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7-16-14 Executive Order and Testing Front and Center
Statement by GSCS President Chuck Sampson, and Freehold Regional High School Superintendent, on the Governor's Executive Order: ‘The Executive Order provides an avenue for deeper examination of the potential impact of these assessments through the nine member commission and may serve as a tool for a more thorough discourse across the state about the implications of PARCC. With the stakes attached to these assessments for students and teachers, reasoned examination is certainly warranted. The order recognizes that need. The reduction of the percentage of SGOS as it relates to teacher evaluation may have more meaning once we have a clearer perception of the overall impact of SGOS in the evaluation process. How an appeal process may play out will be interesting as I'm not certain what criteria would be utilized. Obviously these are hot topics as they relate to teacher evaluation with distinct camps formed and sharply divided regarding the validity of such measures to gauge teacher performance. The executive order expands the conversation and I am hopeful we can lend our voice to that conversation.’

NJ Spotlight - Gov. Christie and State Teachers Union Not at Odds on All Fronts...Administration, NJEA hammer out compromise on how much new online testing will count toward teacher evaluations…’It can be hard to figure out the relationship between Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s biggest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association. In the beginning of his first term, he vilified the union -- and vice versa -- over budget cuts and pension changes. Then the two worked together developing the state’s tenure reform law, even meeting together for the signing…’

7-15-14 More on Chrisite's Executive Order on Testing and DOE Changes to Evaluation Process
The Record – Updated: Christie delays use of student test scores in teacher evaluations

NJ Spotlight - Christie Sticks to Middle of the Road in Arriving at PARCC Decision...Task force will study effectiveness of Common Core-linked test, scores will carry less weight in evaluating teachers

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie creates task force to review student testing

7-14-14 p.m. Education News - Executive Order Released Today
The Record - Christie rolls back impact of test scores on teacher evaluations
7-14-14 BREAKING NEWS: Governor Announces Executive Order and Operational Approach re Testing and Evaluations Issues
Commissioner Dave Hespe reached out to GSCS this afternoon to inform our organization of the Governor's Executive Order on testing, as well as two operational changes regarding (1) the PARCC assessment consequences and (2) the Student Growth Objectives process in place for this year. GSCS Executive Director, Lynne Strickland, was told that the Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) percentages for the FY'15 Performance Ratings will be set at 10% (as opposed to 30% set by the DOE previously) and that this percentile will increase to 20% in the following year, FY'16.

In addition, a small group of teachers deemed to have been "adversely impacted" by the Student Growth Objective (SGO) process in place for ratings in this year will be allowed a direct appeal to the DOE concerning their SGO ratings.

The Executive Order calls for a 9 member (yet to be determined) commission to review, analyze and assess testing on a broad spectrum: national to state and local. The commission will report back with recommendations in one year.

Stay tuned to GSCS as more information will be forthcoming.

7-14-14 Education in the News - Common Core; Tenure Decision Process
Star Ledger - Chris Christie plans to issue executive order on Common Core standards this week 'While attending a meeting of the National Governors Association today, Gov. Chris Christie said he plans to issue an executive order this week regarding common education standards that have sparked criticism from parents and educators.Christie declined to elaborate on the substance of the order.'

NJ SPOTLIGHT - PACE OF TENURE RULINGS INCREASES, BUT DECISIONS STILL GO TO BOTH SIDES...Streamlined process for dealing with tenure charges gets more cases on the calendar -- and more decisions to litigants 'While the political and policy debates continue as to how teacher evaluation will work in the future, tenure charges continue to be filed -- and decided -- at an accelerated rate. By the start of July, 17 cases had been decided and posted by state arbitrators under the new teacher tenure law. At that pace, the total will exceed the 27 decisions posted in 2013, the first full year of the law...'

Star Ledger - Critics of N.J. schools superintendent salary cap say it is arbitrary and should be repealed…Critics of the salary cap say no other local officials and none of the state-employed superintendents are subject to the cap, which they want repealed.

7-11-14 Special Education Code Update
NJ Spotlight - Special-Ed Code Avoids Hot Buttons, Defines Dyslexia as Reading Disorder...A year ago, the administration's special-education code sparked off a war of words, this time things are quieter -- for now...'The one exception [enacted in the Code] was a new requirement enacted by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Christie that raised the profile of dyslexia as a reading disorder... Otherwise, the code almost entirely avoided the host of issues that touched off a mini-firestorm of protest from advocates and others a year ago, prompting the administration to pull the proposal...State officials said Wednesday they would put aside those debates for now in proposing the new code, leaving them to a new state-appointed task force...That 17-member task force, appointed by Christie and the Legislature, had its first meeting last week...' (Note: GSCS has a seat on the Task Force)
7-10-14 p.m. PARCC Implementation Bills to Delay Testing Consequences in Teach Evaluation Was Not Voted on in Senate Session Today
GSCS FYI - As anticipated - see articles below - legislation that had been posted for a vote today's Senate session was not voted on, rather the bills were held from a vote: Bill A3081 / A990 / A2901 / S2154 (Jasey / Andrzejczak / Eustace / Caride / Lagana / Van Drew / Gordon / Turner) – 'Creates Education Reform Review Task Force; delays implementation of certain assessments and certain changes to teacher evaluation system', WAS NOT VOTED ON TODAY.
7-10-14 Evaluations and Testing Remain at Issue...Curriculum Adopted by State Board of Education
NJ Spotlight - State BOE Meeting Mirrors Statehouse Concerns About Teacher Evaluations...Quiet meeting in July listens to more than three-dozen educators concerned about new statewide testing system...'Nonetheless, the administration’s hand may be forced before that, as the meeting was abuzz with speculation as to the different discussions going on. When one board member announced that Van Drew had already agreed to hold his bill, the tenor of the room changed.' But in a telephone interview, Van Drew wasn’t holding his breath as to what comes next. He was hopeful about a compromise, and said the Legislature would come back to act this summer if the administration didn’t. Still, when asked how long this back and forth could go on, he didn’t have a best estimate: “You tell me.”

Star Ledger - NJ State Board of Education adopts new curriculum standards

Star Ledger – Teachers, union reps blast 'flawed' teacher evaluation system

7-9-14 p.m. NJTV - New Jersey Senate delays vote on test consequences
"...the Senate will not vote Thursday on his bill to delay consequences of the tests... [Senator & sponsor of the Senate bill to delay the PACCC test consequences] Van Drew says teachers and Christie’s administration are working on details of an executive order to phase in the tests’ consequences..."
7-9-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -Analysis: Christie's Options Limited When It Comes to Plans for PARCC Testing…The governor has hinted publicly at a compromise on new PARCC tests, but what will he do and when will he do it?

NJ Spotlight - Profile: NJ High School Principal Ahead Of Curve On Technology -- and Tweets With 64,500 followers on Twitter, Eric Sheninger is the embodiment of using technology as a teaching tool

Star Ledger - Poll: Should NJ extend state financial aid to some unauthorized immigrant college students?

7-8-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State BOE Takes Up Standards Renewal, Special Ed Regs...Regulations for special education back for a second try, along with teacher effectiveness, charter schools, and a new president

Education Week - Arne Duncan Unveils 50-State Teacher-Equity Strategy

NJ Spotlight - Hespe Helps Take Hearsay Out of Newark 'Working Group'...In one of his first public statements, acting commissioner details plans and purpose for working group, comments on Anderson's annual review

7-2-14 GSCS Note
Dear Members and Friends,

The summer is upon us and hopefully we all have a moment to take a deep breath, maybe a swim in the ocean or a lake, a bit more time to be with our families, and time to gear up to being ready and rejuvenated for a new school year in September. GSCS will continue to pursue its goal of quality education for our children and, as always, keep you informed. And, please remember that the more feedback and insights we gain from you, the more effective GSCS is in its representation of New Jersey’s public schools and students…Happy Fourth, thank you for your support and (it’s a two-way street) for keeping GSCS informed too!

7-2-14 Task Force to Improve Special Education Holds First Meeting July 1, 2014
Following the March 2013 passage of S600 Beck-Ruiz/A1365 Rible-Angelini, the Special Education Task Force (GSCS is a member of he Task Force)- slow in the Administration's appointment and launching process - met yesterday to begin its work to review and recommend improvements for New Jersey's special education programs. The Task Force was pleased to be welcomed to the table by one of the bill's prime sponsors, Assemblyman David Rible (R - District 30/Wall Township). Per the charge to the Task Force: "...It is therefore in the public interest of special education students and the parents or guardians of those students to establish a task force to study various issues related to improving service delivery and providing appropriate and cost-effective special education programs and services for public school students.

There is established a Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students to consist of 17 members as follows: the Commissioner of Education, ex officio, or a designee; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including one parent or guardian of a public school student receiving special education services, one parent or guardian of a student attending a private school for students with disabilities, one public school special education teacher, one director of special education services for a school district, one representative of the Arc of New Jersey, one representative of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, one representative of the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, one representative of the New Jersey Education Association, one representative of the New Jersey School Boards Association, one representative of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, one representative of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey, one representative of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, one representative of ASAH, and one representative of the American Federation of Teachers..."

Click here on More to see the law (Chapter 31) per the authorizing legislation.

7-2-14 Education in the News - Post Budget FY'15 Tid Bits
NJ Spotlight- Legislature Gets Grade of 'Incomplete' On Unresolved Charter-School...Christie, meanwhile, vetoes $3 million in extra aid while long-discussed legislation still hangs fire

'...In a move that surprised some, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed an extra $3 million in aid to charter schools proposed by Democratic lawmakers. The funding was meant to help address what charter school advocates have called inequitable funding. ..Christie’s line-item veto on Monday made the charter-school aid the only education spending to get the red pen -- a notable rejection given Christie’s open support of charter schools in the state... “Creating a new category of aid for specifically charter schools is not necessary in order for them to provide a quality education for their students.”

Changing the residency requirement had been pushed by the charter schools, which say it especially limit the ability to hire staff for schools along New Jersey’s borders with New York and Pennsylvania...But after being passed without public debate in the Senate, the bill stalled in the Assembly this week. [Bill sponsor Assemblyman Lou]Greenwald yesterday chalked it up to the legislative process...

Finally, a proposed revision to the state’s two-decade-old charter school law remains in limbo...Bills pending in the Assembly would broaden the state’s authority in reviewing and approving new charters, while also creating separate authorizing agencies. So far, the bills -- which have been discussed for nearly three years -- have remained in committee and likely won’t be taken up again at least until this fall.

7-1-14 Fallout per June 30 2014 - State Budget Vetoed and Signed by Gov Before Midnight ...PARCC Implementation Delay Bills Held
GSCS Note: Bill to Delay Implementation of PARCC Testing Results for Evaluations, A3081 Jasey/S2154 van Drew, Held from Senate Vote – Compromise in the Works - GSCS was at the State House to observe the back and forth ‘will there be a vote or won’t there be a vote’ scramble between the legislature and the executive branch. In the late afternoon work got out that the bills were held from final passage and that the upshot that it is likely that Governor will issue an Executive Order – or regulation or both – in time for July 9 State Board of Education Meeting. Whether that resolves the tug of war between the legislature and the Governor on the PARCC testing and teacher evaluation issues remains to be seen...Stay tuned...

NJ Spotlight – Legislative Efforts to Slow Down PARCC Parked -- at Least for Now…With Christie veto almost certain, lawmakers wait to hear governor's compromise solution...NJ Spotlight - Explainer: Impact of PARCC Tests on Teachers, Schools at Center of Debate…Controversial exams tied to Common Core Standards scheduled to debut in NJ during next school year

The Record - Christie signs budget; vetoes tax hikes proposed by Democrats JUNE 30, 2014, 1:12 PM LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2014, 10:02 PM BY JOHN REITMEYER AND MELISSA HAYES STATE HOUSE BUREAU Governor Christie signed a $32.5 billion budget into law Monday evening, using his line-item veto to slash more than $1 billion in spending from the appropriations bill that lawmakers had approved knowing he would cut that funding and reject their tax increases...

Bloomberg - Christie Cuts $1 Billion of Tax Increases From Budget

...'The second-term Republican removed a higher pension payment and money for women’s health care from the $34.1 billion plan sent to him last week by the Democratic-controlled legislature. He also rejected tax surcharges meant to pay for them...'

NJTV - Gov. Christie Vetoes Tax Hikes On Proposed Budget...'Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed state lawmakers’ proposal for a tax increase on the state budget on the day of the deadline.Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron discusses the governor’s decision with NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider. Aron says that the governor kept his word about the veto. As for the tax hike proposed by politicians, according to Aron it was a separate legislation from the budget...'

NJ Spotlight - Christie Uses Vetoes To Drive Political Message For 2016 Campaign … With Democrats powerless to override governor's vetoes, only courts can order state to make required pension payments

6-30-14 Clips from Education Week
Conn. Governor Pledges $15 Million to Support Common-Core Implementation

Narrow Supreme Court Ruling Has Public Unions' Nonmember Fees on Thin Ice

Survey Finds Parents Conflicted About Time Dedicated to Testing Students

6-30-14 Education and Related Issues In the News
Star Ledger - Christie likely to veto tax hikes, sign new budget today,

NJ Spotlight - Analysis: School Chief’s Rehiring Raises Questions, Reflects Broader Issues...While new pact reflects lukewarm endorsement of Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, keeping her in post underscores larger school-reform agenda

6-29-14 Special Education Costs Not Exempted from Tax Levy Cap Can Impact School Taxes
Burlington County Times - School taxes rising in nearly every local district...'What is causing the tax hikes? Circumstances are unique to each district, but school officials have said most districts continue to wrestle with rising expenses, notably in special education, which is not exempt from the cap."Special education is first and foremost among the pressures facing our districts,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which advocates on behalf of New Jersey’s suburban schools. The total amount of special education categorical aid — the largest form of special education aid most school districts receive — distributed to New Jersey schools is down $162 million, compared with the 2007-08 school year, while at the same time the population of special education students has increased, Strickland said...“(Aid) hasn’t kept pace. Costs are growing at a higher pace and won’t fit under the cap,” Strickland said...'
6-27-14 Education Bills Late on the Legislative Agenda After State Budget Vote
NJ Spotlight - State Legislators Focus on Education Bills as Session Winds Down...Decision delayed on Common Core and related testing tied to teacher evaluations as Christie talks of compromise plan '...The governor’s press office did not respond to a request for details yesterday, and Sweeney and others said they were unsure of the specifics. But the Senate president said he expected the move would seek to give some flexibility to districts, and he would give it a chance...'
6-26-14 p.m. - State Senate Passes Budget for FY '14-'15 but...And, Held in the Senate - S2154 Van Drew - bill to delay PARCC testing results being implemented
Star Ledger - NJ Senate passes state budget that makes pension payments, hikes taxes… 'Regardless, this version of the budget is unlikely to ever take effect. Gov. Chris Christie vowed Wednesday that he will veto any plan that includes tax increases…The state Assembly — also controlled by Democrats — is expected to sign off on the plan later today...'

S2154 Van Drew, the bill to delay Common Core and the implementation of PARCC testing results)has been held in the Senate today rather than being voted on. It is being said in the State House - following up on statements the Governor made yesterday at a town hall - that the administration is developing a position on the testing and will be presenting a plan, perhaps in 5 to 10 days or so, for an executive order that will modify the initial approach to the new testing and evaluation system. This is consistent with Senate Education Chair Teresa Ruiz' call for any change to the testing and evaluation process to come via the regulatory process and not via legislation. In addition, Senate President Steve Sweeney is keeping pressure on the Governor to provide his plan sooner, and has said that he will post the bill on Monday if no information on the plan is forthcoming by then.

6-26-14 Trenton to vote on FY'15 Budget Plus Mryiad of Bills Today - Christie Has Last Word Veto Power
NJTV News - Christie Chides Lawmakers, Hints at Tougher Pension Reforms Ahead

“...All the bills get passed in either June or December. You will see between tomorrow and Monday a couple of hundred bills passed, that they’ll put on my desk. Since January, I’ve maybe gotten two dozen bills sent to my desk,” ... “Let me guarantee you what’s going to happen, the same thing that has happened every time they have sent me an income tax increase in the nearly five years I’ve been governor. I will veto it...”

NJ Spotlight - School-Reform Legislation, Education Aid Among Items on Year-End Agenda...Last-minute votes could delay Common Core-related tests, reconfigure impact on teacher evaluations

...Overall, the $9 billion in direct state aid to districts is unlikely to change much at this point, with the vast majority of local districts’ budgets already adopted... But Democrats made some late changes this week that could open up a few new avenues of funding. For instance, a $5 million fund proposed by Christie for “innovative” programs had been eliminated, replaced by a smaller $2.5 million pot of money called the Education Reform Implementation Grant Program that will go to specific purposes that are at the forefront of the Christie education agenda. A bill already passed by the Assembly would delay use of the tests for up to two years while a state task force reviewed...After the Senate education committee declined to endorse the measure, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) this week nonetheless posted the bill for a full Senate vote today.But a twist came yesterday, when Christie himself said at one of his town hall-style meetings that a measure could be offered in coming days to address the testing concerns, raising the possibility of a unilateral executive order or regulatory change...but state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) repeated yesterday that she has been pressing the administration to make a change in the consequences of the bill, including the possibility of reducing the share that test scores will carry in teacher evaluations in the first year. That change could be done by regulation, without legislative approval...'

