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2-5-16 Education in the News
The Record - New worry on N.J. school test scores; graduation may be a struggle for some who didn't pass ‘…PARCC refusals were highest in some of the more affluent and high-achieving districts in Bergen County. But officials there don’t expect a negative impact on graduation rates because their students have strong performances on other tests. “You have kids who are able to take these alternative assessments, like the PSAT and the SAT and all those other assessments,” said Ridgewood Schools Superintendent Daniel Fishbein. The students, he said, tend to “do well.”
But some students struggle with standardized tests. Cindy Dittfield of Hawthorne said her daughter barely made the cut for graduation even though she is an honor-roll student…“What I am concerned about is that kids have the information they need to do as well as they can on the exam,” said Board of Education President Christopher Irving. “My concern is kids doing well on the exam and kids knowing the information. There are many, many outs for kids to graduate. There will be ample opportunities for kids to exit school. My question is, are we preparing them to be successful?” ’

Star Ledger - Will N.J. finally fix its bullying law?

   Editorial ‘…Too many school officials still have no idea what bullying means, and are more concerned with liability than filtering out the frivolous stuff. They're applying the law's reporting requirements to incidents large or small, singular or patterned, serious or just plain stupid.
Which brings us to another significant recommendation of the task force: Principals should take the lead in deciding which incidents merit a bullying investigation and which do not. Wright, who heads the state's Principals and Supervisors Association, says principals will get a new checklist to help them determine which cases fall under the legal definition of bullying. They must be trained to be discerning.While the number of cases have dropped since an initial surge, there are still too many. And that number could climb again if we don't fix the law's problems. Let's make sure we do.’

NJ SPOTLIGHT – INTERACTIVE MAP: HIGH SCHOOLS AND WEALTHIER DISTRICTS HAD MOST UNTESTED...However, state data does not show exactly how many students skipped PARCC specifically because of parental concerns ‘An analysis of PARCC exams data released earlier this week by New Jersey education officials shows that high schools and wealthy school districts had the largest percentages of students who opted out of last year's controversial assessments or did not take the tests for some other reason not related to absence…’

2-4-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Statewide High-School Graduation Rate Increases to Nearly 90 Percent…But socio-economic gaps remain and requirement of passing grade on PARCC to earn diploma looms on the horizon ‘The day after the sobering results of the new PARCC testing were released, the Christie administration had some better news for New Jersey’s schools yesterday: Graduation rates are up…’

NJ Spotlight Opinion - NJ’s Made Great Strides in Expanding High School Career-Readiness Offerings…There’s a new awareness that innovative career and technical programs benefit all types of students, including those who are college-bound ‘…Our state is now a national leader in making career and technical education (CTE) an educational and economic priority, and our county vocational-technical schools are well-recognized for innovative programs that give all types of students a head start on college and career success.

2-3-16 PARCC Scores v Testing Mode...Newark Deficit, How It Was Addressed
Education Week - PARCC Scores Lower for Students Who Took Exams on Computers ‘…An NCES working paper released in December found that high-performing 4th graders who took NAEP’s computer-based pilot writing exam in 2012 scored “substantively higher on the computer” than similar students who had taken the exam on paper in 2010. Low- and middle-performing students did not similarly benefit from taking the exam on computers, raising concerns that computer-based exams might widen achievement gaps…'

Star Ledger - How Newark schools closed a $65M deficit in 6 steps ‘…Cerf inherited a deficit of approximately $65 million, and immediately began strategizing on how to close the gap while minimizing impact on the city's already disadvantaged schools. At a meeting of the city's School Advisory Board last month, Cerf announced that the once mammoth shortfall had been closed…’

2-3-16 PARRC School District Results Released...State Revenue on an Uptick
NJ SPOTLIGHT - STATE GOES PUBLIC WITH RESULTS OF FIRST-YEAR PARCC EXAM SCORES…As expected, the numbers show widespread falling off from earlier state tests; opt-out numbers are inconclusive ‘ “Now that we’re entering the second year of PARCC testing, educators and parents are seeing the benefits of PARCC. They see it’s the most effective assessment tool the state has ever had, and they see how it can help improve teaching and learning in ways that our old tests never could. And that’s precisely where the focus should be: Improving the education we provide to children.”Needless to say, critics had a different take…’

The Record - Poor PARCC scores in N.J. raise questions about tests ‘Most New Jersey public school students failed the embattled new state standardized test, achieving scores so low in some cases that district officials fear the results give an unrealistic picture of academic achievement on an exam that thousands of students boycotted.Yet many other North Jersey school administrators on Tuesday urged patience, assuring that as more students are tested, performance will swiftly improve. One top official even said he expected the test scores, after a tumultuous 2015 rollout, to be much worse…Ridgewood performed well above the state average, despite a large number of refusals at the high school level. In all, 77 percent of students in Grades 3 to 8 passed their tests, as did 70 percent of high school students…But the numbers aren’t reliable, said Superintendent Daniel Fishbein. “The only accurate reflection would be if we had a much higher percentage of students participating,” he said…As in previous years, African-American and Hispanic students lagged behind the overall population. Meanwhile, Asian students outperformed all other groups by wide margins…’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - SLIGHT HIKE IN TAX REVENUE ADDS UP TO PROJECTED SURPLUS FOR STATE COFFERS…But slight budget cushion forecast for first six months of fiscal year may not be enough to justify dropping state’s estate tax

2-2-16 Education in the News
WALL STREET JOURNAL - Regional Schools' Uneven Per-Pupil Costs Get Scrutiny ‘…New Jersey has seen a wave of disputes over how to pay for regional schools. Cape May, Seaside Park and Sea Bright are among many towns fighting to cut their payments to shared districts. Now the town of Oradell, in Bergen County, has a case before a state appellate court to reduce what it spends on the River Dell Regional School District. Its outcome, expected this year, will influence what other districts do next…’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - LAST WORD ON BULLYING: ANTI-BULLYING TASK FORCE DELIVERS FINAL REPORT…Voluminous document includes numerous suggestions on how to improve implementation, calls for clearer definitions, more funding ‘…Yesterday, that task force issued its fourth and final report with a series of recommendations -- old and new -- both for more state support for schools and for a continued fine-tuning of the law’s implementation…’

2-1-16 Education in the News
STAR LEDGER EDITORIAL - LAYING THE PARCC RUMORS TO REST...This test is more accurate than its predecessor, NJASK ‘…Now that the political uproar has died down and the results are finally in, here's what they show us about the PARCC: This is a good test…Once again, this demonstrates that the PARCC boycott movement is misguided. We need national standards for achievement, and they are meaningless without an accurate test to measure them.’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - HOW WILL CHRISTIE’S NEW STATE SCHOOL STANDARDS PLAY IN IOWA, NEW JERSEY?...Public has chance to be heard on new regulations, before state board votes, moves to implement ‘Today’s Iowa caucuses will give New Jersey -- and the rest of the country -- a chance to see what Gov. Chris Christie’s move away from the Common Core State Standards did for him politically. But the longer-term consequences will be seen in the discussion and implementation of the revisions Christie’s task force recommended last month for both the standards and new graduation requirements.’

THE DAILY JOURNAL - LAW'S EXPIRATION MAY RENEW BATTLE OVER BENEFITS ‘…A state law (Known as 'Chapter 78' re health benefits contributions) requiring public employees to pay a percentage of their health benefit premiums expired last year, setting the stage for a battle over benefits between school boards and teachers unions…Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, said school board members are very concerned about maintaining the payments at their current level. “There is a concern about a domino theory, that if a few school boards roll back the payments, they will all start to fall,” she said. While each district negotiates separately, most look to patterns from neighboring districts. State mediators will also compare offers with neighboring districts…’

PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY - Benefits opt-out costing A.C. schools millions

STAR LEDGER – N.J. SETS GOAL FOR NUMBER OF KIDS IT WANT IN CHARTER SCHOOLS.…During his State of the State address earlier this month, Gov. Chris Christie pledged to pursue the expansion of charter school opportunities for New Jersey students ‘New Jersey hopes to expand to 50,000 charter schools seats, about a 9 percent increase from the 46,000 seats currently authorized by the state, Education Commissioner David Hespe said…The state has about 41,500 students enrolled in charter schools and the number will expand to 46,000 as existing charter schools add more grade levels…Christie said his administration will explore ways to create greater flexibility in the teacher certification for charter schools and ways to make it easier for charter schools to find buildings…’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - THE LIST: NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS WITH THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF KIDS LIVING IN POVERTY…Poor children grow up to be impoverished adults. Along the way they’re more likely to be sick, score low on standardized tests, experience violence, and ultimately drop out ‘The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its small-area poverty estimates, which include data for child poverty by school district. What follows is the at-times-surprising list of the 10 school districts in New Jersey with the highest poverty rates for children age 5 to 17 in 2014.'

1-29-16 Testing Report and Diploma Use Scrutiny in the News
NJ.com - PARCC helped close 'honesty gap' in N.J., report says ‘New Jersey's new standardized tests might not be popular, but they do produce more honest results than the prior exam, according to a new study by education reform groups….PARCC's results were more closely aligned with the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an exam given to students in fourth and eighth grade across the country.’

Education Week – States Move to Issue High School Diplomas Retroactively...New laws give students who never passed their exit exams another chance to graduat ‘At least six states are quietly bestowing retroactive diplomas on tens of thousands of former students who never passed their state's required exit exam, sparking a heated debate about rigor, fairness, and the meaning of a high school diploma…’

1-28-16 N.J. Department of Education Reorganization...School Construction Referenda Results
NJ Spotlight - Job Moves And Changes In Duties Bring Deputy Commissioner Back To DOE ‘Hespe says changes to organizational chart will streamline how department functions, allow better use of data, personnel’

NJ School Boards Association - School Board Notes - Voters Approve $42 Million in School Construction 'Voters in five New Jersey school districts approved $42 million in school construction proposals on Jan. 26...All of the approved projects will receive state funding to cover part of the cost, through grants or debt service aid or both...'

1-27-16 Student Biliteracy Gets Seal of Recognition...ESSA Encourages Open Education Resources
NJ Spotlight: ‘Biliteracy’ Seal on Student Diplomas Will Recognize and Reward Bilingualism 'Ability to speak two languages called important advantage for NJ students as they enter workforce and college'

Education Week: Open Education Resources Get Major Boost From ESSA

1-26-16 Education News Today
NJ Spotlight: Moody’s Again Warns Investors to Be Wary of Uncertain Finances in NJ 'Credit-rating agency cites uncertain outlook for employee pension payments, transportation fund'

NJ Spotlight: Explainer: The Split Over Making Quarterly Payments to Employee-Pension System

The Atlantic: Why Introverted Teachers Are Burning Out

1-25-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight: Report’s Replete with Points to Consider About Testing of Garden State Students

NJ.com: Christie 'way off mark' to call recess bill stupid, sponsor says

1-20 and 1-21-16 End of Session Bills Become Laws and Education Related Issues
January 21

NJ Spotlight: Christie Signs Legislation Creating New Position of Special-Ed Omsbudsman

NJ.com: Christie: 'Stupid' mandatory school recess bill deserved my veto

Asbury Park Press: Marlboro parents: Our kids are overtested, overwhelmed

Education Week: States Collaborate in Pursuit of Fresh Accountability Ideas

January 20

NJ Spotlight: Ten Bills that Matter: Assessing Christie’s Latest Signings and Pocket Vetoes

NJ.com: N.J. school changes: What did Christie approve, reject?

NJ.com: Christie vetoes mandatory recess in N.J. schools

The Record: Threats disrupt schools in 10 North Jersey towns

1-19-16 Education in the News
New Jersey Spotlight: Shakespeare Aside, Evidence Doesn’t Match Christie’s Claim He Ended Common Core

NJ.com: 9 Changes Possibly Coming to New Jersey Schools

Asbury Park Press: A do-or-die ballot question for NJ taxpayers?

