5-24-13 Legislation - Diegnan Charter Bill Controversial....Teacher endorsement bill discussed
(GSCS Notes: GSCS appreciates time Assemblyman Diegnan has spent developing his charter school law revision-update bill, yet we note that while the bill includes a number of improvements, it still does not address the issues with how charter schools are funded directly from local school budgets. This funding tug-of-war exacerbates a conflict of competing needs that pits people withing communities against one another and will continue to be stumbling block to any realistic consensus on charter schools overall.)
Newsworks (WHYY online publication) - New Jersey bill would convert public schools into charters with vote
NJ Spotlight - Bill Would Give Teachers New Career Ladder to Climb…So-called teacher leaders would gain training, new skills, to serve as coordinators, facilitators -- without abandoning classrooms
GSCS 22nd ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM MAY 29, 2013 THE FORSGATE
Registration 8:30 a.m....Program 9 a.m. - Noon ...Invited: GSCS Members, Friends
Registration form - GSCS 22nd Annual Meeting May 29 The Forsgate
5-23-13 Education Issues in the News
5-22-13 Deignan Charter LegislationFormally Introduced...Judge Rules on Bullying Complaint-Appeal
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Diegnan’s Charter School Bill…Assemblyman drops bill, which called for central review board and local approval for new and expanded charters
The Record-Associated Press - N.J. judge rejects protest in school bullying ruling
5-21-13 Charter Schools Chart Course for Teacher Evaluations
NJ Spotlight - Charter Schools Chart Course for Teacher Evaluations…State issues guidelines that are far less stringent than new rules for evaluation of district school educators
5-17-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - NJEA Clockwork Elections Belie Stormy Relations with Governor, Administration...Buono endorsement and new super PAC could indicate teachers union is ready to fight
Politickernj - Special interests alive and well, Christie says in lamenting lack of voucher programs
Politickernj - EDA whittles down charter school construction bond applications
5-16-13 Bullying Decision - Judge and Commissioner of Education on the same page
NJ Spotlight - Judge’s Reversal of Bullying Ruling Upheld by State Education Chief…Cerf agrees that conflict between two students didn’t meet anti-bullying law’s criteria
5-15-13 In the News - Dept of Education Superintendent Survey......Program Helps High School Students Graduate On Time
NJ Spotlight - Education Department Gets Better Grades From District Supers…. New survey gives DOE high marks for communication and special ed, less than satisfactory for helping districts fulfill initiatives...See posting immediately below for Superintendent Survey Results
Press of Atlantic City - Program lets Atlantic City High School students graduate on time… “But between transferring from Baltimore and spending time in the hospital because of diabetes, she fell behind in school and failed both Algebra II and English III. Now, she stays after school four days a week to make up those credits in the school’s Credit Recovery program so she can graduate on time…”
5-15-13 PDF of DOE Superintendent Survey 2012 (pdf)
5-14-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Online Charter School Hopes to Escape from Limbo...The nation’s largest online education company, K12 Inc., is once again registering kids and offering jobs to teachers for the debut of New Jersey’s first virtual charter school – all without knowing if the school will even open.
Star Ledger - Task force may look at full-day kindergarten in all districts…”While most of New Jersey’s elementary school districts offer full-day kindergarten, at least 114 districts still offer half-day only, according to the state Department of Education. The Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would create a task force to explore full-day options…”
Star Ledger - State's largest teacher union forms Super PAC
5-13-13 NJ Spotlight - Teacher Evaluation Procedures Can Take up to a Year to Learn
NJ Spotlight -Rutgers Report Briefs Educators on Training for New Teacher Evaluation…Mastering procedures alone can take up to a year, even if schools won’t have that long under new law...“The idea of having highly reliable systems in that first year is questionable, because it does take a year to learn this stuff,” he said. “This is the downside of jumping in so fast, that the system won’t be as reliable as it could be.”Firestone also said that it takes time to train teachers on how they will be evaluated. “Teachers need to understand it well to both benefit from it and to trust it,” he commented.
5-13-13 Star Ledger - Support Slipping for Newark's School Chief
Star Ledger column - Moran: Support slipping for Cami Anderson, Newark's schools chief "...The school advisory committee recently cast a vote of no confidence. Not to be outdone, the city council passed a resolution opposing all reforms during the next school year.You read that right: Not a single change through the 2013-2014 school year. A complete freeze."
5-10-13 NJ High School Proficiency Assessment: The Run-Up to Graduation
NJ Spotlight - NJ High School Proficiency Assessment: The Run-Up to Graduation…By the time they reach their junior year, students must have mastered at least the basics of algebra, statistics, biology, and essay writing to move on to that cap and gown
GSCS Notes: Potentially related issue is NJ SENATE bill, No. 459 Sponsored by: Senator SHIRLEY K. TURNER, District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)…SYNOPSIS - Prohibits a student from participating in high school graduation ceremonies unless the student has completed all graduation requirements
The Senate is scheduled to vote on S459 this Monday, May 13, 2013. A companion bill to S450 has not been introduced in the Assembly. Click on More here to see NJ Spotlight story and bill S459
5-9-13 NJ Ask Puts Pupil's Skills in Language Arts to the Test
NJ Spotlight - NJ ASK Puts Pupils’ Skills in Language Arts to the Test….Students in grades 6-8 tackle two writing tasks, reading comprehension in 4-hour exam
5-8-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Feasibility study on regional school funding formula presented to Woodcliff Lake Borough Council
Philadelphia Inquirer - Camden board votes to lay off teachers, aides
5-6-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Special report: Born in hope, Newark charter school now embroiled in controversy
NJ Spotlight - Student's-Eye View of NJ's Statewide Tests…When your kids sit down to one of NJ's state tests, what do they need to know?
GSCS EVALUATIONS POSITION re Evaluations Changes Made at State Board. on 5-1-13
GSCS Note: It is positive that the State Board revisions, put forth by Commissioner Cerf, indicate that – but only to a limited extent - concerns of the public and practitioners have begun to be heard. However, GSCS’ position remains one of concern for the practicality and workability of the new code as it is implemented this fall. Among other issues, GSCS has held that it would be a wiser course to use at least the first year of implementation as an opportunity to test out the new evaluation process and thus 1) it is more reasonable to begin with an Student Growth Percentile (SGP) of 15%, rather than the adopted 30%. This aligns to the Student Growth Objective of 15% for the 80% of teachers that cannot be qualified for SGP analysis; 2) the sticking point of the different treatment of teachers where 20% are measured not only differently, but also more incisively , than the remaining 80% of NJ’s teaching staff would not be so severely drawn; 3) the issue of whether growth and achievement are too tightly correlated could be studied in depth in a less high stakes situation; and, 4) it is very problematic that tenure decisions will have to be made without having actual data results on hand. Actual data feedback will not be available for several months after decisions are required to be made, and 5) the problems with the rush to move ahead, while confined by federal 'Race to the Top' restrictions, is compounded by the fact that in two years the state will be transitioning to a new assessment system altogether under PAARC. Is there a plan in place to match today's new data system with PAARC data requirements so that critical time and like analysis is not lost in this this transition?
An additional concern of the GSCS is that the Student Performance Reports (SPR's)require a new public understanding on what the reports demonstrate which will evolve over time. For instance, one GSCS member analyzed its school district's particular ranking among its newly-designated peer group and found that the "... [Our] school is less than 1% under the next 11 higher “ranked” peer schools. State folks did admit that the rankings are “tight” at the top…so for less than 1% in achievement as measured by HSPA, [our high school district] is ranked under 11 other schools, all of whom are well over 92% proficient overall…"
NJ Spotlight - Student Test Scores to Carry Just a Little Bit Less Weight for Tenure Decisions…Administration shaves test score component of teacher evaluations by 5 percent
Star Ledger - State board of education adjusts teacher evaluation rules ”After hearing criticism about a plan to rely heavily on student test scores in evaluating teachers, the state Board of Education today cut back — slightly — the amount of weight given to the scores… The test results will count toward 30 percent of teacher evaluations under the change discussed today — down from 35 percent. Teacher observations will be worth 55 percent, up from 50, and other student progress measures — things like classroom work — will count for 15 percent…”
5-3-13 Camden Kids Speak Proudly of Thier Schools, Offer Answers to Challenges
NJ Spotlight - Camden Kids Speak Proudly of Their Schools, Offer Answers to Challenges…Writing assignment brings 7th graders’ suggestions as state takeover looms
5-1-13 Voucher Controversy in the News
Star Ledger - Christie faces potential legal fight over school vouchers
5-1-13 Camden Schools in the News
NJ Spotlight - Camden Board Doesn’t Resist State Takeover of Schools…Community activists, educators voice concerns over impact on troubled urban district “With little debate among board members but plenty in the audience, the Camden Board of Education last night voted not to challenge the Christie administration’s planned takeover of its public schools…”
Philadelphia Inquirer - Camden board says it's cutting more than 100 jobs
4-30-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Arbitrators Rule on First Cases Brought Under New Tenure Law…A handful of early cases address misconduct and inefficiency, a charge stemming from teachers' classroom performance
Star Ledger - N.J.'s poor districts have limited role designing new schools, court rules
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…TEACHNJ back on the agenda, along with career and technical education
Star Ledger -Police seize powerful bombs, shotgun shells from Edison High School student
Draft of Diegnan Charter School Bill (pdf)
Click on More here to see draft updating the 1995 charter law, which includes a bullet point statement on the bills particulars a the end of the draft. GSCS is following this bill closely.
4-26-13 Charter legislation - Draft bill Updating the 1995 Law Released
NJ Spotlight - Draft Charter Bill Calls for Local Approval, More Reviewers…Bill sponsor -- Assemblyman Diegnan -- hopes to build consensus before Legislature tackles NJ's 18-year-old charter law
4-26-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer - Burlington County board votes to eliminate autism unit
NJ Spotlight - Draft Charter Bill Calls for Local Approval, More Reviewers…Bill sponsor -- Assemblyman Diegnan -- hopes to build consensus before Legislature tackles NJ's 18-year-old charter law
4-24-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Newark Board Votes ‘No Confidence’ in Schools Chief…Action adds to strife in district already in turmoil over state control, sweeping layoffs and severe spending cuts
Politickernj - Newark Schools Advisory Board issues Anderson unanimous no-confidence vote
4-23-13 Education & related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Governor, Legislature Tend to Treat School Violence as Local Issue…Districts across the state are weighing an array of tactics, from expanded use of ID cards to armed guards in schools
The Record column-Stile: Christie's gun plan plays it safe politically
Star Ledger - Democrats may negotiate final N.J. budget before voting against it
4-22-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey schools must have technology for state tests by 2014
NJ Spotlight - Can Dems Make Education Pivotal Issue in Governor's Race?...Even with backing of both teachers unions, Buono faces challenge to articulate how she differs from Christie
Philadelphia Inquirer- The latest worry for parents and schools: cyberbullying
4-19-13 Forum in Camden on State Intervention
NJ Spotlight - Hard Questions, Heartfelt Concern Abound at Camden Schools Forum…About 200 turn out to offer suggestions as state officials detail takeover plans
4-18-13 Most School Budgets Win Voter Approval
NJ Spotlight - Most School Budgets Win Voter Approval…In districts still holding traditional April elections, 36 of 39 spending plans get go-ahead
4-1713 More Education in the News from NJ Spotlight
Charter Schools Arrive … at Well-Attended Conference in Atlantic City…Event’s biggest turnout yet underscores growth of alternative education in New Jersey
Opinion: Democrats and Republicans Stockpile Ammo for Budget Battle…At Assembly budget hearing, both sides map out strategies for long, bloody campaigns By Michael Aron
4-17-13 Education Issues in the News, including overwhelming voter OK on school budgets that still require April vote
Politickernj - State Street Wire - School budgets approved in 36 of 39 districts across N.J.