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: ‘Score Sheet’ Tracks Twists and Turns in Tale of Two Budgets...Annual analysis by OLS offers unbiased breakdown of spending plans proposed by Legislature, governor

...'The last word: Gov. Chris Christie has steadfastly said he won’t approve any budget provisions that include a tax increase, all but assuring a veto of the final budget and a showdown in the coming days. He could issue a conditional veto that trims only certain items from the final budget legislation.'

Star Ledger - N.J. POLITICS ROUNDUP...During a town hall meeting in Haddon Heights, Christie said he will veto any tax increases sent to him as part of a Democratic state budget plan...Meanwhile 'He said he plans to make an announcement in the coming days on how the state will move forward on school testing.'

6-25-14 In the News - State Budget FY '15; Education
Star Ledger -NJ budget clears first hurdles in Legislature, with $1 billion in tax hicke Star-Ledger staff writers Susan K. Livio and Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

Politickernj - Sources: Prieto prevails over Cryan, others in backroom Assembly budget debate.

NJ Spotlight - Camden-Specific Bill Would Extend Renaissance School Deadline...Singleton's measure would add year to Urban Hope Act, set up early retirement for Camden's hard-pressed teachers

6-23 and 24 -14 The State Budget for FY'15 May Be Meeting June 30 Deadline...
Star Ledger - NJ Democrats introduce millionaires tax that expires in three years

The Record - Christie signs arbitration cap on raises for police, firefighter unions

NJ SPOTLIGHT - ANALYSIS: DEMOCRATIC TAX PLAN IS JUST A DOWN PAYMENT ON NJ’S FISCAL NEEDS...Christie’s veto of tax increases would leave insurmountable $4.3 billion pension gap to be made up by FY1

6-19-14 p.m. Education Week on potential loss of federal funds within Race to the Top, Common Core and-or teacher evaluations process
Education Week -Teacher Evaluation Changes Could Cost New York a Slice of Its Race to the Top Grant...

Education Week - Fact Check: Can a State Lose Federal Funds for Ditching Common Core..."...So where did Jindal and Fallin get the idea that money could be on the line if their states ditched Common Core? Both states currently have waivers from the NCLB law, and it's possible that the states could risk that flexibility if they don't come up with other standards that meet with the approval of their post-secondary institutions.

But there are two things to keep in mind here, says Anne Hyslop, a policy analyst at the New America Foundation. First off, the department has been reticent to pull waivers from states because of issues with standards and tests—so far, only Washington state has lost its waiver, and that was due to teacher evaluation issues. And other states on "high-risk status" are there because of teacher evaluation, too, not standards implementation...."

6-19-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger – NJ's high school seniors graduate with more math and science

The Record - Pension payment cuts in response to fiscal emergency, Christie administration says in court papers

The Record - N.J. Democrats want to tax wealthy to balance state budget, preserve pension fund

6-18-14 Evaluations Process, Legislation Slow Downs, and Federal Oversight Issues
Wall Street Journal - U.S. Warning New York State on Teacher Evaluations State Risks Losing Up to $292 Million of Its Race to the Top Grant “…Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers have been meeting in recent days to find a way to postpone linking test scores to teacher ratings due to widespread complaints that the rollout of the Common Core standards was botched. Last year, students' scores plummeted on new state exams tied to the higher expectations…”

NJ Spotlight - ASSEMBLY VOTES TO PUT BRAKES ON IMPACT OF COMMON CORE AND NEW STUDENT TESTING…Measure would set up task force, could delay the consequences of new standards and associated tests by as much as two years

NY Chalk Beat - Feds threaten funding as New York mulls changes to teacher evaluations “….New York might lose out on $300 million if last-minute negotiations on teacher and principal evaluations untie Common Core test scores from final ratings, federal education officials warned Tuesday…”

Chart - Growth in Classified Students from 2008-2009 to 2012-2013 (pdf)
GSCS Notes: Total statewide student enrollment from 2008-2009 increased by more than 29K, while classified student enrollment grew by more than 10K in the same time period. Thus, increase of the special education students in those same years is 35.3% of the total student growth in the same time frame. Since special education costs are growing, and since special education aid to districts remains at $185M less than when SFRA was instituted, the need to support special education programs has become pitted against regular education program costs. This issue of the increasing lack of special education funding that is required to support mandated program needs to be acknowledged and addressed by state policy-makers.
6-17-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
The Record - N.J. Chief Justice Rabner tells renomination panel he is mindful of rulings' impact … The man likely to help decide some of New Jersey’s most vexing social and political issues as the leader of the state Supreme Court until 2030 portrayed himself as a judge tasked “to do justice” and be mindful of the impact his decisions have on peoples’ lives…During Monday’s hearing, Solomon [Harold Solomon’s nomination was also approved by the committee], like Rabner before him, was careful not to weigh in on any issue that might come before the court. As a legislator and an advocate for policy he could push his philosophy through lawmaking, but as a justice he said he needed to apply it.“There is no place, no right, to take a public policy position as a member of the judiciary,” Solomon said.

Star Ledger - Government shutdown unlikely over NJ budget [nonetheless]...Budget negotiations are expected to continue well into the week...“I didn’t bring my sleeping bag, but maybe I should have,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Star Ledger – NJ Raises standards for teacher training and certification… If teachers are the most important drivers of student success, then putting high quality candidates to work in the state’s classrooms should be a top priority, state educators say.

6-16-14 Education Issues in the News
6-13-14 Education in the News - Part 2
Star Ledger – Assembly committees approves bills to expand vocational-technical training..."“This is something near and dear to my heart,” Prieto told the committee. “I went to the trades to get a better life. We need to make sure we train our workforce properly.” There is a big demand for these programs. New Jersey's network of 21 county vocational-technical systems includes 60 schools that enroll more than 32,000 students, according to Judy Savage, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools. Savage said these schools turned away 17,000 students last year..."

Star Ledger -Bill would require NJ school districts to make accommodations for disabled students in sports

The Record Editorial - Living with the cap

6-13-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger Editorial - Eliminate N.J.'s superintendent salary cap

NJ Spotlight - Feds Cite NJ’s Progress In Implementing ‘Race To The Top’ Initiatives...But U.S. Department of Education report on implementation of $38M grant also cites cumbersome policies and bureaucracy

6-12-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -Tremors Felt Here After California Judge’s Ruling on Teacher Tenure...But evaluation system NJ lawmakers enacted in 2012 likely to limit the impact of Golden State decision on New Jersey

NJ Spotlight - Poll: Time for Superintendent Salary Caps to Be Retired?...What do think of the administration’s superintendent caps and what they have done for schools?

6-11-14 Education in the News
NY Times - Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California LOS ANGELES — A California judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprived students of their right to an education under the State Constitution and violated their civil rights. The decision hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case, one that could radically alter how California teachers are hired and fired and prompt challenges to tenure laws in other states...

Star Ledger - Christie touts program to bring math, science teachers to NJ's neediest schools

6-10-14 FYI NJ.com - poll posted
Today on NJ.com is a poll regarding superintendent salary caps. Link to salary cap poll…

http://www.nj.com/education/2014/06/pollshouldschoolsuperintendentsalariesbecapped.html#incartriverdefault

6-10-14 Senate Education Committee hearing - S1987 Salary caps bill and S125 Sports Participation bill both pass out of committee
Star Ledger -NJ lawmakers hear criticism of superintendent salary cap ”… discussion on the repeal of a superintendent pay cap dominated the meeting, with more than a dozen speakers supporting the bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). The salary cap is “the single most damaging regulation of public education” that has created instability and anxiety at a time of major school reforms, officials said [Michele Lenhard, Ridgewood board of Education member and GSCS Vice-President]. “We’re losing our most experienced and brightest superintendents to early retirement, New York and Connecticut,” Ridgewood Board of Education president Sheila Brogan said, noting that 27 Bergen County school superintendents have left their posts since the cap. “There’s a brain drain of school leadership in New Jersey…”…Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Morris) voted no, saying public officials agree to accept less compensation when they sign on. “I think we have more problems in New Jersey, property taxes are totally out of control,” he said. Ruiz said the measure was intended to start a conversation and educate lawmakers about “the unintended consequences” of the cap. “We need to be up to speed with the woes that some of our districts are facing. We are losing valuable expertise to our neighboring state,” she said. After the hearing, Ruiz said her goal for introducing the measure was conversation, not necessarily passage. “It was done through regulation, and it needs to be dismantled through regulation,” she said.

NJ Spotlight - State Lawmakers Clash Over Controversial Cap on Pay of Superintendents...Democrats cite exodus of talent from school districts while Republicans link high salaries to high taxes

North Jersey The Record Satehouse Bureau - NJ legislative wrap-up for Monday, June 9, 2014...Legislative committees met Monday and considered education-related bills[among others]..."Critics of the bill [S125] said that sports teams cost money and that if a student wanted to participate in public-school athletic activities, he or she could enroll in that school. If a student attends a charter school, for example, most but not all of the money for that child’s education follows the student to the charter school."

Cherry Hill Superintendent Maureen Reusche testified on S125 which expands sports participation in traditional public schools to allow for charter school and home-schooled students, as well as confirms participation of vo-tech students...the bill also allows traditional public school students to participate in sports progams administered by charters and vo-techs...click here on more to read articles on S1987 and S125 testimony (Reusche)...

6-6-14 Salary Caps Bill ...Special Education Court Settlement
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Bill Would Eliminate Caps on Superintendent Salaries...Legislation targets $175,000 limit that’s been hailed for fiscal prudence, blamed in part for exodus of administrators What it is: A bill sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) that would end the Christie administration’s controversial limits on superintendent pay will be heard on Monday in the Senate Education Committee. What it means: As the influential chair of the committee. Ruiz’s sponsorship of the bill is a big step in the growing legislative pushback on the salary caps that limit the salaries of school leaders, depending on district enrollments, to no more than $175,000.

NJ Spotlight - Schools Prepare to Comply with Special-Needs Court Settlement...Total of 76 districts across NJ must take steps to place students in ‘least-restrictive environment’

6-4-14 Agenda -Senate Education Committee Meeting June 9
Senate Education Committee: AGENDA Monday, June 09, 2014 - 10:00 AM;Meeting - Committee Room 6, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

Bill Abstract Current Status LDOA

A679 Sch. breakfast prog.-concerns; A2641 Farm to sch, sch garden prog-vol contrib; S125 Statewide intersch. sports prog-concerns; S1857 Steroid use among students-deters; S1897 Sch. breakfast prog.-concerns; S1903 Farm to sch, sch garden prog-vol contrib; S1987 Superintendent of sch.-reg. max. salary; S2032 Computer sci course-req pub sch students; S2079 Students w/disab-equal athletic activity

6-4-14 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - New science curriculum emphasizes hands-on approach to learning

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: Board Addresses Status of Takeovers, Teacher Evaluations ...Monthly meeting will include presentation on teacher goals, and votes on returning some controls to school districts in Paterson and Newark

6-3-14 Millionaire's Tax re: Pension Payment Issue
Politickernj - Sarlo on millionaires tax: "I want to be realistic"..."...We could talk about it, we could do it, and [Christie] could veto it. All that does is put everything on hold." Sarlo's [Senate Budget Committee Chairman]remarks came weeks after State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) proposed the revival of the idea... "I'm still committed to a negotiated budget. There will be no government shutdown...We're four weeks away [from the fiscal year's end]. We're going to have to allow that first pension payment not to be made. The real negotiation is going to become how do we reconcile it the next fiscal year. Right now, I'm advocating making the full $2.2 billion payment next year..."

Star Ledger - Christie's pension plan could trigger another downgrade, S&P warns "The governor's decision to delay pension funding ... has significant negative implications for the state's liability profile."… ‘…To balance the budget, Christie said he intends to cut two payments meant to shore up the financial health of New Jersey's strapped pension fund for public workers — from a combined $3.8 billion to $1.38 billion…’

6-3-14 State Board of Education begins to loosen its takeover controls in Newark and Paterson
NJ Spotlight - State Poised to Return Some Local Control to Paterson, Newark Schools...But Board of Education retains final say overall, including appointing district superintendents

The Record - After two decades, state may give Paterson partial control of city schools PATERSON – Local education officials may soon regain partial control over city schools for the first time in 23 years...

5-30-14 Education in the News
5-29-14 Fate Uncertain for Bills Aimed at Slowing Down Switch to New State Testing
NJ Spotlight - Fate Uncertain for Bills Aimed at Slowing Down Switch to New State Testing…The administration is moving ahead with its implementation of PARCC, but may be open to a change in how it’s used

‘..It has become a big enough topic that assistant commissioner Bari Erlichson yesterday devoted her talk before the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a suburban schools group, to a defense of the state’s timelines as laid out for the federal government.

GSCS 23rd Annual Meeting Resounding Success!
At yesterday’s GSCS 23rd Annual Meeting, more than 130 GSCS members and friends - including school board members, parents, school administrators, and colleagues - hailing from a spread of Bergen to Camden, Union to Middlesex, Essex to Burlington,and Monmouth to Mercer Counties and more, appreciated the breadth of the GSCS program, including the presentation and interaction with NJ Department of Education presenter Bari Erlichson, Chief Performance Officer/Assistant Commissioner; legislator panelists Assembly Budget Chair Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth, and Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), as they addressed education issues in the context of State Budget FY'15; and the open,thoughtful and insightful media 'take' conversation between Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent NJTV, and John Mooney, Education Writer and Founder of NJ Spotlight.

GSCS greatly appreciates the dynamic leadership of its out-going president, Jim Crisfield/Millburn and welcomes its incoming president, Chuck Sampson/Freehold Regional High School; congratulations to the West Windsor-Plainsboro schools on being seated on the GSCS Board of Trustees. Of note: GSCS was pleased to be joined by two of its past presidents, Larry Feinsod, currently Executive Director of the NJ School Boards Association and David Abbott,Superintendent of Monmouth-Ocean Education Services Commission.

5-29-14 Education Issues in Recent News
South Bergenite - Carlstadt board to ask state to lift superintendent salary cap

Education Week - PARCC Consortium Lowers Price of Common-Core Tests

Education Week - Student Privacy Laws Need Updating, White House Report Says

5-27-14 Education in the News
The Record - Debate widens over Common Core … ““There’s no doubt this is a major change,” said James Sheerin, interim superintendent of the Westwood school district. “But I think it’s a change that will help kids in college and in the workplace...”

NJ Spotlight - NJ's Next Generation Science Standards: The Quiet Revolution...New standards emphasize experiment and explanation rather than rote memorization

New York Times - Unlikely Allies Uniting to Fight School Changes

5-23-14 Charter School Legislation, State Board Meeting in the News
NJ Spotlight - Reform Bill Could Reshape Landscape for Charter-School Approvals...Local say would be increased, single authority would weigh applications statewide ‘…Singleton called his proposal a compromise that came out of consultations with other Assembly members, including state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the chair of the Assembly education committee. Diegnan had pursued the local vote requirement. “Right now, the public’s voice is silent,” Singleton said yesterday. “Why don’t we say that it represent 30 percent (of the decision)? I saw this as a middle ground.” Singleton’s bill would make some other big adjustments in the application process…’

Star Ledger - NJ State Board of Education hears proposed changes to science, preschool standards ‘…Several board members at the meeting in Trenton cheered the proposed science standards and the connection to critical thinking and problem-solving skills driven by the Common Core language arts and math standards. "The connections are so obvious," a board member, Dorothy Strickland, said. "You’re really teaching not just to the science facts, but the notion of taking a particular idea and dissecting it. I’m so glad to see this..."’

5-22-14 Use of Performance Measures for Tenure and Layoff Criteria Increasing Among States
Star Ledger - More states using teacher performance for tenure and layoff decisions (According to the Education Commission of the States)Sixteen states, including New Jersey, require teacher evaluations to be used in determining tenure or non-probationary status, up from 10 states in 2011...While still a minority, the number of states using teacher performance in hiring and job status decisions continues to grow, said Jeremy Anderson, president of ECS, created in 1965 to track policy and provide research and advice...
5-22-14 Big Issues in Trenton - State Budget FY's '14 and '15 Pension Cuts...Sen. Pres. Sweeney and Governor-Compromise Struck on Supreme Court Nominations
NJ Spotlight - Christie's Quid Pro Quo: Will It Change Direction of Top Court?

