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3-27-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Camden closing one school, transferring four to charters "...The superintendent has made a courageous decision that will swiftly and dramatically improve a public education system that has come up short for generations of Camden families," said Mayor Dana Redd in a statement. "I believe deeply that today will go down in this city's history as a moment of true progress. Our families have been clear in voicing their right to a great neighborhood public school. I applaud the superintendent for listening to Camden residents and responding quickly and decisively to give families the opportunity for a great education they deserve."

The Record - N.J. Assembly approves bill allowing parents to exclude kids from standardized state tests '...The bill still needs approval in the state Senate and would have to be signed by Gov. Christie in order to become law.'

Star Ledger - PARCC: In unanimous vote, N.J. Assembly says schools should accommodate opt outs '"A parent should allow the children to take the tests and then let's analyze the results of those tests to determine whether they are skewed, whether they have benefit, whether they are achieving the goals that have been set forth," [Assembly Republican leader] Bramnick said.The bill would also require districts to notify parents of scheduled PARCC exams by Sept. 30 of each year and provide information on how the results will be used.

3-25 and 26-15 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Community colleges to use controversial PARCC tests for student placement

Press of Atlantic City - Community colleges to use PARCC for placement

Star Ledger - Groundbreaking changes to N.J. high school sports recommended by special committee

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: New Charter School Study Praises NJ Gains, Draws NJ Fire…Stanford researchers find significant gains for New Jersey urban charters over district schools

Philadelphia Inquirer -Christie losing enthusiasm for charter schools in N.J.?

Press of Atlantic City - Flat N.J. School Aid Criticized As Not Fair To All

Star Ledger - N.J. school district hoping to keep students in July, August for reading instruction

3-24-15 GSCS Comments State Budget Fiscal Year 2015-2016
'The School Funding Reform (SFRA) formula has been held flat, as well as not updated, in recent years. Special Education funding consequences, as a result of flat funding and stale enrollment numbers, distorted 'reach' of aid, and census-based average methodology for distributing special education aid, is not meeting expectations of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA). A compounding factor happens when enrollment numbers are not updated: inequity, distortion due to various funding methodologies within the formula (e.g., equalization aid, special education aid). Local unsustainability and competing needs of programs are a growing result...'
3-23-15 Education Week New Federal Perspective re Opt Out...Star Ledger Editorial
Education Week - How Will the Education Department Handle Schools With High Opt-Out Rates? 'As more parents choose to "opt" their children out of state standardized assessments, states have found themselves in a bit of pickle. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to test 95 percent of their students, or else face sanctions."And, particularly if it's more affluent districts or parents doing the opting-out, she said, "we may look at something other than [withholding] Title I" money, which goes to help low-income students. The department's intention, she said, is "not to harm those kids who may, in fact, not even be in the schools where the opt-out took place." '

Star Ledger Editorial Board - Enough: This hysteria about the PARCC exam needs to stop 'With the added variable of a multi-million dollar campaign against the test by the teacher's union, which doesn't want the PARCC to factor into teacher evaluations, the collective freakout has reached a crescendo. Let's try to dial it down.'

3-22-15 Star Ledger Sunday Focus - Op Ed and Articles - PARCC, Pearson, and Pupil Learning
Star Ledger - PARCC assessment will lead to a more skilled workforce for N.J. employers    Opinion...'This OECD report really caught our attention because it validates what our employer community has been telling us for at least the last decade: students are underprepared for the workplace whether they enter with a high school diploma or a college degree. To us, this is an education reform issue just as much as it is an economic development issue. We will fix what needs to be fixed, but we must keep moving forward - not backward.'

Star Ledger - PARCC exams: How Pearson landed the deal to produce N.J.'s biggest tes

Star Ledger - PARCC exams: Following the money behind N.J.'s costliest test..."This is a higher quality assessment and we'll get much deeper information out of it...We're basically getting a better assessment at just about the same amount of money," said education commissioner David Hespe...All of the money spent preparing for PARCC may have "side benefits," said Patricia Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. Schools are being forced to quickly upgrade computers, improve internet connections and train teachers. "All of which will help prepare students for a technology-driven world," Wright said.

3-20-15 PARCC - Record Editorial, Assembly Hearing
The Record-Editorial - PARCC test tweets 'IT'S WRONG to make a school exam public before students take it. And those who use the Internet have no expectation of privacy. Those irrefutable facts may be getting lost amid an ongoing controversy over the state's PARCC exam that many public school students began taking this month...'

NJ Spotlight - Student Privacy Debate Dominates Assembly Panel’s Meeting on PARCC Tests ...Lawmakers, education officials at loggerheads over monitoring of student postings on social media

The Record - Education officials defend monitoring of social media over standardized tests

3-19-15 Education Issues in the News
Columbia Journalism Review March 18 – Common Problems with Common Core Reporting '“Something big is happening in New Jersey,” PBS NewsHour special correspondent John Merrow intones ominously at the start of last week’s NewsHour segment on standardized testingin New Jersey and elsewhere. “It’s happening in Newark … . It’s happening in Montclair … . And it’s happening in the state capital.” The “something big,” according to PBS and other media outlets, is growing grassroots resistance among parents and students to a new set of tests being administered nationwide for the first time. But so far, at least, much of the media’s coverage of this spring’s Common Core testing rollout has been guilty of over-emphasizing the extent of the conflict, speculating dire consequences based on little information, and over-relying on anecdotes and activists’ claims rather than digging for a broader sampling of verified numbers. The real story—that the rollout of these new, more challenging tests is proceeding surprisingly well—could be getting lost...But since their creation in 2009, those standards and the new tests have become controversial among some conservatives as well as liberals, including some teachers and parents.'

The Record - Calls for increased school aid dominate Assembly budget hearing in Paterson

3-18-15 Education Issues in the News - School Funding, Charter Schools
Politickernj - Fixing school funding ‘single most frustrating arc’ of tenure, Christie says

NJ Spotlight - State Renews 14 Charter Schools, but Puts Seven of Them on Probation…Mixed numbers indicate tricky balancing act -- foster charters while maintaining high standards

3-18-15 Test Security Issue and Information from Dept of Education
New Jersey Department of Education[3-17-15] Memo from: Bari Anhalt Erlichson, Ph.D. Assistant Commissioner RE: PARCC Test security and social media

'With the launch of anything new, sometimes questions emerge that appear to be new when in fact they are not. Fairness in testing is not a new issue...As the schoolhouse steps have gone virtual, so have our efforts to ensure that our tests are secure...Test security measures to identify test breaches are not new, nor are they unique to PARCC. They have been used in the past, even when New Jersey had paper tests. It is done in other states, and it is done with other tests..'

The Record - New furor over N.J. tests as student privacy concerns raised 'The PARCC tests are being given in a number of states over different weeks, so test security is particularly important, Addicott noted. It could also skew the results of one school if students get their hands on test questions, he said.”... Amid the controversy, rumors have also abounded. Many parents believe Pearson sought disciplinary action against the student, which would be up to the Department of Education and the local district. Some also believe the student was reported for simply making a comment about PARCC, and not posting a test question...'

3-17-15 NJTV Report on Commissioner Hespe, Assistant Comm'r Erlichson before Senate Educationn Comm
Education Commissioner Defends PARCC Test 3-12-15 By Michael Aron, NJTV Chief Political Correspondent

...Hespe made an impassioned case for the PARCC exam here today. We’re not doing testing “to” students and teachers, he said. We’re doing it “for” students and teachers.


3-17-15 Test Security and Social Media Conflict - Important Issues and Questions
Star Ledger - Search for PARCC leaks raises new questions about test security measures...'When New Jersey switched to computerized standardized tests this school year it eliminated concerns about the security of test booklets and whether an erasure mark signified an honest mistake or an attempt to cheat. But with new tests come new test security issues -- and new controversies...Cizek, one of several testing experts [who] provide[s] guidance to state officials, said it's critical test questions or references to reading passages aren't posted online during testing windows. "We want to make sure the test scores really mean what they are supposed to mean," he said. "If you have a test score that is artificially inflated because the student has prior access to test materials, that not only invalidates the score but it's unfair to other students who didn't have that knowledge."...Students have no expectation of privacy if they leak [post] test questions online..." '

NJ Spotlight - Surveillance of Twitter Feeds Turn Attention to Online Test Security...Pearson reports that student tweets raise concerns about possible PARCC cheating...Security on standardized tests has always been a thorny issue...“We welcome debate and a variety of opinions,” wrote Stacy Skelly, a Pearson spokeswoman. “But when test questions or elements are posted publicly to the Internet, we are obligated to alert PARCC states. Any contact with students or decisions about student discipline are handled at the local level.”... [Mike Yale, DOE spokesperson said]"Test breaches have occurred every year, even with the old paper tests. Likewise, test security measures are not new, nor are they unique to this test...The Department always wants to be vigilant to ensure vendors are acting appropriately,” he wrote. “The concern with test breaches is when questions are posted publicly, for any person with an Internet connection to see, and it is our intent to ensure that no one intrudes upon any student’s personal space..." '

3-16-15 Education in the News - Charters, Evaluation Facts, Testing
Star Ledger - 7 things to know about PARCC's effect on teacher evaluations

1. Not all teachers will have PARCC data factored into their evaluations

2. For those teachers, the data from PARCC will count as a 10 percent weight in their evaluation

3. The student score factored into teacher valuations is based on academic growth, not overall performance

4. The median student growth score from a teacher's class is the score that is factored into that teacher's evaluation

5. If a teacher's median student growth score in 2014-15 is lower than prior years, it won't be counted alone

6. A teacher can't be fired based on one year of PARCC data

7. Principals are also evaluated based on PARCC data

(Click on More below to read further details on this)

NJ Spotlight -Only One New Charter School Gets Go-Ahead, While Two Others Must Close...While renewing 14 charters for existing schools, state officials also reject closely watched plans to turn two Camden public schools into charters

NJ Spotlight - Surveillance of Twitter Feeds Turn Attention to Online Test Security...Pearson reports that student tweets raise concerns about possible PARCC cheating

3-15-15 PARCC's tie to teacher evaluations drives controversy …
Star Ledger, Sunday 3-15-15 - PARCC's tie to teacher evaluations drives controversy …Data on student academic growth extracted from the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams will count as a 10 percent weight in the performance evaluation of some New Jersey teachers
3-12-15 Senate Education Committee HearsToday From Educaation Commissioner Hespe On PARCC
Courier Post - New Jersey education commissioner: Don't skip new test

Star Ledger - State should have better handled PARCC rollout, N.J. Senate committee says

(More coverage anticipated tomorrow...)

3-11-15 Education in the News
The Record - Gov. Christie's budget getting scrutiny at public hearing

NJ Spotlight – AT FIRST PUBLIC HEARING ON BUDGET, FOCUS ON WHAT'S MISSING, WHAT'S NEEDED…Speakers present Senate panel with list of items ranging from familiar -- school funding, transportation, pension benefits -- to substance-abuse treatment and others more easily overlooked

NJ Spotlight - CAMDEN TEACHER PACT RINGS TRUE – WITHOUT BELLS, WHISTLES OF EARLIER DEALS…Contract awards 2 percent pay hike and retroactive pay, while state wins more instructional time and more flexible classroom scheduling

We Raise NJ Coalition FAQ (pdf)
The WeRaiseNJ effort is dedicated to informing parents and school communities about the 'How's and What's' of the PARCC assessment process. WeRaiseNJ is led by the NJPTA, and its members are the NJASA, NJPSA, NJSBA, GSCS, the Chamber of Commerce, the NJ Council of County Colleges, and the ASCD, as well as the NJPTA.