The Record - North Jersey school districts overwhelmingly approve budgets “…Unofficial results from Englewood, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Emerson, Norwood, Midland Park, Ridgewood, Oakland, Garfield, Fairview, Wood-Ridge, Ramsey and Harrington Park – all in Bergen County -- showed voters approving the tax levies…”
Burlington County Times - 19 Burlington County school districts will receive less aid due to school construction debt (GSCS Notes: GSCS first brought this issue to the public with its testimony on the proposed State Budget for FY 2013-2014 March 20, 2013, including a district by district data listing of the impact the fees assessed/scroll down to March 20,2013 on this homepage for testimony and data.)
Star Ledger - Christie vetoes union labor bill championed by Sweeney “…Among the bills Christie signed was the “Anti-Big Brother Act” (S2057), which requires school districts to notify students and parents that school-issued electronic devices may record the students’ activities…”
4-16-13 Education In the News, plus School Elections Today for 41 Districts - Remember to Vote
NJ Spotlight - Holdout Districts Hold Traditional April School-Budget Votes Today…Not many left, as most have switched to November vote on board seats, with no approval needed for spending plans
The Record - Christie signs measure that bars 'school spying'
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Newark Charter School Revocation…Despite warnings and promises, 100 Legacy charter to be shuttered at end of inaugural school year
4-15-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - NTU President Blasts District Super on Finances, Calls for External Audit…Del Grosso faults Anderson for "serious and disturbing problems," secrecy, and intended layoffs...'A district spokeswoman, Renee Harper, called DelGrosso’s claims “a blatant attempt to divert attention from the serious issues we face in our challenge to deliver excellent schools for all of our kids...” '
Link to Richard Keevey's Presentation to GSCS-NJSDC Spring Leadership Conference on State Budget Crisis Task Force
Many of our conference attendees requested this link, click on More here ... Our thanks to Richard Keevey, as well as to panelists Bari Erlichson, DOE Chief Performance Officer, and Time Matheney, DOE Director of the Office of Evaluations for contributing to making this room-filled conference a great success.
4-12-13 More Education News from Assembly Budget Hearing yesterday
NJ Spotlight - Opposition Muted as Christie’s School-Voucher Pilot Makes Public Debut…Scholarships up to $10,000 would let 200 low-income students switch to public or private schools elsewhere
Politickernj - Voucher pilot program scrutinized
4-11-13 News from the Assembly Budget hearing on the Department of Education Budget for FY'14
GSCS Note 4-11-13: During the Assembly Budget Committee hearing on the Department of Education budget this afternoon, Commissioner Cerf said he would support a ‘legislative champion’ to seek lifting restrictive limits on administrative spending caps, in light of safety needs for School Resource Officers(SRO’s) and the additional administrative costs required in new evaluations process.
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Cerf, lawmakers spar ovr debt service in FY14
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Webber: Issue of overcharged 'sending' school districts needs to be addressed
4-11-12 Assembly Budget to hear Department of Education on FY'14 Proposed State Budget Today
NJ Spotlight -Early Look at OLS Report Reveals Many Districts Will See Net Loss in State Money…On eve of budget hearing, increased debt service on school construction grants blunts Christie’s funding promises
NJ Spotlight - Interactive Map: Elementary and Middle School Student Growth Measures
Star Ledger - N.J. school chiefs take issue with 'peer group' rankings in revamped reports“…While superintendents largely said they welcome the new information, many took issue with the state’s use of data to compare schools with "peers" deemed similar based on levels of students’ poverty and special needs. In some cases, schools with nearly identical test scores, in the same peer groups, have wildly different percentile ranks… "
4-10-13 School Performance Reports Available to Public Online at Dept. of Education Website This Afternoon
Star Ledger - New N.J. school reports released by state education department; bring new rankings, data
The Record - State officials release comparative 'performance reports' for every NJ public school
4-9-13 Newark Student Protest
Star Ledger - Newark students protest budget cuts with walkout, rally
4-9-10 New School Performance Reports coming out tomorrow
Commissioner’s Weekly Message - Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Dear Colleagues, Tomorrow, we are planning to release our new School Performance Reports to the public...
GSCS-NJSDC Program Agenda and Directions for Spring Leadership Conference 4-10-13 at Douglass College Center
4-9-13 School Construction Assessment Fees An Issue in FY'14 Proposed Budget
NJ Spotlight - …With the budget coming in at almost $9B, it's something of a surprise to learn what it isn't going to cove “…another nearly 500 districts are seeing an increase in their required contributions to the debt service on grants they received for new construction costs, not a sizable amount for many of them, but a significant six-figure hit for more than a dozen. “While the fees are not part of state formula aid, which has been held at no less than flat for districts, the fees nonetheless reduce a school district’s budget and the high increase was another bad surprise,” read prepared testimony from Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools…”
Star Ledger - School districts to pay more for construction projects
4-5-13 Star Ledger - New school report cards coming from state Ed Dept
...'State education officials released drafts of the new report cards to school superintendents last month and many expressed concerns about the accuracy of the state's data sets.Erlichson said state education officials culled data from more than a dozen sources to prepare the reports. Though state officials corrected many of the errors, they were not able to address all of them, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said. The state Department of Education plans to release the reports this month anyway. "This was a massive undertaking and we made multiple efforts to ask districts to check their data before we began preparing these reports," Cerf said. "When districts didn't like what they saw, they looked at their data more closely and asked for adjustments." "We can't make all of those changes for a complicated set of reasons," Cerf said. "It's very complicated..."' (GSCS Note: Concerns have similarly be expressed at the GSCS Board table.)
April 2013 The Bridge
A monthly newsletter for educators from the New Jersey Department of Education:In this issue of The Bridge we discuss measures of school performance, which take many forms. in this issue. To help provide clear information about New Jersey’s schools, we have information about the new School Performance Reports which build upon and replace the previous annual School Report Cards. These new reports present a more complete picture of school performance, with the ultimate aim of helping schools and stakeholders Providing timely and useful data to districts is important so that schools can track their own progress both at a student and district level, but also so that districts can participate in shared goal setting for the future. Over the past two years, we have worked extensively to improve the type and timeliness of data to districts, much of which is discussed engage in local goal setting and improvement. (Published per Dept. of Educ. request)
AchieveNJ Broadcast week of 28 (pdf)
AchieveNJ… The primary focus of AchieveNJ is to assist educators in strengthening their practice by using evaluations to create more meaningful professional growth opportunities (GSCS has been requested by the Department of Education to publish AchieveNJ broadcast on its website.)
Updated! GSCS-NJ School Development Program for April 10 Spring Leadership Conference
Program updated as of 3-27-13...See Registration form immediately below to sign up to register, thank you.
4-4-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Revised teacher evaluation regulations decrease test scores' weight… ‘…When Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf first introduced the regulations last month, he said students’ standardized test scores could count for up to 50 percent of fourth through eighth grade teachers’ annual ratings, though state education officials recommended test scores make up 35 percent. Classroom observations would account for the rest of the score.The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, and state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who sponsored the legislation, criticized the regulations when they were announced.Yesterday, Cerf announced that standardized test scores will count for no more than 35 percent of those teachers’ annual ratings…’
NJ Spotlight - NJEA Raises Red Flag at First Public Hearing on Teacher Evaluation…Union says student performance weighs too heavily in first-year evaluation ‘…State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his staff did make some amendments that would limit how much state testing could be used for teachers’ ratings, capping it to no more than 35 percent in the first year … For the most part, the board steered clear of the tussle between the union and the administration. Some board members raised a few specific questions about the late timing of the state test scores coming back and the potential impact that will have. But board president Arcelio Aponte said afterward that he didn’t expect a big change in at least the baseline plan to start.”
NJ Spotlight - Three Dozen Applicants Submit Bids for Charter Schools…Most would be located in state’s urban areas, aiming to open in fall of 2014
Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch - Ramsey BOE Opposes Superintendent Pay Caps, Joining Ridgewood …Ramsey school officials say caps on school superintendent pay has created an "educational leadership crisis"
4-2-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - School Districts to Assess How Strong a Start They've Made With Anti-Bullying…New guidelines and monitoring process will ultimately grade schools on compliance
Registration Form for GSCS-NJSDC April 10 Spring Leadership Conference
Click here on More for the registration form (Word)
Directions: Douglass College Center for April 10 GSCS-NJSDC Spring Leadership Conference
4-2-13 NJ Department of Education - Weekly Broadcast Information Memo
4-2-13 Education Issues in the News - NJ Spotlight - Camden Roundtable...State Board Agenda for Wednesday
NJ Spotlight - Deep Concern Over Camden Schools Evident at Public Forum…Despite disagreements about specifics and particulars, underlying thrust is putting Camden's public schools right
Philadelphia Inquirer - Changes in Camden schools debated
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…The board will work through some controversial code, especially concerning teacher evaluations and special ed
4-1-13 Trenton Budget hearings - Upcoming
Click here on More to see schedule through April 11 (GSCS Note: Department of Education to be heard by Assembly Budget Committee on April 11 10 a.m. in Trenton)
4-1-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj - Breaking: Advisory Board votes down school budget in Newark
The Record Editorial: Arming schools
NJ Spotlight - Streaming Live: The NJ Spotlight Roundtable -- Camden Schools and the Future of Urban Education in New Jersey…Even if you can't make it to today's roundtable, you can still have one of the best seats in the house
3-31-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Newark school board candidates change tone on charter schools
Star Ledger - Former Newark schools chief indicted in Georgia cheating scandal
3-28-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - School districts get help on debt payments... "Local state legislators said Tuesday they will work to reduce or cap the increased payments school districts are expected to make in 2013-14 for construction grants they received from the state Schools Development Authority..."
The Record - State urges patience on new report cards... "Many North Jersey superintendents have expressed concern that drafts of a new version of the state's school report cards, to be released soon, contained a number of errors..."