The Record- Stile: In compromise over N.J. high court, Senate leader Stephen Sweeney was in driver’s seat

Star Ledger - Christie defends decision to cut pension payments; Democrats, unions and Wall Street say it will hurt

Philadelphia Inquirer - Assembly Democrats question Christie's budget solution

5-22-14 Property Tax Rebate Delay
NJ Spotlight – Democrats Fear Rebate Delay May Put Payments on Chopping Block for 2015...With elimination of 2014 rebate, homeowners and seniors will receive average of just $1,188 in Christie's first five years, compared to $4,247 under Corzine and Codey..."Christie said he moved the rebate payment from August to May for cash-flow reasons because state revenues come in most heavily in March and April..."
5-21-14 Gov. Chrisitie to re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief jusitce of the NJ Supreme Court
The Record - Gov. Christie to re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the NJ Supreme Court "Governor Christie will re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the state Supreme Court later today, according to two sources with knowledge of the plans. The decision was reached as part of negotiations with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the Gloucester County Democrat who has bitterly clashed with Christie over the court for four years...As part of the deal, Christie will get to fill one of two vacant seats with Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon, a former Republican lawmaker who previously served as president of the Board of Public Utilities..."
5-20-14 Governor Moves to Close Budget Gaps with Reduced Pension Payments
GOVERNOR MAKES CHOICE TO MEET BUDGET CHALLENGE..At press conference held in his outer office in Trenton, Governor Christie presented his solutions to deal with New Jersey’s budget shortfall for the current fiscal year of approximately $1 billion.

The Record - Christie to cut $2.4 billion from planned pension payments

Star Ledger - Chris Christie to reduce pension payments to fill $800M NJ budget gap

5-20-14 VoTechs' Legislative Package, State Budget FY'15, Central Office Staffing Scaleback In Newark Possible
NJ Spotlight - WITH EIGHT-BILL PACKAGE IN TRENTON, VO-TECH SCHOOLS FINALLY GET SOME RESPECT

Legislation would increase funding and ease regulations for career-focused programs

Associated Press - Christie to offer budget adjustments this week

Star Ledger - About 300 workers may lose jobs in Newark schools through layoffs, retirements

5-19-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - PARCC PILOT RAMPS UP FOR ROUND TWO, AMID EDUCATOR ANXIETIES...Worries about technology continue to head the list, although DOE says there are simple fixes for many

The Record - New Bergen County school district program offers life skills for special needs students

5-16-15 Education Issues in the News
The Record - NJ Assembly bill proposal advances, seeks time-out on applying Common Core academic standards

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Bill Would Let Schools Ease Into Common Core Standards, New Testing...But Christie and state education officials remain committed to implementing new requirements

Star Ledger- Assembly committee approves bill that would delay key parts of education

NJ Spotlight - Interactive Map: Per-Pupil Costs Vary Widely in New Jersey’s Schools...Biggest total annual spending total last year was staggering $1 billion in Newark

Star Ledger- Camden superintendent: Staff members who protested with students will be 'disciplined'

5-14-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
The Record - Moody's downgrades New Jersey credit rating..For the third time this year a major Wall Street ratings agency has lowered New Jersey's credit rating, citing revenue shortfalls and other budget problems.

NJ Spotlight - Educators Help Put Baraka Over the Top, Schools Pose Daunting Challenges...New mayor's consistent criticism of Superintendent Anderson and her 'One Newark' plan pays off at polling places

NJ Spotlight - Another District Gets Fiscal Monitor to Try to Solve Budget Woes...Belleville schools are latest ordered, following audit, to submit to state oversight of finances

5-13-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - CAMDEN TEACHERS GET BAD NEWS: MORE THAN 300 LAYOFFS BY END OF SCHOOL YEAR...State-appointed superintendent drowned out while trying to deliver the news at advisory board meeting

NJ Spotlight - EXPLAINER: STATE CONTROL OF LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS COMES UNDER FIRE IN THIRD DECADE...Once viewed as a pioneering initiative, New Jersey’s approach now assailed by many as usurping community’s role

NJ Spotlight - IN NEWARK, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE GRABS ATTENTION OF EDUCATORS, POLITICOS...Magazine publishes tale of unlikely partnership between Cory Booker, Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Christie

5-12-14 State Budget Gap: Pension Payment Possible Issue
Star Ledger - NJ pension payment could be delayed by Christie, risking downgrades…Delaying the pension payment could spark lawsuits and credit downgrades, but state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said it is one of the few options left to close the budget gap..While under questioning from the Senate Budget Committee, the treasurer acknowledged that such a move is possible, but he did not single it out as the only option for balancing the budget...

NJ Spotlight - Analysis: $74 Billion In Future Pension Payments At Stake in Lawsuit...Appellate Division ruling in COLA case also could set precedent on state’s obligation to make pension payments

5-12-14 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - NJ private school for disabled children lied about finances, ex-workers allege…Somerset Hills School-More than two dozen former employees of Somerset Hills School and a related treatment center claim they were systematically lied to and given inadequate notice of their layoffs in December.

New Jersey Newsroom - NJ Public Schools to Narrow the Diversity Gap...Two studies conducted by the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association have shed light on the diversity gap in New Jersey Public schools.

NJ Spotlight - Two of Camden District's High Schools Consider Converting to Charters...Switch would move schools out of district control, feeding more tensions over charter growth.

5-9-14 A GSCS Note: Quality Education For All Students While Balancing the State Budget
GSCS: The next year's FY'15 State Budget process, while well underway, is clearly at a crossroads given the $807M shortfall in the current year's budget. What options are being considered? When will there be a public discussion about those options? It appears that there should be some response to these questions within a few weeks.

We hear everything is on the table--from all budget items across the board getting a "haircut" to maybe larger budget items being singled out. Clearly education is a large part of the state budget, but clearly education already has had to absorb deep cuts in recent years. Trenton must take this recent history into consideration when making budgetary decisions.

Quality education for all students is GSCS' goal, and GSCS will stay a presence in this regard for its members and beyond. . . . Stay tuned, we will keep you informed.

5-9-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Time to Revamp NJ's Costly, Segregated School System for Special-Needs Kids…Beyond recommendations and committees, transforming today's separate and unequal approach to special education demands a cultural shift

NJ Spotlight State’s Decision to Rescind Two Charters Shines Spotlight on Wider Issue…Trend is toward schools operated by larger networks instead of smaller independents

5-8-14 In the News - State Budget Shortfall and Charter Closings
The Record - N.J. lawmakers press state treasurer for details on budget shortfall… ‘Sidamon-Eristoff told the lawmakers they should expect “significant adjustments” to Christie’s $34.4 billion budget when he comes back before the panel on May 21, but declined to detail specifics….’

NJ Spotlight - NJ ORDERS SHUTDOWN OF TWO CHARTERS, ONE OLD AND ONE NEW, IN NEWARK AND CAMDEN…Both schools reportedly failed to chalk up sufficient scores on standardized testing

5-7-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - CAN THIS REALLY BE THE END FOR NJASK IN GARDEN STATE’S SCHOOLS?...In its last iteration, the state's decade-old test is serving as a transition to PARCC and Common Core After nearly a decade as New Jersey’s main state test for public schools, the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge -- known simply as "NJASK" -- is taking its final bow this month.

Star Ledger - President of national teachers union joins parents, teachers for another protest of Newark school plan

NJ Spotlight - PROFILE: PATERSON SCHOOL ADVOCATE IN QUIETER STORY OF STATE-CONTROLLED SCHOOLS...Rosie Grant’s Paterson Education Fund has seen state-led schools through uneasy times, now plays role of 'critical friend'

CHART - CERTAIN STATE SCHOOL AIDS, 8 year spread FY'08 - FY'15 (pdf)
State School Aids noted in this chart are: Total State Aid; Equalization Aid; and, Special Education Categorical Aid
CHART - Statewide Distribution of Equalization Aid (pdf)
5-6-14 State Board of Education to Meet Tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - AGENDA: DETAILS OF NEW SCHOOL COMMISSIONER’S PLANS TOP BOARD’S DOCKET Hespe and staff will discuss reorganization of Education Department duties, report on new testing and give presentation on Common Core
5-6-14 DOE Commissioner Hespe Before Assembly Budget Committee on Fiscal Issues for FY'15
NJ Spotlight - AID PAYMENTS DUE TO SCHOOLS MAY BEAR BRUNT OF STATE BUDGET CRUNCH…Delay elimination of some payments may be one way Christie administration tries to close $800 million gap

Star Ledger - Christie's education commissioner not sure if big budget gap will prompt cuts to schools

Press of Atlantic City - Panel wrestles with New Jersey school funding...Amid another budget crunch, New Jersey lawmakers are wrestling with a question of fairness: Is it better to give more state aid to school districts with the greatest need, or to use the state’s subsidy to help all schools equally?...

5-5-14 Advanced Placement Tests Begin...Holocaust Education Awareness Spurred by 1994 Law
Star Ledger - Advanced Placement exams for high school students begin tomorrow [May 5, 2014] NJ Spotlight - TWENTY YEARS LATER, THEY’RE STILL MAKING SURE WE -- AND OUR CHILDREN -- NEVER FORGET...Landmark legislation signed in 1994 requires all NJ schools to teach kids about Holocaust
5-2-14 PARRC Feedback from NJ Spotlight Survey
NJ Spotlight - VOICES FROM THE FIRST ROUND OF THE PARCC FIELD TESTS IN NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS...NJ Spotlight asked readers involved in the tests to share their experiences. You can join the conversation as well...
5-2-14 Affordability and Reach - School Funding Formula Issues
Press of Atlantic City - Fully funding New Jersey schools would cost state extra $1B… ‘Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents largely suburban districts, said the information is valuable to have, but she does not know if the formula, should it be enforced in court, would apply to all schools or just the 31 urban districts in the original Abbott vs, Burke lawsuit. “The court has said before that it could only address Abbotts, so we don’t really know if (the justices) could say the formula now applies to everyone, ”she said.”… Strickland said not everyone supported the funding formula, and there are still questions about the disparities in how much money districts receive in the base or “equalization” aid that is calculated using a combination of factors including enrollment and wealth. That aid makes up about $6 billion of the almost $8 billion in direct state aid to schools. “But there are some districts (that) get none,” Strickland said of the equalization aid. “How do we balance this?”
5-1-14 State Publishes Funding Report on Various Scenarios Under the SFRA
Christie Administration Releases School Funding Reform Act Scenarios - Summary Fiscal 2015 Funding Scenarios: 1) Governor's Proposed Budget 2)Legislature's SFRA Model 3) Fiscal 2014 Model

www.state.nj.us/education/stateaid/1415/scenarios.shtml.

5-1-14 School Funding Formula - What If's
Star ledger - NJ education officials release 2015 school funding levels for all districts… ‘State officials also released a third model, running the numbers of state aid using last year’s methodology. Under that formula, aid would increase by $5 million but its distribution would be dramatically different, with 60 districts receiving an aid increase and 420 suffering cuts, officials said.’

NJ SPOTLIGHT - SCHOOL-AID FORMULA NUMBERS RELEASED BY STATE ADD UP TO $1 BILLION FUNDING SHORTFALL ‘It probably won’t add another penny to their budgets, but New Jersey school districts yesterday finally learned from the Christie administration exactly how much state aid they would have received if the state’s school-finance formula was fully funded….How much it will change the aid allocation to districts is, at best, uncertain, as new pressures on the state budget are only adding to the constraints. Christie and his administration have acknowledged in the last week that they expect a $800 million shortfall in state revenues. Sciarra last night said it was unclear whether the latest full-funding notices would fully resolve the ELC’s legal challenge before the state Supreme Court.’...Notices sent to districts bolster those who accuse Christie administration of ignoring legal mandate.

4-30-14 Special Education Task Force Under Way, Appointments Announced
NJ Spotlight - Another State Task Force, Another Look at Special Education in NJ...Governor appoints panel authorized in wake of reports citing lack of consistent quality and standards in programs for kids with disabilities...'The latest task force was created under a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth..."We can not afford to waste one dollar due to ineffective or inefficient programs, all of our students deserve the best we can offer, especially those in special education programs,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the task force begin its efforts and working with them as we strive to provide the best education to every student in New Jersey[Beck said]“." One member of the previous state task force, who also was appointed to the new panel, said she hopes it will heed lessons from previous efforts. “I would hope that it can narrow its focus and come up with practical recommendations that have a real potential for working,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.'
4-29-14 High School Graduation Rates Improve, State Budget Shortfall Crisis
The Record - Report: More NJ students finishing high school, but wide gaps persist…“The federal government changed the method of reporting in 2012 and made it uniform across the country to allow for more consistent and reliable comparisons.The graduation rate is determined by taking the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma and dividing that by the number of students who entered 9th grade. Adjustments are made for students who transfer in or out.”

NJ Spotlight - Analysis: $800 Million Budget Gap Leaves Christie With Few Choices...'With Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff’s shocking announcement that New Jersey is facing an $800 million current-year budget gap, he and Gov. Chris Christie now face the daunting task of figuring out how to close such a substantial deficit when most of the state budget -- with the exception of a promised $1.5 billion pension payment --has already been spent...'

4-28-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Opts for Intervention, Not a Takeover, for Fiscally-Pressed Schools in Lakewood...Monitor’s role limited to trying to help solve budget crisis, not taking control of policies or programs

Press of Atlantic City - With caps in effect, some New Jersey superintendents face salary cuts

Star Ledger-Associated Press - NJ high school graduation rate ranks high in new report

Star Ledger -NJBEST college savings plan now getting high marks after rough start

CHART: STATE AID FY'08 - FY'15 (projected) (pdf)
GSCS Officers Testify on QSAC Issues
GSCS Treasurer, Chuck Sampson and GSCS Officer-at-Large, Jorden Schiff recently testified on QSAC issues at the invitation of Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz. Both recommended a review of the goals and objectives of QSAC, as well as extending the rotation time of QSAC monitoring from 3 to 7 years for districts that have met certain levels of QSAC ratings. Their testimony is attached, click on More here to read
4-25-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: State Lays Out Guidelines for Complying with New Dyslexia Law...Memo to school districts gives details of requirements for screening children, training teachers and staff

Star Ledger - Voters approve 12 school budgets, say yes to extra funds in Greenwich and Chatham

NJ Spotlight - Lakewood School District May Be in Line for State Fiscal Monitor...Financially strapped district may be faltering under responsibility of servicing 20,000 students not in public school

4-24-14 Education Issue in the News - One Newark
Star Ledger - Newark school overhaul plan hits a glitch

NJ Spotlight- Op-Ed: Newark Clergy Could Hold Key to Education Reform

4-23-14 Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students Getting Launched
Received by GSCS Executive Director Lynne Strickland yesterday "It is my pleasure to inform you that Governor Christie has appointed you to the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students..."

4-23-14/GSCS Note: While there has been a lag time in getting this Special Education Task Force underway, there is no doubt that it is needed. GSCS looks forward to being on this Task Force and to working on solutions that will improve the delivery of special education programs to students as well as to seek to resolve underlying funding issues that need to be addressed.

GSCS thanks the lead sponsors of S600 for bringing this important bill to fruition: Senator JENNIFER BECK District 11 (Monmouth) Senator M. TERESA RUIZ District 29 (Essex)and identical bill A1365 Assemblyman DAVID P. RIBLE District 30 (Monmouth and Ocean) Assemblywoman MARY PAT ANGELINI District 11 (Monmouth) Assemblyman JASON O'DONNELL District 31 (Hudson) Assemblywoman DONNA M. SIMON District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset).

4-23-14 School Budget Elections Today in Some Communities
Star Ledger School Elections in 26 Districts Today

The Record Editorial: Voting today in school elections...THE APRIL school election always has soared under the radar; now it's almost completely forgotten. There are many compelling reasons why voters should go to the polls [in those districts holding a voted today]...we urge you to do so.

4-22-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Two Dozen Districts Still Hold School Elections, Budget Votes in April...Two-year-old law has transformed election schedules for virtually all districts in state

Star Ledger - New Jersey residents cooling on consolidation, poll shows

NJ Spotlight - Plea by Newark Clergy Ratchets Up Debate Over School Reforms...Call for moratorium on ‘One Newark’ plan and creation of community advisory panel gets cool response from education officials

Star Ledger - NJ slashes fees on NJBEST 529 college savings plan by 50 percent

4-21-14 Education Issues in the News
The Times of Trenton Editorial - Editorial: N.J. study on special education quality, costs offers sound ideas for change

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Searching for New Ways of Promoting Opportunity...Before discussing theories of 21st century education, we must find ways to educate the most vulnerable children -- in urban and rural settings

NJ Spotlight - State Testing Sees Growing Movement of Families Planning to Opt Out...Confusion abounds about what happens next for those refusing to take standardized exams

4-17-14 In the News - PARCC and CaliforniaTeacher Tenure Case
NJ Spotlight - Over 60,000 New Jersey Students Take Part in Field Test of Online PARCC Exams...Early reports indicate trials went off without major headaches, although some relatively minor glitches were encountered

NY Times - Competing Views of Teacher Tenure Are on Display in California Case

4-15 and 16 - 14 In the News - School Construction, Choice and Controversy in Newark
Star Ledger - NJ school construction agency announces $500 million for 1,600 projects… 'The state funds represent at least 40 percent of costs of projects for the state’s non-Abbott districts. In addition to Allendale, McKenna announced the execution of grants to Alexandria Township, Cherry Hill Township, Hampton Township, Kingwood Township, Lindenwold, Lodi, Oakland and the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District. The projects range from roof, window and boiler replacements to security and technology upgrades and renovations to bathrooms. “This is a great example of how the state and local school districts can work together to provide children with safe and modern learning environments," Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said later.”'