For information regarding PARCC go to: http://bestfootforwardnj.org/

3-6-15 Education Issues in the News
‘Teachers, police officers, state employees, county and municipal workers and even retirees would have to agree to changes in their health care coverage to free up money that would then prop up retirement benefits under a plan Governor Christie has endorsed, an analysis of the plan showed. It’s unclear, however, just how that would work. And there are concerns that residents could be facing bigger property tax bills if the state shifts its responsibility to pay teacher pensions to local school boards as the plan proposes. …The vast majority of municipal and county employees – 180,487 – are not enrolled in state health plans, but 42,297 local workers are. On the education side, 95,678 employees are enrolled in state plans and 57,780 are in other plans…“It’s a kaleidoscope of change,” said Bill Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities…’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - WINTER STORM STALLS PARCC TESTS – AND DEBATE OVER THEIR FUTURE USE IN NEW JERSEY…Snowed in? Try tackling some sample questions from the 3rd-grade language arts exam

Star Ledger - 7 things you should know about N.J.'s proposed teacher standards

NJ SPOTLIGHT - OPINION: TIME FOR NJEA TO SEIZE THE MICROPHONE ON HEALTH BENEFITS, PENSIONS…The union is wasting its time and making leaders look like wimps by denying the 'joint accord' mentioned by Christie in his budget address

3-5-15 Op-Ed...NJ Spotlight: Let’s Stop Fighting Over PARCC Testing, Focus On Continued Student Gains
NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: Let’s Stop Fighting Over PARCC Testing, Focus On Continued Student Gains…The real struggle is to make sure that all NJ students are prepared to be successful on the new test ‘…In the remaining precious days and hours leading to the administering of PARCC, we implore all who embrace educational rigor and equity to support concrete steps to provide families with accurate information and prepare all students to meet the higher academic standards outlined in the Common Core… The Office of Legislative Services issued a report last week that concludes that the state and/or its districts may need to implement and pay for yet another layer of testing on top of PARCC if the proposed legislation is enacted. And a recent letter to the NJDOE from the U.S. Office of Elementary and Secondary Education warns that New Jersey’s inability to comply with current federal requirements for annual statewide testing could possibly trigger several punitive enforcement actions, including the withholding of programmatic Title I funds used to support some of the state’s neediest children. Let’s ensure that we avoid inadvertently harming students.’

(Authors:Vivian Cox Fraser is the president and CEO of the Urban League of Essex County. Reginald Lewis is the executive director of the Chad School Foundation.

3-5-15 PARCC Testing debate Shifts Once Again From Classroom to Political Arena
'...Asked at a Fair Lawn forum whether his widely-quoted “grave concerns” about the Common Core extended to the PARCC … “Now we are going to see what the results of PARCC look like. What I concluded as governor was the (previous) NJASK was a failure, and we were not getting the kinds of information we needed,” Christie continued. “But I’m not going to kill PARCC before we take PARCC.” As for the opt-out movement, which shows no signs of abating, the governor made this plea: “I would urge parents, please, before you even known if (PARCC) has efficacy or not, don’t opt your kids out of it. We are going to have to test kids, and I will make sure we do it as reasonably as possible.” '
3-3-15 Op Ed: Gov. Tom Kean 'NJ Education Must Change for Children to Remain Competitive'
'...PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests continue New Jersey's tradition of excellence in schools and represent the next logical step in maintaining our role as a national leader in education. Simply put, they are designed to be the best tests we have ever had and will be more effective in providing teachers information to address students' needs...'
3-5-15 Education Issues in the News - Teacher Preparation NJDOE Rules Proposal Discussion
NJ Spotlight - HOW STATE'S TEACHERS GET TRAINED, LICENSED COMES UNDER BOARD’S SCRUTINY…Questions raised about proposed reforms in standards for both alternate-route and traditional college-level education programs

Star Ledger - Are two semesters of student teaching too much? N.J. college officials say yes

Department of Education 3-4-15 Broadcast Memo re: High School Transcripts
'March 3, 2015 FROM: Bari Anhalt Erlichson, Assistant Commissioner.,Division of Data, Research, Evaluation & Reporting...SUBJECT: High School Transcripts

In 2012, the College and Career Readiness Task Force made a recommendation that PARCC scores be a required part of the student’s transcript. However, no action has been taken to-date to formalize this recommendation. Thus, school districts should continue to follow existing practices.'

GSCS Note: GSCS was pleased to be joined by Bari Erlichson at its 2-25-15 Board of Trustees meeting. Among a variety of PARCC topics, discussion also focused on how to deal with the disposition of high school transcripts. The conversation centered on various alternative options, but the clear concensus of the GSCSs board was that status quo was the best alternative.

3-4-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger- Is it too easy to become a teacher? State board to discuss standards 'New Jersey's Board of Education today will discuss requiring additional training time for student teachers and higher standards for substitutes. The board is considering a proposal introduced last month that would implement more rigorous standards for teacher candidates...'

NJ Spotlight - Nearly Quarter-Million NJ Students Take PARCC Exams on Day Two of Testing…Can you pass 11th-grade language arts test? Try answering a sample question from the exam

Star Ledger - Few N.J. school districts still hold elections, budget votes in April

3-3-15 More on Statewide Initiation of PARCC Testing
Press of Atlantic City - As PARCC testing begins, refusals mount in some districts, remain flat in others

Star Ledger - First day of widespread PARCC testing sees few problems, state says

NY Times – As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out

3-3-15 Education Issues in the News - PARCC Testing...State Board Meeting Tomorrow
Statement released by Department of Education 3-2-15, yesterday evening, after the first day of PARRC testing - Today, the first day of PARCC testing throughout New Jersey, students took more than 96,000 PARCC tests...Overall, the opening day was uneventful in most districts. Some schools postponed today’s testing due to delayed opening because of the ice storm, technical problems have generally been light, and student participation appears to be strong in most schools, according to the New Jersey Department of Education....'

THE RECORD - New state tests met with complaints of difficulty, student refusal, confusion

NJ SPOTLIGHT - DESPITE RAUCOUS RUN-UP, DAY ONE OF PARCC TESTING WAS MOSTLY UNEVENTFUL…Sharpen those pencils: NJ Spotlight continues its PARCC testing with several samples from the math test for third-graders

NJ SPOTLIGHT - AGENDA: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TAKES UP TEACHER PREPARATION AND SUPPORT...Other topics to be tackled include criteria for linking student performance to teacher evaluations

3-2-15 Concern re Proposal to Have Local Districts Bear Costs of Teacher Pensions...
NJ Spotlight - Should the State Offload Teacher Retirement Benefits Onto Local School Districts?...That’s one of the suggestions of Christie’s expert commission, but the big question is what happens to property taxes

(GSCS Concern)...While keeping fingers crossed that health benefits costs can be reduced enough to offset the pension payments entirely, and, that the offset can remain viable and in place into an unpredictable future?

3-2-15 PARRC Testing Begins in Full FOr NJ Schools Today
The Record - Testing day for NJ students; number who opt out small compared with those taking test

NJ Spotlight - PARCC Tests in Language Arts, Math Start Today for Students in New Jersey…Can you make the grade? Try a sample question from the 5th-grade language arts exam

Star Ledger - PARCC: Time to log on, are schools computer ready?

We Raise NJ Pledge (pdf)
We Raise NJ - Release (pdf)
2-26-15 Education Issue in the News
NJ Spotlight - Dispute Erupts Over ‘Agreement’ Between Teachers Union, Governor…While Christie touts purported deal, NJEA leaders protest that it’s just a ‘road map’ for finding solution to pension crisis

NJ Spotlight - Districts Get Official Word: State Aid Payments Frozen for Most Schools Next Year…Some are glad that funds won’t be cut despite fiscal woes; others note than once again Christie isn’t complying with full-funding law ‘The news was greeted with both resignation and concern. Local school officials had already anticipated another year of flat state aid …given the state’s dire financial picture around its pension liability. “In this period of so many unknowns going forward, a lot of us were pleasantly surprised that there were no reductions,” said Jorden Schiff, superintendent of Hillsborough schools. Still, flat funding from the state, combined with state-mandated 2 percent limits on local property tax increases, leaves little room for paying the bills, Schiff said. “It is very difficult when a lot of the costs are outside our board’s control,” he added, alluding to big-ticket items like energy bills and health benefits…’

Philadelphia Inquirer - Controversial school-choice measure tucked into Christie budget

2-25-15 Educators Talk: Positives and Issues re PARRC
Washington Post - A superintendent responds to a critic “…Maybe PARCC is not part of the solution, or maybe it can actually be a helpful part of it. How can we know until we try it?...We are ALL in this, be it education or parenthood, because we care about children and what happens to them and we all want to provide them with the very best education possible. And I believe we can come together to be as good at that as we possibly can be.” (Jim Crisfield, former supertintendent, Millburn Schools)

NJ Spotlight - Just When NJ Students Are Making Progress, Some Folks Want to Slow Them Down…A quick look at the past decade demonstrates that kids who aren’t tested are kids who don’t count- by Kati Haycock, February 25, 2015,[who] is one of the nation’s leading advocates in the field of education. She currently serves as president of The Education Trust

2-24-15 Governor's Budget Address, and, Link to Buddget Summary for Fiscal Year 2016
Here is the link to the Budget Summary for FY'16



2-24-15 Governor Delivers FY'16 Budget Message This Afternoon
The Record - Christie lays out $33.8B budget; includes pitch to freeze pensions for public employees

Pension and Benefit Study Commission: RRoadmap and Report, as published on NJ Treasury website 2-24-15

Star Ledger - NJEA accuses Christie of overstating pension deal, says it's 'deeply disappointed' T

he Record - Reform 'roadmap' would overhaul N.J. public employee pension, health benefits

2-24-15 Admidst Turmoil, Governor To Deliver State Budget Message at 2 pm Today
Star Ledger - Christie pension plan: Gov to announce breakthrough with teacher union today…’… The governor and the state's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, are working on "groundbreaking changes" to fix the state's ailing pension system, Christie's office said Monday…’

NJ Spotlight - Can Christie, Legislature Defuse Judge's $1.6 Billion Pension Bombshell?...Double challenge confronts Dems, GOP: Find funds in current budget -- and even more in next year’s

The Record - Christie to announce deal with teachers on pensions day after judge's ruling deepens crisis ‘When Governor Christie unveils his next state budget this afternoon, he'll also announce a months-long partnership with one of his biggest political foes — the New Jersey Education Association — to address a pension crisis that grew even bigger yesterday…’

2-24-15 Education in the News - Assembly Passes PARCC bill
The Record - N.J. Assembly passes bill restricting use of state tests in teacher evaluations

NJ Spotlight - PARCC Testing Opponents Win Victory In State Assembly, But What’s Next?...Bill would delay use of assessments to rate schools, students and teachers, but passage by Senate appears much less likely… ‘…At the same time, a coalition of education groups has stepped up efforts to promote the new testing and provide resources for both districts and their parents to have what they say is a fuller understanding of the assessments. The coalition, known as “We Raise NJ” and led by the state’s PTA, released the new resources yesterday, including videos, social media and even a subscription to regular text messages… Backers said they realized there was a steep climb to passage in the Senate as well, but they remained hopeful. A companion bill has been

Press Release on We Raise NJ (pdf)
2-23-15 Parents: Go-To Website for Information about PARCC

This PARCC information site provides detailed information on PARCC for parents in particular, as well as any others who are interested in finding out how PARCC works. It is sponsored by the New Jersey PTA, as well as the National PTA, the NJ Prinicipals an Suervisors Association, the NJ Association of School Administrators, the NJ Chamber of Commerce, the NJ Council of County Colleges, the NJ School Boards Association, JerseyCan (as of 2-13-15)

2-23-15 Education in the News: PARCC, State Budget FY'16 Issues, Newark..
Asbury Park Press - State education chief defends PARCC David C. Hespe “As New Jersey schools transition to a new statewide test called PARCC, many parents are confused — and receiving conflicting information — about the new computer-based assessment. It's time to set the record straight. When it comes to the new assessments, parents should demand a more advanced assessment like PARCC. Consider…”

The Record - NJ Assembly to weigh scaling back scope of standardized tests 'Educators would be barred from using new standardized tests to determine student placement for three years under legislation moving in the New Jersey Assembly...'