NJ Spotlight - Ruiz Raises 'Severe Concerns' About Administration's Teacher Evaluation Program Chief architect of tenure reform cautions against putting too much importance, too soon, on student performance on state tests... "The pace of changes has been one of the prime concerns about the new regulations since they were introduced last month. The administration does not appear to be bending much, however, as the proposed code goes to the state Board of Education for a second discussion and its first public hearing next Wednesday..."
3-27-13 Camden Intervention in the News
Star Ledger - State takeover of Camden schools is a necessity: Editorial… “It is in some ways a shotgun wedding, this partnership between Christie and Camden. But it had to happen. And for the sake of kids in this state’s most desperate city, let’s hope it works.”
3-26-13 Education in the News - Camden Schools Intervention
NJ Spotlight -Christie, Cerf & Co. Take the Reins of Camden Public Schools…Governor vows to be sensitive to local board and community, but is ready to 'exert whatever control' is called for..."Christie was less combative than he can be in these situations, and while he said he would “call out” critics, he vowed that he also would listen to concerns. ‘I know this is a difficult reality for the community to confront,” he said to close the press conference. “But I come here in a spirit of cooperation and determination to make a difference in the lives of families and children in this city.”
Courier Post - For Camden schools, takeover may not mean change
Acheive NJ Update from Dept. of Educ.- Student Achievement Measures, Evaluating Specialists and Other Educators
By the end of today, we will have completed six regional presentations which provide us the opportunity to share more information about AchieveNJ and to hear questions, concerns, and suggestions from educators across the state... Perhaps the biggest area of inquiry resulting from the information sessions thus far surrounds measures of student achievement in the proposed evaluation and support system. This week, I am pleased to provide you with some additional information and resources about this..."
Click here on More to see full letter and related information links from Assistant Commissioner and Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman.
3-25-13 State aims to intervene in Camden school district
Star Ledger - Cerf calls Camden schools 'human catastrophe' as state seizes control
Politickernj - State takes reins of troubled Camden schools
Politickernj – Christie: Previous state takeovers not necessarily blueprint for Camden schools
NJ Spotlight - As Newark Battles School Takeover in Court, Is Camden Next?
3-24-13 Christie to announce state takeover of Camden schools
Philadelphia Inquirer - Christie to announce state takeover of Camden schools..."Gov. Christie plans to announce Monday that he is taking the extraordinary step of putting the educational and fiscal management of the Camden School District under state control, The Inquirer has learned..."
Excerpts - GSCS 3-20-13Testimony before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Also presented to the Committee along with GSCS FY 2013-2014 State Budget testimony: see files immediately below for Data Analyses attached to GSCS Testimony re: Increases in SDA Fees Assessed on 493 districts for school construction costs, including districts that received grants, as well as statewide Special Education Aid data listings.
Fees Assessed to 493 Districts for School Construction: Percentage Increases from FY 2012-2013 to FY 2013-2014 (pdf)
Compare Special Education Aid FY'14 to SDA Assessment Fees FY'14 (pdf)
State Special Education Aid to districts: Compare FY 2012-2013 to FY2013-2014 (pdf)
The Future of Higher Education - Forum at Rutgers April 12
3-22-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Long-Debated “Renaissance” School Gets Go-Ahead from Camden, State…Plan calls for five privately run schools to open in city, operated with public funds
3-20-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Study: Preschoolers in poorest districts made 'significant gains' through 4th and 5th grades “…Seizing on the latest report, officials from Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the Newark-based Education Law Center have called for the state to expand preschool — and officials from the Education Law Center said they will ask the Legislature on Wednesday to add more preschool funding to the state budget…”
NJ Spotlight -Report Demonstrates Continuing Value of Preschool for New Jersey's Poorest Kids…Seven-year study puts pre-K students as much as three-quarters of academic year ahead of classmates “…“We are energized by these findings and are grateful to the educators that work tirelessly for these results,” Cerf said in a statement. ”We are committed to continuing to share successful practices from these programs with educators across the state to help all children receive high-quality early learning opportunities…”
The Record - N.J. teens fight odds, skeptics to serve on school boards
3-19-13 Fine Print: Overview of Measures for Tracking ‘Growth’
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Overview of Measures for Tracking ‘Growth’…Controversy centers on using student achievement to help evaluate teachers
Special Education Task Force bill signed into law by Governor
S600 "Establishes task force to study various issues related to improving special education programs and services for public school students...There is established a Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students to consist of 17 members as follows: the Commissioner of Education, ex officio, or a designee; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including one parent or guardian of a public school student receiving special education services, one parent or guardian of a student attending a private school for students with disabilities, one public school special education teacher, one director of special education services for a school district, one representative of the Arc of New Jersey, one representative of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, one representative of the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, one representative of the New Jersey Education Association, one representative of the New Jersey School Boards Association, one representative of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, one representative of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey, one representative of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, one representative of ASAH, and one representative of the American Federation of Teachers..."
GSCS thanks the lead sponsors of S600 for bringing this important bill to fruition: Senator JENNIFER BECK District 11 (Monmouth) Senator M. TERESA RUIZ District 29 (Essex) Assemblyman DAVID P. RIBLE District 30 (Monmouth and Ocean) Assemblywoman MARY PAT ANGELINI District 11 (Monmouth) Assemblyman JASON O'DONNELL District 31 (Hudson) Assemblywoman DONNA M. SIMON District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset
New Jersey Newsroom - N.J. Taking Big Steps to Improve Special Education “... Rible and Beck introduced the bill, S-600 / A-1365, in response to an Asbury Park Press series in 2010 on New Jersey’s special education system...”
Click here on More for bill copy and NJ Newsroom article
3-19-13 Eudcation-related Issue in the News - Supreme Court Nominations...Or Not
Star Ledger - Democrats don't plan hearings on Christie's N.J. Supreme Court nominees for at least 8 months
The Record-column-Stile: Democrats unlikely to relent on Christie's choices for New Jersey Supreme Court
3-18-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Time spent on standardized tests set to increase in 2014-2015 school year
3-14-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Teacher Evaluation Plan Gets Mixed Reviews in First Public Forum…Educators raise questions, concerns about heavy emphasis on student test scores
Star Ledger - Newtown, Conn. school superintendent talks security with N.J. administrators
Associated Press-Star Ledger - Privacy advocates blast database with students' personal information
3-13-13 'Former Gov. Thomas Kean Talks Education'
NJ Spotlight - Spotlight Interview: Former Gov. Thomas Kean Talks Education… Former Gov. Thomas Kean Sr. has never really left the education conversation in New Jersey – he just maybe stepped back a little… “…But Kean, at age 77, is stepping back into the fray a little, with the announcement yesterday that he will co-chair a new school-reform organization focused on research, policy and advocacy. JerseyCAN, an offshoot of the national 50CAN network, has launched under the leadership of Janellen Duffy, former education advisor to Gov. Jon Corzine and more recently the policy chief for the Charter School Fund of Newark…”
3-12-13 Principals' Evaluation Issues...Sequester Crunch
NJ Spotlight - Matter of Principals: School Administrators Also Getting New Grading System…Revamped evaluations, which don’t apply only to teachers, prompt questions from principals association about criteria... ”… The new evaluation system – renamed “Achieve NJ” on the eve of a public campaign starting this week – was outlined in new proposed regulations released last week by the state Department of Education…”
Star Ledger - Menendez: Federal spending cuts will slash millions for N.J. students
3-11-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer- New teacher and principal evaluations pose a challenge for districts to implement
The Record editorial -The Record: Tenure reform
NJ Spotlight - Department of Education Posts List of Nearly 60 Reward Schools…Designation indicates overall high performance or marked progress on statewide exams (GSCS Note:List of Reward districts can be accessed via Members Only Portal, sidbar left on this homepage.)
Asbury Park Press Column - Christie Bravado has Quieted NJEA
Trenton Times - Guest Opinion: Why America demonizes its teachers
GSCS Clarification re Teacher Evaluation Data Definition of 'Academic Peer' used for Student Growth Percentile - SGP
Per Dept. of Educ. website: NJ SMART “SGP VIDEO” Student Growth Percentile...How an Academic Peer is defined -
• The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) is calculated by comparing student achievement to his/her academic peers.
• Academic Peers are students across NJ with similar scores on the NJSASK test to students across New Jersey that have a similar NJASK test score history
• The growth model does not include any demographic factors by gender of ethnicity, nor does it group at specific programs, including English language learner (ELL) or learning disabled students when identifying academic peers.
• Academic Peers are selected solely by their achievement on the NJASK test.
• Academic peers share these three elements in common: they are in the same grade level, they have taken same NJASK tests, and they share similar testing history results.
3-8-13 Department of Treasury Increases School Construction Fees Assessed to Local Districts - Stresses Local School Budgets
NJ Spotlight -Debt Payments Cast Shadow on Christie’s School-Aid Picture…While budget freezes or slightly boosts aid, state construction-grant assessments soar 60 percent “…According to data provided by the state yesterday, nearly 500 districts will see double-digit percentage increases in assessments paid to the Schools Development Authority for debt service on construction grants for projects launched in the last several years. For many districts, it won’t be a lot of money, with the average increase at about $26,000. But for more than dozen districts, the impact will top $100,000, not small change when state aid increases were as small as $1 for 41 districts and averaged about 1 percent overall. ..”
3-8-13 ACHIEVE NJ Initiative announced by Department of Education - information updates on statewide educator evaluation system
"...For teachers, the proposed regulations differentiate between teachers of tested and non-tested grades and subjects. For next year, the following weights will apply: • Teachers in Tested Grades and Subjects: o 35 percent based on Student Growth Percentile (SGP) data. o 15 percent based on Student Growth Objective (SGO) data from 1 or 2 teacher-set SGOs. o 50 percent based on classroom observations. • Teachers of Non-tested Grades and Subjects: o 85 percent based on classroom observations. o 15 percent based on SGO data from two teacher-set SGOs. We are also committed to communicating with you and your colleagues about these changes. To that end, every Thursday for the next six weeks, we will be sending you additional information to support your understanding of the various aspects of AchieveNJ and its implementation..."
AchieveNJ updates will be sent every Thursday for the next 6 weeks. Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Help Line at 609-777-3788.
3-7-13 In the News - Subcontracting bill Issue...School Construction Numbers
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sen. Diane Allen pulls her name off school subcontracting bill
NJ Spotlight - By the Numbers: Lots of Money, Fewer Projects at School-Construction Agency…Only one project begun since 2010, despite millions spent by School Development Authority
3-7-13 Released: Department of Education Power Point - Teacher Evaluations Regulations' Process (pdf)
3-7-13 Teacher Evaluation Regulations Regulations Presented
NJ Spotlight - Cerf Goes Public About Student Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations…At standing-room-only meeting of the state BOE, administration puts rough percentages to components of teacher ratings
Star Ledger - Teacher tenure, evaluation regulations introduced at state BOE
Save the Date: GSCS-NJ Schools Development Council Spring Leadership Forum at Rutgers' Douglass College April 10 (pdf)
Spring Leadership Conference - State Budget...State School Aid...Education Reform: A Tug of War
Click on More here for Save the Date flyer, and Stay Tuned for Details...Program Details & Registration Information coming soon!