Press of Atlantic City -Success of New Jersey's school choice program creating funding issues

NJ Spotlight - Mayoral Rivals Find Common Foe in State Control of Newark Schools...Both candidates promise to pose challenges for state’s new education commissioner

NJ Spotlight -NJ Charter Schools: A Conversation About Their Place in Our State

4-14-14 Special Education Report, School Budget Elections
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Report on Special Education Raises Challenges, Both New and Familiar ...Year-long study by NJ School Boards Association offers 20 recommendations for improving public education for students with disabilities ...“The report raises a number of good ideas that have been proposed in the past,” she said. “I guess it remains to be seen whether there is an appetite on the part of state government and the stakeholder community to tackle major reform of special education funding and service delivery.”

Philadelphia Inquirer - School budget elections disappearing in New Jersey

4-11-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger - NJ education group releases report on controlling costs of special education..."Special Education: A Service, Not a Place," offers 20 recommendations for improving special education efficiency and quality across the state. Officials should change federal and state laws, identify new ways to pay for programs and provide school districts with more flexibility in using special education funds, according to the report.

NJ Spotlight - Charter School Applications Remain Strong, Despite Few Approvals by State...Administration's reluctance to sign off on new charters doesn't do much to discourage nearly 40 new applicants

4-10-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Appeals Panel Rebuffs Foes of Online Instruction in Two Charter Schools...Teachers union, citing concerns over unregulated teaching methods, vows appeal to state Supreme Court

Philadelphia Inquirer - Expanding LEAP Academy creates cradle-to-college fund

4-9-14 Evaluations, Charter Schools - Debates Continue
NJ Spotight - Teacher Evaluation Rules Will Change Only Slightly Next Year, State Decides...Portion of evaluation that’s based on student test scores will remain at 30 percent for 2014-2015

Star Ledger - NJ receives 38 applications for new charter schools

NJ Spotlight Opinion: Can Traditional Schools Learn to Play Well With Charters

4-8-14 PARCC Testing Remains Controversial for Some
NJ Spotlight - Hespe Assures Senate Panel PARCC Is on Track, Despite Lingering Doubts...Technology readiness remains largest concern, with recent reports showing only 70 percent of field trials were up to the task

"...Hespe [Acting Education Commissioner] told the Senate committee that the field tests had so far exceeded expectations, but have not been without their glitches. “We have identified some problems, but as they arise, they are being resolved,” he said. “Every field test has its problems, that’s why we do them . . . We remain very optimistic that we will be ready.”

Press of Atlantic City - Schools still have concerns after field trial for computer-based state tests..."Kevin Urtubey, IT director for the Egg Harbor Township schools, said there were some minor issues with the fifth-grade language arts test, but he is more concerned about having enough time and technology to test some 7,500 students next year. The Miller School has two computer labs with 65 computers for 1,200 students who will all have to be tested in the two 20-day windows..."

4-7-14 NJ Spotlight - State-Controlled Districts: Acting Commissioner Hespe's First Headaches
"New schools chief must walk fine line between administration and local districts..."
4-4-14 Education in the News Today
Star Ledger - Education Commissioner defends budget, testing, teacher evals

NJ Spotlight - Legislative Spotlight Burns Hot and Bright on Aid Cuts, School Construction Delays...New education commissioner and head of development authority face tough questions about Christie administration’s policies and tactics

Star Ledger - NJ schools take the PARCC test for a test-drive

Star Ledger - Hundreds of students protest 'One Newark' plan during City Hall rally

4-3-14 State Board Discusses Evaluation Regulations
NJ Spotlight - Teachers Portray New Evaluations as Too Intrusive, Time-Consuming...But state board, officials suggest at least some complaints stem from being misinformed about new rules, say reforms won’t be delayed "It is too early to make those decisions,” he (Commissioner Hespe) said. “We can maybe make those decisions when we have more information. “We know it is a complicated process, and from my perspective, it has gone as we would have thought,” Hespe continued.
GSCS - STATE SCHOOL AIDS CHART '07-'08 to '14-'15 (pdf)
4-2-14 State Board of Education Meeting Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Star Ledger - NJ State Board of Education considers motions on charter schools, teacher evaluations 'The board meeting, the first since acting education commissioner David Hespe took office last month...'
3-31-14 GSCS: Identical Bills Call For Discontinuing Salary Caps
Garden State Coalition of Schools/ 3-31-14/Breaking News

(GSCS Note: Given GSCS' mission is high quality education for all children, and given the recent drain on school leadership in New Jersey, GSCS will be supporting A2930 and S1987.)

On the New Jersey Legislative website Today at www.njleg.state.nj.us

Identical Bills: S1987 Ruiz and A2930 Diegnan/Jasey-Prohibits the DOE from regulating the maximum salary amount a school district may pay its superintendent of schools.A2930 introduced 3/20/14; S1987 proposed.

STATEMENT: This act will take effect immediately.

This bill would prohibit the Department of Education from regulating the maximum salary amount a board of education could provide to a superintendent of schools pursuant to the employment contract.

3-31-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger - NJ judge's ruling may spur more schools to sue bullies, families...'Thanks to a recent court ruling, school officials now have the ability to get an alleged bully’s attention with this simple warning: If your behavior doesn’t change, it could cost your parents big bucks.'

NJ Spotlight - As Statewide Testing Looms, Lawmakers Start to Raise Questions...Concerns being raised on both sides of aisle about who is being tested and how the results will be used '...State Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) was the latest to drop a package of new bills that would limit the use of the standardized tests as New Jersey transitions into the new online testing, known as PARCC...'

Star Ledger - Somerset Vo-Tech to charge tuition fees to sending districts in the county

3-28-14 Education Law Center Files Motion per Abbott v Burke Mandates
NJ Spotlight - Motion Filed in State’s Top Court Challenges Christie Over School Aid...Education Law Center, citing Abbott v. Burke mandates, says governor can’t ignore funding formula stipulated by statute
3-27-14 NJ Spotlight: Report positive on PARCC Online test rollout to 100's of districts
NJ Spotlight - New Jersey's Online PARCC Rollout Goes Off Without a Hitch
John Mooney    March 27, 2014
Minor problems typically limited to computer glitches; participants give deployment of statewide test fairly high marks...'New Jersey’s first venture into statewide online testing can be characterized as -- so far, so good... “This has been a confidence building moment for us, and for schools,” she said. “New Jersey hasn’t had a history of [online] testing in general, and this is confidence building for all of us.”
3-26-14 GSCS Officers Sampson and Schiff invited to estify at Senate Education Hearing on QSAC
NJ Superintendents Ask Senate Committee for Kean or Bateman Legislation to Extend QSAC Cycle..."I would like to thank the superintendents for calling attention to this common-sense legislation,” said Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris). “The less time educators have to spend on unnecessary bureaucracy, the more that they can devote to improve education for our students. That is what is most important.”
3-26-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight – Democrats Move to Overturn Caps on Salaries of School Superintendents...Critics say administrators are retiring early or taking out-of-state jobs; legislators move to amend Christie policy

Star Ledger - NJ schools use technology to revolutionize classroom lessons

3-25-14 Superintendent Salary Caps Redux
NJ Spotlight - Democrats Move to Overturn Caps on Salaries of School Superintendents... 'Critics say administrators are retiring early or taking out-of-state jobs; legislators move to amend Christie policy...'A bill filed by state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) would all but block the state from setting caps on how much superintendents earn...“It has created a situation where 25 percent of the superintendents in the state are temporary,” Sweeney said in a speech before the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association on Friday..."
3-25-14 Major Anti-Bullying Ruling
Star Ledger - Bullies beware: Groundbreaking ruling allows schools to sue students who harass peers ...'In a groundbreaking case that puts school bullies and their parents on notice, a Superior Court judge has ruled that two Hunterdon County school districts may file suit against students who torment their peers...'
3-24-14 Op Ed - Delay High-StakesTesting
Star Ledger - Delaying new standardized testing would benefit schools, students: Opinion
3-21-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight – Hespe Keeps Low Profile During First Day Back on the Job as NJ Education Chief...Despite well-wishers and welcome-back greetings, new commissioner's repeat performance won't be piece of cake

NJ Spotlight - ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ Rings True in Efforts to Combat Kids' Hunger...Legislation seeks to expand state program that makes sure kids get healthy meal at start of school day

3-20-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - PARCC Field Test Goes Online as Exam Moves Closer to Full Deployment...Kudos and controversies aside, New Jersey is about to undergo a sea change in the way it evaluates students, schools, and teachers

The Record - Christie hasn't said where $700M in budget cuts will come homework?

Press of Atlantic City - Education advocates want New Jersey aid recalculated

Star Ledger - Poll: Does your student have too much homework?

3-19-14 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - Science education standards in New Jersey to become more practicalNJ Spotlight - Will School-Funding Formula Survive Christie’s Flouting of Law?...Despite being upheld by top court, weighted system for allotting aid wasn’t even factored into proposed state budget

NJ Spotlight - Will School-Funding Formula Survive Christie’s Flouting of Law?...Despite being upheld by top court, weighted system for allotting aid wasn’t even factored into proposed state budget

3-18-14 'N.J. Assembly panel to hear state budget concerns'
GSCS Note: GSCS will be testifying today at this hearing

Press of Atlantic City - N.J. Assembly panel to hear state budget concerns

3-18-14 Rutgers Survey on Teacher Evaluations Test Run Indicates Favorable Reaction from Classroom Teachers
NJ Spotlight -Teachers, Administrators Give Mixed Reviews to New Evaluations after Test Run...But survey of educators who took part in tryout of new system shows most not worried about impact on jobs, tenure… “For all the debate going on outside classroom walls, New Jersey schoolteachers who actually have been through the new state-mandated evaluation system have not found it to be as nerve-wracking as everyone thinks…Nevertheless, three-quarters of teachers surveyed by the Rutgers team said they were not worried that the new evaluations – including those newly tied to student performance -- would have a negative impact on their tenure protections.”
3-17-14 Recently Introduced - A2930 Diegnan re: Salary Cap Regulations
ASSEMBLY BILL 2930 Prohibits the DOE from regulating the maximum salary amount a school district may pay its superintendent of schools. Click here on More to see the bill
3-17-14 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer - N.J. legislators look to expand school breakfast program "New Jersey legislators are pushing to expand access to school breakfast programs in an effort to stem hunger and improve focus in the classroom among the state's youth.An Assembly panel advanced legislation Monday that would require more public schools to offer breakfast. Another bill would encourage school districts and nonpublic schools to serve breakfast in first-period class..."

NJ Spotlight - ‘Calculator’ Helps NJ Teachers Figure Whether They’ll Make the Grade...Online tool helps determine where they might fall within new ‘ineffective’ to ‘highly effective’ evaluation system

NJ Spotlight - The List: New Jersey's 'Edubloggers' Talk Policy, Politics -- and Technology...Ten of the state's leading education bloggers make every aspect of learning and teaching (and administering) their business

3-14-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Schools Want to Do Online End-Run Around Old Man Winter...State meets with district officials talk about ways students and teachers might work from home via Internet to make up snow days... "It began with one Bergen County district, when Pascack Valley Regional High Schools turned a snow day this winter into a day of online learning, then asked the state to let it count as a regular class day in the school calendar..."
3-13-14 Education and Related State Budget Issues in the News
(FYI Note re: Context - Good News, Hard News: 2010 $1B Federal Recession Stimulus Boost to School Aid Limited to that One Year Only)

NJ Spotlight - Is Record-High State Aid to Schools Really Just a Numbers Game?

Star Ledger - NJ property taxes climbed an average of 1.7 percent last year

Courier Post - Camden schools face large deficit for 2014-15 budget

The Record - Analysis: State budget gap could cost N.J. for years

3-12-14 Education Issues in the News
New Jersey Newsroom - Jerseyans in 13 School Districts to Vote on Construction Proposals March 11

Star Ledger - Middletown voters overwhelmingly approve $32 million in school repairs

NJ Spotlight - Legislative Panel Hears Critics of ‘One Newark’ Blueprint for Schools

The Record 'Virtual school day' idea earns nod for innovation

3-11-14 School Breakfasts, School Lunch Programs on Legislative Agenda
Star Ledger - Food for thought: NJ Assembly panel wants more school breakfasts
Link to State School Aid Summaries re Gov's Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2014-2015
http://www.state.nj.us/education/stateaid/1415/
3-10-14 Education in the News
The Record - Number of North Jersey school districts with April elections continues to drop

NJ Spotlight - State's ‘One Newark’ Plan May be Facing Tough Audience in Trenton...Some legislators have already made displeasure known -- critics, union members, community organizers to be on hand

3-7-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Teachers Union Shatters Records for Political Spending...Total of nearly $20 million in political expenditures by NJEA and its PACs far exceeds lobbying budget for any other special-interest group
3-6-14 DOE Announcement re: Charter Schools... SAT's Revised
Star Ledger - NJ revokes 2 charter schools, renews 10 others

Press of Atlantic City/Associated Press - New SAT will make essays optional, eliminate outdated vocabulary words Associated Press

3-6-14 Hespe Unanimously Appointed by State Board of Education
NJ Spotlight - Hespe Breezes Through Pro Forma Approval at State Board of Ed Meeting The welcome was warm and wide, with the board unanimously confirming Hespe to be an assistant commissioner, a formality for him to then be named acting commissioner, effective March 20. The state Senate has final confirmation power…“I know there is a lot of good yet to be done, and that has brought me back,” Hespe said yesterday.…Outgoing commissioner Cerf takes a few swipes at NJEA on his way out the door “I do know that they are personally aware that their statements are false, as I have engaged them directly with the incontrovertible, publicly verifiable facts. In response, they exhibit what can only be described as reckless indifference to the truth.”
3-5-14 State Board of Education to appoint David Hespe today...Anti-Bullying Reports Released
Star Ledger - NJ Board of Education meeting Wednesday to discuss charter school regs, religious holidays...‘The New Jersey State Board of Education meets this morning for the first time since the appointment of new Education Commissioner David Hespe, who was nominated last month to succeed Chris Cerf…Cerf, who was praised last month at what was expected to be his last meeting, will be in attendance...’

The Record - Most schools grade well on bullying prevention

NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Earn Good Marks for Compliance with Anti-Bullying Law...But ‘grades’ listed in annual state report cards are determined by school districts themselves

3-4-14 State Board of Education Meeting...Parent Involvement Could Be A Factor In Teacher Evaluations
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Ed to Start Transition to New Commissioner...Meeting will include first steps toward David Hespe’s return to top post, action on renewed charter school code

Star Ledger – Bill seeks to include parental involvement in measuring teacher effectiveness ‘ “Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), who is head of the education committee, said the bill “needs some fleshing out before it could proceed.” "The concept of involving the parents is a worthy goal, but how in the world would you accomplish it?” he asked. “Everybody is looking for a magic bullet when it comes to teacher evaluations, but it is complicated stuff.”’

3-3-14 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight – Fine Print: Teacher-Tenure Law Will Take More of Supervisors' Time, Study Finds…New Montclair State analysis details extra hours supervisors will have to spend observing and judging teachers under TEACHNJ

Star Ledger - Can Christie's plan for longer school days boost U.S. education? A Q&A

NJ Spotlight - A Promise to Renew: Try, Try Again at Quitman Street Renew School…Hidden successes, public shortfalls and a make-or-break year for one Newark school

Star Ledger - Moment of truth for Newark school reform: Editorial

2-28-14 In Education News Today - State Aid, More re New Schools Chief, David Hespe
NJ Spotlight - New Schools Chief Returns at Tumultuous Time for Education in NJ...State-aid crunch, strife in Newark and debate over Christie’s policies greet former educ… ‘James Crisfield, superintendent of Millburn schools and president of Garden State Coalition of Schools: “I welcome David Hespe back to the K-12 public school realm. He's a proven leader, and we in the field look forward to working with him as well.”'

Press of Atlantic City - State school aid increases small except for in choice districts

The Record -Christie releases district by district school aid figures…The district-level aid figures for Governor Christie's proposed 2014-15 budget give slight increases to all communities.

2-27-14 Dept. of Education State Aid Figures Released to Districts This Afternoon
Per Governor's News Release:

Christie Administration Again Announces Historic Levels of K-12 State Aid for New Jersey Schools,

"However, it is important to understand that it's not only how much we spend on education, but how effectively we spend our education dollars that matters," Cerf noted. Additional Aid for Every Student Every K-12 school district will see an increase in aid based on its projected student enrollment. The per-pupil funding – which amounts to an additional $20 for every student – will be added to the amount that each district received last year and would be available through two new aid categories: •Per-Pupil Growth Aid: Nearly $13.5 million will be allocated to Per-Pupil Growth Aid, which can be used for virtually any general fund budget item. The decision on where to spend these funds will be made at the local level. •PARCC Readiness: Another amount of nearly $13.5 million will be available for PARCC readiness. PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a consortium of 18 states collaborating to develop a common set of K-12 English and math assessments that reflect the core standards that determine college and career readiness. The PARCC assessments, which tap the same technologies that students often already use in the classroom as part of a 21st century education, will replace the existing paper-and-pencil NJ ASK and HSPA tests by the spring of 2015. Schools that are fully prepared for technology demands can use the funding stream for any other general fund budget item, at the local school board's discretion..."