Press of Atlantic City Editorial - The PARCC test / Relax, folks...'First vaccinations. Now it's the PARCC test. “…New Jersey already is proceeding slowly with PARCC. The test will not be used to evaluate students for placement or promotion in the 2014-15 school year. It will not be required for graduation until 2019. This year's scores will account for only 10 percent of a teacher's evaluation. And Christie has appointed a study commission to evaluate the PARCC process, and it is expected to issue a report in six to eight weeks…'

NJ Spotlight - NEWARK STUDENT SIT-IN ENDS WITH SUPERINTENDENT ANDERSON STILL IN PLACE Students call action a ‘victory,’ even though state is on course to renew embattled school chief’s contract this week “…It was NJ Communities United that promoted the sit-in through email press advisories, including a “breaking news” alert that went out Tuesday night within minutes of the students entering the offices…”

Star Ledger - Pension, transportation, school funding shortages push N.J. structural deficit over $7B “…The estimate represents the gap between the state's revenue and how much it has to pay if it fully funded all state programs, such as public employee pensions and state aid to schools…”

2-20-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Atlantic City School District Goes Bust, Fiscal Monitor Put in Place…School system wracked by aftershocks from collapse of casino industry, city's fiscal calamity

Star Ledger - PARCC testing begins today for some N.J. students

Star Ledger - PARCC tests postponed after tech glitch in one N.J. school ‘…Dumont was one of a small percentage of New Jersey high schools that began administering the new state tests on Friday, according to the Department of Education. The testing for most students, including students in grades 3-8, won't start until March 2. Testing at Steinart High School, in Hamilton Township School District, went smoothly, said Daniel Ashton, president of the district's teachers union.

2-18and19-15 PARCC Controversy Rolls On
NJ Spotlight - Op Ed: Opting Out Of Parcc And Common Core Standards Is A Dangerous Concept

The Record - New Jersey's new test for third-graders tough even for reporter ‘…Are the exams — the first standardized tests to be given by computer in New Jersey — as tough as critics have contended? Probably. But I still like the idea of seeing my daughter and her 8- and 9-year-old peers challenged as long as the tests don’t take away from a well-rounded classroom experience.The other major criticism of the tests is how much time they will take. The practice versions are shorter than the real tests, but most third-graders will do a total of 6½ hours of testing; some of it in March and the rest later in the school year. At most schools, both the March and end-of-school-year tests will be given in shorter doses over five to 10 days…’

NJ Spotlight - PARCC Creator Has No Doubts, Touts Benefits of Controversial Testing…As NJ prepares for debut of new assessments, Laura Slover blames politics for growing ‘opt-out’ movement, says critics will ultimately see worth of new exams

NJ Spotlight - What’s Behind Chris Christie’s Change of Heart About Common Core?...NJ Spotlight’s John Mooney joins WNYC’s ‘The Brian Lehrer Show' to deconstruct the governor’s recent comments about testing

The Record - Teachers union launches anti-test ad campaign in New Jersey ‘New Jersey’s teachers union launched on Tuesday a multi-million dollar ad campaign highlighting discontent over standardized tests that will be administered in all the state’s public schools beginning

2-17-15 Governor to Deliver State Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 on February 24
GSCS FYI - The Governor's State Budget message is scheduled for Tuesday February 24, 2015

By law, school districts are notfied of their state aid figures within 48 hours post-message. GSCS' funding focus for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 continues to be to expand the reach of special education support to all districts, and all special education children.

Since the SFRA (School Funding Reform Act) was put in place in 2008-2009 school year, categorical special education - which is the only special education aid that reaches all N.J. districts - has dropped significantly.

At the same time 2/3 of our state's school districts now have thousands of children with needs that are not funded at all due to the census-based averaging system imposed by the SFRA

In fact, children with special needs are the only students in our state where SFRA formula funding does not follow the individual child based on the child's individual needs (compared to, e.g., At Risk, Limited English Proficient).

2-17-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Christie on the issues: Education... 'With Gov. Chris Christie appearing on the verge of launching a campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, here is an ongoing look at his stances on key issues.'
2-13-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - It’s Crunch Time for Deciding on PARCC Test Opt-Outs and Implementation Delays...As grassroots opposition to new testing grows, NJ lawmakers worry about possible loss of federal funds '...But so far the federal government hasn’t been too forgiving without being presented with a compelling reason from the states. In Washington State, it was the reluctance to tie testing to teacher evaluations – a prime issue in New Jersey – that cost it the federal-funding waiver after a host of warnings...'

Star Ledger -PARCC tests would not be used to measure students, teachers under Assembly bill '...But The New Jersey Association of School Adminstrators and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association said they have concerns about the bill. Patricia Wright, executive director, of the NJPSA, said she understands the concerns about PARCC but anxiety has always accompanied changes in testing."I personally remember that huge transition from multiple choice tests to open ended response tests," Wright said. "There was great anxiety related to whether our students would struggle to complete such tasks, but we moved forward because we knew that such tasks were important..." '

The Record - Issue of refusal to take tests draws a crowd

NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: Dollars Don’t Make Sense -- Time to Improve Charter School Funding…Inequitable funding for charter schools almost guarantees inequitable treatment for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable students

2-12-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Debunking Chris Christie’s Claims About Common Core State Standards...The federal government never insisted that states sign on for the Common Core and never tied it to any promise of funding '...“What the governor was speaking to was a perception of an enticement that has been out there,” said Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington, D.C, think-tank...The Obama administration shares some of the blame for the misperceptions since its top officials promoted the Common Core over the years, Ferguson said...'
2-11-15 GSCS: Confusion About Testing Is Destabilizing - Clarity and Continuity Needed Now
NJ Spotlight - Chris Christie’s About-Face on Common Core Standards Turns Debate Upside-Down…Governor tells a GOP audience in Iowa that he has ‘grave doubts’ about academic standards and student testing he previously endorsed '...The president of the State Board of Education, which only a few months ago restated its support for the new standards, said last night that the board stands by that stance but also plans to review the recommendations of a study commission tasked with evaluating the new testing.“The State Board still stands by the Common Core,” said Mark Biedron, the board’s president. “The governor’s task force is looking at it and PARCC, and we will review their findings when they become available.”

CBS2 Exclusive: N.J. Education Chief Says Controversial Exam Is Good For Students

2-11-15 'Rescind Christie's salary cap on superintendents'
Star Ledger - Rescind Christie's salary cap on superintendents    Editorial
'...But it has hurt schools. It ignores the fact that the labor market is regional, and New Jersey has to compete with its neighbors. It is utopian in the way it marches past market realities. Besides, more sensible spending restraints are in place. County superintendents can reject contracts they find excessive, even without the cap. And the cap on property taxes forces districts officials to be prudent overall. They should be able to decide for themselves where to make needed cuts...'
2-10-15 Bills Signed into Law Recently
EpiPens (A304): This law provides school nurses with the authority to administer epinephrine when they believe a student is having an anaphylactic reaction without parental consent.

School Lunches (A1796): Schools may not refuse to give breakfast or lunch to students who are behind on meal plan payments without parental notification under this bill.

2-10-15 Salary Caps bill Voted Out of Senate Budget Committee
NJ Spotlight - Superintendent Salary Cap Back in Limelight -- As Clock Counts Down…As limits on top school administrators' pay near expiration in 2016, stalled Senate bill draws new attention as it's voted out of committee “…Yesterday, the state’s leading school groups testified in favor of the bill, saying it was time to end the limits. “What we have seen is quite a bit of turnover of really fine education leaders who are still at the prime of their service but moving on because of the [caps],” said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “This has been in place for five years, and if people were looking for a reset in the salary levels, that has occurred,” she testified. “It is time to acknowledge that we need to move ahead in a more positive stable direction for education leadership...”

The Record - Legislation repealing cap on superintendent salaries passes state Senate panel “…The bill has support from education groups, including the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools — which all spoke in support of the measure Monday…”

Star Ledger - Is it time to repeal N.J. superintendent salary cap? Lawmakers tackle question

NJ Spotlight - Explainer: How the State Holds Superintendent Pay to $175,000 Per Year…Are salary caps driving the best school chiefs out of state? The numbers say that might be a mistaken impression

2-9-15 Education Issues in the News
UPDATE: S1987/RUIZ-SARLO PASSED out of the Senate Budget Committee this afternoon...

The Record – Affluent North Jersey school districts want to lift salary limits...the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee will vote on a bill sponsored by Sens. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, and M. Teresa Ruiz, D-Newark, that would roll back the caps, prohibiting the state Department of Education from regulating the maximum salary a school district can pay its superintendent. The bill was already considered by the education committee, Sarlo said.

NJ Spotlight - The List: Ranking the Top 10 Open-Admission High Schools by SAT Scores…Recently released results from School Performance Tests help draw a bead on New Jersey's top public high schools

Star Ledger - Education think tank gives Newark schools A- for school choice…Out of the country's 100 largest school districts, the Brown Center on Education at the Brookings Institute put the district in the number three slot behind only New Orleans and New York City respectively. In a 10-page report, the Washington D.C.-based research firm cited the district's universal enrollment system, in which parents submit a list of up to 8 preferred schools and are then entered into a lottery to receive a school placement.

NJ Spotlight - Legislators, School Districts Scramble to Put PARCC Policies in Place…With the opt-out option growing in popularity across the state, educators and lawmakers rush to accommodate families who just say ‘no’

2-5-15 Education News Round Up: State Board Meeting
NJ SPOTLIGHT - STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION PRESENTS FIRST PEEK AT REPORTS ON PARCC RESULTS...Breakout of scores on new tests will make it simple to compare students to counterparts across district, state, and country

NJ SPOTLIGHT - SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORTS: HOW MANY GRADS PURSUE COLLEGE DEGREES?...New Jersey tracks how many of our students enroll in higher-education institutions – and stay for at least a full year of classes

NJ Spotlight - ADMINISTRATION RELEASES NEW CODE FOR TEACHER TRAINING, ‘ALTERNATE ROUTE’...Proposals get lukewarm reception from teacher-education colleges and educators themselves

Star Ledger- N.J. wants to adopt more rigorous standards for teacher candidates

Star Ledger -By the numbers: Jersey City schools have a yearly $50 million problem

2-3-15 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - Teacher-Evaluation Mandate Unlikely in ESEA Rewrite

NJ Spotlight - AGENDA: STATE BOARD TAKES UP TEACHER PREPARATION, IMPACT OF NEW PARCC TESTING…Monthly meeting to get first look at new licensure code that will remake requirements for becoming a teacher in NJ

NJ Spotlight - SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORTS: NEW DATA TRACKS INTEREST IN VO-TECH CLASSES…Nearly 20 percent of high-school students took at least one career and technical education class last year – and not just at vocational schools

2-2-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -The Results Are In: State Releases 2013-2014 School Performance Reports...Student growth percentiles make it possible to see how kids are doing compared with peers across the state

Star Ledger – Newark parents, students test drive PARCC exam

Star Ledger - N.J. releases school report cards: See how your district performed

The Record - N.J. limits its school choice program

NJ Spotlight - State Poised to Toughen Teacher-License Standards, Bolster Support System...Proposed code changes would increase time spent as student teachers, toughen ‘alternate route’ standards

1-30-15 Education Issues in the News - PARCC Continued..
N.J. Department of Education - Parent PARCC Questions Answered (updated 1-29-15)...'What follows is a series of frequently asked questions about PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The New Jersey Department of Education wants the public to have access to factual information about our state’s new tests. The Department will update this section as needed to reflect any additional questions that may arise...'