NY Times: Education Technology Graduates From the Classroom to the Boardroom

1-15-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight -Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges Join to Help Students Cope with Costs...Soaring higher-education costs prompt NJ schools to find innovative ways to help ease financial burden

Education Week: Opt-Out Activists Aim to Build on Momentum in States

Education Week: Funding Flexibility Enhanced Under New K-12 Law

Asbury Park Press: Christie says NJ charter schools are a 'resounding success'

Press of Atlantic City - As enrollment shrinks and taxes rise, school merger talk resumes ‘…Statewide, three districts in Hunterdon County recently formed a new regional district. But three existing regional districts are litigating to disband. Cape May City has spent years trying to get out of or renegotiate its participation in the Lower Cape May Regional School District, citing a disparity in property-tax apportionment. “Until you resolve the property-tax issue, you won’t get districts to agree to merge,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, who said she still supports the new task force as a way to generate new ideas that could help some districts…’

1-14-16 Education and Related Issues in the News
Asbury Park Press - Will lawmakers deal with NJ's affordability woes? ‘…Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union, urged senators to “stop, stabilize and roll back the taxes that are driving generations of New Jerseyans to states with much lower tax burdens.” He said the Legislature needs to look at special education and the overall school-aid formula. “New Jersey’s property taxes mostly pay for public schools, which are funded via a flawed, inefficient school funding formula. We must enact reforms to more equally fund per pupil allotments for education and allow hundreds of suburban communities to keep more of their tax dollars in their classrooms,” Kean said…’

Washington Post: Netflix chief announces $100 million fund for education

1-13-16 State of the State and Related Education Issues
NJ Spotlight: Gov. Christie Champions Charter Schools, But Will Talk Lead to Action?...The governor makes some big promises for charters, but has delivered a mixed message on the subject in the past

NJ.com: What N.J.'s PARCC, Common Core reviews mean for schools

The Record: Christie rips pension proposal

Education Week: ESSA Law Broadens Definition of School Success

1-12-16 State Board Meeting Plus Legislative Session Final Day Brings Lots of Action
NJ Spotlight:Christie’s Education Talking Points Yield More Questions, Few Clear Answers …Reports on academic standards, PARCC exams and graduation requirements offer some policy tweaks on eve of governor’s speech ‘…It was a lot to digest in one day, but the State Board of Education yesterday heard from the administration about proposals for new state standards, new testing philosophies, and new high school graduation requirements…’

NJ.com: N.J. could keep nearly 85 percent of Common Core standards

NJ.com: Is N.J. 'opting out' of releasing PARCC test data?

NJ.com: N.J. should keep PARCC, make it mandatory for graduation, task force says

Washington Post: The new federal education law returns power to the states. But how will they use it?

Star Ledger - N.J. Legislature clears public worker pension ballot question ‘State Democrdats on Monday pushed through a proposed constitutional amendment requiring the state contribute each year to the pension plan for government workers…’

The Record - Proposed N.J. ballot questions to amend constitution working their way through Legislature ‘…A major proposal to rewrite a section of the state constitution dealing with state elections was derailed before it received key votes on Monday and may not end up before voters in November’s election…’

Star Ledger - N.J. Assembly agrees to Christie's changes on private- sector retirement plan

1-11-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight, 1-11-16 - Agenda: Update on State Standards and H.S. Grad Requirements Kick Off 2016

NJ Spotlight - State Board of Education gets first look at standard revisions ordered by Christie and new PARCC diploma requirements

Star Ledger - N.J. property taxes soared by $537M in 2015, report says

1-8-16 Education Issues in the News
Education Week: 2016 Education Rankings Put States, Nation to the Test 'As Education Week's Quality Counts turns 20, the nation has posted a solid C—the same as last year—on the report's 2016 summative-grading indicator. The report card has evolved through the years, taking on its current, streamlined form in 2015...'

Star Ledger - N.J. gets a 'B' in school quality report 'Ranking above the national average in every major category considered, New Jersey's school system once again placed among America's best in an annual report on school quality. New Jersey earned a 'B' on the Quality Counts report by Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week. Only Massachusetts, which received a 'B-plus' was ranked higher in the study released Thursday. The grades are based on ratings in three major categories… Here is a look at how New Jersey scored in each category…'

NJ SPOTLIGHT - FINE PRINT: THE HEALTH STUDY THAT COULD HELP TURN SCHOOL RECESS INTO LA…Giving kids a break is at the heart of a Senate bill that wants to ensure that recess is part of every school day...'What it is: A national study in 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics first promoted the value of recess in the school day, saying the health and social benefits were invaluable and measurable...'

NY Times: California Governor Proposes Increased Education Funding

Washington Post: New student database slammed by privacy experts

1-7-16 Assembly Education Committee Unanimously Passes Bill to Eliminate Administrative Caps
Recognition that the administrative cap is redundant - a cap within a cap - since school budgets are already limited to no more than 2 percent annual increases, the Assembly Education Committee voted unanimously to remove that redundancy in the law today. The vote follows the Senate Education Committee's similar vote of a few weeks ago. It is anticipated that the bill will be posted for legislative passage in this legislative session, which concludes next week. GSCS supports this bill (A2740) and thanks both Assembly and Senate bill sponsors, for details click below on More.
1-6-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight: Spirit of Cooperation Evident Again at Appearance by Mayor, Schools Chief...Baraka, Cerf exchange praise at event unveiling incentives encouraging Newark’s top graduates to attend college in NJ 'Atop Audible.com’s downtown Newark headquarters yesterday, business leaders joined Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and city schools Superintendent Chris Cerf to announce a new scholarship and internship program for the city’s brightest graduates...'

Education Week - New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as Legislatures Set to Convene

1-5-16 Supreme Court to Hear California Union-Fee Issue Jan. 11
Education Week - High Stakes in Union-Fee Case Before Supreme Court…The Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 ‘The face of the movement seeking to upend the public-employee labor sector has had a back-and-forth relationship with her own local teachers' union.Rebecca Friedrichs, the lead plaintiff among a small group of California teachers whose case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11, started her teaching career in a small school district in Orange County by refusing to join the local union. Later, she joined the union and even became an officer. Friedrichs is now back to her roots as a so-called agency-fee payer—a nonmember of the union who must pay the proportion of dues that goes for collective bargaining and a few other related costs. The main legal question in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (Case No. 14-915) is whether a key Supreme Court precedent authorizing such agency-fee arrangements should be overruled.

"The unions have core values that are in direct opposition to my core values," Friedrichs said in an interview. "They're using those fees to support their core values and their agenda...Friedrichs and nine other teachers are asking the Supreme Court to overrule that 1977 precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, and hold that states may not allow unions to exact such fees from public employees who refuse to join…’

1-5-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight: Commissioner Hespe Faces Tough Call in Overcrowded Freehold District 'Administrative law judge overrules voters, says state should approve bonds to relieve cramped, congested schools...Freehold Borough's schools, a working-class district of 1,700 students and three facilities, is posing a tough question for state Education Commissioner David Hespe over the balance of power between state and local interests...'

Education Week: Will States Swap Standards-Based Tests for SAT, ACT? ... 'High school testing is on the brink of a profound shift, as states increasingly choose college-entrance exams to measure achievement. The new federal education law invites that change, but it comes with some big caution signs and unanswered questions. The questions are hanging over a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act that lets states measure high school achievement with college-entrance exams instead of standards-based assessments.If many states make that change, it would represent an important national shift in the meaning of high school testing, assessment experts say. That's because most states' current tests are based on their academic standards and are built to measure mastery of those standards. Moving to a college-entrance exam such as the SAT or ACT, which are designed to predict the likelihood of students' success in college, would mean that states had chosen instead to measure college readiness. "It's a really big shift," said Wayne Camara, who helped design the SAT and oversaw research at the College Board for two decades before taking a similar post at ACT in 2014. "States need to think about what they want their accountability system to measure and choose the test best suited for that. Ultimately, it's a judgment. It depends on what you value most..." '

1-4-16 Education in the News
New Jersey Spotlight: Looking Ahead, Unresolved Matters and New Issues Will Mark Year in Education ‘…Not only will 2016 mark an obvious turning point in Christie’s political fortunes – whether he heads to Washington or returns to Trenton to finish his term – but it will also see the unofficial launch of the 2017 gubernatorial race and all that comes with it. Sweeney, the state Senate president, has already become to make education a prime issue with his preschool plan. Other expected Democratic candidates like Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and former U.S. Ambassador Philip Murphy are sure to have their education planks as well, and the conjecture over who might run on the Republican side has only begun. But the politics for the governor’s seat is only a piece of it, as advocacy groups continue to sprout up around this or that issue – preschool and charter schools, to name just two. The role of outside money will get its share of attention as well, including the end of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million foray into Newark schools. Inside the state, the New Jersey Education Association, the teachers union, has since Christie took office outpaced political spending by every other group by far, and it has just gotten started, to be sure…’

New Jersey Spotlight: Op-Ed: Special Education in New Jersey is Broken. Can We Finally Fix It?

Star Ledger: Why tests like PARCC do a better job of measuring student understanding - Opinion

12-29-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger - PARCC results: How it went in N.J.'s 2nd largest district ‘…Despite the issues of poverty facing many students in her district, Lyles told NJ Advance Media she believes PARCC scores can improve in future years. "I believe very strongly that our students can achieve. We just have to work very 'smart.' We see places where it works with high poverty rates, with high (numbers of) students of color," she said, holding herself as an example of a black student from a high-poverty background who made it. "I cannot give up on a single child."

The Record - N.J. education chief overturns public, non-public sports split ‘Years of debate. Months of meetings. Weeks of hand-wringing. And in the end, athletes, coaches and officials of New Jersey high school sports find themselves right back where they started…’

NY Times – New Jersey School District Eases Pressures on Students, Baring Ethnic Divide

12-22-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Is PARCC a good test? See what teachers' study found ‘…While PARCC is not a perfect test, it is a step in the right direction, said Jeanne Muzi, an elementary school teacher in Lawrence Township Public Schools who participated in the study. "Students who take the PARCC are being asked to answer questions that entail a variety of levels of cognitive demand and require complex thinking skills," Muzi, the state's 2009 Teacher of the Year, said in an interview. "Regardless of the name of the test, isn't this what we want our students to be able to do?”… ‘

Star Ledger - A parents' guide to understanding PARCC scores — After months of controversy, and even more months waiting, New Jersey parents this month are finally finding out how their kids did on the PARCC tests they took last spring. But what should parents make of the data? Below, we've answered some of the most common questions parents have been asking. Start with the background of PARCC or click on one of the following topics to jump into the specifics…

12-18-15 Education in the News
NJ SPOTLIGHT - POLITICS AND POLICY: DEBATING PRE-K EXPANSION IN THE GARDEN STATE Proponents of preschool in NJ are eloquent in its defense, while opponents are equally articulate when disputing its advantages. Both sides are frustrated by financial concerns 'Seven years after a proposal to expand New Jersey’s much-touted public pre-K program was approved, the state may be getting close to actually funding the plan, at least in part. Democratic legislators have unveiled an ambitious initiative that would bring preschool to an additional 17 disadvantaged districts at a cost of $165 million over two years...'

NJ SPOTLIGHT – SPENDING DOWN ZUCKERBERG GIFT, CELEBRATING TRANSITION IN NEWARK SCHOOLS Foundation for Newark’s Future -- created by the original $100M donation -- will be shuttering its office early in coming year 'Five years and counting, the fund created by the $100 million donation to Newark schools from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is down to its last dollars -- give or take a million. The $200 million fund, which reflects a match from other big funders, is down to about $10 million yet-to-be-committed money, its executives said. And with the balance to be handed off to a local foundation to steward, the Foundation for Newark’s Future -- the entity create out of the donation -- will be closing its downtown Newark offices in early 2016...'

12-17-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Poor Scores on PARCC Reflect Stiff Challenges Facing Scchools in Newark

Star Ledger - How would N.J. schools handle a L.A.-like bomb threat?