2-27-14 'Former NJ Education Commissioner Expected to Return to Old Post'
(GSCS Note: Garden State welcomes Dave Hespe back into the role of NJ Commissioner of Education. GSCS has known and worked with Dave Hespe for many years and looks forward to continuing a productive relationship in the future.)

NJ Spotlight - Former NJ Education Commissioner Expected to Return to Old Post...Christie expected this week to announce choice of David Hespe to succeed Chris Cerf...'David Hespe is expected to be named this week as the state's new education commissioner, succeeding Chris Cerf and returning to the post he held during the Whitman administration.'

2-27-14 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Schools would be required to set social media guidelines... 'Every public school district in New Jersey would be required to set guidelines on how its employees communicate with students online under legislation set for a vote in both houses of the Legislature today.The bill (S441) would require that the policy be written, and include “provisions designed to prevent improper communications between school employees and students made via e-mail, cellular phones, social networking websites, and other Internet-based social media.” If it passes both houses and is signed by Gov. Chris Christie, school districts would have four months to adopt the policy.

Star Ledger - A winning NJ charter school awaits word on its fate: Editorial

Star Ledger - Cami Anderson, Newark schools superintendent, at loggerheads with school board

2-26-14 Education in the News - Governor's State Budget Proposal for FY'15
Star Ledger - Dems appreciate Christie's 'conciliatory' tone, but dismiss pension changes

NJ Spotlight - Schools Grateful for Slightly More State Aid Tucked Into Tight Budget…Increase amounts to less than one-half of 1 percent, although projects touted by Christie will get extra funding..."...For school-district representatives, or at least their advocates, who were on hand for the budget address and were fully expecting a tough year, a little money is better than nothing. “In some respects, it’s the most friendly budget we’ve had under Christie,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, the suburban schools group. “Compared to what we were expecting …,“ she said, her voice trailing off. “I mean, we knew the realities.”

“It’s relatively good news considering there was no less aid,” said Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. “Considering he had to put more than $2 billion alone in pensions, I think most of our members will be pleased with this.”

The New Jersey School Boards Association also spoke in general support of the spending plan, saying the money earmarked for PARCC readiness was important. “All of us in the education community are concerned about the technological challenges presented by PARCC, whether they involve available broadband, hardware, or software compatibility,” said Lawrence Feinsod, the NJSBA’s executive director.

2-26-14 More news on Governor's Budget Message Proposal
The Record-Public benefits at issue as Governor Christie proposes New Jersey's largest budget ever…Governor Christie on Tuesday unveiled a state spending plan that maintains aid for local schools, towns and property tax relief, and doesn’t raise taxes or cut significantly from any state programs or services.

The Record - Christie budget proposes $5M in grants to spur ways to boost students' learning time

2-25-14 p.m. 'Christie unveils his new 34.4M Budget'
Star Ledger - Christie unveils his new $34.4B budget..."The $34.4 billion state budget unveiled by Gov. Chris Christie today makes modest spending increases to schools and Medicaid — and includes a $2.25 billion payment to the retirement fund for public workers, the largest in state history..."
2-25-14 p.m Excerpt from Governor Christie’s State Budget Message FY15 this afternoon
GSCS FYI - Per Commissioner Cerf conference call today, the Governor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 also contains$10 per pupil to help support schools costs for PARCC/Common Core needs, as well as $10 per pupil in ‘growth’ aid for schools…SDA assessments are held flat.

State Budget Message FY '15, Excerpt:

"...The budget I put before you today provides the most funding in New Jersey history for education for a fourth year in a row — we are committing more than $12.9 billion. We are providing a record-setting $9 billion in direct aid to schools, nearly $40 million more than the previous year. And we will ensure that every one of our nearly 600 school districts receives an increase, helping districts to implement the new Common Core Standards. In my state of the state address, I proposed that we explore increasing the length of both the school day and the school year to boost our competitiveness. This budget includes $5 million for a new Education Innovation Fund — a competitive "Race to the Top" style program which will call on school districts to put forward proposals for the best way to implement approaches to increase students’ learning time. We can then scale the most effective approaches on a state-wide basis. The budget includes an additional $5 million to support preschool initiatives in New Jersey. This brings total aid to preschool education in the state to $653 million, which supports pre-K education for more than 53,000 students in 143 districts. And importantly, the budget includes funding to continue the path of education reform on which we have set out together. I am proposing increasing funding for the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program by $4.8 million to almost $54 million, and protecting $12 million in charter school funding..."

2-25-14 In the News - Gov.'s State Budget FY'15 Message Today, Newark Waiver Request re Laying Off Teaching Staff
Star Ledger - Christie includes $2.25 billion pension payment in new budget, rules out tax hikes

The Record - Excerpts indicate Christie’s budget address will put focus back on the cost of public employee pensions

NJ Spotlight - Waivers: Newark's Unusual Route to Performance...'With potentially hundreds of positions on the line, Anderson's request faces challenge from unions and prominent state senator'

2-24-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Newark Schools Chief Wants Teacher Performance Included in Layoff Criteria...Union leaders leap to defense of long-established contractual practice

NJ Spotlight - Administration Cautiously OKs Two Charters, Passes on Two More...A pair of charter school networks get the nod to open in Camden and Newark, but DOE approach continues to be decidedly slower than in earlier years

2-22-14 'Virtual School Days...The Next Step'
Press of Atlantic City Editorial - Virtual school days/The next step … “The state Department of Education is expected to decide this week whether Pascack Valley's virtual school day will count as a real day on the school calendar. It shouldn't be surprising that reality is getting ahead of regulations. School attendance requirements were developed at a time when texting, Skyping and FaceTime were the stuff of science fiction, rather than capabilities we carried around in our phones…”
2-21-14 In the News - Special Education...Vo-Tech, Business,Legislators Combine to Promote College-Career Readiness
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Disability Rights NJ v. NJ Department of Education Finally Settled...Consent agreement reached after seven years aims to reduce NJ’s high number of special-needs students in segregated settings 'What it is: Filed in 2007, the federal lawsuit filed against the state for failing to ensure special-education students are served in the “least restrictive environment” reached final settlement this week with a consent agreement between the plaintiffs and the Christie administration...'

NJ Spotlight - Business Coalition Calls Vo-Tech Schools Crucial to NJ’s Future...'New Jersey’s vocational and technical schools got a big boost yesterday when a new coalition of more than 100 businesses said the schools should get the support -- and funding – they need to keep preparing students for the workforce of the future. Led by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, representatives of the New Jersey Employer Coalition for Technical Education gathered...'

2-20-14 'NJ Schools Press Lawmakers to Ease Restrictions on Interdistricts Choice'
NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Press Lawmakers to Ease Restrictions on Interdistrict Choice...Supporters say enrollment cap of 5 percent stifles increasingly popular program
2-19-14 School Construction Agency's New Boss, New Era
NJ Spotlight - Schools Development Authority Moves Ahead Under New Leadership...'New chief McKenna says progress made possible by projects in pipeline before he took job Within two months of his appointment, the Schools Development Authority’s new executive director Charles McKenna has cleared five new projects for construction, kick-started the long-stalled Trenton High School, and opened the way to fast-track school projects in Newark and Camden...'
2-18-14 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Robot gives autistic kids a more personal connection

Associated Press, Star Ledger - N.J. error prevents thousands from taking new GED

2-18-14 Editorials-Opinion: Cerf's Legacy
Herald News-Northjersey.com - Herald News Editorial: Cerf had his successes

Star Ledger - Chris Cerf's solid record as NJ education guru: Editorial

Asbury Park Press Editorial: Cerf’s Successor needs An Open Mind

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Chris Cerf's Decision to Leave Education Post is New Jersey's Loss

2-15-14 The Record - Assessing Cerf
The Record: Assessing Cerf Friday "Chris Cerf became the state's education commissioner at a very difficult time in 2010.Cerf Cerf's predecessor, Bret Schundler, had just been fired after the state botched a $400 million federal grant application, and his new boss, Governor Christie, was in the middle of a very public spat with the state teachers union..."
2-14-14 'Deal puts focus on placing NJ's dissabled kids in local classrooms
The Record - Deal puts focus on placing New Jersey's disabled kids in local classrooms "...The federal suit, filed by an array of advocacy groups, contends that the state violated the rights of disabled children to attend school — to the greatest extent possible — with children who do not have disabilities and in their neighborhood schools. The suit said that because of the state’s failures, countless disabled children were unnecessarily separated from their peers..."
2-14-14 Real Time Try-Out: Virtual Schooling for Snow Days
The Record - 'Virtual school' in session today for Pascack Valley Regional High School District

NJ Spotlight - Bergen County School District Puts Virtual Spin on Snow Days

Star Ledger - Schools offer 'virtual classes' to keep lessons on track during snow storms

The Record - Snow day's virtual classroom: Are lessons at home the 'next logical step'?

2-13-14 In the News Today - Common Core and Snow Day Learning Approach
NJ Spotlight - State Board Reaffirms its Commitment to Common Core Standards...But resolution may do little to quiet critics, some of whom argue NJ is moving too quickly toward the more rigorous framework and testing

The Record - ‘Virtual school' in session today for Pascack Valley Regional High School District...It's snowing today and school is closed, but students in the Pascack Valley Regional High School District won't be sleeping in. They will still be learning - virtually...

2-12-14 Education Chief Leadership In Transition at N.J. Department of Education
NJ Spotlight - Speculation Swirls Around Cerf’s Successor, Impact on Policies and Pending Reforms…Will new education commissioner make own mark or simply pick up the baton?

The Record - Full plate awaits New Jersey's next education chief ‘…Several advocates said the department needed a steady, experienced hand during a time of major flux, with negotiations looming over the budget Christie will propose Feb. 25. Cerf is stepping down Feb. 28 to become chief executive officer of Amplify Insight, an educational technology firm that is part of News Corp.“You have to have someone who can jump in and run the ship with an in-depth understanding of how it works,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools…’

Star Ledger - NJ education commissioner sees no conflict in new private sector job

2-11-14 Assembly Education Hearing Conversation re PARCC, Common Core
NJ Spotlight - Movement to Delay New School Standards, Testing Gains Support...Legislators, education groups find common ground in talk of delaying at least some parts of Common Core...As New Jersey gets ready to implement new school standards and testing, some state legislators and education advocates are saying “Not so fast!”
2-11-14 Education Commissioner Cerf to Move On
The Record - N.J. education chief Chris Cerf stepping down - "Cerf said he aims to continue his mission to close achievement gaps and give public school teachers the tools they need to help children...Cerf plans to join Amplify, whose headquarters are in New York, on March 3...Amplify Chief Executive Officer Joel Klein said in a statement that he “couldn’t be more excited about Chris coming onboard. … Chris really gets what it takes — at every level — to help prepare students for success.”

NJ Spotlight - Chris Cerf to Step Down as New Jersey Commissioner of Education…Will take CEO slot at educational software outfit run by former boss at NYC school system… ‘He submitted his resignation earlier this month, effective March 1. No announcement has been made as to Cerf’s successor. ..’

Star Ledger - NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf stepping down at end of month, report says

2-10-14 Education in the News
Spotlight Q&A: Influential Democrat Offers Take on Key Education Issues...State Senate President discusses school funding, state takeovers, and vouchers 'Sweeney:...We passed a funding formula that passed muster of the state Supreme Court, and we were on course to fully fund it -- and it stopped. It stopped under Jon Corzine, so I can’t blame Gov. Christie completely. But the problem is our economy wasn’t growing to fund it, and our economy still isn’t growing. We have only recovered 45 percent of the jobs since the recession, so there is no funding. The way we fund our educational program is through growth in our economy...'

Star Ledger - Businesses are changing how they support education, report finds

2-7-14 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Snow storms force schools to take back holidays and extend year

NJ Spotlight - Revised ‘One Newark’ Plan – One Less Closure, Changes for Charters...Historic Weequahic High stays, students at schools turned over to charters have the option of staying put

2-6-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Ready to Settle 2007 Lawsuit Over Placement of Special-Ed Students...Federal complaint challenged DOE’s lax oversight of requirements for 'least restrictive environment
2-4-14 State Board of Education Meeting 2-5-14
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board to Reaffirm Commitment to Common Core...Resolution backing national standards set for vote in meeting that will also address deregulation, school ‘report cards’ and new teacher ratings
2-4-14 'Testing the Test': New State Test on Student Growth Released for District Review and Feedback to Department of Education
Star Ledger - NJ officials release 'dry run' student progress reports for teacher evaluations “…A key part of the new teacher tenure law, the reports released to districts today will not be used to evaluate teachers. Instead, they will help to test the integrity of the data…"The SGP is not intended to be an indicator of any comprehensive judgment of any teacher," Cerf said. The teacher reports are confidential and will not be made public now or in the future...The teacher reports are confidential and will not be made public now or in the future.'

NJ Spotlight - Explainer: 'Student Growth Percentile' Helps Measure Schools, Teachers…In place for several years to gauge schools, SGP will now also be used to evaluate teachers

2-3-14 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - State To Provide First Round of Student Test Performance Data...Ultimately to be used in teacher evaluations, initial data is only intended to give educators and districts a first look...

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Christie Mess Does Major Damage to Education Reform Efforts

1-31-14 Education News - School Closure bill, Charters in Camden, Performance Arts Participation
NJ Spotlight - Bill to Give More Local Say Over School Closures Progresses in Senate…But another measure just starting to come together would spell out how state-run districts can return to local control

Star Ledger - Senate Committee passes bill giving schools boards a say in school closings

NJ Spotlight - Portrait of NJ High-School Students Includes Many Who Study the Fine Arts…Nearly half -- almost 200,000 statewide -- took at least one class, mostly in visual arts and music

NJ Spotlight - Two New Charter Networks Win Endorsement to Operate in Camden…Superintendent announces choice of two well-regarded, established organizations to operate up to eight new schools

1-30-14 'Bill Would Restore Some Control to School Districts Run by State'
NJ Spotlight - Bill Would Restore Some Control to School Districts Run by State...Local approval would be required for any proposed closures or handover of buildings
1-29-14 Education Issues in the News
The Record - N.J. students in low-income districts struggle on SATs … “In the high-performing, affluent district of Ridgewood, 93 percent of last year’s seniors took the SAT, and 81 percent hit the college-ready benchmark. “That 81 percent is one data point,” said Superintendent Daniel Fishbein. “What about a child who isn’t a good test-taker but performs well in class and works hard? It’s always nice to be acknowledged for our high test scores but what is really important is what happens in our classrooms every day…”

NJ Spotlight - Raucous Newark Crowd Drives Superintendent from School Board Meeting…Cami Anderson walks out after comments from heckling, chanting audience members get personal

1-28-14 Report paints dire picture of NJ pension system
State Street Wire - Report paints dire picture of N.J. pension system TRENTON - Despite public worker pension/benefit reforms enacted in 2011, a new report says that unless employee and employer contributions are increased, along with incorporating other changes, the pension fund eventually will likely become insolvent in 15 to 20 years...
1-28-14 School Performance Reports Released Today - Provide Lots of Information
The Record - New Jersey releases school performance reports… 'Last year’s debut of the new format brought an outcry from superintendents complaining the lengthy reports contained many errors, but this year there was much less grumbling… Education Commissioner Chris Cerf praised the new reports for offering a wealth of information …“It’s always very difficult for me to find the right balance between celebrating the extraordinary reality that New Jersey is among the very best public schools systems in the country…and at the same time to talk about ways we can collectively work together to get better,” Cerf said. He called the performance reports a powerful tool to help districts “find out what’s working and how best to make improvements.”'

Star Ledger - NJ School Performance Reports for every school released today…State education officials released the School Performance Reports for all districts and schools in New Jersey …"We are providing information to enable managers, teachers, principals and superintendents to figure out what’s working [stated Education Comissioner Cerf]."...New Jersey is the first state in the nation to include arts participation in its annual report, said Robert Morrison of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership. The data shows 47 percent of high school students are enrolled in music, dance, drama or a visual arts class...Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson said enrollment in visual and performing arts is “highly correlated with lots of positive student outcomes, including higher graduation rate and higher post-secondary enrollment. Our students are participating in the visual and performing arts in a significant way.”..

1-28-14 School Construction Referenda Votes Today 1-28-14...School Performance Reports to be Released Today1-28
Press of Atlantic City - State to release school performance reports today

NJ School Boards Association - Voters to Act on School Construction Proposals totaling $24.9 million

1--28-14 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger - How much will a longer school day cost? New report has some answers "... While each school features its own unique schedule, most used the extra time for intensive tutoring, enrichment classes and teacher professional development, the report found. The schools used public funds from federal, state and local sources as well money from private philanthropic sources. The range of costs was broad. An elementary school in Arizona added 132 hours to the school year at a cost of $290 per student, while a school in Massachusetts added 540 hours at a cost of $1,695 a student..."