NJ Spotlight - Diegnan Enters Parcc Exam Fray With Bill Formalizing Opt-Out Procedure…Grassroots opposition to online testing continues to grow, while administration soldiers on with preparations for next month’s rollout

The Record - Superintendent forum addresses concerns of PARCC test ‘…Since it is the first year that students will take this exam, they will be given time-and-a-half to complete the test. For example, if the language arts section is 50 minutes, students will have up to 75 minutes for completion…’

NewJerseyNewsroom - 8 Reasons to be Concerned About PARCC ‘…Many of New Jersey’s parents and teachers are saying the PARCC plan is running off the rails.…New Jersey, ten other states and the District of Columbia developed math and language arts testing as PARCC. PARCC supporters say that students are falling behind those in other countries. According to The Asbury Park Press, the Program for International Student Assessment ranked the United States number 27 out of 34 countries in mathematics for 2012.

Asbury Park Press - PARCC, Common Core focus of criticism at Jackson hearing

1-29-15 PARCC Hearing Held
NJ Spotlight - Crowd’s Small But the Message is Loud and Clear at Hearing on New State Exam…Educators complain PARCC – and over-testing in general – take too much time away from teaching and learning 'It’s an issue that’s supposedly gripping New Jersey public schools, but the first of three public hearings on student testing -- or what critics call over-testing – didn’t exactly draw an overwhelming crowd. But...'
1-28-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Coalition Hopes to Dial Down the Volume of the Debate Over PARCC Exams…We Raise NJ brings together educators, administrators, and families who think it’s time to move ahead with testing '...Protests from teachers and parents have grabbed a lot of the attention in the debate over the new PARCC tests, but a new coalition called We Raise NJ is hoping to ratchet down the volume of the argument.Headed by New Jersey PTA, the coalition’s leaders said they are trying to balance the concerns of outspoken parents with the sense that others believe that the state needs to move ahead...Among the coalition members, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association has often sided with the NJEA on controversial issues, including the extent of the state’s testing and its use in evaluating educators. But its director said yesterday it was time to let New Jersey try the new exams. "It is troublesome that the debate has gotten so loud,” said Patricia Wright, the association’s executive director. “Everyone in the schools is struggling to make this work, and I think there is a lot of misinformation out there about the tests...”

The Record – New non-profit, led by Kean and Florio, promotes access to preschool ‘A new non-profit organization with backing from big names in state politics and business launched a three-year campaign Tuesday to promote high-quality education throughout the state. Pre-K Our Way, led by former Govs. Thomas Kean and James Florio, aims to raise awareness about the benefits of preschool education and to build support for its expansion…’

CANCELLED: GSCS Board of Trustees Meeting for tomorrow, Wednesday 1-28-15
Due to major disruption to the school week caused by storm Juno, the GSCS Board of Trustees meeting for 1-28-15 has been cancelled. The next Board meeting is scheduled for February 25, 2015 at the East Brunswick Board of Education.

We wish you the best in catching up and cleaning up! Thank you.

1-27-15 A Stormy Week- Focus is on Student Testing, PARCC
NJ Spotlight - Interim Report Lays Out First Assessments of State's Testing Efforts...State Education Commissioner Hespe heads up panel, promises to take parents' concerns about overtesting into consideration '...Hespe stressed that the state system would also face scrutiny once the first year of PARCC is completed, including how the test was administered and the results themselves...But he also said he has yet to hear from critics about what would be an acceptable alternative. “What’s the strategy to get at the challenges we face and the fact we have students graduating high school only to flounder,” he said. “In my mind, staying where we are is unacceptable.”

Spotlight - NJEA releases results of polls that a large majority of parents believe preparation wastes valuable classroom time '...State’s Largest Teachers Union: Families Have Right to Opt Out of New Testing...NJEA releases results of polls that a large majority of parents believe preparation wastes valuable classroom time...'

1-25 and 26-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - PARCC: What happens if students 'opt out? "...Opposition is vocal in some communities, like Montclair, but superintendents in some others say they have barely heard a peep."

The Record - N.J. teachers would get more training on suicide prevention education under bill

NJ Spotlight - The List: Top 10 Lawmakers Influencing Education Policy in New Jersey…With the governor preoccupied with a potential run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, the state's lawmakers may play a greater in role in education legislation

1-23-15 Released Today - Interim Report by Study Commission on Student Assessments
NJ Department of Education - Christie Administration Announces Interim Report of Study Commission on Student Assessments '...The commission has developed a number of initiatives to engage the public in its work, including a user-friendly website to inform the public about the work of the commission and to provide a mechanism for public input and feedback; scheduling three regional public testimony sessions for Jan. 27, 28 and 29; and holding a series of focus groups with students.'

News Transcript - Freehold Regional superintendent ‘confident’ about PARCC testing 'Freehold Regional High School District Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson said district administrators have taken a number of precautions to be prepared for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing that will occur from March through June...'

1-22-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Schools Chief Admits NJ Mishandled Construcion Process in Needy Districts…Hespe concedes state didn’t follow legally required procedure, says it’s now complying with law

Burlington County Times- Not everyone on board in Moorestown with new assessment tests...'Not all the parents were opposed to the assessments...'

1-21-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Public Gets Chance to Air Views on Controversial New Testing for NJ Students...Hearings set next week around the state on PARCC exams tied to much-debated Common Core standards
1-20-15 Assessment Public Hearings Announced by Dept of Education
Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments to Hold Three Public Testimony Sessions in January… Trenton, NJ – The Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey will conduct three regional sessions throughout the state to hear public testimony on January 27, 28 and 29
1-16-15 Education Issues, Task Forces...In the News
NJ Spotlight - WHAT HAS SCHOOL SECURITY TASK FORCE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS? One of three specially-appointed state panels that still haven’t issued reports, it is just now having its first public hearings… ‘Two other task forces appointed by Gov. Chris Christie -- one to review the state’s testing system, another to look at the contentious topic of special education -- have shown little in the way of results, at least in public. Both task forces were charged to issue interim reports by the end of last year, but so far, nothing has been released. Nevertheless, both task forces have been meeting, and members of each say that reports are coming in the next month…’

Press of Atlantic City - Armed officers should be in schools, security panel told

1-15-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Give N.J.'s new PARCC tests a chance: Opinion...By Patricia Wright- Patricia Wright is executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

NJ Spotlight - EVERYTHING’S GOING GREAT FOR CAMDEN’S STATE-RUN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, RIGHT?...Despite governor’s upbeat assessment, the answer depends on who’s answering the question

1-14-15 State of the State Message Delivered
GSCS Note: The State of the State Message is the first of two major speeches NJ Governors delivers each year. The second speech is the Governor's Budget Message, currently scheduled for February 24, 2015, will include school aid parameters for NJ's next fiscal year - FY 2015-2016. State aid figures must be released within two days of the Budget Message.

NJ Spotlight - Governor Trumpets Reforms – And Makes Surprising Pitch For School Vouchers…Speech also touts initiative in Camden district but barely mentions more controversial changes in Newark

New York Times - Christie’s National Aspirations Underlie State Speech"...Mr. Christie spent the biggest chunk of his speech on the need to streamline drug treatment and prisoner re-entry programs, an issue that resonates with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike.He boasted of progress in Camden, where a new police force, a new schools superintendent and new businesses lured by state subsidies have produced optimism in what the governor repeatedly noted was once considered “the most dangerous city in America...”

Star Ledger – 5 Things Christie Discussed in His 2015 State of the State Speech

1-14-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Study: New Jersey grads missed on $70 million by not filling out FAFSAs...'High school graduates in New Jersey may have left $70 million in federal grant money on the table in 2013 by not filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)...In New Jersey, 19,306 Pell-eligable graduates did not complete the FAFSA, according to the study. Each of those students missed out on $3,650.41,...'

Star Ledger - 5 questions for education comissioner David Hespe on Newark schools

1-13-15 Governor's State of the State Message today
2 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers, see NJTV.
1-12-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Newark School Chief Could Earn Hefty Bonus Based on Performance Review…If Cami Anderson meets seven criteria, she qualifies for a 20 percent boost above her 2013-2014 salary

Star Ledger - Where the hypocrisy is staggering when it comes to charter schools: Editorial

1-9-15 Council of Chief State School Officers to Feds on Rewrite NCLB Law
Education Week - State Chiefs to Congress: Keep Annual Tests in No Child Left Behind Rewrite "...The Council of Chief State School Officers is urging congressional education leaders to pass a rewrite of the law that would keep the NCLB testing schedule intact, meaning that states would still be required to test students using statewide assessments in reading and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school. At the same time, the CCSSO's proposal, which you can read in full here would move away from many of the No Child Left Behind law's mandates on school improvement and accountability, and would give states more flexibility over their federal funding..."
1-9-15 Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations...Interdistrict School Choice Program
NJ Spotlight - Now It Counts: NJ Releases First Data Linking Test Scores, Teacher Ratings…‘Median Student Growth Percentiles’ based on results of statewide exams will factor into annual evaluations...“This is a six- to eight-week process,” said Assistant Education Commissioner Peter Shulman yesterday. “That is longer than we’d like, but we’d like to get it right this first year.” In future years, Shulman added, the mSGP data could be ready as soon as the fall or even the summer after the school year."

NJ Spotlight - School-Choice Opportunities Likely to Shrink Under New, Cash-Strapped State Budget…Expansion of popular program allowing public-school students to switch districts left available funds depleted

1-8-15 National and State Education in the News
Education Week – Quality Counts Annual National Report Released A Fresh Approach to Ranking States on Education…This year's streamlined Quality Counts score card focuses on educational outcomes from early childhood on up (includes ranking states by three categories - The Chance-for-Success Index provides a cradle-to-career perspective on the role that education plays in promoting positive outcomes throughout a person's life. The school finance analysis assesses spending patterns and equity. Both categories have been updated for this year's report. The K-12 Achievement Index, last updated in 2014, rates states on current academic performance, change over time, and poverty-based gaps.)