3-6-13 Teacher Evaluations, Student Testing, State Board hears new regulations
NJ Spotlight - Teachers Union Looks Askance at New Regulations for Tenure Evaluations…NJEA says law goes beyond what it agreed to, puts too much stress on student test scores
The Record - N.J. increasing tests for students
GSCS Note: Go to 'Issues' on top banner here to see Proposed Regulations for Teacher Evaluations
3-6-13First Senate Budget Committee hearing on State Budget Proposal for FY 14
(Note: GSCS will be testifying on FY'14 State Budget proposal later this month)
The Record - Advocates press for more funding for schools, towns during N.J. Senate budget hearing
Politickernj.com - Advocates say FY14 proposal doesn't go far enough for schools
3-5-13 More on State Board of Education tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…New regulations for teacher evaluation, special education, public testimony all add up to busy day of administrative code review
3-5-13 State Board meeting tomorrow - Teacher Evaluation Regulations on tap
NJ Spotlight - State Board of Education to Release Regulations for Teacher Evaluations Tomorrow…Some wiggle room built in to give system room to evolve, but will it be enough to head off arguments over student test scores? “…The proposed regulations posted online by the state Department of Education yesterday indicated there could some flexibility in the yardstick for grading teachers under the new system, potentially quelling some of the expected debate over the use of student test scores… Either way, student achievement will still count for as much as half of a teacher’s evaluation, the rest based on classroom observations. But state officials yesterday stressed they wanted some leeway built in to continue to develop the best mix…”
3-4-13 Newtown Superintendent to Address New Jersey Colleagues on School Security
NJ Spotlight - Newtown Superintendent to Address New Jersey Colleagues on School Security…Janet Robinson's horrific experience has taught her how far emergency planning can go, how to identify and implement new safeguards
3-1-13 State Aid and Charters - In the News
NJ Spotlight - Gov. Chris Christie’s election-year state aid package for New Jersey’s public schools looks like it has a little bit for almost everyone -- or at least not any less for anyone. “Looks flat here, which I have been conditioned to be grateful for,” said James Crisfield, superintendent of Millburn schools, which saw no increase at all on its $1.9 million aid from the state… “…Overall, people are relieved that funding is stabilized with flat funding at the very least, and increases for districts, such as those that are at 10 percent or more under adequacy is important,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “Being that is an election year as well, we are optimistic these aid levels will not be lessened and may even be increased under the legislative process with the Appropriations Act for FY14,” she added
Star Ledger -No N.J. school district will have state aid cut next year; 40 districts increase of $1
NJ Spotlight - State Renews 13 Charter Schools But Flunks Three Others…Several win approval but are put on probation or have expansion plans rejected
Star Ledger - Charter schools in Jersey City, Atlantic City and Hammonton set to close
2-28-13 State Aid Figures Released early afternoon today
State Aid allocations by district:
Click here on More to read related press release, as well as decriptions of various aid categories
2-28-13 'Charter-School Reform, On Back Burner, Starts to Heat Up Again'
NJ Spotlight - Charter-School Reform, On Back Burner, Starts to Heat Up Again…Democratic lawmakers in state Assembly, Senate both drafting new legislation
2-27-13 In the News - Governor's State Budget Message...State School Aid, more
GSCS Note: In-Depth Analysis to come, with release of state school aid district-by-district figures tomorrow, February 28.
The Record - Christie budget includes $97M more for N.J. schools, but critics warn it's far from enough “…Details on how much each district will receive are expected Thursday. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents mostly suburban systems, said, “Districts were worried about losing aid, so this puts that concern aside, but we do need to take a good look at how it’s laid out district by district.”
Star Ledger - School vouchers, aid increase, included in Christie budget “…The modest increase was welcome in a state that just a few years ago saw Christie cut nearly $1 billion from schools. "I imagine we'll get flat funding, and we're thankful for that," said Marlboro School Superintendent David Abbott. His district lost $6.2 million in the 2010 cut…”
NJ Spotlight - Christie Won't Give Up on School Voucher Program…Governor vows to fight on, even though proposed $2 million pilot is just a shadow of original, supersized program of 2010
Newsday-Associated Press - Christie's $32.9B NJ budget expands Medicaid “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed a $32.9 billion budget Tuesday that allows more poor residents to enroll in Medicaid and increases public school aid but defers property tax rebates for three months to cover a projected budget shortfall…”
2-26-13 Early Information per Department of Treasury Website re Governor's Budget Message FY 2013-2014
Governor Chris Christie Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Address Highlights Governor Christie today unveiled a FY 2014 budget that provides $32.9 billion in state spending with no tax increases. The budget includes a record $1.676 billion pension payment and a $40 million Sandy contingency fund for expenses not reimbursed by the Federal government. The budget reflects the Governor’s decision to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Key funding priorities in Education, Higher Education, Health and Human Services include: Education • $87 million increase in state aid funding for schools bringing total state aid to almost $9 billion • $2 million to fund opportunity scholarship grants for needy students • $5 million for an “Education Innovation fund” to implement innovative teaching models in all schools Excerpt from State Budget Fiscal Year 2014 : Budget Summary
Delivering on the Promise of a Quality Education for Every Child in N.J.
Governor Christie’s Budget Funds Education At Record Level With An Increase To Nearly $9 Billion
HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS Nearly One Billion Dollars in Education Funding Increases Over Three Years
Governor Christie's fiscal year 2014 budget represents a commitment to provide both the resources and reforms to deliver opportunity to every New Jersey child regardless of zip code. The budget proposes distributing approximately $9 billion in state aid to schools, $97.3 million more than distributed in fiscal year 2013, allowing for the continued implementation of a bold reform agenda to extend the promise of a quality education to every child in New Jersey.
Governor Christie is also providing the resources necessary to make the required payment on behalf of teachers towards their pensions. The State’s obligation to fund the health benefits of retired teachers and the social security costs of districts is also being met. Combined, these payments total close to $2.9 billion.
In total, the budget recommends spending $12.4 billion, or $670.6 million more than in fiscal year 2013 and nearly $1 billion more since fiscal year 2011, representing the largest appropriation of State education aid in New Jersey history.
• In fiscal year 2014, all districts will receive an increase in aid or maintain flat funding.
• A new category of aid for Under Adequacy Districts will benefit 131 districts that are at least 10% below adequacy.
• $4.14 million is provided to the districts that received Supplemental Enrollment Growth Aid (SEGA) funding in fiscal year 2013.
• A new geographic cost adjustment (GCA) will be used, smoothing artificial differences between counties.
• $49.1 million will be distributed to school districts accepted into the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. There are 107 approved choice districts, up from 70 last year.
• Charter School aid supports hold harmless aid to charter schools and students coming from a nonpublic school. $16 million is recommended in fiscal year 2014, an increase of approximately $3 million from fiscal year 2013.
• The thresholds for the amounts reimbursed by the State for high-cost special needs students will be increased by $5,000 in order to ensure that the school districts serving those students with the highest cost services receive the highest reimbursement.
• $83.5 million is recommended for Nonpublic School Aid, $1 million more than provided in fiscal year 2013.
2-26-13 Limited Grants for Sandy Schools...State Budget Message Today...Abbott v Burke Issues Discussed
The Record - N.J. offers schools post-Sandy disaster grants - 'New Jersey school districts that were severely affected by superstorm Sandy can apply for a share of a $1.25 million federal grant for recovery, state officials announced Monday...The money, to be awarded in April, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence.'
Star Ledger - Gov. Christie to unveil budget plan for post-Sandy N.J.
NJ Spotlight - School-Funding Issues Remain at Forefront 40 Years after Landmark Decision "...Speaking to about 20 people gathered at Rutgers Law School were Paul Tractenberg, founding director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, which has led the school-funding litigation for more than 40 years, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, who served 10 years on the state’s top court and wrote two of the Abbott case’s 21 opinions to date..."
2-25-13 'Reviewing budget address 2012 -Tax cut stalled; drug courts, education reform progress'
Politickernj.com-TRENTON – Higher-ed reform, check. Drug courts, check. Tax cut, not so fast. 'When Gov. Chris Christie takes to the podium Tuesday afternoon to give the annual budget address, he will be able to take credit for following through on some of the goals he outlined in last year’s speech. While his biggest goal – a 10 percent income tax cut – went nowhere, he did see fulfilled several of the other initiatives he unveiled last February...'
2-25-13 Christie and Co. Keep Tight Lid On Education Funding in State Budget
NJ Spotlight - …It's a good bet that governor will bump school aid, but where the money goes is tougher to predict "...“What we need and hope for is at least stable funding so that schools don’t fall backwards,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “We hope for some increase, but we are not speculating beyond that,” she said. “We’re realists..."
2-25-13 Governor to Deliiver State Buget MessageTomorrow for Fiscal Year 2013-2014
The Record - Christie's budget hinges on federal aid for storm relief ‘…The budget Christie will present Tuesday lays out the billions he plans to spend on public education, health care, property tax relief and other state programs … Spokesmen for both Christie and the Department of Treasury declined to provide details ahead of Christie’s budget presentation, and lawmakers said they are not scheduled to be briefed until hours before the governor’s speech Tuesday afternoon. Christie himself said little about the new budget during a campaign event in Sea Bright last week…“Budgets, which we’re about to put forward, are statements of priorities, and how you spend your money is often an indicator of what you think is important,” Christie said…’
2-13 Education Week-Digital Directions - State, Federal Ed-Tech Leadership Seen as Key to Innovation
'Last school year, Arizona state Rep. Richard Crandall heard about a Georgia school district with an impressive "bring your own device," or BYOD, initiative. States "look at federal requirements or create state requirements and then tell schools to do it," he says. "That's not modeling creativity and innovation." But lobbying for innovation in schools can be fraught with disappointments and political peril...'