Star Ledger - N.J. Assembly issues committee assignments

1-27-14 Anti-Bullying Grant Fund $1M
NJ Spotlight - State Makes $1M in Grants Available for Anti-Bullying Expenses...Fund enables districts to recoup some of the costs incurred implementing and enforcing Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights..."...With applications due by February 19, the latest program asks districts to break down their costs into five categories, with conditions, including that no-cost alternatives were unavailable: Personnel; Training; Prevention Programs, Approaches or Other Initiatives; HIB Intervention Programs and Services; and, Best Practices."
1-24-14 Education in the News
Press of Atlantic City - Gov. Christie signs education bills on tenure, social media into law By

NJ Spotlight - Christie in Camden to Laud After-School Program, Sidesteps Other Issues...Governor takes questions from schoolkids, pointedly ignores press hoping for even oblique reference to scandals... 'Cerf said it was not just about adding time to the clock: “Longer day, longer year doesn’t add any value unless it is quality time,” he said. “It could mean lots of different things. It could be summer work, it could mean tutoring.” Cerf acknowledged that one of the big issues is the potential cost of programs, all but precluding a change in the statewide calendar. Christie’s next state budget is to be presented in February, with considerable pressures on revenues and required pension contributions. “A statewide mandate would run into serious budget realities, and also undermine local decision making,” Cerf said...'

Politickernj - In Camden, Christie unveils after-school dinner program, avoids 'Bridgegate' queries

1-22-14 Health Insurance Exchanges for Part Time Employees v. Obamacare
Bloomberg News - Target drops health plans for part-timers as Obamacare launches - "Target Corp. said it will end health insurance for part-time employees, joining Trader Joe’s Co., Home Depot Inc. and other retailers that have scaled back benefits in response to changes from Obamacare...About 10 percent of Target’s part-time employees, defined as those working fewer than 30 hours a week, use the company’s health plans now..."
1-22-14 Dyslexia Screening Mandate Leads List of Education Bills Signed by Christie
NJ Spotlight -Dyslexia Screening Mandate Leads List of Education Bills Signed by Christie...Legislation aims to identify and provide support for children with reading disorders at an early age
1-21-14 Today - Governor signs lame duck school-related bills into law, vetoes others
See attached list (as organized by GSCS)
1-21-14 'Suspension of Dissident School Principals Revs Up Newark Opposition'
NJ Spotlight - Suspension of Dissident School Principals Revs Up Newark Opposition…State-appointed superintendent under fire for reprimand of four who spoke out at rally
1-19-14 Longer Year, Longer School Day Under Debate
Star Ledger - Longer school day? No way, many parents and students say … “… Charles Sampson, superintendent of the Freehold Regional High School District, said Christie’s proposal will result in local districts taking a close look at how they use their time. But he said the first step is to understand the goal. "What are we looking to improve? …Like parents, teachers and administrators will have many questions, and many opinions, said Lynne Strickland ‘ of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "It’s going to require an in-depth conversation," she said, listing issues like contract negotiations, facility upgrades to handle summer temperatures and community goals that would have to be worked out. "Time is money, and the state is short of funding as it is..."
1-17-14 School Day Times Around The State
NJ Spotlight - Interactive Map: Where – and How Long – School Bells Ring Around NJ…Most are in session for 7 hours and 6 minutes, 180 days; Gov. Christie wants to extend time spent in class
1-15-14 Governor's Proposal - Longer School Year and Longer School Day
NJ Spotlight -Christie Calls for Longer School Day, Calendar in State of the State … ‘…Representatives from some of the larger education groups said it is hard to argue against more time in the classroom, but there are questions of funding, facilities, and a host of other issues. “…It really needs to be fleshed out,” said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, the suburban schools group. “Will it be required, will it be a local option, how will you determine the need?” she said. “What about the cost on all levels…?”

Star Ledger editorial - Chris Christie’s State of the State: Longer school day needed, but how do we pay?

1-15-14 NJ Spotlight on State of the State Message
NJ Spotlight - Christie’s Call For Pension Concessions Sets Up Budget Battle With Sweeney
1-15-14 State of The State Message - Early Take-Away
Statehouse Bureau- Christie tries to move on as cloud of scandal hangs over State of the State address
1-14-14 Early Take-Away on Governor's Proposal to Lengthen School day and School Year
Politickernj-State Street Wire - In some quarters, support for a longer school day
1-14-14 Education in Governor Christie's State of the State Message today
Star Ledger - Gov. Christie education proposal: Longer school day, shorter summer break
1-14-14 Lame Duck Session Concludes Today - Education Bills
NJ Spotlight - Legislature Turns Out the Lights with Key Education Issues Still To Come…Session ends with votes on a half-dozen school bills and Christie veto on kindergarten task force

GSCS Note: A3421/Sports Participation bill (GSCS had concerns on this bill) was held in the Senate Budget Committee, thus not voted on...Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sarlo reported that they will be looking to address the bill in the next session.

1-10-14 Education Week - Districts Adjust Spending to Post-Recession Reality
"School systems wrestle with how to manage their money and deploy staff resources..."
1-10-14 Passed 1-9-14 in NJ Legislature - Dyslexia Screening by Second Grade and Middle Schoolers To Learn Social Media Savvy
Legislation to require certain public school students be screened for dyslexia and other reading disabilities before they finish second grade and be provided with proper treatment if the screening confirms a diagnosis received final legislative approval

"...Middle school students would get a mandatory course on how to use social media responsibly under a bill passed by the state Senate today....The courses would be required starting in the 2014-2015 school year."

1-10-14 Will the Bridgegate Scandal Change the Way Christie Governs?
NJ Spotlight - Will the Bridgegate Scandal Change the Way Christie Governs?...The conversation may be about Christie's national ambitions, but he still has a job to do at home
1-8-14 NJ Schools Rank High on Education Quality...NJ ASK Test Updated for Transition to Common Core
Star Ledger – N.J. schools near top in nation in student achievement, new study finds…New Jersey students rank second and third in the nation in success in life & achievement, per study released today

The Record - Schools’ new strategies raise North Jersey graduation rates… “As New Jersey schools struggle to push thousands of additional teenagers to earn diplomas every year, educators are trying a range of steps — from nudging students to recoup missing credits online to extending the school day and expanding vocational courses. A look at districts with some of the biggest jumps in graduation rates offers lessons in what might help…”

NJ Spotlight - NJASK Updated As Part of Ongoing Transition to Common Core…Revised middle-school math exams alter profile of what students need to know in grades 6 to 8

1-6-13 NJ Spotlight Takes a Look at Gov. Christie's Education Agenda - Past and Future
NJ Spotlight - Education Issues Will Help Shape Christie's Second Term -- and Political Future "...the next state budget – education aid makes up one-third of it – could face stiff pressures, especially with commitments to make required state pension contributions. Add in Christie’s continued push for an income-tax cut, and that doesn’t leave much cushion in the budget for schools, Vrancik said. “Funding is going to be really stressed, given the realities of the pension payback,” said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a suburban school group. “There is a serious pressure cap on that.”...Strickland said she hopes school districts will ...get some help in addressing rising special-education costs.

The List: Top 10 Education Highlights of Christie's First Term

1-5-14 New System Determines NJ Graduations Rates
GSCS Note: This article is helpful in understanding how the new way that is now being used to determine graduation rates in NJ works.

Star Ledger - Former Perth Amboy superintendent on dismal graduation rate: 'We saw this coming ”…With a graduation rate of only 58.97 percent, Perth Amboy High School's rate wasn't just the lowest in Middlesex County, it was one of the lowest in the state… As we learned more about student transfers, we realized we had been tracking incorrectly and would eventually see the results in our graduation rate… They hired former Commissioner of Education William Librera to conduct a complete review of the district's student information systems to ensure we were entering and tracking data accurately. It was determined that many students who were thought to be transfers were actually drop-outs. "Additionally, it was determined that the school's computer system had been inaccurately rounding failing grades up to Ds. It was also discovered that many students who graduated failed to meet state attendance requirements…"

1-3-14 First Legislative Week of the New Year
Politickernnj.com - Weekly Advance: Week of Jan. 6..."The legislators return next week with a packed schedule, including voting sessions and committee hearings touching on a variety of contentious topics.The Assembly convenes for a full voting session that will include the resolution opposing the Civil Service banding concept..."
1-1-14 Extended: Filing Deadline for School Board Candidate Nominations
GSCS: Governor Christie signed into law on December 27, 2013: S-2086/A-3424 (Whelan/Greenwald, Singleton) – Changes deadline for filing nominating petitions for school board candidates to last Monday in July; revises procedure for filing school board candidate vacancy; and revises certain other election procedures

Philadelphia Inquirer – N.J. extends deadline for filing for school board races… “A bill aimed at getting more people to run for school board seats has become law.The legislation, signed Friday by Gov. Christie, extends the deadline for filing nominating petitions for school board candidacy in the November general election from the date of the June primary to the last Monday in July…”

12-18-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - More Than 1,200 Schools Will Take Part in Testing Tryouts…New online exams set to get trial run before making official debut in 2014-15

NJ Spotlight - ‘One Newark’ Reform Plan Proves Divisive Even Before Official Release…Superintendent’s plan calls for sweeping changes to address poor academic performance and exodus to charter schools

12-16-13 Education in the News
Politickernj-State street Wire - State Supreme Court sides with Education Dept. in fight with proposed charter school

NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: Framing the Future of Education Policy in New Jersey…A new 'Framework for Excellence' can help guide governor and legislators through the next stage of education reform

NJ Spotlight - Administration Promotes Charter School Applicants to Next Round…Of nine hopefuls that applied to Department of Education, four are advanced to final round

12-13-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Tragedy in Connecticut Spurs School-Safety Response in New Jersey…Surprise drills, contingency planning have been focus of statewide effort in aftermath of Newtown massacre

Star Ledger - College Tips: Admissions counselors pay attention to bouts of 'senioritis'

12-12-13 NJ Spotlight - Shift to November Leaves School Elections with Little Cash, Less Attention
NJ Spotlight - Shift to November Leaves School Elections with Little Cash, Less Attention…No longer requiring public OK of budgets also cited as factor in declining interest, drop in campaign spending
12-11-13 News for NJ Educators from the NJ Department of Education
The Bridge (Disseminated by GSCS at the request of the NJDOE) - a monthly newsletter for educators from the Department of Education, to see in depth information included, click here on More
12-11-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Cooperation, Not Strife, Marks Talks on Control of Newark Schools…While teachers and officials squabble, state prepares quietly to return some fiscal power to local board "...While there has been much rancor of late between Newark’s school administration and its teachers union, quieter talks about state control of the district are proving more fruitful..."
12-10-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Era of Cooperation in Newark Schools Gives Way to Animosity…One year after celebrated signing of teacher contract, national union president charges officials have reneged on promises… “…“What Randi seems to have forgotten is this contract brought $50 million more into the pockets of Newark teachers, while it was the NTU who blocked Newark’s children from receiving $34 million (in Race to the Top money),” Cerf said…”

Star Ledger - Special elections: 5 N.J. school districts seek voter approval for $56M in construction projects

12-9-13 National Teachers’ Unions - NEA and AFT - in the News…Cyber-bullying Bill has Momentum in Lame Duck...School Violence Decrease Overall
Politico.com - Teachers unions face moment of truth…The unions still control huge resources, but there are signs of financial strain... "...It’s designed to be an impressive show of force: Thousands of unionized teachers plan to rally Monday in cities from New York to San Francisco to “reclaim the promise of public education.Behind the scenes, however, teachers unions are facing tumultuous times..."

NJ Spotlight - Bill Would Ratchet Up Repercussions for Cyber-Bullies in Schools…Legislation seeks to criminalize online harassment, require kids and their parents to attend counseling "...The bill sponsored by state Sens. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson) would essentially criminalize online harassment and other intimidation, whether by adults or minors, adding the new crime of “cyber-harassment” to the books..."

Star Ledger - The Auditor: Christie, education leader go from friendly to foes again… “Just 13 months ago, Gov. Chris Christie and Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers, were all smiles, appearing together on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe…"

Philadelphia Inquirer - Report: Violence down in N.J. public schools

12-6-13 Annual Report on School Bullying Released
Press of Atlantic City - School bullying drops 36%, state says

NJ Spotlight - In Second Year of Anti-Bullying Act, Reports Drop Sharply in NJ Schools…Latest data indicates fewer incidents of bullying and harassment, shows districts take different approaches to problems

12-5-13 Education in the News
NorthJersey.com - N.J. announces $508 million for school construction… ‘The state said Wednesday that it will pay 100 percent of the costs in 31 lower-income districts and at least 40 percent of the costs in other districts for projects that address health and safety concerns and overcrowding…’

NJ Spotlight - High-School Graduation Rate Rises Slightly Once Again…Interpreting numbers may soon prove problematic amid looming changes in criteria for earning diploma

The Record - N.J. approves alternatives to GED test

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Newark and Charters Set Up Universal Enrollment System…Landmark agreement would give preference to high-needs students picking their schools

12-4-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -New Rules Continue Shift in What State Requires for Educator Training…Education department updates guidelines for devising professional development plans for teachers and administrators

Star Ledger - N.J. Assembly to hold hearing on questionable spending at private special-needs schools

Star Ledger - Report: One-quarter of N.J. teachers rated below levels needed to keep tenure…” The report chronicles the state’s testing of the new evaluation system, which is being used in every school district this year. Dorothy Strickland, retired professor of Rutgers University and a member of the state board of education, said she is optimistic about the findings, which show the majority of teachers, three-quarters, were rated at the levels required to retain their tenure…”

12- 3-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - State to approve 3 vendors for new high school equivalency exam

NJ Spotlight – Agenda: State Board of Education Takes up Graduation Rates, GED…State board president remarks that Christie administration not giving board much to do lately

NJ Spotlight -More Renaissance Schools for State-Controlled Camden District?...Camden issues RFP for up to three more ‘renaissance schools,’ even though its first is still to open

The Republic – NJ Gov. Christie lays out objections to bill granting in-state tuition to immigration students

12-2-13 Costs of Teacher Evaluations...Dyslexia Bill Moving with Amendments...Universal Enrollment in Newark with Charters included...Common Core Tech Capacity at Issue
The Record - Teacher ratings can strain New Jersey school districts

Star Ledger - Newark's big play on charter schools: Moran … "The doomsday scenario is that the students in greatest need are stuck in the most struggling schools"

NJ Spotlight - Bill Requiring Schools to Screen for Dyslexia Finally Makes Headway…Amendments address concerns about costs and scope of testing for reading-related disorders

The Montclair Times - In Montclair: Common Core testing a matter of bandwidth…’ Montclair School District administrators are analyzing whether the district's server can support the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers [PARCC], online, standardized testing for the Common Core curriculum set to begin in the next school year…’

11-26-13 Education in the News
(GSCS Note: Bills passing out of the Assembly Education Committee yesterday included extending filing deadline for school board candidates; extending the budget hearing timelines for districts that hold school elections in November [A4300 eliminates March deadline for districts allows them to extend budget approval until May; A3424 moves filing deadline to 64 days prior to November election date.]; and disseminating cardiac arrest symptoms information to school personnel, parents. GSCS supported these bills.)

Burlington County Times - Panel approves deadline changes for school budgets and BOE candidate filing ’….Both bills were approved by the Assembly’s Education Committee and head to the full chamber for consideration. The school board filing deadline bill has already been approved by the Senate, but the budget deadline change is still pending before the Senate Education Committee.’

NJ Spotlight - Common Core Standards, Online Testing Continue to Gain Ground in NJ…Bills proposed to delay implementation find no support from administration, leaders of Senate and Assembly

11-25-13 Assembly Education Committee Meeting Today
NJ Spotlight - Legislators Fine-Tune Law Allowing School Elections to Switch to November…Bills will adjust deadlines for board candidates to file and for budgets to be completed… “…The Assembly Education Committee is slated today to hear several bills aimed at fine-tuning the law that ended the state’s century-old practice of April school votes and led to more than 500 districts shifting the elections to November...The education committee’s meeting this afternoon will be its first since the November election, and likely the committee’s last voting session of this year, Diegnan said. He does plan another meeting in December, but said it would be solely to hear testimony on the state’s oversight of private schools for students with disabilities. Otherwise, Diegnan said he would rather not try to cram in significant legislation in the lame duck session. He added that there would be plenty of work once the new year begins, especially regarding charter schools…”
11-22-13 Education Issues in the News
(GSCS Note: This is a complex issue, triggered by shortage of revenue support for our schools - GSCS has expressed concerns since the bill was first introduced a few years ago.)Star Ledger – Stop Fees on NJ School Activities - Editorial

The Record - Paterson recipients of school grants show mixed results as U.S. education secretary makes visit

11-22-13 Initial Results Out from Evaluation Pilot Districts
NJ Spotlight - State Releases First Results from Pilot Trials of Teacher Evaluation Systems…Initial report correlates data collected from 25 districts participating in pilot for at least a year..."As New Jersey public schools this year move to new teacher evaluation systems, two dozen districts that tested the systems over the past two years are starting to provide information about lessons learned and challenges ahead..."
11-21-13 Health Care How-To's and Costs for Schools Debated in DC
Education Week - K-12, Colleges Swept Up in Health-Care Debate… Concerns about the potential cost of providing support staff and hourly employees with health coverage came up at a congressional hearing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
11-21-13 GED (High School Equivalency) Tests Being Replaced Nationwide
NJ Spotlight - H.S. Equivalency Exams to Get New Look Next Year in New Jersey…Three new test options for those seeking to earn diploma will replace the soon-to-be-defunct GED
11-20-13 Common Core, Student Testing, and Graduation Requirements - In the News
NJ Spotlight - Major Changes on Way for New Jersey's High School Tests…Details still scarce, but administration suspends graduation requirement as it begins move to Common Core, PARCC..."For the first time since 1989, New Jersey will next year suspend its requirement that high school graduates pass a state test in language arts and math to receive their diplomas.But that doesn't mean there will be fewer tests, just that they'll be used for different purposes..."