NJTV - Forecast: State Aid to Schools Might Increase, But It Won’t Amount to Much…NJ Spotlight founding editor talks with NJTV about funding prospects and other statewide education issues

NJ Spotlight - Paterson Schools Chief Earns Good Grades for State-Controlled District…In marked contrast with Anderson appearance, Evans earns kudos from state Board of Education

Star Ledger - PARCC exams blasted by parents, teachers, students at open forum

Burlington County Times - NJ parents, teachers, students oppose new test ‘Some parents, teachers and students are telling New Jersey's Board of Education to slow down implementing a new standardized test scheduled to roll out in March…’

NJ Spotlight - State Board of Education Members Put to the Test by Anti-Testing Turnout…Foes of switching to controversial PARCC exams enliven normally sedate monthly meeting in Trenton

1-7-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight articles 1-7-15: Newark Schools Chief Has Less-Then-Friendly Visit with State Lawmakers…Legislators grill Cami Anderson in her first appearance since her appointment three years ago

Profile: State Board of Education President Brings Unique Pedigree to Post…Mark Biedron cofounded a progressive private school that’s a far cry from the testing-centric culture of public schools

1-5-14 Likely Education Issues In 2015 Pipeline
NJ Spotlight - 2015: Education in NJ Will See the Consequences of Earlier Policy Decisions…PARCC, school funding, teacher evaluations, takeover districts -- it’s going to be an interesting year for New Jersey public schools ‘School funding on the front burner… “But within that larger context, schools are also feeling significant challenges under the state’s 2 percent property-tax caps, which have left little leeway, especially when it comes to rising special education costs. A state task force is at work looking at options for how to pay for these programs, and it should bring more attention -- and pressure -- to the issue…” ’

Star Ledger – PARCC leads N.J. schools to cancel midterms, finals..."The impact of eliminating midterms and finals is a mixed bag, said John Mucciolo superintendent of Glen Ridge School District.If approached correctly, midterms allow students to draw connections between seemingly unrelated lessons they have learned in class, Mucciolo said. But all too often students are simply cramming, he said..."

As 2014 passes the torch to 2015, GSCS wants to acknowledge you - our readers, our members, our supporters, our educators, our parents, our policy-makers, our colleagues, our friends and volunteers - for you all care about public education and that means we all share a deep commitment to the well-being of New Jersey's children. Thank you!

All the best to you and your families - have a healthy and happy 2015!

GSCCS Executive Director Lynne Strickland,GSCS President Charles Sampson and GSCS Officers Jorden Schiff, Kathy Judge, Michele Lenhard, Jim Crisfield, Dan Fishbein, Maryrose Caulfield-Sloan, and the GSCS Board of Trustees

12-22-14 Recap - Recent Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -Chris Christie's Education Reforms Encountered Turbulence in 2014…Political realities meant backing off on teacher evaluations and Newark’s state-appointed superintendent

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: A New Year in Education, but 2014’s Battles are Far from Over…Here’s a look at four issues that will continue to shape education in New Jersey well into 2015 -- and possibly beyond

New Jersey education commissioner confirmed

Star Ledger - Another N.J. superintendent leaves because he can't make more money than Gov. Christie

NJ Spotlight - Bill Calling for Look at Later Start to School Day Advances to State Assembly…Various studies cite negative impact of early classes, but some worry about impact on after-school activities

Philadelphia Inquirer – ‘Camden school chief 'pleased'…Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, appointed by Christie in 2013, reported to state board on ambitious plan's progress.

12-16-14 Judge Decision Negative on Rural Districts Suit
NJ Spotlight - Superior Court Judge Rules Against Rural Districts in School-Funding Suit…Setback in Bacon v. NJDOE only temporary, plaintiff's lawyers say, but decision frees state to focus on upcoming school budget In a closely watched case, a Superior Court judge yesterday ruled against 16 rural school districts seeking relief in the wake of the Gov. Chris Christie’s cuts to school funding that they maintained left them unable to fulfill the state's constitutional mandate for a “thorough and efficient” education. State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, in an oral ruling from the bench as assignment judge for the Mercer County court, yesterday dismissed the districts’ motion for a summary judgment in the long-running case known as Bacon v. NJ Department of Education, according to the districts’ lawyers...'Jacobson in oral arguments last week raised concerns about the districts’ reliance on 2009 assessments of their schools’ needs in making their case, ones that she said could be outdated by now...'
12-15-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Court Hears Arguments in Bacon v. NJDOE, Rural Equivalent of Abbott Ruling…Underfunding rural school districts cost them preschool programs, and much more, suit asserts 'State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson held oral arguments on Bacon v. N.J. Department of Education, the long-running complaint that has been the rural version of the Abbott v. Burke equity rulings for the state’s urban districts....Jacobson did not give a timeframe for when her ruling would be issued.'

Education Week - State Leaders Confront Full Plate of K-12 Issues...Curtain to Rise on 2015 Sessions

Press of Atlantic City - A.C. alternative high school / Painful change

12-12-14 Senate Judiciary Committe Unanimous in Confirming David Hespe NJ Education Commissioner
GSCS Note: David Hespe is not only extremely knowledgeable of NJ’s education needs and complex policy issues, he also cares deeply about the educational well-being of all New Jersey’s public school children. GSCS says “welcome and glad to have you back” Dave.

NJTV Michael Aron - Senate Confirms Education Commissioner Hespe

NJSpotlight - At Senate Confirmation Hearing, Hespe Takes Some Tough Questions…

Politickernj - Senate Judiciary confirms acting commissioner Hespe for DOE position

The Record - Acting N.J. Education Commissioner David Hespe supported in vote by state Senate panel

12- 9and10-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Schools can earn automatic partial escape from state control under a new proposal ‘…The bill (S1895) allows districts that score 80 percent or higher in any of the five categories of New Jersey's Quality Single Accountability Continuum to immediately be released from state control in that area. Districts would remain under state control in other QSAC areas until also fulfilling 80 percent of those requirements…’

Press of Atlantic City - State revises high school graduation assessments

Newjerseynewsroom.com - Education in New Jersey: Separate and Unequal?

12-8-14 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Editorial - Gaining ground

NJ Spotlight - With Confirmation Hearing After Lengthy Delay, Hespe Finally Gets His Day…On the job nine months, education chief is almost certain to be confirmed – but here are three tough questions he’s likely to be asked

NewJerseynewsroom.com - Lesniak Calls For Investigation of Special Education Violations In Public Schools

12-4-14 Education: Some Good News
NJ Spotlight - Higher-Performing Schools May Escape Tangle of State-Monitoring Red Tape…Proposed waivers would give districts break from mandated periodic reviews if they maintain specific standards ‘And the head of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents mostly suburban districts, also cited the relief waiver process would bring. “Since his efforts leading the Education Transformation Task Force, Dave Hespe has shared the GSCS focus that time on task for quality education can be more well spent at the district level when schools have proved they can meet high performance metrics,” said Lynne Strickland, the coalition’s director. “This regulatory initiative by the DOE will be very welcome by local schools, and will free up needed staff time for not only schools but for Department personnel work as well.”'

NJ Spotlight - Report Contains Good News About New Jersey’s Graduating Class of 2014…Overall graduation rates are up slightly, as are those for African-American and Hispanic students

12-3-14 DOE Comm'r Hespe and State Board Announce Equivalency Waiver Process to Extend QSAC Regulatory Timeline for High-Performing Districts
A long-time GSCS goal to relieve districts of heavy QSAC monitoring rules has been realized. While underscoring that the goals of quality education remain tantamount for all districts, GSCS appreciates the insight and execution of the DOE Commissioner Hespe, and the State Board, to relieve districts of requirements when they are meeting performance metrics at a high level.

GSCS on Twitter earlier today re QSAC Equivalency Waivers for High Performing Districts - lynne strickland þ@lynnestricklan1 7h7 hours ago [approx.11:45 a.m.]Educ Commr just announced QSAC equivalency waiver process for high performing districts at state board of ed mtg...Charles Sampson @FRHSDSup • 7h 7 hours ago #QSAC may have waiver as per Commissioner at state bd of ed mtg today. Garden State Coalition spent time testifying. Good news #njed #edchat...Charles Sampson þ@FRHSDSup 7h7 hours ago...Folks are listening in the Legislature & #NJDOE about #QSAC. Waiver for high performing districts would be huge improvement. #njed #edchat

GSCS before Senate Education Committee in March 2014: GSCS President Charles Sampson “…an extension of the QSAC timelines beyond three years, particularly for school districts already designated as high performing and a thorough examination that builds upon the recommendations of the 2011-2012 Education Task Force would be advantageous to schools across the state…”and, GSCS resident-Elect Jorden Schiff “…Although this is important work, it does consume many hours of local staff’s time and the county office’s time, as well. I am concerned that the frequency, every three years, is not necessary for “High Performing Districts…” To read fuller excerpts of their testimonies, click below on More…

Star Ledger - State to offer QSAC waivers to high-performing districts...'In an effort to eliminate burdensome regulations, New Jersey is making its high-performing school districts eligible for a streamlined state review, the Department of Education announced Wednesday. Schools that satisfy 80-100 percent of the quality performance indicators...'

12-3-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Unveiled for Iconic High School in Camden…Announcement of $50M initiative provides photo-op for Gov. Christie, but governor takes no questions about turnaround on building upgrade 'Of a total of $8 billion initially authorized for urban districts through the Abbott decision, SDA officials said yesterday that just $205 million is left and not yet committed. The Camden work will come out of that total, they said...'
12-2-14 State Board Meets Tomorrow...Cerf Writes Op-Ed on Myth and Reality re Newark Schools
NJ Spotlight - Update on PARCC Testing…‘Snapshot’ of Class of 2014 on Agenda Tomorrow…Board will also review guidelines for state’s oversight of four large urban school districts

NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: Dispelling Five ‘Falsehoods’ About Newark’s School System…Despite narrative of failure, former state education chief says Newark has met with success on numerous fronts

12-1-14 Two Year Requirement to Meet Acheive NJ's Teacher Evaluation Requirements Comes Due in 2015
NJ Spotlight - Day of Judgment Draws Near for New Jersey's New Teacher-Evaluation System…Amid debate during first year of implementation, key juncture will be reached soon when teachers get their individual ratings 'When asked if he envisioned changes, Shulman said: “We are committed to continued improvement, so I would absolutely hope we are making some changes and continuing to improve the system.” '
11-26-14 Response to Teacher Evaluations Process To Date
NJ Spotlight - NJ Teacher Evaluations Are: a) Mostly a Success b) Still Need Work c) Both…How was the first year of New Jersey’s new teacher evaluation system? Depends on whom you ask...'Wright (Patricia Wright, Executive Director NJ Principals and Supervisors Association) said her association recently completed a survey of its members after the first year and found some improvement in the second year. “I think the numbers are getting more positive in terms of what they feel about (the system),” she said. “But there are still real capacity and time issues.”
11-25-14 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger – Why is this N.J. high school eliminating mid-terms and finals

NJ Spotlight - Arbitrators Rule Against Newark’s Anderson in Two More Tenure Cases…Superintendent taken to task for using two years of teacher evaluations when only one is allowed

11-24-14 Opinion Pieces - Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Self-Selection of Public Schools, New Jersey’s Double Standard Upper-middle-class families vote for school choice with their feet, while poor families are pilloried for trying to get the best for their kids ‘Press of Atlantic City Editorial -Municipal consolidation / No magic bullet?...For years, state lawmakers and pundits - including editorial writers - have maintained that consolidating New Jersey's municipalities is the key to cutting the state's high property taxes. The state just has too much government, the story goes… Whatever that answer is or, indeed, whether it exists, let’s agree that parents should be able to make school choices for their children, and that their right to do so shouldn’t rest on their ability to afford granite countertops.