2-22-13 Teacher Evaluation Program in the News
NJ Spotlight - Majority of NJ Schools Opt for Widely Used Teacher-Evaluation Method…Princeton-based consultant’s model is choice of 60 percent of districts as they prepare for tenure law’s new mandate… “…Close to 60 percent of nearly 500 school districts have chosen models scripted by the Danielson Group of Princeton, according to preliminary results reported yesterday by the state Department of Education ‘…Of the 496 districts reporting so far, virtually every one said it has put in place new “school improvement panels” that will oversee teacher evaluation and professional development in each school…”
Dept. of Educ. 2-19-13 memo 'Announcing Regional Presentations on Educator Evaluations'. memo 'Announcing Regional Presentations on Educator Evaluations'
“…On March 6, 2013, the Department of Education (“the Department”) plans to propose regulations to the State Board of Education providing rules for educator evaluation and professional development as outlined in the TEACHNJ Act. These regulations are scheduled to become effective at the beginning in SY13-14 and will include greater details about several elements of evaluation…In March and April, the Department will hold presentations across the state in order to communicate the details of these regulations…”
2-21-13 Senate Education Releases Subcontracting bill S1191
This bill "Concerns subcontracting agreements entered into by public school districts and higher education institutions....This bill provides that, during the term of an existing collective bargaining agreement covering its employees, and employer is prohibited from entereing into a subcontrqacdting agreement whici affects the employment of those employees..."
Note: GSCS has opposed this bill (and its Assembly companion bill, A3627), which recently passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.
2-21-13 Education Issues in the News
US News - Education considering district-by-district waivers
NJ Spotlight - Schools Development Authority Looking to ‘Do More With Less’ After Cutting Staff, Payroll Critics still point to just one project started in three years but agency cites 12 more in the pipeline
Education Adequacy Report - Commissioner's Cover Letter December 2012.PDF (pdf)
GSCS Members - For full School Funding Education Adequacy Report 2012, is availabe on Members Only portal, sidebar left on this homepage. 'This document fulfills the statutory requirement of N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-46(b) in recommending: 1. the base per pupil amount based upon the core curriculum content standards established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-46(a); 2. the per pupil amount for full-day preschool; 3. the weights for grade level, county vocational districts, at-risk pupils, bilingual pupils, and combination (at-risk and bilingual) pupils; 4. the cost coefficients for security aid and transportation aid; 5. the state average classification rate for general special education services pupils and for speech-only pupils; 6. the excess cost for general special education services pupils and for speech-only pupils; and 7. the extraordinary special education aid thresholds.'
2-20-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer - NJ Legislature looking at requiring all schools to offer full-day kindergarten classes'...No cost estimate for the proposed mandate has been calculated.“It really needs to be addressed, because it’s such a large stumbling block,” said Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, an advocacy group for suburban districts. “Thinking districts will be able to take this on with the 2 percent tax cap is wishful thinking.”....Delran Superintendent Patricia Camp said the district probably would not have been able to make the change if it didn’t have the available classroom space.“It really does boil down to money, but space is also a big issue,” Camp said.'
NJ Spotlight - More School Districts Move Elections Into November…The chance to remove school budgets from the ballot continues to attract districts statewide … “Among those making the change was Glen Ridge, where the school board last year in April saw its lowest turnout in history.“We decided that nothing terrible has happened to the 80 percent of districts who switched to November last year,” said Elisabeth Ginsburg, the school board’s president. “Our process here is truly nonpartisan and Borough Council members already run that way in November with no partisan interference,” she said in an email. “We didn't really see a downside.”
NJ Spotlight - Two Newest Paterson Charters Are Well Connected -- With Established Networks…The latest charter schools approvals may indicate the state is leaning toward providers with proven track records… “Twenty-five charter schools have opened since Christie was elected, 18 since Cerf took office. A total of 46 have been approved under Christie, the bulk of them in 2010 when the administration approved 36 new schools. Since Cerf came on board, just 14 have been approved. In addition, five charter schools have been closed due to poor performance and mismanagement.”
2-18-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - New school report cards will provide more data, compare schools
NJ Spotlight - For NJ Early Education Advocates, State of the Union Carries Hopeful Message…President's call for universal preschool for needy children resonates with state's Abbott v. Burke school equity funding
2-15-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Democrats to Christie: Rethink Changes to School-Funding Formula…Party-line vote demonstrates strength in numbers, but with budget just weeks away, can Democrats hold the line? “…With the Democrats opposing some of the changes to extra aid or so-called funding “weights” that would be allotted for the neediest students, the Christie administration has 30 days to revise the adequacy report. But the law does not specify the process beyond that, and with the state budget presentation just two weeks away, most legislators interviewed yesterday said that this is where the differences will need to be worked out…”
Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey schools hurt by Sandy to share $1.25 million in federal grants
NJ Spotlight - For NJ Early Education Advocates, State of the Union Carries Hopeful Message…President's call for universal preschool for needy children resonates with state's Abbott v. Burke school equity funding
2-14-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Florence Township Charter Withdraws Application to Expand…After much hue and cry, Riverbank charter bows to public pressure, does what it says is best for kids and community
The Times of Trenton - Vineland BOE unanimously OKs school uniform policy
NJ Spotlight - Newark Superintendent Turns Attention to Revamping High Schools…District-wide choice program to be key component of plan to improve 9th-through-12th grade academics
2-13-13 Assembly Voting Session for 2-14-13
The voting session includes legislative concurrent resolutions SCR134/ACR172 (identical bills)which "Express(es) the Legislature's objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor's Education Adequacy Report (EAR)"...the concurrent resolution already passed out of the Senate last week. If passed in both houses, the Governor has 30 days to respond to the objections, per the SFRA law. After the Governor responds, the law is 'silent'. Complicating the issues in this debate is that the data analysis recently released on the EAR compares state aid funding of the EAR student weights to aid funding as if the SFRA were fully funded. However,SFRA has not been fully funded since 2008 (the SFRA law's first year of implementation).
2-13-13 McKinneyVento Funding for Homeless Children may help schoolchildren impacted by Superstorm Sandy
American Recovery & Reinvestment Act 2009 New Jersey K-12 Education - Educating the Homeless (McKinney Vento)
ON THIS PAGE: • » Uses of Funds • » Application Process • » Fund Allocations • » Guidance Documents ... These ARRA funds are in addition to the annual allocation.
2-13-1 3 In the News - Charter School Facilities Bonds
Politickernj - $125M in bonds to help build more charter schools
2-12-13 'Full-day kindergarten great, but costly, idea'
Politickernj-State Street Wire - “Calling half-day kindergarten "antiquated," Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-38) of Fair Lawn, said it's time for all the state's school districts to offer full-day kindergarten to keep up with growing expectations and worldwide competitiveness...Her bill that would require full-day kindergarten, A2927, was up for discussion only at the Assembly Education Committee on Monday”…“Wagner's bill received support from education groups…However, Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition said while she is supportive of the concept, she is worried about the costs."It really needs to be addressed because it's such a large stumbling block," To help find ways, she suggested creating a task force…Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-40) agreed with her, adding that the costs of not only hiring additional staff, but to expand school facilities, could be challenging for many school districts…”
2-11-13 Education Issues in the News - Charter Schools, School Nutrition Requirement
NJ Spotlight - In Local Battles Against Charters, Florence Township Joins the Fray…Burlington County school district raises familiar refrain, charters drain too much money from local school “…The state has already pulled back since Christie’s first year in office from approving new charter schools in suburban communities, and even new charters anywhere. Talk continues in the Legislature over a rewrite of the state’s 15-year-old charter school law, adding more say for local districts and more accountability for charters. The next round of approvals is expected to be announced this month, providing further indication of how -- and how much -- charter schools will play in this election year, when both Christie and the entire Legislature are up for vote…”
Philadelphia Inquirer - Do new school lunch rules go too far?
2-8-13 Assembly Education Committee Monday, 2-11, 1 pm - Agenda
2-8-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Politics and Education: Perfect Together…A decade in the making, Union City’s new school gives Christie a chance to celebrate the beleaguered Schools Development Authority… ““I know the criticism, but I can’t really say anything negative,” Sanger [Union City Schools Superintendent] said, crediting the cooperation and promotion of local and state officials, led by Stack..."
2-7-13 State Board of Education meeing - in the News
NJ Spotlight - New School Report Cards Measure More Than Just the ABCs of Student Performance...By digging deeper into data, School Performance Reports can analyze and compare grades and progress for students statewide
NJ Spotlight - Changes to Special-Ed Code Add to Tensions Between Parents, Administration…Taken singly, the proposed revisions deal with minutia, but parents argue they add up to significant amendments
2-7-13 State Board of Education meeingt yesterday in the News
NJ Spotlight - New School Report Cards Measure More Than Just the ABCs of Student Performance...By digging deeper into data, School Performance Reports can analyze and compare grades and progress for students statewide
NJ Spotlight - Changes to Special-Ed Code Add to Tensions Between Parents, Administration…Taken singly, the proposed revisions deal with minutia, but parents argue they add up to significant amendments
2-6-13 Dept of Education Evaluation Report Released
The New Jersey Department of Education (“the Department”) released the Evaluation Research and Policy Development Memo on February 5. The following topics are addressed...Click here on More for full information as released by the DOE
2-6-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Independent Report: Teachers Remain Skeptical About New Evaluation System….Study also raises concerns about deadlines and reliability, but lead author finds reasons to be optimistic
The Record -Study: Many N.J. teachers wary of new evaluations
NJ Spotlight -School Superintendents Try Once More to Overturn Cap on Pay...Petition to NJ Supreme Court asserts governor’s action overstepped his authority
2-5-13 State Board of Education Meeting Coming Up
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…Back to deregulation for the panel, as new codes are introduced pertaining to special education, facilities and standards
2-4-13 Common Core and PAARC facing hardline questioning - Implementation, Testing Rationale and Extent, Costs
Education Week - Pressure Mounts in Some States Against Common Core…Opponents of common core redouble legislative efforts
NJ Spotlight - Online Testing Is Coming to New Jersey Schools -- Ready or Not…Education department confident that testing rollout will hit its mark, some school administrators uneasy about 2014-2015 deadline..."The testing -- which is being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) -- is about to go through its first pilot evaluations in a about a dozen districts. State officials said it remains on track to be in place for the 2014-2015 school year...""...The PARCC tests -- and New Jersey’s own plans for separate end-of-course exams in high school -- ultimately are meant to measure students against the new national Common Core State Standards. But the common core also is just being introduced to schools. “No one would argue that better assessments for our students are worthwhile,” Sampson said in an email. “But PARCC was supposed to help us gauge our success with implementing new and improved standards. At this point in time, I question how that will occur anytime within the next several years...”
2-4-13 Excerpts from - The Bridge, Feb 2013 – New DOE Monthly Newsletter for Educators
Updates included: Evaluations Update, Keeping NJ Schools Safe, Common Core Q&A, Career & Technical Education in New Jersey – Addressing Current and Future Needs
2-2-13 NY Times –editorial- More Lessons About Charter Schools
"...In any case, the researchers and policy makers need to pay closer attention to how these schools function. For according to the study, Kipp and the Uncommon Schools have actually managed to eliminate the learning gap between poor and higher-income students.Currently, only 6 percent of all schools are charter schools, and charter networks account for only about one-fifth of that total. States that are in a hurry to expand charter schools should proceed carefully...