12-16-15 Education News - Graduation Rates, Charter Schools, Head Start, Newark Schools

Star Ledger – N.J. to allow charter school lottery favoring low-income students

NJ Spotlight - HEAD START PRESCHOOLS: ENRICHING THE LIVES OF NEW JERSEY’S POOREST KIDS...But popular pre-K program faces challenges on several fronts, including critical report disputing long-term gains for youngest students

Star Ledger - N.J.'s graduation rate among best as national numbers climb

NY Times - U.S. Graduation Rates Reach New High - Graduation Rates Reach a High

Star Ledger- Newark schools, feds strike deal to halt probe into civil rights complaints

12-15-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - SWEENEY CALLS FOR INVESTING $165 MILLION IN PRE-K, EARLY-CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS…Democratic plan would extend Abbot-like services to 17 districts, restore ‘wraparound’ programs to 31 Abbott districts

Jersey Journal - What do those PARCC test results mean for Jersey City - Opinion

Trenton Times - Trenton's graduation rate rises again

12-14-15 Education in the News
The Record – Obama signs education law rewrite shifting power to states — Calling it a "Christmas miracle," President Barack Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education law on Thursday, ushering in a new approach to accountability, teacher evaluations and the way the most poorly performing schools are pushed to improve...Related: A new plan for U.S. schools; testing likely to remain key in New Jersey

Star Ledger - Sweeney's pension plan is a giveaway to unions

12-11-15 Education in the News
NJ SPOTLIGHT - COULD NEW JERSEY TENURE REFORM BE AFFECTED BY NEW FEDERAL LAW?...Most in NJ take wait-and-see attitude regarding scaling back of federal education mandates for teacher evaluations

The Record - A new plan for U.S. schools; testing likely to remain key in New Jersey

Star Ledger - As the Donald haunts Chris Christie, pension proposal could haunt Democrats_Mulshine


12-10-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Goodbye, ‘No Child Left Behind.’ Hello, ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’…Does a new name for the federal education policy mean significant changes for what NJ is doing or where it’s headed?

Star Ledger - How will No Child Left Behind rewrite affect N.J. schools 'New Jersey could more easily make changes to student testing, academic standards and teacher evaluations under a proposed new federal education law that passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday...'

NJ Spotlight - Sweeney Seeks Constitutional Amendment to Fund State Pensions...Christie, others deride ballot question, arguing that if passed it will lead to higher taxes, drastic cuts to other programs

12-9-15 Senator Allen Bill to creat Special Education Ombudsman on the Move in Legislature
NJ SPOTLIGHT - SPECIAL-ED OMBUDSMAN COULD HELP PARENTS GET ANSWERS, SETTLE DISPUTES…Senate bill would create office that could serve as an information clearinghouse for families with special-needs kids
12-8-15 Education in the News
NY Times /editorial – Course Correction on School Testing (Click below on 'More" for hyperlink)

Education Week - With Federal Budget Deal Expiring in Four Days, Where Does K-12 Spending Stand?

NJ Spotlight - FEDERAL MONEY ENABLES LOW-INCOME DISTRICTS TO OFFER FULL-DAY PRE-KINDERGARTEN...Towns like North Bergen and Galloway need all the help they can get with insufficient school budgets, but what happens when funds dry up?

Star Ledger - New bill would end PARCC testing in N.J.

NJ Spotlight - FINE PRINT: NOTED NEWARK SCHOOLS SEEK STATE OK TO GO CHARTER ROUTE…BRICK Academy passes first round of application process, but faces hurdles within city’s public school district

12-4-15 Education in the News

Star Ledger - N.J. students beat PARCC average on most exams…Even though most New Jersey students failed to perform on grade level on new state exams, they collectively scored better than the national average of states that took the same tests, according to the state Department of Education.

NJ Spotlight - Bill Requiring 20 Minutes of Daily Recess for Younger Kids Hits Delay in Assembly…Last-minute amendments would give schools more flexibility in how they comply with mandate

NJ Spotlight - NJ’s Private Preschools Struggle Against Steep Odds to Deliver Quality Care...Helping kids learn in pre-K calls for commitment, trained staff, learning aids and -- unfortunately -- more money than most centers can muster

12-2-15 GSCS Officers Sit Down To Talk With The Commissioner of Education
This meeting was substantive and focused on state aid, school construction, and health benefits issues in particular. GSCS officers appreciated the interactive exchange where constructive ideas were welcome and look forward to a practical, and continuing, dialogue. Thank you Commissioner Hespe and staff.
12-1-16 Task Force Report on Special Education Presented to Governor, Legislature
NJ SPOTLIGHT - TASK FORCE’S REPORT ON SPECIAL-EDUCATION REFORMS CALLS FOR CHANGES '...Recommendations include return to state aid based on individual students’ needs, not ‘census-based’ method. Maybe the most significant recommendation made by the 17-member panel of educators, special-needs advocates and others is that lawmakers significantly rewrite the state’s funding law to better distribute special-education aid to school districts.The 28-page report says the state’s current method of funding special education – based on a statewide average count of students, a so-called “census-based” method – is ineffective and does little to lower special-needs classification rates in the state, one of the aims of the task force’s study...

GSCS Note: GSCS was a member of the Task Force and a participant in the school funding work group.

11-25-15 Education in the News
NJ SPOTLIGHT - FOR HOPEFUL SENIORS, PARCC SCORES COULD COMPLICATE GRADUATION PLANS…A low score on PARCC exams won’t cost students their diplomas, but it will shunt them into a world of options and alternative test

NJ Spotlight - PUTTING THE GARDEN STATE'S PRE-K EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN PERSPECTIVE…New Jersey has a multiplicity of educational offerings for preschoolers; some deliver top quality, others are mediocre at bests

NJ Spotlight -NEW EDUCATION REFORM GROUP READY TO GO PUBLIC, TARGETS PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT…Funding comes from charter school organization, while supporters include U.S. senator and two prominent state senators

11-20-15 PARRC Results for Schools, Parents to be Released...Congress in the Thick of Redoing NCLB Law
Star Ledger - Ready or not, PARCC scores are coming for N.J. students 'Parents' long wait to learn how their children scored on New Jersey's state math and English are exams is almost over...'

NJ Spotlight - NEW LAW BEING HASHED OUT BY D.C. LAWMAKERS MAY HAVE BIG IMPACT ON NJ SCHOOLS…Replacement for No Child Left Behind Act would give states more leeway in determining standards and developing own testing...Whether a new law would bring changes to the PARCC testing in New Jersey is, of course, yet to be determined, but several states have already moved toward creating hybrid testing that includes some PARCC content but also incorporates more customized approaches.

11-17-15 Lameduck Education Committees Moving Bills
NJ SPOTLIGHT - LAWMAKERS TIE UP LEGISLATIVE LOOSE ENDS PERTAINING TO STATE’S SCHOOLS…Committees address array of education matters ranging from bolstering special-education services to addressing chronic absenteeism

GSCS Note: Two bills establish Task Forces to report on pro-anc-cons of full day kindergarten for all districts, as well as in--depth look at value of regionalizing school districts. GSCS is specified to participate in both groups.

The Record - Advanced Placement courses surge, but so does debate about worth and stress

11-13-15 Education in the News
NJ SPOTLIGHT - IT'S NOT 'ONE CAMDEN' AS ENROLLMENT PLAN REFLECTS LESSONS LEARNED…Conflict experienced in Newark hasn’t surfaced so far as officials stress community involvement in universal enrollment system ‘Few publicly mentioned Newark on Tuesday at Camden’s launch, but it was clear that Camden officials sought to not make the same mistakes. “We really tried to work with the community on the front end,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd, when asked specifically what Camden did differently. “There were definitely detractors, but we continued to invite them in and give them the information that they could research on their own,” she said. “We began to build a community support system that you are now seeing.”…’

Star Ledger – Is N.J. one of the smartest states? Report ranks top to bottom ‘According to a new analysis by The Washington Post, Garden Staters stack up pretty well when compared to other Americans, ranking ninth in the nation in terms of brain power…’

NJ Spotlight - NJ’s Decision To Stick With PARRC Puts It Among Small Minority Of States - According to a new report, only seven states are using PARCC to evaluate students in 2015-2016, as more states go their own way

11-9-15 Education in the News
NJ SPOTLIGHT OP-ED: TAKING STOCK OF CAMDEN’S NEW ‘RENAISSANCE SCHOOLS,’ ONE YEAR LATER…Some of the city’s poorest, most challenging students have made sizable strides in math and language arts in a single school year
11-6-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - PARCC Exam Results For NJ Magnify Achievement Gaps Linked To Income, Race...Hispanic and black students, low-income children trail significantly compared to higher-income and white and Asian students

Star Ledger - N.J. to require more classroom time for student teachers...New state rules will require aspiring New Jersey teachers to spend more time in the classroom, including exposure to a special education setting, before they can earn their certification

NJ Spotlight - Union -- And its Money -- Helped Shape Outcome of Assembly Races...NJEA poured millions into Democratic candidates' campaigns, didn’t back even one Republican

11-4-15 NJ Assembly Election Results and Education Issues - in the News
NJ Spotlight - Dems Pick Up Four Assembly Seats, Including One Down-To-The-Wire Win...Democrats inch closer to veto-proof majority, call victories mandate on Christie and his policies

Star Ledger Opinion – PARRC Scores Will Help N.J. Better Prep Its Future Workforce

NJ Spotlight - Why Voices Of Newark Teens Need To Be Heard Comes Through Loud And Clear…Young participants in NJ Spotlight On Cities forum offer valuable glimpse inside the city’s schools

11-2-15 Property Taxes Remain a Forefront Issue
NJ Spotlight - WHY NEW JERSEY’S NOTORIOUSLY STEEP PROPERTY TAXES AREN’T GOING DOWN ANYTIME SOON '...Property taxes have been on the rise in New Jersey for years, through Democratic and Republican administrations, with state politicians trying everything from rebate checks to spending caps to fix the situation. Yet the average New Jersey property-tax bill went up again last year and is now at an all-time high of $8,161...' Next week, voters statewide will get a chance to fight back, with all 80 state Assembly seats on the ballot. Yet there’s little reason right now to expect anything will change when it comes to property taxes...'
11-2-15 PARRC Relelases Test Questions - Information Benefits Teacher Instruction and Student Learning
Star Ledger - Release of PARCC questions sheds light on N.J. state tests 'But the released questions do provide more insight into the way PARCC questions were structured...said Rose Acerra, president-elect of the New Jersey PTA.Parents should review the questions so they know exactly what their children saw on the test, Acerra said. "It might not be as bad as you think it is," she said...The detailed information about the tests promises to be "exceptionally beneficial" to teaching and learning in New Jersey, said Lawrence Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association..."We can really get down to the nitty gritty in terms of where are their areas of strength and where are their areas of weakness," Wright [executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association] said.

NJ Spotlight - Release Of PARRC Questions, Student Responses Sheds Light On New Exams…Never-before-available material should prove useful to NJ teachers, curriculum planners 'Even before the New Jersey schools learn their individual results on the new PARCC exams, the public now has a chance to see a good portion of the tests that are have caused such a stir...The specific results for each school are slated to be provided to the districts -- and released to the public -- in mid-November. Students will receive their individual and confidential results by mail or through their schools...But releasing the questions for each test – or at least a portion of them – was one of the conditions of the state’s commitment to join the PARCC consortium -- now consisting of 11 states and the District of Columbia. Following are links to some of the test items that were released, along with the corresponding scoring keys...'