Press of Atlantic City Editorial -Municipal consolidation / No magic bullet?...‘For years, state lawmakers and pundits - including editorial writers - have maintained that consolidating New Jersey's municipalities is the key to cutting the state's high property taxes. The state just has too much government, the story goes. Now a study by Rutgers University's Bloustein Local Government Research Center calls that into question… Perhaps the most interesting questions raised by the Bloustein study are: Why hasn't more local-government research like this been done to inform the property-tax debate? And how many other public-policy truisms may be nothing more than a "folk hypothesis"?

11-21-14 Digital Transition Focus: GSCS President Sampson Goes to Washington
Our GSCS President, Charles Sampson, Superintendent of Freehold Regional School District was humbled to be invited to join the inaugural ConnectED to the Future summit, which gathered 100 district superintendents from across the country in Washington DC on November 19 to collaborate and learn from one another as leaders in education’s digital transition. As part of the experience, Mr. Sampson reflected on the importance of the digital transition for students: 'This transition promises to shatter some of the pedagogical norms of the past. These norms have too often dragged on the potential of students to engage with their learning through collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. As we push the boundaries of teaching and learning beyond the traditional schoolhouse, this network of district leaders who are each grappling with this transition will only embolden our work here in the Freehold Regional High School District and to our member districts within the Garden State Coalition of Schools...'(click on More below to read full statement)

NJ Spotlight - NJ School Chiefs Rub Elbows with Obama, Top Education Officials at White House…Eight superintendents among 100 nationwide selected to attend summit on learning and technology ‘Freehold Regional Superintendent (and GSCS President) Charles Sampson said it was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be in the same room as Obama, Duncan and others talking about education… In addition to Perry (Haddonfield) and Sampson, the other six New Jersey school superintendents attending the White House event were from Elizabeth, Freehold Township, Pascack Regional, West Morris, Somerville and Summit. (GSCS note: With 8 superintendents selected by the federal officials, New Jersey had the largest contingent in the group, followed by California with 6.)...Still, Sampson said it was a valuable chance to hear directly from national leaders. He said regional summits are planned for the coming months, and attending superintendents were each given assignments to flesh out their own plans. “It was a phenomenal experience,” Sampson said. “The whole essence of bringing together 100 folks who had demonstrated some sort of excellence in this area, I think all of us had a feeling of excitement coming out of it. It was really inspiring.” In addition to Perry and Sampson, the other six New Jersey school superintendents attending the White House event were from Elizabeth, Freehold Township, Pascack Regional, West Morris, Somerville and Summit.

11-20-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Q&A: Prominent School Superintendent Joins Exodus to Greener Pastures…James Crisfield leaves helm of Millburn schools and heads to Pennsylvania rather than accept 25% salary cut...'James Crisfield, the superintendent of Millburn’s public schools, was among the last class of New Jersey school leaders to seal his contract before Gov. Chris Christie imposed strict salary caps on superintendent pay.In the four years since, the caps have been as controversial as anything on Christie’s education agenda, with some saying it gave the system a needed jolt, while others claim it has led to an exodus of talented leaders.And now, Crisfield has bolstered the arguments of the latter camp, announcing this week that he taken the superintendent post in the Wissahickon School District in Montgomery County, Pa., near Philadelphia -- in large part due to the salary constraints he faced in New Jersey once his contract expired...

NJ Spotlight - At Newark School Striving for Turnaround, a 12-Year-Old’s Fragile Success...Grateful for Grandma, longing for Mom, a boy pours his heart into studying

11-19-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight – NJ Public School Teachers Assess Garden State’s Smallest Scholars…Schools wrap up pilot round of kindergarten-entry assessments (KEA), start to compile data ...While debates have raged as to the value and amount of testing that will come this spring with the state’s new online exams, little fanfare greeted the state-sponsored assessments that took place over the past two months in New Jersey’s youngest grades.

Press of Atlantic City - A.C. school board hears ideas to cut costs

11-17-14 Education and Reated Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Size Doesn’t Matter -- Study of NJ Municipal Government Costs Concludes…Rutgers analysts question ‘conventional wisdom’ that consolidation of state’s 565 municipalities would produce property tax savings...‘Even if two towns that merged achieved a 5 percent savings on the two-thirds of their budgets hat are not fixed costs, those savings would amount to just 0.88 percent on a typical property tax bill, which would translate into an annual savings of $66.27 for a homeowner paying $7,500 in property taxes, the Rutgers experts calculated. That is because municipal taxes represent just 28.5 percent of the average property tax bill. School taxes make up 52.2 percent of overall property taxes, county taxes another 18 percent, and special assessments the remaining 1.3 percent…’

Press of Atlantic City - "That will destroy us": A.C. schools may need to slash budget ‘…The Update Report of Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment released Thursday recommended that per-student costs in the district be reduced from a reported $25,676 to the statewide average of about $18,000. Haye said the projected cost per student for the current 2014-15 school year is $19,773, but that does not include pensions and social security, food service, debt service and capital outlay…’

Press of Atlantic City - School choice program is hit with an enrollment freeze

11-14-14 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. Senate panel clears bill to have state study starting school day later

NJ Spotlight - Backlash by Kids, Parents Among Obstacles to Later Start to Classes…As Senate panel OKs study, one school chief describes how short-lived change in his district impacted after-school jobs and sports teams

Burlington County Times - Allergy med bill for New Jersey schools advances

11-13-14 Congratulations to Former State Board of Education President Maud Dahme
NJ Spotlight - Student Essay Helps Holocaust Educator Earn Place in NJ Hall of Fame…After tirelessly taking her story to adults and children across New Jersey, Maud Dahme to be honored as ‘unsung hero’ in her home state...Isaiah Elia (NJ student from Glassboro) instead nominated Maud Dahme, a Holocaust survivor who travels to schools across the state to make sure students learn not just her story but understand the heritage of hatred and the heroism it can evoke.

“Her dedication to spreading awareness of the Holocaust has resulted in Holocaust education being required in all school districts,” Isaiah wrote. “I chose this nominee because of her devotion to educating younger generations about this crucial time in world history and her belief in the equality of all people.”

11-12-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Teachers Add Critical Voice to State's Newly Named Testing Commission…While skeptics worry Christie appointees will rubber-stamp state policy, two named to panel express optimism that dissident voices will be heard

Press of Atlantic City - Education report finds South Jersey families struggling

11-11-14 Teacher Distribution...Chistie's Education Panel...How Schools Scored on Tests
Education Week - Ed. Dept. Directs States to Improve Teacher Distribution

The Record - Christie appoints members of panel to study school tests

Star Ledger - - New Jersey school test results: How did your school score?

11-10-14 Feds Grant DOE Waiver Request For One Year More...Teacher Tenure Case
Star Ledger -Newark forced to rehire tenured teacher despite new state law

NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Receives One-Year Extension of ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ Waiver…But feds say state must fine-tune its system for intervening in certain low-achieving schools

The Record - NJ’s waiver on education law extended another year

11-7-14 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - Teachers a Key Source of Common-Core Curricula, Study Finds

Education Post - New Jersey Website and Videos Explain Common Core

Press of Atlantic City - The focus is on testing as teachers meet in A.C.

NJ Spotlight - Votes Show School Districts Reluctant to Approve Spending Above Tax Caps

11-6-14 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Reading and math scores dip slightly on N.J. standardized tests

NJ Spotlight - School Report Card Shows New Jersey’s Grades Holding Steady

NJ Spotlight - After the PowerPoint, Newark’s Superintendent Candid about Challenges…Anderson talks about competition from charter schools, time spent getting to know teachers and students’ families

11-5-14 Post-Election and Education Issues - In the News
Post-Election Analysis: State Sends Three New Members to Congress, Christie Helps Secure Victories for Republican Governors (Courtesy of Princeton Public Affairs Group)

Education Week - Republicans Will Control Senate in the 114th Congress

Star Ledger - More N.J. school districts voting in November, but campaigns take a backseat on the ballot

11-4-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: NJ Test Scores, Newark Super To Take Center Stage…Newark superintendent Anderson to speak on progress in her district, board to present 2013-2014 student performance report

NJ Spotlight - Administration Moves to Make Sure All Seats Filled for PARCC Tests…Hespe memo suggests that opt-out movement for online testing would be a violation of state and federal regulations

South Jersey Times - PARCC standardized test creates 'perfect storm' for N.J. guidance counselors

Thank you for joining us at the 10-29-14 GSCS Open Meeting at NJSBA Fall Workshop in Atlantic City!
GSCS' audience of approximately 85 school board members,school administrators, and parents from across the state were treated to lively presentations and in-depth conversations with NJ state legislators Assemblyman David Rible (Assembly Education Committee member; Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee member Assembly Republican Conference Leader; R/Dist. 30)and, Assemblyman Troy Singleton Assembly Education Committee member; Assembly Budget Committee member; D/Dist. 7. A range of topics were discussed, including school funding, special education issues, charter schools, school testing and more.

GSCS was pleased that special guest Commissioner Dave Hespe was also able to not only drop in to say hello but also took the time to sit down with all of us and talk on audience-indicated points of interest that focused on Common Core, PARRC implementation and testing, as well as state aid and special education funding issues.

Rounding out the program was GSCS President Chuck Sampson's presentation on the GSCS organization's key Focal Points for 2014-15.

GSCS Thanks all our guest for their time and thoughtful interaction that engaged our meeting attendees from start to finish! We also are thank the NJ School Boards Association for the kind welcome expressed by Executive Director Larry Feinsod and President John Bulina - thank you NJSBA.

10-29-14 Education Issues in the News.docx
ETS Education Research Update …Dear Colleague:…The October 2014 edition of ETS Education Research Update is now available. This issue contains ETS-authored or ETS-published research citations that have appeared recently in ETS-produced and independent publications. It also includes access to our database, ETS ReSEARCHER, which contains a comprehensive record of our research publications since 1947

NJ Spotlight - Profile: A Hispanic Mentor for All Students Across New Jersey…Ivonne Díaz-Claisse’s encounter with her own mentor, and her passion for reaching students, are changing young lives across the state

Times of Trenton - 'We have to do better' - Trenton school officials seek reversal of low test score trend

NJ Spotlight - Newark Teachers Union Takes Its Grievances to State Assembly Committee…Representative tells education panel that Superintendent Cami Anderson has not followed state rules for teacher evaluations

10-24-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Legislature Drifts Toward Allowing Virtual Learning When Snow Shuts Schools…Pre-planned online classes taken from home could count toward current mandate of 180 days in classroom

The Record - Common Core, PARCC conference available online… Panelists included N.J. School Boards Association (NJSBA) Educator-in-Residence Vincent De Lucia, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) representative Amy Fratz, and more. (Governor Thomas Kean led off the conference with a 30 minute speech on the need for standards in education; Commissioner David Hespe delivered closing remarks.)