2-1-13 Bullying Decision in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. education commissioner upholds decisions to discipline school bullies NJ Spotlight – Cerf Upholds Bullying Charges in First Cases Under Tough New Law…State education chief rejects parents’ appeals in East Brunswick, Tenafly incidents
1-31-13 'Anti-Bullying Report Recommends Greater Autonomy for School Officials'
NJ Spotlight - Anti-Bullying Report Recommends Greater Autonomy for School Officials…Task force advises that principals make the call as to whether incident qualifies as bullying, gives law positive review overall
1-30-13 Education in the News
NY Times - Education Dept. to Hear School Closing Complaints
NJ Spotlight - Advocates for Newark Education Make Their Case in D.C….Claims of racial bias behind school closings face lengthy process, uncertain outcome
Members Only - GSCS Notes on Senate Education Committee Dialogues with Commissioner Cerf 1-28-13
Go to the Members Only Portal (side left on GSCS homepage here) for details of Senate Education Committee 1-28-13 Q & A with Commissioner of Education, Chris Cerf. Among issues discussed - School Security; State aid; Property taxes - tax abatements, free and reduced lunch and local fair share; Charter schools - applications review criteria, teacher certification criteria; teacher preparations and evaluations; Special education; Extraordinary Special Education Aid; Education Adequacy Report
1-29-13 Bills related to schools that passed in NJ Assembly yesterday
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Bills passed in Legislative Session 1-28-13
1-29-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Education commissioner, Senate committee spar on school funding
NJ Spotlight - Cerf's Visit to Education Committee Raises Question About Budget Balance of Power…Committee member: why wrangle over state school aid if lawmakers can't affect final numbers?
Montclair Times,The Record - Montclair district conducting budget review
1-28-13 Commissioner Cerf converses with Senate Education Committee
Star Ledger -N.J. schools chief addresses Senate education committee
Politickernj - Cerf: N.J. ahead of other states regarding school safety; per-pupil funding remains problematic
1-25-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Feds tell schools to include disabled kids in athletic programs… The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come..."North Jersey superintendents said they expect Duncan’s announcement to have little effect, if any, on their districts.“In River Dell, we’ve always included students with disabilities in athletics,” Superintendent Patrick Fletcher said. “New Jersey has been on the forefront of inclusion for quite some time. We’re pleased to offer these opportunities.”(GSCS Note - There are complicated issues involved here and GSCS will be analyzing the potential impact of this directive and will be reporting back to you and policymakers soon.)
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Teacher Evaluation Update…The administration eases some guidelines, two pilot districts weigh in with their experiences and progress
NJ Spotlight - State Education Chief Will Finally Meet with Key Senate Committee…Cerf, on the job for two years and controversial reform agenda in tow, will discuss issues and initiatives
1-24-13 'Revisions to 'Extraordinary Aid' Program Draw New Questions'
NJ Spotligh…After reviewing proposed changes to trigger thresholds, legislators and advocates ask Cerf to redo his math
1-23-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Christie Gets Tougher With Charter School Teachers…According to the administration, making it more difficult for charter teachers to earn tenure gives the schools themselves "more flexibility"
Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey ranks low in teachers with National Board certification
Member note: Go To 'Members Only' portal [side left here] to read Dept. of Education Memo re: Implemenation Teams to be set up by local districts for Common Core Curriculum requirements
1-22-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger-Assoc Press - N.J. dropout rate stays among lowest in nation, study shows
NJ Spotlight - School Killing Informs Educator's Passion for School Safety…A murder in the hallway of Bayonne High School gave Michael Wanko a calling as well as a career
Celebrate His Leadership: Martin Luther King Day 1-21-13
1-16 and 17-13 School Security in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Puts Focus on School Lockdown Drills in Wake of Newtown Tragedy…State augments rigorous regulations to further protect students and staff against the unthinkable
Star Ledger - Mercer County schools enhance security after Sandy Hook shooting
Star Ledger - Schools to face unannounced security checks in wake of Newtown massacre, state Ed. Dept. says "State officials will conduct unannounced security drills and visits at New Jersey schools as a way to check security preparedness..."
Politickernj - N.J. needs to examine 'violence control' in wake of Conn. shootings, Christie says "Gov. Chris Christie announced plans Wednesday to respond in the coming days to the Newtown, Conn., shooting..."
1-15-13 More on Democrat-sponsored resolution opposing Education Adequacy Report
Star Ledger - Democrats oppose Christie proposal to change school funding formula “…Watson Coleman, a sponsor of the Assembly resolution, said her staff determined aid to low-income and bilingual students would be cut by $160 million under the recommendations, although an Education Department analysis indicates that financing would increase in every category under the proposal. "It will still be a reduction — a ratio reduction," she said.”
1-14-13 and 1-15-13 Resolution voted out of Assembly and Senate Budget Committees 1-14-13 mostly along by party vote
(GSCS Note: Given the nature of the discussions surrounding the issues; given the mostly partisan nature of the committee votes; given the fact that this is an election year for the legislature and the governor; and, given the tight revenue picture NJ is facing, this will be a partisan controversy that will play out throughout the budget debate for FY2013-2014. Stay tuned...)
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Resolution opposing school funding reduction for at-risk students passes committee
"...The resolution, SCR-134 was passed by the committee along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14) who said while she was not totally in favor of the plan, it resulted in an additional $3 million for Hamilton Township school district, the largest school district in the 14th..."
NJ Spotlight - Democrats Seek to Block Administration's Attempt to Revise School Funding Formula…Under governor's proposal, poorest districts could get less in next year’s state budget… Conversely, Republican legislators said there was no evidence the additional funding would help these schools, and cited what they called the unfairness of a funding formula in which some districts receive exponentially more in state aid than others..."
Press of Atlantic City - Assembly, Senate panels oppose reductions in New Jersey school funding proposal
Click on More for full articles...Attention Members-go to MEMBERS ONLY portal for the actual Resolution, and for state aid analyses per Education Adequacy paramters v. SFRA if fully funded...
1-14-13 Ridgewood Board of Education pro-active against superintendent salary cap
The Record - Ridgewood school board to take up resolution on superintendent salary cap
Star Ledger - Report: Ridgewood school board plans fight against superintendent salary caps "The Village Board of Education will ask the state to change the salary cap on superintendent salaries, Ridgewood Patch reported..."
1-14-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Assembly Budget Comm. to consider educational funding resolution
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education
Press of Atlantic City -Students with disabilities focus of new legislative efforts sparked by Ocean City girl
NJ Spotlight - Legislation Promises Help for Dyslexic Kids in New Jersey Schools…Early screening, more training, and better identification of dyslexia among recommendations of state task force
1-11-13 Education Funding Issues on on Fast Track Agenda
Legislative Calendar posted 4:55 p.m. Friday, January 11, includes the following 2 companion bills to heard this Monday in the Senate and Assembly Budget committees respectively:
Senate Concurrent Resolution/SCR134 - [Ruiz, M. Teresa//Whelan, Jim], Expresses Legislature’s objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor’s Educational Adequacy Report
Assembly Concurrent Resolution/ACR172 [Watson Coleman, Bonnie/Schaer, Gary S./Wimberly, Benjie E./Spencer L. Grace], Expresses Legislature’s objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor’s Educational Adequacy Report.
In addition, the Assembly Education Committee is meeting on Thursday, January 17, and will include hearing testimony from invited guests regarding school safety and security measures...Click here on More to see full agenda
1-10-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Armed guards at schools not best way to stem violence, Christie says
NJ Spotlight - Should Students Grade their Teachers?.. Some educators suggest student surveys should be part of teacher-effectiveness evaluations
Star Ledger - Treasury audit: N.J. finished fiscal year with $123M budget gap
Politickernj - State audit of Katzenbach School cites large, 'inefficient' campus use for dwindling student body
Governor Christie's State of the State Message delivered this afternoon
Star Ledger - Gov. Christie pledges devotion to Hurricane Sandy recovery in State of the State Address
The Record - Christie outlines Sandy recovery in State of the State
NJ Spotlight - Christie's State of State Offers Little New for Education…Education plays reduced role in yesterday's address to legislators, residents, and wider audience
Politickernj-State Street Wire - 2012 speech much longer on substance than latest version
Excerpt from Governor Chris Christie's 2013 State of the State address “…In K-12 education, we have made great strides, but there is much more to be done… In New Jersey, we have combined more funding with needed reform. Both money and reform of our schools are essential, but neither alone is sufficient. In New Jersey, we are leading the way for the nation by providing both. • Ensuring accountability by passing the first major reform of tenure in 100 years; Establishing performance-based pay in Newark through hard-nosed collective bargaining so that we can reward and retain the very best teachers where we need them most; Implementing inter-district school choice, which has tripled its enrollment in the last 3 years and will grow to 6,000 students next year; Growing the number of charter schools to a record 86 in New Jersey; Signing the Urban Hope Act to turn failing schools into Renaissance Schools in Newark, Trenton, and Camden; And finally, investing the largest amount of state aid to education in New Jersey history — $8.9 billion in this year’s budget, over $1 billion higher than in Fiscal Year 2011…” For FULL TEXT of the Governor's address, go to Members Only, sidebar left on this homepage...
1-8-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - State monitor is installed to supervise spending in Elmwood Park school district … “education experts said Monday that small districts such as Elmwood Park, operating under state-imposed budget caps, are vulnerable when special needs children enroll in their schools, sometimes requiring districts to spend as much as $100,000 per pupil.…Special state aid kicks in after $40,000 per student but the costs are greater than average enrollments and the districts have to front the entire cost for students moving in since they don’t receive the state reimbursement until the following year, said Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.She said a district in Middlesex County was forced to lay off staff a number of years ago because of problems budgeting for special education enrollment.“It’s a worry for districts,” said Strickland…”
NJ Spotlight - NJ Touts Educational Reforms But Earns ‘D’ in One Nationwide Report Card…StudentsFirst rankings raise eyebrows for judgment of Christie’s record -- and who's doing judging
1-8-13 Education Information FYI - Inaugural Issue: Department of Education ‘The Bridge’
(Per Dept. of Educ.) "Welcome to the inaugural edition of “The Bridge”, a newsletter for educators from the New Jersey Department of Education. Why the name? We hope that this newsletter will serve as a bridge between the NJDOE and educators across the state and provide valuable information and resources to help educators in the classroom. The Bridge will be a monthly resource for educators to find out the latest information from the NJDOE on a number of educational issues including policy considerations and changes, statewide initiatives and NJDOE programs. We will also highlight best practices, award winning educators and successful models in districts and schools around the state. Finally, we will provide you with some links from the NJDOE to provide useful resources and relevant news articles to keep you abreast of the most recent information about public education." (FOR FULL DETAILS AND HOW TO SUBSCRIBE, GO TO MEMBERS ONLY PORTAL - GSCS homepage, sidebar left - Your LOGIN code will be sent to you separately this week in a GSCS MEMBER-NET email)
1-7-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy Application…Application under Urban Hope Act would bring first 'renaissance schools' to Camden
The Record - Paterson school offers signs of hope in urban school reform
1-4-13 Determining Priorities: School Security
New Jersey School Boards Association Presents Forum on ‘Safe And Secure Schools’ Jan. 18
Star Ledger - Marlboro is first N.J. district to place armed guards at schools
Star Ledger - Union City Board of Commissioners votes to put armed school resource officers in five city schools
1-4-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight Most Newark Teachers Take a Pass on Bonus Program…Superintendent and union head both say teachers are being understandably cautious about new contract
NJ Spotlight - NJ Teachers Union Moves to Block 'Blended' Learning at Newark Charter…NJEA argues that blending online technology with traditional teaching has to be cleared by Legislature before it can be used in school
NJ Spotlight - Budget Cuts Loom as Shortfall Tops $700 Million…OLS: Sandy reconstruction, income tax surge will help, but not enough
1-3-13 ' View from the Top: Cerf and Ruiz Talk Education 2013'
NJ Spotlight…Following up on the past year's initiatives is just the beginning of what the commissioner and the senator plan to accomplish in the year ahead… “There is an enormous amount of implementation and execution work that has to be at the top of the list,” Cerf said yesterday. “It’s one thing to announce them, as we did last year, but another to implement them.The major theme for 2013 will be to support districts as we move through that implementation,” he said. The teacher evaluation portion of the state’s new tenure reform law is job number one…”
1-2-13 Education Issues start the New Year
NJ Spotlight - The Coming Year in Education -- Bigger Questions, Higher Stakes…2013 is the year that educational theories like tenure reform and online charters run into reality
Courier News - Town to start new year with police in schools — One New Jersey school district is starting the new year by adding armed guards at its schools...