10-30-15 GSCS-NJSBA Legislative Panel at Fall Workshop - School Funding Getting Attention
GSCS thanks Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Linda Greenstein, Senator Sam Thompson, Senator Jim Whelan, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli for their strong showing before a near 200 packed audience of school officials at the Atlantic City Convention Center Wednesday afternoon

Press of Atlantic City - Educators, legislators work to un-freeze school funding ‘…Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, said she believes legislators do want to make changes this year, but she wonders whether after so long, the state might need a new funding formula. The last formula was approved in January 2008… [Senate President] Sweeney said it is also time to review the status of the 31 Abbott urban districts, since some have improved, and some are spending above adequacy. Other speakers spoke about the impact of the 2 percent cap on costs they often can’t control, including special education and tuition… Tax abatements also were criticized for taking money away from school districts…’

NJ Spotlight - Stagnant State Funding Remains Overriding Concern for New Jersey Schools…Education commissioner calls for dialogue between state and districts, but offers scant hope for increased aid ‘…Hespe acknowledged that state aid has been pretty much stuck at level funding since 2011, following a steep cut in state aid, and not much will change going into 2016.“The impact of a frozen formula is pretty severe,” Hespe said. “And devoting enough dollars to unfreeze the formula is probably not going to be a possibility.” … ‘Michael Vrancik, the chief lobbyist for the state school boards association, said …that a time of reckoning is clearly on the horizon. “I think everyone is aware of the fact that the method of funding needs to be examined,” Vrancik said in an interview. “There is the potential for big swings for individual districts, but we need to know who they are. It is high time to move to the next level and have some real public discussions.”

GSCS-NJSBA Legislative Panel Wenesday Oct. 28th at Fall Workshop
Join with GSCS and NJSBA for our first joint Legislative Panel at the NJSBA Fall Workshop in Atlantic City, 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 417. The program already is filling up with Trenton legislative leaders...Hear directly what Trenton may have in store for education in 2015-2016 and more...Add this important event to your A.C. schedule! (updated 10-23-15)...
10-26-15 Opinion re Pension Commission Cash Balance Plan v. 401k
Star Ledger - Pension Commission's cash balance plan offers more value for public employees than 401(k)    Opinion, By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist '...Cash balance plans have increasingly replaced traditional pensions in the private sector for many of the same reasons that make a cash balance plan attractive in the public sector, particularly where financial volatility is a major concern but shifting all risks to employees is unacceptable. The centerpiece is predictability – a critical element for employees, employers and the public at large.'
10-26-14 Education Issues in the New
Star Ledger Editorial - Take-home lessons from the PARCC    Editorial 'New Jersey's poor performance on the PARCC test should come as a wake up call. Less than half the kids in our state are on the college track, it seems. Most don't even know enough to move to the next grade level...Would New Jersey somehow be better off not knowing these facts? To ask that question is to answer it. The notion is absurd...The PARCC test, unlike earlier standardized tests, is designed to help teachers and principals identify exactly where kids are learning, and where they are struggling. That can help educators tailor their lessons to be more effective...And remember: Those who boycott the tests are affecting more than their own children...But the rest of the world embraces national tests like this. We want our kids to be able to compete... We need real benchmarks. The opt-out crowd knee-caps all of this. It's a protest that especially hurts poor kids, where much of the failure is occurring. We hope that next time, parents will think of them.

NJ Spotlight - OBAMA’S CALL FOR LESS TESTING MAY NOT CHANGE MUCH IN NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS...'President’s statement offers suggestions, not mandates – and state’s new PARCC tests already take less time than proposed'

Star Ledger - PARCC scores will help N.J. close 'honesty gap' in education

   Opinion '...For the first time, state assessment score reports provide performance data on specific skill sets so we can see where our students are excelling or where they need additional support. Parents will be able to understand their child's strengths and weaknesses and can work to provide additional support at home. Parents can also work with their children's teachers to develop a plan to address areas in need of improvement...we must hold our students to the highest standards and be honest and accurate about how they are doing...we can begin to close the honesty gap and give students, parents and teachers the tools they need to prepare students so there are no surprises when they reach college or work...'
10-23-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Real Test: Determining PARRC Proficiency Cut-Offs For High School Graduates…Based on just-released results, many 12th-graders face more complicated route to earning diplomas
PARRC scores are being released this fall, beginning with statewide information in later October. District data will follow subsequent to that initial release, and student information will conclude the cycle. Click here on More to see detailed, helpful information on the hows, whats and whys of PARRC...
10-21-15 Statewide Data re PARRC Scores Released
Press of Atlantic City - PARRC Tests Show Low Passing Rate … College presidents and business representatives said higher standards are needed.Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman said that for the first time, teachers, students, higher education and business are aligned toward the same goals. “Assessment is important to improve the teaching and learning process,” he said. “It is not to be punitive or political in any way. It is to improve the teaching process.” He said Stockton has never used the old state test for placement because it was not good enough. He hopes PARCC can eliminate the need for placement and other testing in the future.…Education representatives say the new results will provide more individualized data to help individual students. Lianne Markus, a teacher in Hope Township, said the results will allow parents, students and teachers to work together toward goals.

“Parents always want to know how their children are doing,” said Rose Acerra, president-elect of the New Jersey PTA. “This will show them.”…

‘Hespe said the state has been assessing students since 1980, and the one singular purpose is to guide efforts to continually improve the education system.“That is our only intent.” he said...'

NJ Spotlight - First Release of PARRC Scores Shows Fewer Students Make The Grade…State education officials caution that controversial new test’s results can’t be compared with previous standardized exam results...“I’m able to take specific piece of information where I can draw back children who need to work on a specific area and can really hone in those skills,” said Lianne Markus, a Hope Township teacher who was part of the representation. Indeed, it was an impressive show of support for the controversial new testing, with virtually all of the state’s major education groups represented yesterday, as well as all the major higher education sectors…

‘Dana Egreczky has been a veteran of these debates as a senior official at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce…said she sees this chapter as more hopeful given what she termed the high quality of the latest test. But she said the politics hasn’t much changed, and the state will have a process to work through.“Any change process is going to result in those outcomes, even in a multi-million dollar business, any time there are massive changes, there will be a cliff,” she said.“It is part of the cycle of change, and we have to deal with it and get past it,” she said. “Politics always matters, but we need to forge through that.”

Star Ledger - What do N.J.'s PARCC results mean? 5 lessons learned… After months of controversy over the new PARCC exams, New Jersey got its first glimpse Tuesday of how public school students performed on the tests…’

The Record - Most N.J. students don't meet grade-level expectations on PARCC tests ‘…Responding to concerns, PARCC has said that it would shorten the tests for the current school year… officials urged caution in looking at scores because the tests, they said, are based on new and tougher standards compared with those of previous years…’

10-20-15 PAARC Statewide Results To Be Announced Today
10-20-15 Education in the News
10-15-15 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - What's Arne Duncan's Legacy on Ed-Tech?

Star Ledger – Violence in N.J. schools: 5 facts we learned from new report

Star Ledger - Charter school network announces plans to expand in Newark 'The KIPP charter school network is planning to open five new schools in Newark in the years to come – a decision that is likely to deepen an already sizeable divide in city education circles...'


10-14-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Halting charter growth isn't the answer    Editorial 'The debate over charter schools may be ready to explode again in Newark. The mayor's chief education advisor has called for a halt to all charter growth, the union is demonstrating next week, and credible rumors are spreading that KIPP – one of the top performing charter chains – is about to anchor a new expansion...Cover your ears, because this is going to be all about politics, when it should be about what's best for Newark kids...'

NJ Spotlight - NJ Education Department Gears Up For Release Of Parcc Test Scores…Variety of resources and information being made available to local educators, as well as parents and the public 'In the wake of all the debate over the online PARCC testing tied to the controversial Common Core standards, the Christie administration is going all out to prepare and promote the rollout of the latest test results later this fall...“We are looking forward to sharing PARCC results in the coming weeks and remain committed to ensuring that New Jersey educators are prepared to use assessment data as one tool to measure and ensure academic progress, inform instruction, and improve student learning,” said Bari Erlichson, the assistant education commissioner heading the effort, in a memo to districts...'

Education Week - 5 Questions Policymakers Need to Ask About Common-Core Test Results

NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: An Open Letter To Chris Cerf, Newark’s New Superintendent Of Schools… ‘Luck’ Has No Place In The Vocabulary Of Education Reform -- Not In Newark, Not In Chicago, Not In Any Public School In The Country

NJ Left Behind - Instead of Camden & Newark Charter School Cacophony, Let's Listen to Parent Voices

10-8-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Board Hears Update on Status of Two State-Run School Districts…Jersey City gets more local control while Newark’s new superintendent is upbeat but outlines challenges ahead

Star Ledger - Want to see a PARCC test? Exam questions will be released later this month

NJ Spotlight - Profile: NJ’s Teacher of Year Represents Next Generation of Educators…Salem County’s Chelsea Collins, youngest winner in recent memory, cited for enthusiasm for teaching, expertise in literacy

10-6-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - When will PARCC scores come out in N.J.? ‘…the state says it is nearly ready to announce the results…’

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: Honoring Teacher Of The Year, Reviewing Oversight Of Two Districts…Annual award at center stage, but State Board will also hear updates on Newark and Jersey City local control, release of PARCC scores

Star Ledger - Two N.J. universities rank among the top 100 in the world, new rating says

10-5-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Camden Commitment Will Soon Face Big Test with Revamped Enrollment Rules…School chief’s reform plan will include ‘universal’ system similar to one that met dissent in Newark

NJ Spotlight - Administration Revises and Updates Rules for Charter School Renewal…Three-tiered system part of the changes, as well as fewer reviews for top-performing charters

9-30-15 Common Core Conversation, Blue Ribbon Schools Announced
NJ Spotlight - Common Core ‘Listening Tour’ Hears From Just a Handful of Witnesses…Few turn out for sessions scheduled after Gov. Christie backed off from previous support of controversial education standards‘…The “listening tour” is meant to be the main chance for the public to give its input as a task force appointed by Christie reviews the state of the academic standards tied to the controversial PARCC exams…’

Excerpt from GSCS Testimony re Common Core 9-30-15:'...Over the past several years, New Jersey districts have spent enormous time and energy aligning curricula to the CCS. As the result of this intense study and hands-on involvement by educators, the GSCS trustees come to the conclusion that there is much that is good in the CCS and that the current standards examination should focus on keeping those many strong elements intact. [GSCS’] greatest concern is not the Common Core Standards, but the real problem of using standardized tests aligned with the CCS to assess the skills and problem solving capabilities of students who have not had time to receive an adequate educational foundation using curricula aligned with the CCS...'

Star Ledger - Which N.J. schools were named National Blue Ribbon schools? ‘Fifteen New Jersey schools have been recognized by the federal government as National Blue Ribbon Schools, a designation that celebrates excellence in academics or progress in closing the achievement gap among groups of students…’

9-28-15 At Issue - Charter Schools Do Not Receive Funding for School Facilities
Star Ledger - Are N.J charter schools saving more money than they need? "...The excess charter fund balance is available to provide desperately needed teachers, staff and programs for students in district schools," Sciarra said. "Since charters are public schools, they cannot be allowed to carry unlimited, excess surplus they don't need while the education of students who choose to attend district schools suffers from deep budget cuts."

The New Jersey Charter Schools Association called the Education Law Center report a "misguided assault on charter school viability." Unlike school districts, charter schools do not receive money directly from property taxes or from the state. Instead, when a student leaves his or her home district for a charter school, the school receives a portion of the district's per-pupil expenses. Charter schools need to build up larger fund balances to pay for facilities, the NJCSA said. "The only way for a charter school to purchase or renovate a building is to accumulate a fund balance from their operating funds," the NJSCA said in a statement. The fund balance must be large enough to give a school the opportunity for additional financing, including loans, the NJCSA said...'

9-23-15 Camden Superintendent Op-Ed
9-23-15 Sayreville Superintendent Discloses
NJ Spotlight - Sayreville Schools Chief Who Canceled Grid Season Speaks Out on Controversy…During conference on hazing, Richard Labbe delivers first extensive public recounting of his decisions -- and the fallout...“I have gotten attention for what I did, but I can tell to the people in this room that you would have done the same thing … The actions we took, we were not heroic … What was heroic was that 14 year-old-child who approached their Mom and Dad and told them what happened. That was the hero.”
9-22-15 Education In the News - Early Childhood Expansion...Teacher Leader Legislation Moving
NJ Spotlight - Kindergarten Kids’ Drawings, Numbers Graphically Show Why Pre-K is Key…Veteran kindergarten teacher wows Senate hearing by showing difference in work between those who did -- and didn't -- attend preschool

Star Ledger - Should N.J. expand its public preschool program?

NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Adds a New Tier for State’s Educators: ‘Teacher Leader’…Criteria for designation yet to be determined but move earns praise as big step forward for NJ education

NJ Spotlight - State Senate Committee Turns Its Attention to ‘Universal’ Preschool…State-required pre-K programs currently serve 50,000 low-income children

GSCS Testimony '...GSCS believes that early childhood education, from the earliest possible level as needed, is of great value to the well-being and lifelong opportunity for success of the whole child. Education, health and nutritional issues, among others, clearly set the table for serious and focused discussion.

Where there is particular need and lack of affordability early education programs should be in line to look forward to additional supports. Because needs and support options do differ throughout the state, a one-size fits all approach is not a viable option, e.g., • Complexity of student needs in overall education foundation programs, such as special education • Blended funding streams from other agencies, such as health, children and families, human services require review and recommendation. • In New Jersey Full day Kindergarten still is not in place in approximately 1 out of 5 school districts…this ‘hole’ in the process needs to be addressed, including how to fund facilities and teachers needed to complete that important educational loop...'

9-18-15 Camden KIPP Renaissance School Opening - in the News
NJ Spotlight – New ‘Renaissance School’ Hailed as Big Step Forward for Camden Kids…First facility built under Urban Hope Act of 2012 may be precursor of a whole different school system for Camden 'There’s little doubt that demand for the new schools is there, officials said, with 360 students already on KIPP Cooper’s waiting list. The school, which operated last year in temporary space, is this year serving a total of 700 students “I want to point out, our kids rocked, they absolutely did,” said Drew Martin, executive director of KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy, to loud applause.“It wasn’t just the kids, but they had incredible parents who showed them the way, they have incredible teachers who show up at 6 o’clock every morning,” Martin said. “It is an incredible amount of work to get our kids to where they are, and you have to recognize that...” '

The Record - New type of public school becomes reality in Camden — 'A new kind of school has moved from concept to reality in New Jersey's poorest city despite objections from a teachers union and other activists. Renaissance Schools are only in Camden so far and could become the city's most common type of school...'

9-16-15 Your Opportunity To Directly Participate in Common Core Direction
NJPTA Call To Action:NJ Students Need You! Participate in New Jersey's Academic Standards Review Online Public Survey Dear NJPTA Community,...I invite you to please take a few minutes to participate in this Online Survey and help us keep our state academic standards high or make them even better. You need not be an education expert. Your input is valuable...for a one-page simple guide from our friends at We Raise New Jersey - Click below on More - to help you navigate the Online Survey...Thank you, Debbie Tyrell NJPTA President

Star Ledger - How to tell N.J. what you think about Common Core New Jersey is seeking public comment on its education standards for math and English. The state Department of Education has created an online survey and scheduled three listening tours for New Jersey residents...Individuals interested in speaking must register online...While the survey is an opportunity to provide specific feedback about the standards, the listening tour offers a chance for parents to give more general thoughts..."It's designed for citizens to share whatever their thoughts are when it comes to these standards..."

9-15-15 Education in the News - Common Core...NJ College Tuition Costs
NJ Spotlight - Common Core Review Committee Rolls Up Sleeves, Gets To Work On Revisions…Most members work in public education but panel also includes parents and representatives of business community

Star Ledger - How much does college cost in N.J.? 4-year schools raise tuition

9-14-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - The List: Watching the Clock -- Which NJ Schools Have the Longest Days?...When it comes to hours and minutes spent in school, all Garden State schools are not created equal

Star Ledger - What colleges don't tell you about financing an education...Our experts share college secrets with Inside Jersey...

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Moving Beyond Good versus Evil in Newark School-Reform Debate…Ras Baraka hasn’t just cooled the campaign rhetoric, he’s proven that he knows the value of eclectic and diversified approaches to a troubled school system

9-10-15 Student Testing Guidances from DOE...Chronic Absenteeism an Issue for Schools
NJ Spotlight – New Testing Policies Slowly Take Shape in Slew of Education Department Memos…Disgruntled families take department to court, claiming it did not follow proper procedure for setting and vetting policy

Press of Atlantic City - Report reveals chronic absenteeism in local schools… At least 125,000 children in New Jersey missed 18 or more days of school in 2013-14 according to a report issued today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Click here o More for full articles and DOE memos released on testing guidance...

9-9-15 Education in the News - Newark, Zuckerberg, and Reform
Star Ledger - Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book on Newark School Reform 'Five years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he would give Newark schools $100 million, on the condition that others matched it, which they did.Newark Mayor Cory Booker inspired the donation, raised much of the matching money, and worked with Gov. Chris Christie to launch what all sides hoped would be a model reform for cities across the country.So began a pitched political battle that ended with the resignation of Superintendent Cami Anderson, the election of Mayor Ras Baraka, and Christie's agreement to return control of the schools to local voters.A central tension in this period was the rapid expansion of charter schools in Newark, which now educate nearly 1 in 3 city children...'

Education Week - $100 Million, Mark Zuckerberg, and a Controversial Education Experiment Editor's note: This is an excerpt from The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?, Dale Russakoff's just-published book that details the backstory of how two public figures—a mayor and a governor—attracted an infusion of private money in an attempt to transform a flagging school district. One of the most closely watched philanthropic gifts to public education, the $100 million commitment to Newark, N.J.'s public schools by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ultimately fell short of its ambitious goal. But the book sheds light...'

9-2-15 Education Issues in the News
The Record - As school returns, state testing issue hasn't faded...Will the state change standards that outline what kids should learn in each grade after a review ordered by the governor?...Will New Jersey officials agree on a way to pay for the public employees’ pension fund, which has been underfunded for years?Will there be changes to the state tests that caused so much controversy last year?
New Jersey schools will grapple with these issues and more...

NJ Spotlight – Newark and Camden School Districts In Line to Receive Hefty Private Donations…Although exact dollar figures have not been named, state-run districts could see private largesse running to ‘six figures’

Star Ledger - How Newark schools will look with a more democratic concept of local control

9-1-15 State Board Meeting, Assessments Review, Testing
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: Start of New School Year Brings Familiar Topics…Newark schools and review of state standards back before state board, as well as more routine matters

Brattleboro [Vt.] Reformer - Another view: Taking the test...VSAC's own research has shown repeatedly that students who are more academically prepared are much more likely to go on to for more education — regardless of family income or parents' educational levels. We have raised our expectations to ensure that all students develop the knowledge and problem-solving skills they need to succeed. These scores will likely show us that we must work to achieve these higher standards. The real test will be how we use what we learn.

Brattleboro [Vt.] Reformer - State and local education officials who looked at the results for the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced Assessment say there were lessons learned beyond only how Vermont students did on the tests...The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a harder test than the New England Common Assessment Program, and the 2014-15 results generally show fewer Vermont students performing at or above proficiency compared to the NECAPs....Statewide only 40 percent of the eighth grade students who took the tests were proficient or above in math while 54 percent were proficient or above in English language arts."These results give us a means to evaluate the size and direction of our achievement gaps, as well as the mastery of individual students on specific content..."

8-31-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight- Too Soon for Legacy, Christie’s Education Record Continues to Shape Issues…Critics waste no time ‘welcoming’ Cerf to Newark, funding shortfalls persist in puzzling and plaguing policymakers and pols

The Atlantic - What Do Americans Really Think About Education Policy?...Two recent polls conflict in their findings on what adults think about standardized testing, the opt-out movement, and the Common Core.

8-25-15 Education and Pension Crisis - In the News
Star Ledger - N.J. stands still, it will be run over by cost of its current pension crisis   Opinion … Faced with the difficulties of benefits reform, some stakeholders' instincts have been to stand still and resist change. The state's current position, however, is untenable

Star Ledger - N.J. has 4 of America's 5 top high schools, Newsweek says

8-13-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. gets $500K to cover AP exams for low-income students '...The money is aimed at aiding the Obama administration's initiative to boost college and career readiness for historically underserved students...'

NJ Spotlight - Relative Calm Marks Year Two Of ‘One Newark,’ But Opposition Remains

8-12-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Bills Add ASL To Accepted Languages, Authorize Study Of Later-Start H.S. Classes… But Christie conditionally vetoes ‘recovery high schools’ for students with substance-abuse problems

The Record - New law directs New Jersey to study later school start times as benefit to students

8-10-15 Changing Location for Regional Acheivement Center to Camden School District
NJ Spotlight - State Shifts Regional Achievement Center Into Camden School District…NJ says the RACs, criticized by NJEA and other concerned parties, serve highest-need schools... “Because the purpose of [approved] flexibility is to support state reform efforts, we deferred to the state and how it sets up a system of differentiated recognition, accountability and support,” wrote the federal Department of Education. “Please note that [the department] will continue to monitor the NJDOE’s implementation of that system to help ensure the priority and focus schools in New Jersey receive appropriate interventions and supports.”
8-7-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. schools make teens wake up too early, CDC say ‘Early school start times are preventing adolescents from eating enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control… Schools across America, including those in New Jersey, are increasing teenagers' risk of health problems and poor academic performance by making them wake up too early, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’

NJ Spotlight - Charter Teachers Typically Follow Traditional Routes to Certification…New staff at charters thus far follow tried-and-true path to fulfilling requirements, administration reports

8-6-Education in the News
The Record - N.J. freezes impact of student testing on teachers; exams still count as 10 percent of evaluations

Star Ledger - Judge says schools can't sue families of alleged bullies)

NJ Spotlight - New Superintendent Promises ‘Trust’ and ‘Healing,’ But Offers Few Specifics…Cerf pledges steps toward local control while vague on ‘One Newark’ and dealing with looming budget gap

8-2-15 Flat funding, rising taxesforce Jersey schools To Cut
Press of Atlantic City - Flat funding, rising taxes force South Jersey schools to cut “We really need to hit the reset button now,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts. “If we even tried to run the state aid formula now, there would be big winners and losers just based on enrollment shifts…We have to start having the discussion of how to get out of this ever-deepening hole.”
7-31-15 Extraordinary Aid to Offset Special-Needs Costs Continues to Dwindle
NJ Spotlight - ‘Extraordinary Aid’ to Offset Special-Needs Costs Continues to Dwindle…While amount in state budget remains relatively stable, funds cover smaller percentage of school district expenses ‘“It was named extraordinary aid for a reason, to help schools cover the extraordinary costs, and the purpose was to stabilize budgets and see students’ needs fulfilled,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group representing suburban schools. “It adds balance to the unpredictability for schools and serves as an essential foundation,” she said. “So there is reason to be concerned about the share diminishing year after year and the low point it has reached.”
7-27-15 Standards Review Committe Applications Due Soon, PARRC Opt Out - Senate Resolution
7-20 and 21-2015 Pensions Discussion - or not - in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. Teachers Union Blasts ‘Dishonest’ Christie, Vows No Negotiation On Pension..."We have no intention of negotiating anything with this governor," said Wendell Steinauer, president of the NJEA... "The simple fact is this: the average NJEA member contributes $186,000 to their pension and health benefit costs over 30 years and takes out $2.5 million in benefits," wrote Sizemore[Governor's Deputy Press Secretary]."The math does not work and all the name calling in the world by NJEA leadership won't change that fact." The state largest teacher's union may not be willing to talk, but, she insisted, "We're ready and waiting."