Education Week Announces Free Webinar 10-29-14: Mastering the Most Challenging Standards With Rigorous Instruction

10-23-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Schools Told to Look at Sports, Other Student Activities for Problems…Memo sent to all NJ districts in wake of Sayreville High School scandal offers guidance on resources available for dealing with bullying, hazing

NJ Spotlight - Five New Charter Schools Get Preliminary OK from State Officials…Two approvals are in Plainfield; proposed all-boys charter in Trenton rejected because state law prohibits enrollment based on race or gender

Star Ledger - John P. Holland Charter School in Paterson placed on probation… The school violated state law by having two paid employees on its five-member board, state officials said. ..Acting State Education Commissioner David Hespe said the school needed to replace the two board members

10-22-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State’s Top Democrats Take Stock of Education Reforms in the Offing…Sweeney, Prieto say they mostly support Common Core and related testing, but predict big adjustments ahead for NJ schools

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: NJ’s Teachers Union: Implosion, Irrelevance, or Evolution?...The NJEA’s shift on charter schools is emblematic of its struggles with shifting situation in education -- in the state and beyond

NJ Spotlight - Arbitrator Rules Newark Teacher Must Be Rehired, Given Back Pay…Decision says schools Superintendent Cami Anderson was premature in citing dismissal guidelines in state’s new tenure law

10-20-14 Re: Charter Legislation S2319
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Charter-School Bill Chock Full of Details -- Some New, Some Familiar… Ruiz’s legislation notable for setting up second authorizing body as well as calling for performance contracts and NJ residency mandate
10-17-14 Charter School Bill, S2319-Ruiz, Heard In Senate Education Committee
Excerpt from GSCS testimony “… neither charter school funding issues nor local input emerge in the bill. However, both issues are a rub in communities across New Jersey and require resolution. The [funding] issue has dogged the acceptance of charter schools in New Jersey over the years and will continue to unless addressed. It requires an in-depth analysis and discussion by policymakers…Re: Local Input – Because of the competing policy tugs and funding needs of charters and traditional schools within districts, communities are too often pitted against one another in the same towns and the same cities. A reasonable and calm arena for open information exchange, idea and concerns needs to be provided in the earlier stages of the approval process. Being heard and responded to meaningfully, realistically and openly is constructive and can allow for course correction as necessary.

NJ Spotlight - Long-Discussed Charter-School Reform Bill Finally Gets Legislative Hearing…But debate is likely to take months, as hurdles ahead include Christie administration content with status quo for reviewing, approving new charters

10-15-14 Hearings Scheduled for Special Education Task Force
· October 16, 6-8 p.m., Learning Resource Center-South, 107 Gilbreth Parkway, Mullica Hill · October 23, 5-7 p.m., Learning Resource Center-North, 7 Glenwood Avenue, East Orange

· October 27, 6-8 p.m., Learning Resource Center-South, N.A. Bleshman Regional Day School, 333 E. Ridgewood Ave., Paramus

· October 29, 6-8 p.m., Learning Resource Center-Central, 200 Riverview Plaza, Trenton

Click here on More for NJ Spotlight article about the hearings

10-14-14 Recent Education Issues in the News
Burlington County Times - Delanco warns parents whose kids refuse to take NJ tests...a band of parents are pushing back against the state-mandated standardized PARCC tests, arguing the tests don’t benefit their kids. But the Board of Education remains steadfast.

NJ Spotlight - NJ Tries to Address Questions, Diploma....Minimum score on SAT, appeals process to demonstrate proficiency will be among possible paths to graduation...For all the debate over the New Jersey’s planned use of -- including a minimum SAT score and an already existing but little-used appeals process – will actually work.

NJ Spotlight - Sayreville High School Case Spotlights NJ's Landmark Anti-Bullying Law..Alarms sounded after revelation of allegations that young football players were abused by older teammates

Star Ledger - Sayreville students react to hazing controversy following player arrest - Sayreville high school students return to school after learning football program cancelled

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Bill Would Study Possible NJ Spotlight - Benefits of Later Start Times for Schools...Sen. Richard Codey to ask for study of school schedules and impact of sleep deprivation on learning

10-8-14 Education Isssues in the News
10-6-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Ed Department's Structure Undergoes Some Fine-Tuning But No Major Overhaul…Acting Commissioner David Hespe moves to fill several vacancies and adds new position, but refrains from drastic changes

Star Ledger 10-3-Guest Editorial -The real education problem is the Common Core test, not the standards: Opinion….’If we want our children to be able to compete on a global level, we should challenge them.Students may find school work more challenging under new guidelines for the controversial Common Core Standards.’

10-2-14 High School Graduation Requirements in the News
NJ Spotlight - Administration Wants to Be Clear About PARCC’s Role in High-School Graduation…State officials look to lay out their position on new online tests, while NJ’s largest teachers union voices its displeasure ‘In addition, he said that a new commission created by Gov. Chris Christie to study the impact of new and previous testing on all facets of public education would also have a prominent role in determining next steps.'

Press of Atlantic City - New state PARCC tests will be option in graduation requirements starting next year

10-1-14 State Board of Education Meeting Today: PARRC on the Agenda...Blue Ribbon Schools Announce
NJ Spotlight - NJ Education Officials Unveil Test Requirements for High-Schoolers to Graduate...While plan offers options in lieu of passing PARCC exams, critics say plan breaks promise to delay mandate

NJ Spotlight - 11 Schools in New Jersey Win Coveted Federal ‘Blue Ribbon’ Designation..This year’s recipients include eight public schools, two private schools and one charter

9-29-14 Introduced: Assembly Concurrent Resolution 195 (ACR195)
ACR195 Jasey (D-27); Wolfe (R-10)'Urges Commissioner of Education to suspend regulations on school district superintendent maximum salary amount for certain contract terms, and not to readopt at sunset'

Since this Assembly resolution was just introduced yesterday its text is not yet available. This concurrent resolution is a positive statement in that it is bi-partisan by its nature and the effort does show movement and understanding its importance to the well-being of quality education.

9-30-14 State Board of Education Meeting Tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: NJ's Teacher of the Year Will Get Day in the Sun as Board Honors Winner...State Board of Education will announce recipient for 2014, discuss familiar topics of testing and teacher quality 'Common Core resolution: The board is also expected to give final approval of a resolution to restate its support for New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards...Assistant state commissioner Bari Erlichson will give the board a presentation on absenteeism in the public schools, as derived from the state’s increasing data collection...Student testing: Erlichson is also expected to update the board on the latest developments in the state’s preparations for its new online testing...'
9-30-14 Reactions to Urban Hope Act Bill Passed by Assembly Yesterday Afternoon
NJ Spotlight - Explainer: Getting Inside the Urban Hope Act -- and ‘Renaissance Schools’ … Opening the way for charter networks to gain a toehold in the city, new law could transform education in Camden

NJEA, CEA react to passage of Urban Hope amendments by State Assembly “Let us move ahead to provide stability and equity in public schools”

JERSEY CAN letter re: Assembly Passage of Urban Hope Act, September 29 2014 ‘S2264 will help renaissance schools grow and better serve students, ultimately giving more families access to high-quality schools.

9-29-14 Just In: The Assembly Passed the Urban Hope Act Today, Following Senate's Approval Last Weel
9-29-14 Teachers Put Plan Forth to Improve Teacher Effectiveness...National Survey Shows Superintendents Approve Common Assessments Consortia
NJSpotlight - NJEA, Other Education Groups Push Own Proposals for Teacher Improvements...‘Taking Back the Profession’ report includes call for new tier of ‘teacher leaders’ and more mentoring...‘Taking Back the Profession’ report includes call for new tier of ‘teacher leaders’ and more mentoring
9-26-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Students Will Be Spending More Time Taking New Online Tests...Latest PARCC update indicates that tests could take as much as 10 hours spread over a half-dozen days

Star Ledger Editorial - End the squabbling in Newark schools: Editorial ...For the sake of the kids, both sides need to settle down and start over. 'In the latest kerfuffle over Newark schools, the advisory board has voted to stop payment on Superintendent Cami Anderson's salary...'

9-25-14 NJ 'School Board Notes' Survey Results re Common Corre
NJ School Boards Association Survey Results: Common Core Misunderstandings(As published in the NJSBA ‘School Board Notes’) '…When asked about specific misconceptions that their communities have, 74 percent of respondents said their community members or board members believe the standards dictate curriculum – when in truth, the Common Core sets standards on what students should know at various grade levels. Curriculum is developed by local districts. Along with that, nearly 65 percent of survey participants said their community believes the Common Core standards were devised by the federal government (in actuality, states signed up voluntarily); 57 percent think the standards were written without teacher input (in fact, teachers were involved in writing the standards); and just over 25 percent think standards are new to New Jersey (whereas, the state has used standards-based education for about 20 years.)'
9-25-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Newark School Board Votes to Block Superintendent Anderson’s Pay...Members flex their newfound fiscal muscle, but embattled state-appointed school chief still holds the purse strings 'Under the transition plan for the district finished in August and signed by board president Rashon Hasan, Anderson explicitly holds the ultimate veto powers in case of any disagreement with the board...'

The Record - Christie returns to Camden to tout gains 'The governor made three stops during his trip Wednesday. He spoke briefly near a park, chatted up a kindergarten classroom and addressed a high school football team...'

9-24-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Giving N.J.'s poor kids a leg up in school: Q&A ‘People are willing to put up with inequality of outcomes as long as there is something close to equal opportunity. When the school bell rings at 3 p.m., wealthy American kids move on to tutorials, music lessons, and unpaid internships. They spend thousands of extra hours with supportive adults. Low-income kids can’t match that, and it’s a key reason the achievement gap is growing at an alarming rate. Eric Schwarz is working to even the playing field…’

Star Ledger – Rural NJ school districts need more funding, lawsuit against DOE states ‘A fight for better funding in 16 rural New Jersey school districts— known as "Bacon districts" — has led to a lawsuit filed by the Education Law Center against the New Jersey Department of Education'

NJ Spotlight - New School-Funding Case Turns Spotlight on State’s Rural Districts…’According to complaint, 16 poor school systems are being underfunded by nearly $20 million’

Press of Atlantic City-Opinion - Another tax amnesty / Whatever works ‘…It is also worth noting that, as NJSpotlight.com reported, governors all over the country - Republican and Democratic - have been resorting to tax amnesties…’

NJ Spotlight - Debates in Camden Continue -- But Is Anybody Listening to the Community? ‘Urban Hope Act comes up for final vote next week, could open way to further charter-school expansion in that city’

9-22-14 Urban Hope Act Vote Today...To Better Understand Common Core...Commentary - Broaden Education Reform Efforts
Education Week - Getting Beyond One 'Right Way' of K-12 Reform… ‘Why don't we get education changing the way successful systems change?’

NJ Spotlight - Expanded Urban Hope Act Set to Come Before State Legislature Today…Reworked legislation opens way for large networks of charter schools in Camden

NJ Spotlight - An NJ Spotlight Webinar: Understanding the Basics of the Common Core…’There are plenty of questions about the Common Core standards -- NJ Spotlight goes to the experts to supply some answers’

9-17-14 Common Core Happenings
Press of Atlantic City - Common Core State Standards moving ahead in area schools “…But as new standardized tests and teacher evaluations were linked to the standards, and as another presidential election looms, the Common Core has become more than just a set of basic expectations for knowledge and skills students should have when they graduate from high school.Today, they are a political rallying point of opposition for a multitude of special-interest groups that claim that they are the first step toward a national government-run curriculum, will generate an increase in standardized tests and/or unfairly link teacher performance to the results of just one test. while about 40 states support them...”
9-17-14 Hearing on Superintendent Salary Caps Sets Opens Conversation for Compromise
NJ Spotlight - Talks Sought on Easing Much-Debated Caps on Superintendent Salaries...Legislative and legal actions have failed to sway Christie administration, so lawmakers may try joint nonbinding resolution

(excerpt from GSCS testimony) "GSCS thanks the Joint Committee on Public Schools for holding this hearing. It has been years since these salary caps have been mandated, a salary ‘reset’ clearly has occurred and it is more than time to move ahead in a positive direction and promote respect for the position of chief school administrator. Our students, parents and staff know that the need and respect for quality education leadership is tantamount to the delivery of quality education. We appreciate Assemblyman Wolfe's and the Committee’s consideration of and potential for advocacy regarding this important matter.