The Record - 12 Republican senators ask for more details on new NJ Common Core education guidelines ..."In a letter released by Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, the group asked Cerf to explain the rationale behind the guidelines, their cost, the method for tracking student performance and the assurance of privacy for student data. Pennacchio said he was not hostile to the Common Core but sought answers to questions that parents and teachers have asked..."

11-19-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
11-18-13 p.m. Politickernj-State Street Wire - Passed in Senate: 'pay forward' commission, full-day kindergarten consideration, more [Click on More below to see K-12 education-related bills passed.]

Politickernj - Fernandez-Vina approved in Senate for Supreme Court ..."That sets the stage for the first nominee of Gov. Chris Christie’s to ascend to the higher court after Senate Democrats rejected two earlier nominees and have held two other nominees in limbo without a Judiciary hearing..."

Press of Atlantic City - State website helps students study for standardized tests

NJ Spotlight - Cyberschool Offers Teachers Online Lessons to Prepare for Common Core…State’s new website provides resources ranging from lesson plans to videos as NJ begins phasing in tough new standards

The Record - Senate OKs in-state tuition rate for N.J. students living in U.S. illegally

11-18-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -Study Shows Steady Exodus of School Superintendents, But Not a Stampede…Statistics on salary cap impact are preliminary and full effect may not be felt for a few more years

Star Ledger - College Tips: How to pick the right teacher to get the best recommendation

Star Ledger - Chris Christie, Democratic lawmakers to tangle over tough state budgets…Gov. Chris Christie and the state's Democratic legislature will butt heads while hammering out some of the toughest budgets in decades.

Philadelphia Inquirer - In N.J. bill, tuition break for some undocumented

11-15-13 Establishing Full Day Kindergarten and School Innovation Fund bills move out of Senate Education Committee
New Jersey Newsroom - N.J. Looks into Implementing Full-Day Kindergarten Statewide… “…The task force would be comprised of: the Commissioner of Education; one member appointed by the Senate President; one member appointed by the Assembly Speaker; one member each appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including three superintendents of schools, two elementary school principals, two kindergarten teachers, and one member recommended by each of the following groups: the New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools; and three members of the public with expertise related to the work of the task force, one which must be a parent.”

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers take baby steps toward statewide full-day kindergarten

NJ Spotlight - Senate Panel Lends Support to ‘Innovation Fund’ for NJ Schools…$5 million program would provide grants to encourage innovative approaches to education

11-13 and 14-13 p.m. NJ Students - Test Scores in the News
The Record - N.J. statewide school test results stay the same as questions get harder

Star Ledger - N.J. students keep test scores up despite harder exams

NJ Spotlight - Student Test Scores Remain Steady, Despite Changes to Core Curriculum…New Jersey students face a world of differences, not just in what they need to study but in the way they'll be tested

Press of Atlantic City Editorial - New Jersey's schools / Among the best

11-13-13 Innovation Fund for Schools...Charter Schools Fund - in the News
NJ Spotlight articles: NJ Spotlight - Democrat Proposes $5 Million Fund to Foster Innovation in NJ Schools…State Senate bill revives Christie administration proposal rejected by Legislature this summer

NJ Spotlight - Profile: Fund CEO Has Unobstructed View of Newark's Charters…With help from the likes of Gates and Zuckerberg, Mashea Ashton juggles advocacy and support for city's charters

11-12-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -Agenda: NJ State Board of Education Gets Back to Work with Busy Agenda…First meeting after elections sees new regulations on the docket, along with state test scores

Star Ledger - New report: College bound students often chose majors that don't fit their strengths

11-11-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - 'We're going to fix it': N.J.'s top Democrat blasts private special-needs school spending..." “As a father of a child with a disability, my motivation and passion is to improve special education,” Sweeney [Senate President Steve Sweeney] said in an interview Thursday. “This puts a really bad mark on it, so we’re going to fix it in a way so we’re not going to have to read stories about this again.”

Press of Atlantic City - N.J. students score highly on national test

11-8-13 NJ Schools Stand Out in Nation's Report Card
Star Ledger - New Jersey's students among the best in nation, according to 2013 report card…New Jersey students are among the best in the country, according to results from the NAEP, or Nation's Report Card
11-8-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - Teachers at convention share tricks to make learning fun ... "...The conference devoted several sessions to evaluation models used in New Jersey. Former educator Charlotte Danielson, of the Princeton-based Danielson model, packed a large conference room as she talked about the need for effective evaluations. She defended her model’s position that teachers are rarely great all the time, saying part of the problem of past evaluation systems is that almost all teachers were rated effective all the time..."

The Record - Tenafly to update offerings to meet new educational standards

NJ Spotlight - Big Concerns Spur Big Turnout of Teachers at Annual NJEA Convention…Tougher evaluations, new standards and testing for students – and re-election of nemesis Gov. Chris Christie – among items on agenda

11-7-13 Education Issues in the News
NJSpotlight - Voters Just Say 'No' to Ballot Questions Looking to Boost School Budgets …Referendums to reconstitute school boards, pay for roof repairs do far better

NJ Spotlight - Christie's First Stop After Reelection: Abbott School in Union City…Governor's mixed message -- support for an urban school success story while opposing court decision that funds it

11-6-13 What's Next in Trenton: Lame Duck Legislature 'til early January 2014
GSCS Note: The 'Lame Duck' legislature starts tomorrow with a convening of the Senate. The Lame Duck session will go through the beginning of January 2014 when yesterday's elected legislature and Governor are sworn in to the next legislative season. While GSCS has heard from the Statehouse that secondary education is not on the front burner for lame duck, this 'in-between' transition time for the old and the new legislature always bears close observation, as unanticipated bills may crop up for fast-track passage. GSCS will be watching closely...Stay Tuned...

See attached election overview by Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc. - 2013 Post Election Analysis -Overwhelming Win for Christie—Democrats Retain Control of Legislature

11-6-13 Governor Christie Re-elected...Legislature Remains in Democratic Control
(GSCS Note: The State Senate balance remains the same at 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans; The State Assembly changed 2 seats to Republicans, standing now at 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans.)Click on More here to see full articles attached...

The Record - Reelected Christie thanks N.J. for making him 'luckiest guy'

NJ Spotlight - Democrats Stand Fast in Senate, Lose Two Seats in Lower Chamber

A Main Objective of the GSCS Website is to Inform People on Issues that Impact Public Education in New Jersey
In addition to focusing on key issues that are common to GSCS members, this website is also intended to inform the public on issues of interest in quality public education. GSCS is a non-partisan, non-profit grass-roots association composed of nearly 100 school districts throughout the state of New Jersey...Volunteers are active in GSCS via their school district's membership, and come from the ranks of parents, interested citizens, school board members and school administrators who are committed to quality public education for all children...PS - Congratulations to the GSCS website - over 2 million hits and counting...!
YOUR VOTE COUNTS - GENERAL ELECTIONS TUESDAY NOVEMBER 5, 2013
11-4-13 School Elections as well as General Election are Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5; and Editorial on Student 'Snooping'...Or Not
NJ Spotlight - School Budgets Up for Vote Tomorrow in Just Three Districts Statewide…Law now requires public OK only if spending plan calls for exceeding 2 percent cap on tax hikes “...[and]it is not getting any easier to find people willing to serve on boards. Overshadowed by the gubernatorial and legislative races on the ballot, the school board elections are seeing the fewest candidates for each open seat since 1999, according to the school boards association..."

Asbury Park Press-Associated Press – All But 40 NJ School Board Having Elections Tuesday

Star Ledger - Should N.J. schools be snooping on students? - Editorial "A school district in California recently announced that it hired a private company to monitor students online for signs of bullying. And it’s not the only one. The firm says it expects to be watching more than 3,000 schools worldwide by the year’s end — and a handful of New Jersey districts are “aggressively pursuing” its services..."

11-3-13 Time of Trenton Opinion - Do Not Underestimate the Importance of N.J. School Board Elections
Time of Trenton – Opinion - Do not underestimate the importance of N.J. school board elections: Until recently, school board elections were held in April...Selection of our school board members is critical for determining how our children are educated and our tax dollars are spent. Don’t leave it to chance. Choose wisely on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
11-1-13 NJ Spotlight - Teachers Union Spends Big on Buono Campaign, Tight Legislative Races
10-31-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Pro-School Reform Group Noticeably Quiet in 2013 Election Campaign…Organization seen as counter-balance to NJEA has spent no cash on candidates, ads

Burlington County Times - R.V. institutes on-the-job learning for special needs students

10-30-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Gov. Chris Christie requests briefing on N.J. private schools for disabled students…Gov. Chris Christie (left) has requested a briefing from N.J. Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf on how the state's about 180 private schools for disabled students are spending taxpayer money.

NJ Spotlight - NJ Takes New Route in Latest ‘Race to the Top’ Funding Application…Four state departments join in bid for $44M to finance improvement, expansion of preschool and early childhood programs

State Street Wire - Lame-duck hot points: Tuition equality, Sandy recovery, marriage equality

10-29-13 NJ's Fiscal Approach to Schools, Towns...Camden Survey Assists New Strategy for its Schools
NJ Spotlight - Fiscal Reforms, Innovative Aid Guidelines Help Ensure Stability in New Jersey…The state also has a number of programs to assist school districts and municipalities with debt management and debt payments.

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Surveys of Camden Students, Teachers Encouraging, Discouraging…But some answers run contrary to popular notions of what problems plaque troubled urban schools

10-28-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Christie or Buono: Will the Real 'Education Governor' Please Stand Up?...Governor and challenger are fiercely committed to education, without agreeing on any of a myriad of details

Star Ledger - N.J. freezes placements at treatment center tied to private special-needs school

10-25-13 School Board Elections on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at General Election
NJ Spotlight - Districts Continue to Shift School Board Elections Into November….Over 90 percent of all districts have made the move, but races can get lost on same ballot as state and national elections
10-24-13 GSCS Meeting a Fall Workshop Creates Momentum
GSCS Note: All seats were taken and all present engaged in substantive dialogue with legislators and GSCS officers. With the presentation of GSCS Focal Points for 2013-2014, discussion focused not only on issues of implementation of evaluation, PARCC, and the funding squeeze coincidental with 2% caps, but also on how to help ensure new policies have positive, not negative, impacts on our schools. With the input of its members, GSCS plans to document policy initiatives with solid data, to report out results as the initiatives roll out, and to make pro-active suggestions for improvement along the way. Special thanks to Assembly Education Committee members David Wolfe (R - Brick) and Mila Jasey (D South Orange-Maplewood) for their forthright comments and open willingness to work with GSCS.

10-24-13 NJ Spotlight - NJ School Leaders at Shore Conference Say They’re Drowning in Mandates…Board members and administrators say they’ve been inundated with more and more ever-changing state regulations “The targets of the pleas yesterday were hardly unsympathetic, at least those who showed up. Just three legislators attended the workshop, as well as one before held it that was hosted by the Garden State Coalition of Schools, an organization of mostly suburban districts… Maybe most notable was the Republican in the group, state Assemblyman Dave Wolfe (R-Ocean), who said even Republicans like himself are hearing little from the administration or the State Board of Education about their plans.“We don’t have any contact with any of those people,” Wolfe said. “We don’t know about initiatives until they happen, and then we are reacting to them.” State Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) said the frustrations haven’t been so much over the goals of the administration, but over the way they have been rolled out… Jasey said yesterday said that she will seek in coming months to address whether the Christie administration’s implementation and regulations are in keeping with the new tenure law…”

10-24-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - NJ eighth-graders pass global test...New Jersey eighth-graders fared well in math and science in the first federal study to rank the state against competitors abroad — but its performance still trailed behind the top-scoring Asian education systems.

Times of Trenton- Judge tells SDA, school board to agree to new schedule for repairs to Trenton Central High School

GSCS Open Meeting in Atlantic City at Fall Workshop Wed, 10-23-13, 1 pm Rm 412 (pdf)
The GSCS Officers and Board of Trustees Invites You! Please put the GSCS OCTOBER 23 OPEN MEETING 1 p.m. on your Fall Workshop schedule! This event will be a noteworthy gathering, focusing on issues that are important to all, including GSCS Focal Points for 2013-2014. Assembly Education Committee Members Dave Wolfe, Mila Jasey and Troy Singleton will be dropping in for a personal hello, and your presence will provide you with an opportunity to find out more about GSCS and how GSCS advocates for your children and your schools. And, GSCS looks forward to hearing from feedback you too! Thanks for your attention.
10-23-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City – New Jersey schools chief: Development gaps by race, income not OK

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: NJEA PAC’s Report Shows Union Sharing Wealth with Candidates…Teachers union lists $1.4 million in spending, most of it for hot legislative campaigns and counties

10-21-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight articles - 1) The List: Which NJ School Districts Spend the Most Money Per Student?...Vocational districts, small schools tend to have the highest expenditures in a big-spending state..., and 2) NJEA Super PAC Spending on Buono, Dems Helps Triple Totals from Past Elections…With its latest media buy, NJEA has shelled out over $6M on top-of-the-ticket, legislative races
10-18-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Politickernj - Fernandez-Vina cleared in Judiciary for state Supreme Court

NJ Spotlight - It’s Slow Going On Education Policy As Trenton Action Stalls Before Election…Not much is moving forward as New Jersey enters stretch of busy election season

10-17-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Two Private Schools in Newark Ask Permission to Become Charters …Four other organizations also seeking state Department of Education’s expedited go-ahead for schools

The Record - Study: DC teachers improving performance… ‘Public school teachers in the District of Columbia are improving their performance because they're motivated by the possibility of substantial pay raises or because they don't want to get fired… the study released Thursday by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Virginia found that teachers in the district did improve, at least based on the criteria devised by the school system to evaluate their performance.’

10-16-13 Private school 'enrichment,' at the expense of taxpayers: Editorial
Star Ledger editorial - Private school 'enrichment,' at the expense of taxpayers: Editorial… “Public schools are stuck paying a disabled student’s tuition regardless of how the money is spent, and that cost gets funneled down to your property tax bill. Average tuition at the roughly 180 private schools rose 12 percent from 2009 to 2012, to $57,601 per student…”
10-15-13 Private Providers Spending Big Issue...Disparities - Rutgers and UCLA Studies
Star Ledger - Lawmakers: Spending by N.J. private schools for disabled students 'disturbing', reform coming...The reactions came a day after the newspaper’s report, which found the state’s private special-needs schools operate in a twighlight zone of the state education system, under a special set of rules that allows them to spend taxpayer money in ways public schools cannot.

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Reports Detail Racial Segregation in New Jersey Public Schools…Rutgers-Newark and UCLA studies cite stark disparities and even ‘apartheid’ in education system

10-13-13 NJ Private Schools for the Disabled Under Intense Scrutiny
Star Ledger - Some N.J. private schools for disabled students cashing in on taxpayers "...In an era when public schools are under intense pressure to do more with less, the newspaper’s review showed nepotism, high executive salaries, generous pensions, fancy cars and questionable business deals are common in parts of this more than $600 million New Jersey industry. Prompted by a state auditor’s report earlier this year raising concerns about these schools, The Star-Ledger reviewed more than 8,000 pages of annual financial audits and other documents obtained from the state Department of Education under the Open Public Records Act..."
GSCS to hold an OPEN MEETING on Wednesday at Fall Workshop
Hi All - Please put the GSCS OCTOBER 23 OPEN MEETING 1 p.m. on your Fall Workshop schedule! This event will be a noteworthy gathering, focusing on issues that are important to all, including GSCS Focal Points for 2013-2014. Assembly Education Committee Members Dave Wolfe, Mila Jasey and Troy Singleton will be dropping in for a personal hello, and your presence will provide you with an opportunity to find out more about GSCS and how GSCS advocates for your children and your schools. And, GSCS looks forward to hearing from feedback you too! Thanks for your attention, Lynne
10-11-13 Education Issues in the News
NJSpotlight - Debate Highlights Booker's Complex Relationship with Newark Schools… Lonegan hammers dropout rates while ad suggests too much of the Zuckerberg gift is going to consultants.