NJ Spotlight - In Wake of Ruling, Search for Funds for Pension Bailout Grows More Urgent…Major players have plans, strategies of their own, making consensus unlikely in short term '...In a statement provided to NJ Spotlight, Prieto said only that he and the union leaders “are exploring options and weighing alternatives” at this point...In addition to freezing the pension system, the commission Byrne sat on also recommended forcing employees at all levels of government to accept less-generous health coverage and using the savings to help pay down the pension system’s heavy debt. Local school districts would also pick up the cost of teacher retirements... But others, including Sweeney, have raised concerns that pushing off full payment only leaves more of the burden on future generations...'

7-17-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - New communication school opens under Seton Hall umbrella...Seton Hall officials announced Thursday that they have added a college to the school – one that they say will serve students interested in embracing the digital world. The College of Communication and the Arts is already in place and accepting applicants in seven undergraduate and four graduate majors, the school said. The addition brings the total number of schools and colleges under the university's umbrella to nine.

NJ Spotlight - Settling Into New Job, Cerf Must Come to Terms with Opposition to ‘One Newark’…The state is saying the controversial enrollment program remains in place for now, but critics are already calling for its elimination

7-14-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Commissioner Shuffles Duties, Positions at State Department of Education…Changes by Hespe stem from shifts in administration’s priorities for last two years of Christie’s tenure...'Reflecting some internal shifts in priorities and personnel, the Christie administration has shuffled some positions in the state Department of Education, including a key new hire and a tweak in responsibilities.

Star Ledger - Which schools have the best teachers? N.J. to release evaluation data...Along with the school data, district-level data will also be published, according to the state. Overall principal performance ratings will be released for districts but not individual schools. The data is scheduled to be released on July 15, Shulman said.

7-13-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
Trenton Times – NJ’s Pension System - A bleak but avoidable future    Opinion '...The Commission can't reverse 20 years of malfeasance, but we were able to identify savings to be recycled solely for the benefit of public workers. We dealt with reality.If politicians don't do the same, accrued pension benefits will not be secure. Soon the funding gap will be too wide for any solution that preserves meaningful benefits for public employees...
This is all avoidable, but not without leadership and political courage. Over-simplification of this problem will do no favors...Let's not dither and let the hourglass run out - Thomas Byrne, the son of former Gov. Brendan Byrne, is a member of Gov. Chris Christie's Pension and Benefit Study Commission, a private investment manager and former chair of the state Democratic Party.

Education Week - Senate ESEA Debate: What to Expect This Week '...As the week progresses, keep an eye out for additional amendments from Democrats that would amp up accountability for disadvantaged students, including proposals that focus on identifying poorly performing schools. And Republicans are likely to offer a few more amendments aimed at increasing choice, including one from Scott that would allow students with disabilities to use funding from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to attend the school of their choice.'

GSCS Board of Trustees - Statement on Pension-Health Benefits Proposal
Garden State Coalition of Schools Comments: Pension Study Commission ‘Roadmap’

The Garden State Coalition of Schools has closely examined the report issues by the Pension Study Commission convened by Governor Christie. The following represents the GSCS’ comments on the report, the Roadmap to Resolution...

7-10-15 Education in the News
The Record - New Jersey task force releases school safety recommendations

NJ Spotlight - State Unveils Plan for Wide-Ranging Review of Common Core Standards…Six-month initiative to reshape academic guidelines will include four committees, focus groups, online survey and ‘listening tours’

7-8-15 In the News- State Board of Education Meets Today - Agenda...Charter Schools Op-Ed
NJ Spotlight - Unusual Mystery And Drama Mark Meeting Today Of State Board Of Education…Contrary to panel’s typical unanimity, outcome uncertain for vote on appointing Chris Cerf as Newark's new schools superintendent The State Board of Education is nothing if not predictable, its rulemaking process deliberate to a fault and its unanimous votes common.

Star Ledger - Newark superintendent, Common Core focus of N.J. Board of Education meeting

NJ Spotlight - OP-ED: CHARTER MORATORIUM BILL IS ENDORSEMENT OF NJEA'S DEATH GRIP ON PUBLIC SCHOOLS…Charter school students’ success is a direct threat to lucrative franchise NJEA holds on a public education system that has failed generations of NJ children

7-1-15 In the News
NJ Spotlight - Down in State, National Polls and Trailing Crowded Field, Christie Still Upbeat…Declares in announcement of presidential bid that nearly six years of dealing with tough issues in NJ have honed his leadership skills

NJ Spotlight - Vetoes Get Attention But Some Education Spending Avoids Budget Ax…More than $14M in new expenditures includes boost in funding for adult high schools, career programs and vo-tech schools

Star Ledger - Kean & Byrne: New Jersey will make its budget deadline -- but it won't be a good budget

6-26-15 Legislature Passes Controversial Budget, Governor To Red Line Veto Much of It Today
NJ Spotlight - Democratic Lawmakers Add Last-Minute Funding for Pet Education Projects…Nearly $40 million in spending tacked onto proposed state budget sent to Gov. Christie '...Some lobbyists said they wished the Legislature would take a broader view in its budget deliberations, saying the needs are widespread.“The reach of these changes are pretty limited,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, the suburban schools group. “As opposed to building more aid into things like special education, where the impact would be for all. It’s not that these special interests are bad. But by no means are they reaching a majority of kids.”'

The Record - N.J. Democrats send Christie $35.3 billion state budget

Star Ledger – N.J. Legislature sends Christie bill requiring quarterly state pension contributions

NJ Spotlight - Warns He’ll Be Watching ‘All the Spending’…Extensive line-item vetoes expected, but the real surprise may be what the Dems didn’t include: fully funded school aid and relief for depleted Transportation Trust Fund

GSCS FYI: State Budget FY 2015-16
This is the month when the State Budget is supposed to be balanced, and passed by the State Legislature via the Appropriations Act, by June 30.

At this point in the process word is that the Act will not be made public until sometime next week and that both houses of the legislature will vote on the bill - probably next Thursday, June 25 - as finalized by the Democratic Majority.

It is being widely reported that the Majority revisions will include tax increases, especially a Millionaire's Tax, to help offset the pension liability.

The Act then goes to the Governor's desk where he can line item veto as he chooses, but he cannot add any wording to the Act... The Majority may or may not attempt to override the Governor's potential vetoes. However, it is questionable that enough votes can be achieved to pass an override...Finally, the eventual Act will be adopted, but that may not be until early July this year...Stay Tuned.....

6-19-15 In the News - Bilingual Education at State Board...Charter Schools Op-Ed
NJ Spotlight - State Board Refines Rules, Updates Terminology for Bilingual Programs…One key change: Families of bilingual students will be told their kids need English-language-learner services within 30 days

Star Ledger - Better collaboration between public, charter schools won't come by shutting down charter growth

   Opinion,By Nicole Cole...president and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association.
6-18-15 Pension Study Released...Zuckerberg Newark Fund Winding Down
NJ Spotlight - New Report Raises Doubts About Cost of Shifting Teacher Pensions...Rutgers study questions Christie administration claim that having local school districts assume responsibility would be ‘cost-neutral’

NJ Spotlight - What's Left of Zuckerberg's Gift? $30 Million of Funds Given to City’s Schools…With a year to go, Foundation for Newark’s Future makes some smaller, still-critical, endowments “...The sunset is still five years, and we will officially close our doors in June, 2016,” she said. “At least that is the current thinking, but obviously that will be up to the board...”

6-17-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
Burlington County Times - school taxes rising in Burlco…They are increasing in all 39 school districts, in some cases substantially. ‘…Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which advocates on behalf of suburban school districts, said the tax increases are inevitable, given the rising costs of labor contracts, energy, special education, health care and other expenses. Meanwhile, school aid from the state has remained close to flat for nearly three years…"It's no coincidence," Strickland said Friday. "The lid is getting tighter and tighter, and steam is coming out the edges. That's why districts are having to go to their banked-cap money. They've got no other options.”'

Star Ledger - Teacher pension protest backed by N.J. education union

The Jersey Journal - Albright: Confirming Christie's legal right to cut (pension contribution from) budget

6-16-15 State Budget Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State’s Tax Revenue Still Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels by 10 Percent…New data from Pew Charitable Trust helps plot NJ’s slow recovery, fuels arguments about raising some taxes or slicing business taxes further
6-16-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
The Record - New Jersey's urban school districts bear brunt of layoffs, program cuts

Star Ledger -SAT error: Students, parents call for refund for flawed June 6 test

Star Ledger - PARCC opt-out probe angers Paterson school board members, report says

NJ Spotlight -Two of New Jersey’s Top Public School District Superintendents Talk Shop…Regional superintendents of the year open up about Common Core, PARCC, teacher evaluations, and removing ineffective staff

NJ Spotlight - As Christie Suggests Ways to Improve Colleges, Results Are Mixed Back Home…Governor’s measures have made state’s system more efficient but aid to poorer students, funding for higher education have declined

6-10,11,12-15 Education & Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Amid Shouts and Protests, Legislators Quietly Work Out Their Budget Plans…NJEA and teachers make a loud showing in Trenton, demanding that state fully fund their pensions and benefits -- despite Supreme Court ruling letting Christie off hook

The Record - Court’s ruling on N.J. pension funding sets up budget battle

NJ Spotlight - Governor, Democrats Face Complex Challenges in Wake of Christie's Court Victory…Sweeney says his party can't negotiate budget with Christie, unions ponder constitutional amendment to force full pension payments

The Record on Pension funding – Editorial

Star Ledger - On pensions, reject Washington-style gridlock - Editorial

NJ Spotlight - Bill Calls for Three-Year Freeze on Charter-School Approvals, Expansions…Sponsors acknowledge little immediate chance of passage, but legislation still stirs up plenty of protest

Star Ledger - A bill that holds charter kids hostage


6-9-15 Court Pension Decision Released This Morning
Star Ledger - N.J. Supreme Court sides with Christie in billion dollar pension dispute... 'The court's ruling caps an intense fight for pension funding and deals a major blow to the state's labor unions, who challenged Christie's spending cuts... Judges split 5-2 reversing the lower court's ruling that ordered Christie to work with the Legislature to comply with the law. "That the State must get its financial house in order is plain. The need is compelling in respect of the State's ability to honor its compensation commitment to retired employees," the court said. "But this court cannot resolve that need in place of the political branches. They will have to deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey's pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution..." '
6-9-15 More Advance Articles on Pension Ruling Announcement Today
6-8-15 Pension Decision To Be Released Tomorrow - Tuesday June 9 2015
Star Ledger,on Monday June 08, 2015 at 1:08 PM, updated June 08, 2015 at 1:52 PM - Supreme Court ruling in N.J. pension legal fight coming Tuesday ‘…The decision will have far-reaching implications for hundreds of thousands of workers and the current budget — which expires in three weeks — and future budgets…’
6-4-15 Common Core To Remain in Place While Extensive, Community Engaged Holistic Study Occurs
NJ Spotlight - Hespe Justifies Review of Common Core, Suggests Changes May Not Be Drastic…Tells state board that time has come to look at effectiveness of controversial standards, look for ways to improve on them ‘…Afterward, he said that while the process could be completed within the year, the Common Core remains the standards of record for now -- and certainly through the next school year – and that the end product may not be terribly different than what’s now in place…“I believe in the theory behind the Common Core,” he [Mark Biedron, State Board of Education President] said. “I don’t believe in throwing out the whole Common Core and starting over. That won’t happen.” ’

The Record - N.J. education chief to unveil plans for review of academic standards ‘…Now is a good time, he said, to see how schools have adapted to the Common Core and what can be improved or updated. “We’re five years into the process and at this time we have a good vantage point to make certain we are where we want to be,” said Hespe… Hespe said he wants to ensure that standards were being taught across all subjects. He wants to see whether there are curriculum gaps in so-called STEM fields, named for science, technology, engineering and math. He also wants the review to look at the “bigger picture” of whether struggling students are getting help they need and whether students are leaving with the skills they to complete college…’

Star Ledger – Common Core Review Will Be “Highly Inclusive,” Says Education Chief ‘…For now, Hespe said, schools should continue to use the standards while the state completes its highly deliberative review…’

6-3-15 State Borad of Educattion Meeting Today...A.C. Tenure System Complicates Layoffs
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: Common Core, Teacher Evaluations Take Center Stage…State Board of Education will take up hot-button topics at monthly meeting, along with more procedural items

Press of Atlantic City - Atlantic City schools' weird, twisted tenure system at heart of layoffs

6-2-15 Teacher Evaluations, Common Core
The Record – Most New Jersey teachers rated 'effective' under new system

NJ Spotlight - Overwhelming 97% of State's Teachers Rated 'Effective' in New Evaluations…NJEA remains cautious about implementation of AchieveNJ but calls results ‘exceptional’

Star Ledger - More N.J. teachers get poor reviews in new rating system

NJ Spotlight - Explainer: Common Core State Standards -- What Is Christie Walking Away From?...Much of the backlash from parents and teachers has been over the PARCC assessments linked to the academic guideposts

5-31-15 and 6-1-15 Common Core Controversy
NJ Spotlight - Real Test After Christie’s Call To Drop Common Core: What Happens Next…Questions arise over who will devise new standards, how long it will take – and even whether it will really happen…Now what? ‘…But in other states that embarked on reviews like the one called for by Christie, the end result has mostly been standards similar to the Common Core – just rebranded as state-developed. “My guess is that is what will happen in New Jersey,” said Patrick McGuinn, a politics professor at Drew University who closely follows federal education policy. “Christie will appoint a high-profile commission to review the standards and make recommendations, and it will take long enough so that the politics around Common Core will have calmed down and/or Christie is out of the presidential race or out of the governor’s seat,” he said.’

