight Podcast: Camden Ground Zero for Renaissance Schools

Will Urban Hope Act bring, as promised, new and improved schools to the beleaguered city?

Camden is poised to become the first NJ city to build privately run “renaissance schools” under the state’s Urban Hope Act. Potential operators will submit formal proposals for new schools this week in efforts to end Camden’s status as home to the state’s lowest-performing schools.

In this week's NJ Spotlight Podcast, education writer John Mooney discusses the impact the renaissance schools could have in the city with partner WHYY NewsWorks NJ.

Under the Urban Hope Act, a non-profit entity would build and operate schools using public money, and while similar to charter schools, they would be operated with the consent of the local district. The proposals are due to the local Board of Education by Friday of this week, and all eyes will be on the one from the Cooper Foundation, headed by George Norcross III, the well-known South Jersey Democratic leader, according to a story in NJ Spotlight.

In a conversation with Newsworks Tonight Host Dave Heller, Mooney said the rules are making some school observers nervous because the renaissance schools would operate with less transparency than public schools and without public bidding. Some critics are calling it an example of the private sector moving in on public education -- to the detriment of the communities and students.

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