(Excerpt from Michele Lenhard testimony/GSCS Vice President and Ridgewood School Board member) “The role of the Board of Education comes into the picture by providing accountability for local constituents. The only employee we directly hire and manage is the Superintendent. The give and take of this relationship is critical for success as goals are established for the district, budgets are set, and a Chief School Administrator is hired and evaluated. The salary caps severely limits a board’s ability to attract and retain quality leadership. How can you set an upper benchmark for a salary without even considering cost of living adjustments, rising healthcare costs, and experience levels of candidates? A few key points which highlight why capping a superintendents salary is unnecessary: A Redundant Cap; Executive County Superintendent Oversight; Stability of Leadership; Costly (e.g., Interims); Flexibility of Local Control…Key qualities of a good superintendent: Educational mentor, communicator, community leader, CEO of a multi million dollar enterprise, manager of personnel, interpreter of State regulations, parental coach, advocate and as previously stated, educational leader…” See attached for full testimony.

9-16-14 Controversial Caps On Superintendent Salaries Under Discussion -- Again
NJ Spotlight - 'Today’s meeting of Joint Committee on the Public Schools will consider next steps when -- or if – pay limits for top administrators expire in 2016...The hearing today was called by state Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Ocean). His affiliation is worth noting, given that he’s a member of the minority party, which has been among those balking at changes to the limits. Christie and his administration have also not budged...“I think we are all hoping for bipartisan support, and this hearing may help in building a foundation for that,” said Michael Vrancik, chief lobbyist for the New Jersey School Board’s Association...Others slated to testify are members of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, representing superintendents, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools.'
FYI - Superintendent Salary Caps on Joint Committee of the Public Schools Agenda This Tuesday
The Joint Committee of the Public Schools is holding a hearing on superintendent salary caps this Tuesday, 9-16-14, in Committee Room 11 at 10:00 a.m. in the State House Annex...The public may address comments and questions to Amy Tibbetts, Executive Director, at 609-847-3365; or by e-mail at Atibbetts@njleg.org.
9-15-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger – In Hoboken, a fight over racial balance in charters: Moran… “Our district schools don’t look like our communities,” says Carlos Perez, head of the New Jersey Charter School Association. “What we should be asking is why families are leaving, and what we can do to attract them back to public education.” Hoboken’s answer is to go after Hola. It might find that working to improve its own offerings would be more effective.

NJ Spotlight- Teachers Union Heads Get First-Hand Look at NJ School-Reform Hot Spots…Two national leaders visits Camden and Newark districts, tout organized labor’s relevance in local debates over state initiatives

9-12-14 Star Ledger - Superintendent Salary Cap Is A Terrible Idea
Star Ledger - The superintendent salary cap is a terrible idea. Repeal it: Editorial… ‘Minnesota lawmakers ended up lifting a similar salary cap because their state's districts struggled to recruit good candidates. New Jersey should do so, too. Our superintendent cap is set to expire in 2016, at which point it could be renewed. But lawmakers such as Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), are pushing legislation to end it. The state Senate Education Committee has advanced her bill, but the Assembly hasn't acted. Why not? ... The measure would still have to get past the governor, of course, who's shown no sign of reversing himself. But if Christie wants to stop chasing talent from New Jersey schools, he should.
9-11-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - NJEA Spent Nearly $60M on Campaigns and Lobbying in Past 15 Years…New election finance report reveals teachers union spent more than twice as much as its nearest rival ‘The political spending by the New Jersey Education Association is no secret anymore, with the latest numbers -- in the tens of millions -- continuing to astound. A new report by the state’s election finance commission tallied more than $57 million spent by the teachers union on political campaigns and lobbying in the past decade and a half -- more than double its nearest rival…’
9-10-14 Education in the News - Camden Schools; Newark Protest in Afternoon Today
Courier Post -Christie touts revitalization of Camden schools in Renaissance program It's not often Camden is described as a model for cities, but Gov. Chris Christie did just that Tuesday. "Unlike other places in our state, this is one that has truly come together," Christie said after visiting with students from the Octavius V. Catto Community School. "Because in this city, the interests of the children have been placed first."

NJ Spotlight - On Visit to Camden Schools, Christie Takes Jabs at Protesters in Newark...Governor says ‘the interests of the children have really been placed first’ during debate in Newark over reforms ‘Four years ago this month, Newark was the centerpiece of Gov. Chris Christie’s education agenda…Flash forward, and Christie has unofficially moved his reform campaign almost 100 miles south down the New Jersey Turnpike, where the friendlier city of Camden has now become the centerpiece of his education plans, displaying less of the rancor while facing challenges similar those faced by its northern cousin…’

Star Ledger - 150 activists block city intersection to protest One Newark 'About 150 activists blocked a busy Newark intersection this morning in the second straight day of protesting against Newark Public Schools' controversial school overhaul plan. The protesters, include[e] students, parents and community activists...Paul Karr, the communications director for NJ Communities United, which helped organize the protests along with the Newark Students Union, said their efforts have attracted widespread attention. “We are connected to a broader national movement protecting public education,” he said. “Here in Newark, we feel obligated to make our voices heard..."'

9-8-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Grassroots Camden Group Appeals Trenton’s Decision to Allow New Charters...Save Camden Schools signals first pushback that administration has encountered since district takeover “I don’t speak for the whole city, but there are a lot of parents who welcome what is going on . . . I don’t see how anyone can block new schools in a city that desperately needs them.” Barclay said he understands that any state takeover is going to come with its dissenters. “That is one of the great things about America: they have every right to say and do what they want,” he said. “But something has got to change in our schools.”
9-7-14 Education in the News - Common Core
Star Ledger - Common Core controversy continues in N.J. and across nation…As the school year begins, the battle over the Common Core State Standards heats up
9-5-14 Education Issue in the News - Newark Opening Day Open Enrollment Approach
Politickernj - With statewide eyes on Newark's schools, Superintendent Anderson says first day of One Newark plan "going great" ..."There are always issues that arise, but for the most part, we're seeing a pretty typical back-to-school day," said Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe. "As the change process continues, I think people will get more and more comfortable that not only is this the right thing to do for the children of Newark, but it's being implemented well. The superintendent has her vision...and I think so far she's implementing it very well."..."The Acting Commissioner is here to show his support and offer the resources of the administration for Newark on day one," said Kevin Roberts, spokesman for Gov. Christie..."

NJ Spotlight - Back to School Means First-Day Jitters for Anderson, ‘One Newark’ Plan 'As school buses start rolling in Newark, critics of state-appointed superintendent are quick to point out that some are nearly empty'

Star Ledger -Newark's public schools open with promise, confusion and complaints 'Thousands of Newark students headed back to school yesterday in a district that has undergone sweeping and controversial changes.As the district's reorganization plan made its debut, some Newark parents tested new routes to schools in new locations. Some families grumbled...'

9-4-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Education Chief Kicks Off Campaign to Explain Common Core…StandardsStatewide effort aims to address community concerns about tougher academic benchmarks. If you haven’t heard enough already, get ready to hear a lot more about the Common Core State Standards, via the Christie administration…Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said yesterday that his department hopes to go school-by-school with a statewide community outreach campaign to promote and explain the much-disputed standards.

Star Ledger - Anderson touts Newark's transportation, security plan for new school year “…From our perspective there is nothing more important than getting community voices heard and getting community input into the plan,” said Ross Danis, president of the Newark Trust for Education and co-chair of the committee. “We spent hours this summer reviewing street by street hub by hub the placement of crossing guards…” But frustration among some parents and activists about the implementation of the One Newark plan still boils.

The Record

9-2-14 School Year Officially Underway - Underlying Issues
Related Urban Issues Have Impact on New Jersey Education

8-31-14 Star Ledger – Tom Moran - The confessions of a worried Cami Anderson supporter: Moran “…That is a wrenching change, no doubt. But the people of Newark have rendered their verdict by fighting to enroll their kids. More than 10,000 put their names on waiting lists. And when Anderson gave all families a chance to choose this year, they picked charter schools by an overwhelming margin.The heat comes mostly from unions, and from conspiracy theorists who see charter schools as a dark plot by Wall Street to somehow suck money out of the public system. Please. The hedge fund crowd can make much more money at their regular jobs, thank you. And all the charters are non-profits anyway…This is big test for Anderson. If the start of school is chaotic, she’ll deserve a share of the blame. But so will the unions, and the mayor, and the councilman, and the conspiracy theorists.”

9-1-14 NY Times - Camden Turns Around With New Police Force ”…There are other signs of life. The county has put millions into park improvements. The state has paid to knock down some abandoned houses. Charter schools are rising, and a ShopRite, the city’s first new supermarket in three decades, is to begin construction next year…”

9-2-14 NJ Spotlight -

Pivotal Questions Await Answers as School Bells Ring in New Jersey...Controversial reforms – and whether Christie will run for president – among major issues as kids and teachers return to classrooms It’s not easy to list the top issues affecting New Jersey students, educators and taxpayers as the school year begins. There are just so many to choose from...

New Law Aims to Make Every High-School Student a Potential Lifesaver...All public and charter schools must offer CPR, defibrillator training "Laurie Heavener is one of the most vocal advocates for a new state law requiring high-school students to be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation for a simple reason: She wouldn’t be alive if a trained student hadn’t been there when she had a heart attack...." .

Agenda: Common Core State Standards Top State Education Board’s Slate...In first meeting of new school year, board will delve deeply into benchmark standards for math and language arts Date: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 10:100 a.m.

2014-15 Announcement Archives
2013-14 Announcement Archives
2012-13 Announcement Archives
Pre 2012 Announcement Archives
10-29-14 Education Issues in the News
ETS Education Research Update …Dear Colleague:…The October 2014 edition of ETS Education Research Update is now available. This issue contains ETS-authored or ETS-published research citations that have appeared recently in ETS-produced and independent publications. It also includes access to our database, ETS ReSEARCHER, which contains a comprehensive record of our research publications since 1947

NJ Spotlight - Profile: A Hispanic Mentor for All Students Across New Jersey…Ivonne Díaz-Claisse’s encounter with her own mentor, and her passion for reaching students, are changing young lives across the state

Times of Trenton - 'We have to do better' - Trenton school officials seek reversal of low test score trend

NJ Spotlight - Newark Teachers Union Takes Its Grievances to State Assembly Committee…Representative tells education panel that Superintendent Cami Anderson has not followed state rules for teacher evaluations

10-30-14 Common Core, Schol Security - In the News
Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey education chief pushes Common Core

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: School Security Report Shows Increased Protections, Higher Costs….School boards association report outlines changes and recommendations for schools post-Sandy Hook

For GSCS 2014-2015 Meeting Dates Calendar, go to 'Coming Up' on this homepage banner/side right.

GSCS has joined the WeRaiseNJ effort which is dedicated to informing parents and school communities about the 'How's and What's' of the PARCC assessment process. For information regarding PARCC go to this website:  bestfootforward.org .  WeRaiseNJ is led by the NJPTA, and its members are the NJASA, NJPSA, NJSBA, GSCS, the Chamber of Commerce, the NJ Council of County Colleges, and the ASCD, as well as the NJPTA.

Next GSCS Board of Trustees Meeting is March 25, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. at the East Brunswick Board of Education : Officers to meet prior at 2:30.

Coming Up -  Update: The Special Education Task Force, of which GSCS is a member, is in the preparation stage for producing its final report.


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