Star Ledger -Christie's flip on Common Core, and the growing character issue - Moran ‘…"In public education, unfortunately, there are often sharp twists and turns," said Freehold Superintendent Chuck Sampson, president of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "Folks do initiative X, and some other power comes down and says, 'No, let's do it another way.' "That's where teachers, educators and parents get jaded."…’

New York Times-The Education Assassins - Bruni

The Record - Dropping Common Core may alter little in N.J. ‘Governor Christie’s declaration that he will drop Common Core education standards to create ones that are more suited to New Jersey left open the possibility of change. But if other states are a predictor, that change may not be so sweeping…’

5-29-15 Governor Christie Announces Review and Recommendations in Store for Common Core
Wall Street Journal - N.J. Gov. Chris Christie Orders Review of Common Core…Potential presidential candidate says academic standards possibly need a revamp 'New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the Common Core academic standards weren’t working and asked his education chief to tap a group of parents and teachers to review the program and possibly recommend new guidelines...'

NJ Spotlight - Christie Stirs Things Up With Call to Drop Common Core But Keep PARCC…Change in stance, clearly aimed at national GOP, greeted with strong reaction in governor’s home state ...'Christie’s declaration yesterday that the Common Core State Standards are “not working,” and that New Jersey can do better on its own, may prove to be good politics when it comes to appealing to the Republican base in other states. But it certainly left his home state’s public schools, already in flux...more uncertain..especially considering that Christie went on to say immediately that New Jersey will stick with the PARCC testing aligned with the standards...Christie announced [this] in an elaborate invitation-only policy speech at Burlington County College...'

5-28-15 Hespe Talks With GSCS Members About Current Education Issues at GSCS 24th Annual Meeting
NJ Spotlight - While Christie May Back Away From Common Core, Hespe Stands By PARCC Testing…Governor to address ‘academic standards’ in speech today; education chief sounds conciliatory note but still supports

'...New Jersey’s participation in the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests aligned to them is taking center stage this week.Gov. Chris Christie is expected to call for more state-based standards. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl over how the state plans to proceed with the PARCC tests into the future...

“So please, let’s keep that straight: I am not going to penalize anybody if not meeting the participation part. As long as we work together, I see this as a very good process moving forward.”Hespe gave no indication that the state was abandoning the PARCC test, saying that recent changes announced by the nine-state consortium to shorten the test would lead to overall improvements next year. “In September 2016, it will lead to a much easier administration,” he said. “You should be proud of what you did,” Hespe told the superintendents and school board members in the room. “Not many would have stayed the course, and you did.”...'

5-26-15 GSCS 24th Annual Meeting Tomorrow at the Forsgate
Program Attached, includes: Commissioner of Education David Hespe; Legislators Gary Schaer Assemblyman Budget Chair and Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, Republican Budget Officer; Top NJ Journalists Michael Aron and John Mooney...click here on More for program details
5-26-15 DOE Requesting More Flexibility for Accountability in Federal Mandate Waivers
NJ Spotlight - Christie Seeks to Reshape School Accountability Mandates in Federal Waiver…Education Law Center says proposal would give too much leeway, with less openness, over state-controlled urban schools
5-22-15 PARRC Changes Reduce Test Time and Test Sessions
NJ Spotlight- Consortium Opts to Shorten PARCC Exams, Merge Two Testing Periods into One…In response to complaints, multi-state group decides to shave 90 minutes off math and language arts sections and alter exam schedule 'School district administrators also praised the move. “From the field we have, from the start, asked for one testing window and a reduction in the amount of time we were required to devote to testing this year,” said Charles Sampson, superintendent of Freehold Regional School District, and president of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, the suburban schools group. “The changes today do at least signify that our voices are being heard,” he said...'

Star Ledger - States vote to shorten the time and length of PARCC test…‘ “The changes were celebrated by school administrators who had to develop weeks' worth of testing schedules for grades 3-11 and scrap midterms and finals in some schools to make way for PARCC..."Hallelujah," said John Mucciolo, superintendent of Glen Ridge Public Schools. "For a change, someone in Trenton is listening."… “"I think one window is going to make scheduling a lot easier, so we are glad that the department and PARCC were responsive," said Pat Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association…’

5-21-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Time to admit it: Capping superintendent salaries has backfired    Editorial

NJ Spotlight - Jersey City Charter Schools Claim They're Being Shortchanged By State…Disparity in aid compared to district schools is focus of continuing legal battle

5-21-15 PARRC Governing Board Reduces Testing Time
PARCC States Vote to Shorten Test Time and Simplify Test Administration...Changes will Consolidate Testing Windows and Shorten Test Time While Ensuring Reliable Results

Reduce the testing time for students by about 90 minutes overall

Consolidate the two testing windows in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (which includes reading and writing) into one

Reduce the number of test units by two or three for all students.

5-19-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
The Record - No money left in this year's budget to cover $1.57B pension cut, N.J. legislative budget officer says

Star Ledger - PARCC: Five testing bills clear N.J. Senate panel

NJ Spotlight - Education Issues – from PARCC to Superintendents’ Pay – Focus of State Senate…Democrats’ bills make their way through Senate committee but face two key obstacles – GOP lawmakers and Gov. Christie

The Record - New Jersey Senate votes to rescind cap on superintendent pay

5-18-15 New from the Statehouse Today – PARRC bills in Education Committee and Salary Caps in Senate Vote
Senator Education Chair Teresa Ruiz’ hearing today on a package of PARRC-related bills resulted in a number of bills being unanimously passed out of committee. Two bills were held for further refinement.

The Superintendent Salary Cap bill, S1987 - which eliminated the DOE regulatory authority over superintendent salaries - passed today in the State Senate at 22-13 with 1 Republican, Senator Kevin O’Toole voting yes. Three Democrats were not present to vote. Will the Governor veto this legislation? Stay tuned…

5-18-15 Education in the News - Vote in Senate on Salary Caps...Pension Reform Effort
NJ Spotlight - Up for Vote, Senate Bill Would Strike Down Superintendent Salary Caps…Measure raises important question: How many Senate Republicans will line up to go against one of Christie’s early educational reforms?

NJ Spotlight - Local Governments May Be Steering Clear of Christie’s Pension-Reform Roadmap…Concern is that Republican changes could drive up property taxes, already highest in the nation

5-15-15 Senate Education Committee to Hear PARRC Related Bills This Monday
NJ Spotlight - Democrats' Legislation Seeks to Address Growing Concerns Over PARCC Tests…But attempt to respond to protests while proceeding with controversial assessments doesn’t placate critics
5-14-15 S1987 Bill to Repeal Salary Caps to be Voted on by Senate this Monday, May 18
This Monday the NJ Senate is to vote on Senate Bill No. 1987 Ruiz/Sarlo. This bill repeals the Superintendent Salary Cap by prohibiting the Department of Education from regulating the maximum salary amount a school district may pay its superintendent of schools. GSCS supports this bill and testified in favor of it before the Senate Education Committee this legislative year. We ask you to contact your state senators and urge them to vote for S1987
5-12-15 Bill Proposed For American Sign Language To Qualify As Graduation Requirement
NJ Spotlight - Let American Sign Language Count for Graduation Requirements, Bill Proposes…Assembly education committee passes sign-language measure, as well as bill to set up ‘recovery school’ for kids coming out of rehab
5-11-15 More Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Eases Up On Tougher Standards for Teacher Training, Licensing…Christie administration heeds calls for slower implementation of some of its proposed changes

NJ.com - Rebirth of Gifted and Talented Program works to engage Trenton's best students

5-11-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. unions, Christie administration clash over pensions before Supreme Court

Star Ledger - Beating Newark's odds, KIPP charter network is poised to expand

Princeton Conference - Policies to Promote Child Health 5-20-15
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY CONFERENCE - The Future of Children...The Center for Health and Well-Being: May 20...Information and Registration Attached (Posted at the Request of Princeton Univ.
5-8-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Christie nixes bill to give N.J. students more say in lunch menus 'Saying it would "burden hundreds of school districts in New Jersey," Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday vetoed legislation that would require schools to take students' cultural food preferences into account when planning cafeteria menus...'

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Christie Vetoes Adding Vegetarian Options to School Lunches…Governor says he supports concept but legislation would bring extra costs and burdens to school districts '...Christie stressed he wasn’t against the intent, just the means...'

5-7-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments about Payments to Public-Worker Pensions…Justice Albin asks state attorney if administration’s approach to pension contributions is ‘some sort of bait and switch’ P>NJ Spotlight - Teachers Union Leadership Change Comes at Critical Time for Newark Schools…Del Grosso to end 20-year tenure at helm as contract talks loom and controversy continues over Anderson’s ‘One Newark’ reforms
5-6-15 NJ Spotlight - Profile: Veteran Lobbyist Represents NJ’s Suburban Schools at Statehouse
NJ Spotlight - Profile: Veteran Lobbyist Represents NJ’s Suburban Schools at Statehouse...She went from Tenafly school trustee to widely respected advocate for education funding...Lynne Strickland, Executive director, Garden State Coalition of Schools, 1992-present '“Her voice is highly respected as a result of her focus on ‘best courses of action’ for quality public education,” he said. “Legislators, school leaders, and advocates know that her opinions on educational matters will be well researched, grounded in empirical data and unbiased. I believe those qualities have allowed for the continued success of the Garden State Coalition of Schools as a powerful voice for quality public education in New Jersey.” '
5-6-15 State Board of Education Meeting Today
Agenda: State Board Just as Busy with What’s Not on the Docket This Month...Light agenda belies work still going on behind the scenes over teacher prep proposal
5-4-15 This is Teacher Appreciation Week - GSCS Thanks Our Teachers
5-4-15 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Adverse consequences for school districts when students opt out of PARCC    Opinion…In the first year New Jersey has administered the PARCC exam, a number of students have opted out of taking the assessment
4-30-15 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Is Making Peace with PARCC an Idea Whose Time Has Come?...The results of standardized tests, which revealed the yawning gulf between rich and poor students, played a key role in the Abbott rulings

NY Times - Legislators Introduce Student Digital Privacy Bill ‘…Titled the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, the bill would prohibit operators of websites, apps and other online services for kindergartners through 12th graders from knowingly selling students’ personal information to third parties; from using or disclosing students’ personal information to tailor advertising to them; and from creating personal profiles of students unless it is for a school-related purpose… The bill, modeled in part on a new student online privacy law in California, was introduced by Representative Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, and Representative Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican...’’