12-26-12 Education Adequacy Report article - 'Aid squeeze looks likely for schools in South Jersey'
Press of Atlantic City - Aid squeeze looks likely for schools in South Jersey…” Lynne Strickland, of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which is made up largely of suburban districts, said they are concerned about the proposal that would raise the cost threshold at which districts could request extra funds for special-education placements. The current threshold is $40,000 for public placements and $55,000 for private placements. The proposal would raise each threshold by $5,000. Strickland said that could make a big difference for districts that are on the border, and would lose all extra funding. She noted that private schools for the disabled do not have to cap their budgets as do public schools, creating tension when districts are creating their budgets. She said her biggest concern is the status of state of revenue, which will determine how much money overall there is for education aid. “Between the economy and Hurricane Sandy, funds are tightening up,” she said. “That will set the stage for the state budget and state education funding...”
12-21-12 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Judge Agrees School-Repair Projects Taking Too Long…Ruling adds weight to complaints about Christie administration’s delays in court-ordered construction
12-20-12 Education Issues in the News
The Record - NJ education chief to review school security procedures with superintendents
Star Ledger -Man arrested in threat of Bergen County high school, security increased
NJ Spotlight - Newark Teacher First to Win Contested Case Under Tenure Law…State arbitrator cites glaring contradictions between ratings by school’s principal and written comments
12-18-12 Report Offers Glimpse of School-Aid Breakdown
NJ Spotlight - Report Offers Glimpse of School-Aid Breakdown – and Fight That’s Likely to Follow…Christie, Cerf appear poised to once again try to cut extra funds for low-income students
12-18-12 Schools' Security Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Security high as N.J. kids return to school in wake of Connecticut shooting
Press of Atlantic City - South Jersey school officials say security precautions now a way of life
12-17-12 Schools Around the Country - Responding to the Tragedy
[Click on More below for a compendium of information on dealing with the effects of this tragedy, specifcally inclduing resources for talking with children, President Obabms's speech at Newtown, more...].....NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Move to Reassure Families After Newtown Killings.....Shootings at Columbine more than a decade ago opened educators' eyes to the need for stringent school safety As the news from Newtown, CT, unfolded on Friday, New Jersey's schools started sending emails of reassurance to families, letting them know that local schools remained safe places for their children.
Related Links NASP: Safety Tips for Administrators...NJ Safer Schools Initiative...School Security Drill Guidelines
In some communities, local police were dispatched to schools during their Friday dismissals, just for a show of presence. In a few, they are also expected to be there on Monday.
But over the weekend another response was less visible in many New Jersey schools, as superintendents and principals made quieter plans: meet with staff, go over safety procedures, and be especially alert to the emotions of students and staff in the days ahead.
“If any students are particularly concerned, or seem emotional about the news they have heard, please alert a counselor or administrator in your building,” wrote Perth Amboy superintendent Janine Caffrey to her staff last night.
“Our counselors and administrators have had training in responding to this sort of situation, and are ready to assist any student in need,” she added.
It’s a long way from the weeks and months that followed the events of 13 years ago, when New Jersey and the rest of the nation were jolted awake to the reality of school violence with the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.
At that time, schools were far less prepared to deal with the causes and the impact of such acts. School safety was not foreign, by any means, but prevention was nowhere near as stringent – and mandated -- as it is today.
Now, every New Jersey school is required by law to hold monthly security drills, and safety procedures are standard. Counselors are at the ready, and the state just this year added still more requirements: by October 15 every school must address cybercrimes and improve communications and surveillance .
That’s not to say every school follows these measures to the letter, but lockdown drills and camera monitors at school entrances are now commonplace. Not only do local police practice “active shooter” responses, but schools do as well.
“That was a new frontier back then,” said Adam Fried, superintendent of Harrington Park’s one-school district in Bergen County and a middle school vice principal at the time of Columbine shootings. “What do we do, who do we talk to? It was rough.”
“That changed it for a lot of us,” he said. “Security measures, making sure we are supporting the kids, we all do that.”
Harrington Park even now has “crash kits” of water and food in every classroom in case of an extended lockdown, Fried said. Still, Friday’s shooting was a jolt in its own right.
“This time, we woke up to a new reality,” he said. “An elementary school had been attacked . . . These were six year old kids.”
The victims’ ages may be the most disturbing thing of all for New Jersey educators contacted this weekend, as was the reported circumstances of the Newtown shooting, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza apparently shot his way into the building.
One Monmouth County superintendent said in an email this weekend: “We may not have an answer for one disturbed individual armed to the teeth who is willing to take his own life . . . Sobering.”
Some local school officials did think a show of police presence would help in the days ahead. At Red Bank Borough’s middle school, police were on hand at dismissal and were expected to be there again this week.
Laura Morana, the Red Bank superintendent, said the police have always been a ready and welcome presence at the school, doing walkthroughs and talking with students.
“I felt that it was appropriate to have police presence to reflect our response to the tragedy that took place on Friday, and that local government and the schools are partners in ensuring the safety of our students and staff,” she said.
Others administrators repeatedly used the words “normalcy” and “routine” in describing how they want their schools to react, especially with the youngest children who won't be able to fully comprehend Friday’s events. On top of dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy that continues to rock many communities, that is not an easy task.
Still, a frequent point raised by school leaders was the suggestion of caution in talking about the events with the youngest children, several citing guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists to what is age-appropriate.
“Early elementary schoolchildren need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them,” read the guidelines shared by Morana and others.
In all, it proved a busy weekend for school leaders throughout the state, each preparing for an unpredictable week.
“In many ways, the world before us has changed,” Freehold superintendent Charles Sampson wrote his staff last night. “Sadly, we have seen this before.
“We move forward much more cognizant of the fact that we are the first line of defense to ensuring safe schools,” he continued. “We reiterate the importance of reporting unusual activity immediately. We must close all exterior doors behind us and be vigilant in signing in and out. We must practice our security drills with the utmost purpose. And, most importantly, we must lay this foundation of expectations with our students.” [by John Mooney, December 17, 2012]
12-14-12 Schools Report on Sandy's Aftermath at Assembly Education Hearing
Star Ledger – Star ledger - Lawmakers propose canceling N.J. standardized tests due to Sandy setbacks
NJ Spotlight - Schools Still Struggle to Cope with Sandy’s Aftermath…Displaced students, lost class time, fiscal worries among lingering problems, Assembly panel told
School Officials from Around the State Share Testimony on Present & Future Challenges… Diegnan Holds Assembly Hearing on Sandy’s Impact on Schools throughout New Jersey
GSCS Note: GSCS President David Abbott testified at the hearing, bringing information, concerns, and recommendations of members to legislators directly. Concrete suggestions were offered to the committee in Dr. Abbott's testimony, and received with interest (GSCS Testimony attached here).
12-13-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Report: Nearly all of Newark's most disadvantaged students attend failing schools
NJ Spotlight - Newark Schools Chief Pulls No Punches in Depicting Challenges…Superintendent presents new study’s data in bid to make case for major reforms
12-12-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Hopatcong teachers wrong to use student college letters as leverage in contract talks: Editorial
NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Trail the Field (Again) in Race to the Top…Newark and Monmouth County consortium, state’s only finalists, fall short in bid for federal funds… “…I’m really encouraged with Newark,” the education secretary said. “The new teacher contract is a step in the right direction. Whether Newark received a nickel or not, I'm very hopeful about the direction they're going."
12-11-12 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Tenure Reform Law Delivers First Verdict…TEACHNJ speeds and clarifies process for removing substandard teachers, starting with one charged with disorderly conduct…” As part of the process, 25 specially selected arbitrators hear the cases -- protecting the defendants' right to due process while working with tighter timelines and narrower windows for appeal. No more administrative law judges to hear the cases, no more lengthy court schedules, which critics contend cost districts -- and their taxpayers -- thousands of dollars. It was a rallying cry that Gov. Chris Christie invoked more than a few times to promote tenure reform, but one the teachers unions agreed with for the most part…And in some ways, the law did appear to make difference…”
Lessons Being Learned - Here's a good example of public school children helping their peers - what's going on around the state in NJ's public schools...Star Ledger - Millburn students give financial help to 100 children in Sayreville displaced by Hurricane Sandy
12-10-12 11a.m. Breaking News - Supreme Court Nominees Announced by Governor
Politickernj - Gov. nominates Robert Hanna, Judge David Bauman to Supreme Court "...Both men have already been confirmed once by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hanna as BPU commissioner last year and Bauman in 2008 after he was nominated to the Superior Court by Gov. Jon Corzine."
Assembly Education Committee Meeting Thurs., 12-13-12, 1 pm
"The committee will receive testimony from invited guests regarding the effects of Hurricane Sandy on school districts, including: the storm's impact on infrastructure, the challenges of educating students after the storm, the displacement of students and school personnel, and the use of school buildings as shelters during a natural disaster." In addition several bills are scheduled to be heard, click here on More for full agenda.
Dept of Education Accepting Applications for Teacher Advisory Panel (pdf)
The NJ Department of Education is accepting applications from teachers who wish to participate as teacher leaders in a pilot program to advise the department on issues. Applications to serve on the Teacher Advisory Panel (TAP) are due on Monday, Jan. 7.