4-29-15 Education in the News
Politicker NJ – Hespe says school funding in FY2016 budget follows five year increase

NJ Spotlight - Hespe Taken to Task Over Failure to Fully Fund School Districts…Commissioner says amount of aid reflects what state’s able to afford in tough financial times

NJ Spotlight - Sweeney Chides Christie Over Absences, Announces New 'Millionaire’s Tax’ Bill…Senate president says governor exaggerates supposed exodus from NJ by the wealthy and needs to stay home to address state’s problems

4-28-14 Education in the - Senate Democrat Leaders Propose Evaluation Link to PARRC Remain at 10 Per Cent
NJ Spotlight - In Letter to Hespe, Sweeney and Ruiz Ask for New Compromise on PARCC…Top Democrats request another year of limiting test results to 10 percent of a teacher’s rating

Star Ledger – Sweeney, Ruiz: Keep PARCC's impact on teacher evaluations low ‘…Hespe told Ruiz during the Senate Budget Committee hearing on education Tuesday that the Department is in the process of talking to stakeholders and making a decision about next year's teacher evaluation matrix. "I think our commitment remains that we should allow folks to get comfortable before we raise the stakes," Hespe said…’

4-27-15 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - On PARCC opt-outs, cutting funding isn't the answer    Editorial ‘Hespe says he is "not going to default to a 'you didn't do it, you lose money'" attitude, because it rarely helps kids in the end. He's right. Let's hope he follows through on that pledge. We shouldn't punish the neediest kids for the misguided actions of parents who feel they have nothing to lose.’

NJ Spotlight - Students Across New Jersey Gearing Up for Second Phase of PARCC Testing This Week…Take this practice test to get a feel for what students are expected to know as the school year draws to a close

NJ Spotlight - As School District Simmers Over ‘One Newark’ Reforms, Both Sides Sit Down at Table…Superintendent Anderson, local advisory board are talking, though no substantive progress has been made as of yet.

The Record - How schools are trying to help kids cope with anxiety

4-24-15 Education Budget FY '16 - Standout Issues
1. Another year, another $1 billion shortfall: The state still isn't fully funding the New Jersey's School Funding Reform Act (SFRA)

2. But education funding as a percentage of the state budget is up

3. PARCC scheduling may be different next year for high school students: Hespe said the Department of Education will "totally relook" at how the tests were delivered to 10th and 11th graders

4. Hespe defended Newark Public School's Educators Without Placement Pool: Hespe said high quality classroom instruction is the district's top priority

5. Gary Schaer wants better protections for parochial schools

6. At least one assemblyman wants more school consolidations: John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) challenged Hespe about school consolidation

7. Online class won't be replacing snow days yet...

4-24-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Christie Still Straddles Fence on Online Tests, Common Core Standards…Cites value of standardized tests as measure of school quality, but takes wait-and-see approach on PARCC

Star Ledger - N.J. schools with high PARCC opt outs could have to make changes, education commissioner says ‘…Before levying any additional sanctions, the state would take into account whether this is the first year a district missed the 95 percent target, how much it missed it by and whether the school took actions either to prevent or promote opt outs, he said. "Egregious situations" could result in the loss of federal or state funds, Hespe said…

4-22 ans 23- 15 Commissioner Hespe before Assembly Budget Committee on FY'16 - School Funding, PARRC, Charters
Burlington County Times - School funding, PARCC testing highlight budget hearing ‘…Hespe said his department has finished reviewing all school districts’ proposed budgets for the upcoming years and has not uncovered any alarming cutbacks that could drastically impact the quality of education in the short term. But he said the funding issue would need to be closely watched over time…The commissioner acknowledged that freezing the formula has created complications Hespe said there “definitely” would be some districts that fall short of that target, but the U.S. Department of Education would weigh several factors before deciding to deduct aid, including the district’s history and what steps it was taking to make improvements…’

NJ Spotlight - Little Things Are Often What Really Count in State Budget Line Items…Language changes tucked into appropriations act drastically hike what some districts will have to pay toward charter school costs

4-22 and 23-15 Opt Out Issue: As Feds Say It, As NJEA Sees It
Star Ledger - N.J. schools with high PARCC opt outs could have to make changes, education commissioner says ‘…But opponents of the PARCC tests, including the New Jersey Education Association, have told parents that scenario is unlikely because New Jersey schools have not lost federal funding over test participation before. However, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said this week that the federal government is obligated to intervene if states don't respond to high opt-out rates, according to a Chalkbeat report...’

NJEA News Service - ‘Stop attacking parents with their tax dollars’ Steinhauer demands that Hespe retract opt-out threat

4-21-15 Star Ledger - NJ Schools Need Standaradized Testing
When parents tell Sonja Brookins Santelises [ V.P. of the Education Trust] that their children are going to a good school, Santelises poses a question, she said.For whom is this a good school?...Santelises presented Monday in front of a group of educators and community members at a panel supporting high standards and annual assessments in New Jersey schools.

The event was hosted by We Raise NJ, the coalition of organizations led by the New Jersey PTA that supports students taking the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

4-21-15 Education Issues in the News
U.S. News and World Report - 'Opting Out' Into School Choice...The logical next step for the anti-Common Core 'opt-out' movement is opting out of entire schools

NJ Spotlight - Just 16 School Districts Hold Budget Votes Today Around New Jersey…Law enacted three years ago allowed switch to November – and no vote at all with 2 percent tax cap

South Jersey Times - NJEA files motion to stop South Jersey Times - Camden's transfer of public schools to Renaissance

Released 4-21-15 NJEA demands full pension funding ‘No further discussion’ with pension commission

4-17-15 Star Ledger Editorial on PARRC Controversy
Star Ledger - Thanks to PARCC opt-outs, N.J. schools could lose big bucks: EditorialBy Star-Ledger Editorial Board... 'What looks like a victory to some parents may soon backfire in their faces. The anti-PARCC hysteria that's torn through the Park Slopes of New Jersey could mean...'
4-17-15 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Technology Earns High Marks In Opening Round Of Online Testing…While PARCC itself remains controversial, state officials report new computer platforms had high rate of success

Star Ledger - Minding Our Business program helps Trenton middle schoolers turn business ideas into profits

Star Ledger - Christie calls for 'national conversation' to combat rising tuition at colleges

4-16-15 Response to Commissioner Hespe Update on Initial PARRC Testing
Click here on More for information, news articles
4-15-15 Commissioner Hespe's PARRC Update-Broadcast Memo (pdf)
4-15-15 Newark Schools - Twenty Years in Perspective
NJ SPOTLIGHT – ‘ONE NEWARK’ REORGANIZATION KICKS OFF SECOND YEAR, LEARNING FROM THE FIRST…Three-quarters of families selecting schools for their kids won placement at one of three top choices...“But it was important that they put in a process for this year to hear from the community, and to show that they listened,” he [Board President Rashod Hasan] said.

Star Ledger - 20 years of debate: State control of Newark schools entering third decade

4-14-15 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - Where Does the Edu-World Stand on the Bipartisan NCLB Rewrite?...Education stakeholders are weighing in ahead of Tuesday's Senate education committee markup of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind rewrite.

Education Week – State Pitch Changes as They Seek to Extend NCLB Waivers...Every state that currently has a waiver from provisions of the law—held by 42 states and the District of Columbia—would like to renew the flexibility for up to four more years, even as Congress appears likely to give far more leeway to states on accountability, standards, and teacher quality in a pending overhaul of the law.

Star Ledger - PARCC: Private workers seeing student info need background checks, bill says

4-10-15 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Annual Audit by Treasury Wraps Up Year of Battles Over State Budget…Report shows revenues from taxes increased by total of $500 million, reflecting some growth in NJ economy

Press of Atlantic City - Arts education gaining STEAM in local schools … Arts education gaining STEAM in local schools By DIANE D’AMICO, Education Writer The Press of Atlantic City

4-9 Education in the News - Camden Schools
NJ Spotlight - Camden’s ‘Renaissance Schools’ Takeover Plans May Face Legal Challenge…Attorneys for Education Law Center say restructuring moves may violate state law “...With two out of five students not graduating from high school, it’s critical that we stay focused on improving the education of our children. We have remarkable students, but for far too long the system has come up short in providing them with the educational opportunities they deserve.” “Over the past 18 months, I have listened to the concerns of parents from every school in Camden, at dozens of community meetings, and most recently, at four town halls,” Rouhanifard added. “I heard loudly and clearly that where our schools are struggling the most, we need to take action..."

NJ Spotlight - Five of Camden District’s Worst Public Schools Will Go the Charter Route…Most students will stay in same neighborhood schools while new private operators take over facilities

4-6-15 Recent Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: Instilling ‘Soft Skills’ Serves Kids Better Than Memorizing Hard Facts…Ability to 'think outside the box' will prove more crucial to success in the future ‘In 2015, there's significantly increased educational focus on the nature of information gathering -- think Dewey Decimal-based searches in 1990, versus Google searches today -- which highlights why the skills and attitudes we teach must evolve regularly to enable students to flourish at school and in the world at-large… look at the time-honored emphasis on memorization. It was a core facet of education for generations of America's students, but being a potentially great “Jeopardy” player is no guarantee of success in the game of life. Our students need abilities tailored to modern demands, and we need to adjust how we teach and what we teach accordingly…’
By Patrick J. Fletcher and Dr. Daniel Fishbein    April 6, 2015 (Patrick J. Fletcher is superintendent of the River Dell Regional School District. Dr. Daniel Fishbein is superintendent of the Ridgewood Public Schools. Both are board members of the Bergen County Association of School Administrators…GSCS Note: Dan Fishbein is Past President of GSCS.)

NJ Spotlight - New Code Curbs Education Commissioner's Power to Set Charter Tuition…Change meets some objections, but state BOE says it’s only bringing code in line with current laws

Press of Atlantic City - School spending per child rises 1.6% in New Jersey

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Don’t Fall For The Opt-Out Cop-Out…NJ’s kids deserve demanding standardized tests, and we all need the data they deliver

Star Ledger – New Front opens in war on PARCC: The spin game…New Jersey's education community is divided over the new PARCC tests

3-31-15 Education in the News
Asbury Park Press - PARCC opt-outs should not be rewarded - Editorial 'Call it the "Coddling the Opt-Out Kids" bill.'

The Record - Mounting refusals to take state tests could hurt N.J.'s federal aid

The Record - PARCC patience-Editorial 'When The Assembly unanimously approved a bill Thursday to create a policy allowing students to opt out of taking the new standardized PARCC test, they overreacted to recent parental pushback on the tests instead of showing conscientious leadership...'

NJ Spotlight - AGENDA: STATE BOARD TAKES BREATHER FROM PARCC, TAKES UP PROCEDURAL MATTERS...Charter school funding, county commissions and religious holidays fill light agenda

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.

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: PARCC opt-out bill passes unanimously in state Assembly...Future hardly assured with Senate so far quiet on setting statewide policy for families refusing to let kids take testCredit

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 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.'
2-17-15 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).

2-13-15 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.

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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

5-13-15 Education in the News

The GSCS 2015-2016 Meeting Dates Calendar is posted at the top of this home page. Unless otherwise  noted, he rule of thumb for GSCS board meetings is that they are held the last Wednesday of the month. Board meetings begin at 3:30 and the Officers meet prior to the board meetings at 2:30 at the East Brunswick Board of Education..

GSCS is a member of the WeRaiseNJ effort which is dedicated to informing parents and school communities on issues that support quality education.  WeRaiseNJ is led by the NJPTA.

Next GSCS Board of Trustees Meeting is February 24 at the East Brunswick Board of Education; Officers to meet prior according to the usual time schedule. Note: the March meeting has been rescheduled to 3-16-16, at 4 pm for the Board of Trusees; Oficers to meet at 3 pm.


The Special Education Task Force Report was released Thanksgiving weekend.GSCS, a Task Force member is looking forward to discussion on the report in 2016:




Garden State Coalition of Schools
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