12-10-12 Education Issues in the News
NJSpotlight…Cyber-Charter Challenge: How Does State Watch Over What It Can't See?...Legislature grapples with basic issues concerning online charters, starting with working definitions… “There is a place for online learning, there is a place for it,” Wagner said. “Especially for the students 17-to-19 years old, there is a tremendous need for it. There is definitely a place.”One of the legislature’s chief critics of online charters, state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), said this weekend that he, too, has softened his stance concerning some facets of online learning.”
Star Ledger - Too soon to tell on Newark graduation rates: Editorial
Press of Atlantic City - Schools incorporate portable devices in learning process
Star Ledger - Christie announces initiative to address shortage of math, science teachers in N.J.
12-9-12 NJ educators unsure how to improve 4th grade boys' reading scores on state test
Star Ledger - N.J. educators unsure how to improve 4th-grade boys' reading scores on state test..."...Aaron Pallas, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said the shift in fourth-grade males’ reading performance in recent years may not be cause for concern, but certainly indicates a need for further analysis..."
12-7-12 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: American Education -- Wrong Questions, Wrong Answers…The ultimate goal of education: helping students learn how to be, how to do, and how to know
NJ Spotlight -State May Ease Alternate-Route Rules for Charter-School Teachers…Education Department provision would provide more flexibility in hiring, training
12-6-12 Education In the News - More analysis on graduation rates 2012
Star Ledger - N.J. high school graduation rates climb 3 percentage points to 86 percent
NJ Spotlight - High-School Graduation Rates, Test Scores on Upswing in NJ…Annual report shows big achievement gaps remain for minority students
12-5-12 p.m. Dept of Education Releases 2012 Graduation Rates
The Record - New Jersey's high school graduation rate edges up to 86 percent "...New Jersey’s graduation rate edged up slightly to 86 percent last spring, from 83 percent in 2011...Many districts have shared their 2012 test scores with their communities in recent weeks, but Wednesday’s release gives all district results together so they can be compared."
Star Ledger - N.J. high school graduation rates climb 3 percentage points to 86 percent"...This is the second year state officials have used a new, federally mandated formula to calculate the percentage, which had historically been among the highest in the nation..."
12-5-12 p.m. Jt. Comm. on the Pulbic Schools hearing on online-blended learning
State Street Wire -Wagner: Online, blended learning a matter of balancing socialization skills with new technology "...Chair Assemblywoman Connie Wagner said the purpose is clear: “We cannot have New Jersey make any mistakes. With input from everyone we can strike a balance.”...General support for the concept of blended learning was expressed by Richard Bozza, executive director of the N.J. Association of School Administrators...And Sen. Teresa Ruiz said “We are in an age of technology, and we have to embrace it. There has been ‘blended’ learning since we allowed calculators in the classroom."
Note: GSCS Testimony stated that 'GSCS recognizes and supports the fact that blended learning is here to stay and to grow. Sharing information about our blended learning experiences with one another is important and will clearly help and improve the quality of student learning...It is important to recognize that there are clear differences between programs that are delivered in a blended learning environment, where the student is mainly housed in the school building for instruction, compared to virtual schools where the student does not have to attend school in a certain location with other students at all...'
12-5-12 School Board Elections, State Board of Education Meeting - in the News
NJ Spotlight - Shifting School Board Ballots to November Leaves Financing, Controversy Behind…With school budgets held in check, NJEA has little reason to reach deep in its pockets
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…Test scores, charters, graduation rates, administrative code, Newark's groundbreaking contract, and public comment will make for a hectic meeting
12-4-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. education chief won't lower number of school days in wake of Hurricane Sandy
NJ Spotlight - Dealing with Sandy’s Aftermath Puts Schools to the Test…Senate Budget Committee hears about impact on school year, tax ratables, budgets
12-2 and 3-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. charter school study shows success, but need for close monitoring: Editorial
NJ Spotlight - Hoping for a Strong Comeback, Governor's Schools Prep for 2013…Two prestigious academic summer camps start to recruit top high school juniors
NJ Spotlight -Fine Print: Newark’s Race to the Top Application…Ambitious and expensive, the proposal from the state's largest district wants almost $30 million to put "personalized learning" in the schools
11-30-12 Federal Formula Impacts States' Graduation Rates
NJ101.5 Radio - NJ’s High School Graduation Rate Drops [AUDIO] Once the highest in the nation...Under the new federal formula, only students who graduate in four years are counted, dropping New Jersey from 8th to 12th in the nation. “So now they are looking at college freshmen and how many graduate in four years…and in New Jersey there are a number of students who do not graduate in four years and so they would be considered a dropout. For instance, if a parent has a special needs student and they take five or six years to graduate, they might be considered a dropout…mobility is also an issue in this state, we have students who move from district to district and it can’t always be tabulated where these students end up.”Stickland said overall the state is still performing well...Achievement wise I don’t think anything has changed..."
11-29-12 New Measurement System ImpactsNational Rankings States' Graduation Rates
The Record - New Jersey's graduation rate, once best in the nation, drops dramatically "...“You have to give it a little time to see how it balances out in three years,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents about 100 New Jersey school districts, mostly in the suburbs. “I hope people don’t jump to conclusions going out the gate if we’re only in the first turn on the racetrack now...’’
11-29-12 Renaissance School Approval by Camden Board
NJ Spotlight - 'Renaissance Schools’ Get Board’s Go-Ahead in Camden Charter plan still faces tight timeline, opposition by parent-activists
11-28-12 Education Issues in the News - Charter Schools Study and Race to the Top Finalists
Star Ledger - New report gives state's charters high grades, says many outscored other schools..."...Published by the university’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, the report compares test scores from sets of charter and district school students of similar races and backgrounds..."
NJ Spotlight - NJ Charter School Students Learn More Than Their Peers, Says New Report…Newark charters lift statewide averages, while advantages not necessarily shown elsewhere
NJ Spotlight - Two NJ Districts Named as Race to the Top Finalists…Newark public schools and Monmouth County consortium culled from more than 20 applicants from New Jersey
11-27-12 Commissioner Cerf comments on Stanford CREDO Report re NJ Charter Schools
"...The findings actually buck the trend of similar CREDO studies in other states. CREDO finds that, on the whole, New Jersey charter school students make larger learning gains in both reading and math than their traditional public school peers. This is especially true for minority students and low-income students, with some of the largest gains in Newark, demonstrating that charter schools, on the whole, are providing much needed options for New Jersey students...This report is not a criticism of the largely high-performing schools in New Jersey, nor the hard work that all public school educators in the state put in each day. Instead...", it further reinforces that all students learn differently, and that we should ensure that our highest-need students have a choice that meets their needs
11-27-12 'Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance'
NJ Spotlight - Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance…State posts new rules as 250 failing schools work on improvement plans NJ Spotlight - Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance…State posts new rules as 250 failing schools work on improvement plans "Three months into the school year, more than 250 schools in nearly 90 districts are going through the first phases of the Christie administration’s expanded oversight for schools that show low performance or wide achievement gaps..."
11-26-12 'Teacher Seniority Still a Four-Letter Word to Administration'
NJ Spotlight -Teacher Seniority Still a Four-Letter Word to Administration -- 'LIFO'…Last-in, first-out seniority continues to irk Christie and Cerf, administration issues survey on subject
11-25-12 Politickernj - Weekly Advance Week of November 26
TRENTON – The Garden State continues to move on from the devastation left behind in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and the last week of November provides further proof of the progress.
11-21-12 'Race to the Top Returns'
NJ Spotlight - Race to the Top Returns, This Time for School Districts…But with signoff from local unions required, some districts have been sidelined
11-17-12 Newark Teachers' Contract in the News
The Record - Governor Christie hopes Newark teachers bonuses will serve as model for the state “Many educators will be watching closely to see whether performance pay leads to student progress, said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “Everybody is blown away by the fact it’s happening in Newark first,” she said.”
Philadelphia Inquirer – Christie exults over Newark's pilot school deal
NJ Spotlight - Facebook Fund Helps Seal the Deal for Newark Teachers' Contract…Money funneled to high-profile performance bonuses, and nuts-and-bolts retroactive pay
11-16-12 'NJ Teacher-Evaluation Reform Compared to Other States'
NJ Spotlight - Spotlight Research: NJ Teacher-Evaluation Reform Compared to Other States…Drew professor looks at progress in implementing systems required by Race to the Top
11-15-12 Hurricane Sandy - Update FYI (pdf)
"As of today, all but a handful of schools are open and serving students. Those that are not open have a plan for all of their students at alternative settings. I want to thank each of you for the tremendous effort to get schools open, especially those of you that went the extra mile to find creative solutions to help get students into classrooms." (Excerpt of letter to districts about Hurrican Sandy efforts from Commissioner Cerf.)
11-15-12 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - Politics K-12 Obama Talks Fiscal Cliff and Education
Educator Evaluation Update Memo from Dept of Education 11-13-12 (pdf)
11-14-12 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - School elections…More democratic NJ Spotlight - Department of Education Cheating
Investigation Implicates Two More Schools…Report claims that improvements in test scores at Robert Treat Academy, a high-profile charter, defy all odds
Star Ledger - 6 N.J. educators breached security on standardized tests, report says
11-13-12 Schools beginning to normalize
Star Ledger -2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy, most schools are finally back in session
11-12-12 'NJ Schools May Face Influx of Students Displaced by Storm'
NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools May Face Influx of Students Displaced by Storm...Memo from state outlines emergency procedures for taking in children from other districts
11-5-12 In the Midst of it All - Remember to vote tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - Bedeviled November School Board Elections May Be Even Harder to Spot..."National elections and amended district calendars -- not to mention Superstorm Sandy -- could obscure school votes even further..."
In all, 468 districts will hold board elections on Tuesday, with less than 80 remaining with April votes. Overall, there will be 1,813 candidates vying for 1,448 open seats, according go the state’s school boards association, a slightly smaller ratio than usual for April elections. A little more than half of the candidates are incumbents, a slight increase.
But while the move to November was meant to boost turnout in school elections that usually hovers in the teens, several observers wonder how many more people will actually cast local votes on what will is already a crowded ballot.
11-1-12 FYI - Public Service Announcements
Christie Administration Announces Disaster Unemployment Assistance Available in Eight New Jersey Counties Impacted by Storm
Christie Administration Announces Department of Health Hotline to Answer Questions About Food/Water Safety, Cleaning and Mold Removal
11-1-12 Timelines for Many Schools Up in the Air...NJEA Will not Convene Covention in A. C.
Star Ledger - Some N.J. schools might be unusable following Hurricane Sandy, officials say
The Record - State's largest teachers union cancels two-day school conference next week
2012-13 Announcement Archives
Pre 2012 Announcement Archives
Garden State Coalition of Schools