Press of Atlantic City - Seven local school districts win approval for the state's school choice program

The Record - Rutgers study compares racial divide in N.J. schools to 'apartheid'

Star Ledger - Shaq, Christie announce after-school initiative in Camden

10-9-13 Education in the Gubernatorial Debate
NJSpotlight -Debate Report Card: Final Question Addresses Issue of School Vouchers…Christie calls them necessary antidote to ‘failure factories,’ while Buono says desperately needed funds are being diverted

The Record - Christie, Buono square off at debate held at William Paterson… One of the last topics was the option for parents to obtain vouchers to send their children to a private school if they attended a failing public school. Buono wants to reform schools and focus on pre-school education. Christie likes vouchers for failing school districts, saying it provides competition for public schools and a choice for kids "to walk out of failure factories."

Star Ledger - Fact checking the Buono-Christie debate… The facts: Despite cuts Christie enacted amid recession in his first year, total state aid for education is up to a record high of $12.4 billion in the current budget. It was $11.4 billion the year before Christie took office. Direct aid to school districts, what is known as formula aid, is now $7.85 billion. It was $7.9 billion before Christie took office. Christie has also increased aid for vouchers and charter schools, something Buono firmly opposes.

10-7-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Dozen Applications Put NJ Schools in the Running for ‘Race to the Top’ Grants…Two charter networks among those seeking up to $30 million in federal funds

Star Ledger Editorial - The Newark teachers union's $30 million snit: Editorial

Press of Atlantic City - New laws on testing for Dyslexia launch, without clear rules

Star Ledger - Christie promotes education policies at Orthodox Union breakfast in Teaneck

The Record - Christie calls for school vouchers at Orthodox Jewish gathering in Teaneck

10-4-13 Interview with Teacher of the Year Kathleen Assini...Newark Union Stymies $30M Race to the Opportunity...Paterson federal $20M at Risk Due to Lcoal Union Witholding Signature
NJ Spotlight - New Teacher of the Year Reflects Profession's Uncertainties, Angst…Kathleen Assini asserts teachers want to do a good job, even as job is changing around them

Star Ledger -Union refusal to support $30 million federal grant for Newark schools kills aid package

The Record – Grant bid for Paterson schools is in jeopardy… The union's rejection of the grant application echoed the tense situation in Newark, where the teachers union also balked at an application for $30 million.

10-3-13 Preliminary Approval for 3 New Chartersl, Newark's $30M in Race to the Top Funds in Jeopardy, Free Breakfast for NJ Students Increasing
NJ Spotlight - State Education Department Approves Just Three Out of 38 Charter Proposals…Jersey City, Trenton bids get go-ahead; Lesniak-backed school to help substance abusers rejected

Star Ledger - Newark schools could lose chance for $30M in federal funds after fight over 'Race To The Top' application…A battle between Newark Teachers Union President Joseph Del Grosso (left) and Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson (right) could end up costing the district a shot at $30 million in federal funding after Del Grosso refused to sign off on the city's application for the federal "Race To The Top" program

NewJerseyNewsRoom - Free School Breakfast in New Jersey…Although the state of New Jersey still lags behind most other states in low-income students being served breakfast - the number of eligible students receiving breakfast in the state rose 35 percent from 2010 to 2013. Currently the program now serves just over 183,000 of the half-million students eligible

10-2-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Low-Profile Board Rules in High-Stakes Misconduct Cases Against Educators… Examiners rule on serious charges that could lead to loss of license for teachers, administrators

NJSpotlight - Profile: Meet the New Boss at the New Jersey Education Association…A self-professed numbers guy and union man, the NJEA's Wendell Steinhauer has both eyes trained on the future of his profession

10-1-13 Great Recession - Lasting Impact on NJ Public Education
NJ Spotlight - Report: NJ Schools Not Fully Recovered from Great Recession…Federal Reserve Bank charts deep cuts in per-pupil funding, significant layoffs of teaching staff… ‘The stimulus was successful as a stopgap, but after the funds were depleted, school districts were faced with a major budget crunch because the local economy had not yet recovered,” the report reads.’
9-30-13 GSCS Point of Information - Chief School Administrator Salary Caps Expire in 2016
Chief School Administrator Salary Caps Expire in 2016 - Regulations were amended to extend sunset of Chief School Administrator Cap to November 2016, from the original expiration year of 2014. There has been some confusion about superintendent salary caps, because the New Jersey Register has the expiration date as November 25, 2014. Here's why: When these regulations (Fiscal Accountability) were initially adopted in November 2009, the sunset period was 5 years, so the Register correctly noted that the expiration date was November 25, 2014. However, the chapter expiration dates was extended by two years by statute on April 6, 2011, making the expiration date for CSA's November 25, 2016.
9-30-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - State evaluations begin determining future of New Jersey's teachers

Burlington County Times - New ballots to keep partisan politics out of school elections

Star Ledger Editorial - South Hunterdon's school consolidation a wise model for saving tax dollars: Editorial

One of the Main Objectives of the GSCS Website Is to Inform the Public on Issues of Interest in Public Education
In addition to focusing on key issues that are common to GSCS members, this website is also intended to inform the public on issues of interest in quality public education. GSCS is a non-partisan, non-profit grass-roots association composed of nearly 100 school districts throughout the state of New Jersey...Volunteers are active in GSCS via their school district's membership, and come from the ranks of parents, interested citizens, school board members and school administrators who are committed to quality public education for all children...FYI, from time to time during this gubernatorial election season, GSCS will publish a few documents-proposals (as they roll out) that may affect our students statewide. PS - Congratulations to the GSCS website - over 2 million hits and counting...!
9-26 and 27-13 NJ Students SAT Scores Improving
The Record 9-27-13 New Jersey SAT scores up, but wide racial and economic gaps remain…see breakdown of scores

Star Ledger 9-26-13 N.J. SAT score leaps 10 points; Class of 2013 outpaces national average… New Jersey's average SAT score went up 10 points this year, according to a new report from the College Board

NJSpotlight -By the Numbers 9/27/13: SAT Scores for New Jersey‘s Class of 2013 Up 10 Points…Mean scores climb but results show significant gaps remain across social, ethnic, racial and economic lines

9-25-13 Towns for Schools' Merger, Camden Moves Under State Control, Blue Ribbon Schools Announced
Trenton Times - Towns approve school merger plan...Voters in three towns have approved a plan to merge four school districts in southern Hunterdon County.

NJ Spotlight -Camden School Chief’s First Public Meeting Makes Clear That Much Has Changed…State-appointed superintendent takes inclusive approach with school board but has final say

Star Ledger -15 N.J. schools named as national 'Blue Ribbon' winners

9-20-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - NJ education officials giving 10% of students extra test as trial for official debut next year..New Jersey education officials said Thursday they plan to give 10 percent of the children in Grades 3 through 8 an extra set of standardized tests this spring to try out the new, more rigorous assessments that will debut officially next year.

NJ Spotlight - Grudging Acceptance of Christie Policies Sets Tone as School Chiefs Gather…Superintendents more subdued, non-confrontational in discussions of salary caps, evaluations, tougher testing

Star Ledger - Wanted: N.J. teachers with better grades in college

9-19-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight -State Funnels $1M to Schools Ranked Lowest for Performance, Achievement…Grants ranging from $20K to $200K doled out to 15 “Priority” and “Focus” schools

The Record - Curriculum addresses lessons about Sept. 11 attacks in Tenafly schools

9-17-13 Charters, Camden, Poll Results ... School Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Newark charter school contract with K12 Inc. shows influence of for-profit companies in public schools

NJ Spotlight - Explainer: Charting the Development of New Jersey's Charter Schools…Charter schools are nothing if not controversial, but what's beneath the chatter?

NJ Spotlight - Going One on One With New Superintendent of Camden Public Schools…Paymon Rouhanifard talks experience, charters, contracts -- and his '100-day plan'

Courier Post - Christie gets good grade on education…new statewide poll gives the governor a good grade on education issues

9-16-13 New Education Legislation Introduced
NJ Spotlight - Democratic Assemblyman Starts to Leave His Mark on Education Policies…Singleton releases package of three bills, working on revision of 1995 Charter School Law
9-13-13 Charters with specific needs...Common Core Facts Op-Ed
NJ Spotlight - Bill Would Allow Charter Schools Geared Toward Students With Specific Needs…Lesniak seeks to allow school in Elizabeth – to be named after him – to limit enrollment to teens fighting substance abuse.

NJ Spotlight - Opinion: Some Cold, Hard Facts About Common Core State Standards…Teaching to the test is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is the use of data to evaluate teaching effectiveness.

9-12-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Critics from Both Sides of Aisle Find Common Ground About Common Core…Republican, Democrat both urge NJ to go slowly on tougher standards and testing, but Christie administration proceeds with implementation.'New Jersey -- one of 45 states on board joined the initiative two years ago as a condition of receiving federal funding under the Race to the Top grant program...[Commissioner] Cerf took some time at the state board meeting yesterday...saying that the state remains deliberative in the process even as it moves ahead.“This enterprise presents enormous opportunity for politicking and myth-making and dis-information, and a lot of it has become a point in the current election cycle,” Cerf said. “But it is important to note that we are stepping into this gently, with field testing and sharing of information..." '

The Record - On first day of school, students' anticipation met by teacher's high expectations...'Some parents “are thinking of old-fashioned kindergarten where it was play time all day long,” Veloz said. “If children are not here they’re missing the beginning of learning routines and already starting off behind.” '

9-11-13 Teacher Contract Trends - In the News
NJ Spotlight - Pay Hikes for NJ Teachers Dip Slightly But Recent Pacts Hint at Reversal of Trend…While salary increases may be on the rise, contracts call for concessions such as paying more toward health benefits.
9-10-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Justices Tough on Both Sides in Appeal of Montclair Charter Bid…Some on NJ’s highest court cite state’s decision-making flexibility but others wonder why education officials didn’t back up verdict.

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education Kicks Off New School Year …Teacher evaluations, student testing and Camden takeover among major topics to be discussed.

Star Ledger - N.J. group aims to reduce sudden cardiac deaths in students

Star Ledger - Top school superintendents' pay: After Christie pay cap, some still earn more

9-9-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Controversial Charter Proposal Heads to State’s Highest Court Today…Organizers of plan for school in Montclair, rejected six times, claim rules are stacked against them
9-6-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Spotlight Q&A: Newark School Chief Sets Busy Agenda for 3rd Year at Helm...Boosting attendance, bolstering community involvement among Cami Anderson’s top priorities.
9-5-13 Vouchers, Evaluation Implementation in the News
NJSpotlight - School Vouchers Not Dead Yet, At Least in Governor Christie’s Eyes...Teacher evaluation framework for tenure reform hardly a surprise as second priority for education agenda
9-4-13 Education Issues in the News
newjerseynewsroom.com - 6 Facts About New Teacher Evaluations in New Jersey

newjerseynewsroom.com - 5 Reasons NJ School Buses Need Better Seat Belts

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Christie says Buono has no way to pay for her education platform

9-3 and 4-13 Buono's Education Platform in the News
NJ Spotlight - Buono Begins to Divulge Details of Her Ambitious Education Agenda…But gubernatorial candidate remains vague about finding funds for some of her proposals

Philadelphia Inquirer - Buono vows to boost schools, colleges…Gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono said education would be funded "to the greatest degree possible." Star Ledger - Buono outlines plan for increasing funding for education

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Buono: Millionaire's tax would help fund educational platform; Christie camp cites $3B pricetag

Politickernj - Buono unveils education proposals

Sept. 3, 2013 - Gubernatorial Candidate Barbara Buono Releases Education Policy Plan for NJ (pdf)
Click here on More to see proposal as released...See below for news items on this document as written today.
9-3-13 Education & Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - New School Year in NJ Already Looks Like One for the Books… From beefed-up evaluations, to revamped curriculum and testing, to takeovers of urban districts, there will be interesting days ahead.

Star Ledger - With the unofficial end of summer, N.J. campaigns for U.S. Senate, governor kick into high gear

South Jersey Times - N.J. public schools turning to school uniforms

Updated 9-2-13...Recent Education Issues in the News: Compendium
(GSCS Note: GSCS opposed S1191 particularly as it would have restricted school districts' ability make fiscally responsible decisions...GSCS appreciates the administration's recognition that districts need options to reduce spending as needed.)Governor casts "Abosolute Veto" on S1191 on 8-19-13: S1191 ScaScsAca (SCS/1R) Allows establishment of county-wide purchasing system for certain school district services; offers employment protections for certain food or custodial services employees; and regulates subcontracting by districts and public higher education institutions.* Click below on More to see bill voting history. Education Week - March on Washington Inspires Educators, 50 Years Later … Arne Duncan Attaches More Strings to NCLB Waiver Renewals

Education Week - Florida Virtual School Faces Hard Times…Enrollment declines for country's largest state-run e-school

The Record - Tougher N.J. teacher evaluations aim to highlight the best

Star Ledger - Back to school: Teachers frustrated, nervous about new evaluation system set to take effect this fall

(GSCS Note: GSCS opposed this bill when it was originally proposed in 2010.)Courier Post - N.J. Lawmaker calls for end to school activity fees…Districts point to cuts in state aid… “Burzichelli…first introduced the bill in 2010 with no success.” Star Ledger - 190 Newark teachers get merit pay bonuses Asbury Park Press - Middletown schools cut workers hours to avoid Obamacare

Phillyburbs.com - Westampton launches program for autistic students

Toms River Patch - Toms River Regional School District Approves Sandy Aid...Township still recovering from $19,916,775 loss in property tax revenue following Superstorm Sandy

8-15-13 Evaluation Measurement Programs...DOE Investigations Office Expanding
NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Turn to Familiar Instrument to Measure Teacher Performance…Charlotte Danielson talks about the challenges as her “Frameworks for Teaching” is adopted by more than 300 public school districts.

NJ Spotlight - DOE's Investigative Arm to Get More Help As More Schools Get Scrutiny…Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance pushing to catch up on unresolved cases, some dating back to 2011.

8-13-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - With Dyslexia Bills Signed, New Jersey Formally Recognizes Reading Disorder…Advocates warn that putting dyslexia in law and code is only first step in process to overcome common disorder

NJ Spotlight - Christie’s Judicial Shuffle Escalates Supreme Court Battle… In a stunning move, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday raised the political stakes in his three-year battle with Senate Democrats over the ideological future of the New Jersey Supreme Court by deciding not to renominate Associate Justice Helen Hoens, a Republican whom Democrats had vowed to block. He chose, instead, to nominate a Hispanic Republican judge from Camden County -- Superior Court Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina.

Star Ledger - A registered Democrat, Christie's top court nominee says he's really a Republican

8-12-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Grad School in Education Cleared to Start Training Teachers…Unconventional program born out of charter schools focuses more on practical teaching and classroom skills.
8-11-13 Merit Pay and Tenure Law - In the News
(GSCS Note: GSCS supports merit pay for Chief School Administrators)...Times of Trenton - Despite salary cap, school districts can use state-authorized merit bonuses to try and retain superintendents

NJ Spotlight - At First Anniversary, NJ’s Teacher-Tenure Law Faces Biggest Tests…Full-scale deployment slated for September, bill's author remains focused on coming challenges.

8-7-13 Anti-Bullying Decision: Applies to Adults in Schools Too
NJ Spotlight - State’s Tough New Anti-Bullying Legislation Isn’t Just for Kids…..Education commissioner gets involved in case in which teacher allegedly made child eat food from trash.
8-5-13 PAARC testing...in the News
Education Week - Tests Linked to Common Core in Critics' Cross Hairs…Assessments cast as weak link

NJ Spotlight - Selected Garden State Schools Put Tough New PARCC Exams to the Test…With first round of limited tryouts complete, online testing partnership announces New Jersey will be part of broader field tests.

8-2-13 School Rankings Not the Whole Picture; All Girls School to Open in Newark
NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: What School Rankings Can't Tell You About School Quality…Rankings sell glossy magazines and help clinch real estate deals, they don't focus on the whole child or the whole school. (By Patrick Fletcher and Daniel Fishbein)

NJ Spotlight - All-Girls Academy Opening in Newark in September has High Hopes, Lofty Goals...Single-gender school features advanced studies, approach geared toward producing female leaders of the future

7-31-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight Q&A: Arthur Levine on Raising the Bar for New Teachers

Star Ledger - Christie's forgotten task force on school lunch reform: Editorial..."...The real issue is our flawed system of school funding, which awards districts aid money based on the number of students participating in their lunch programs. That gives them an incentive to inflate their numbers, to get more money from the state..."

7-30-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Are Changes in New Jersey School-Lunch Program Still on the Menu?...Task force named by governor to look at poverty measure in school aid hasn’t convened since August 2012.

New Jersey Newsroom - Can NJ Teachers Spy on Students?

7-29-13 New Task Force Wants to Help Schools Evaluate security Options
NJ Spotlight - New Task Force Wants to Help Schools Evaluate Security Options…State's school boards association surveys some 600 school districts on policies in place to protect students, educators, and staff
7-28-13 Education Issues in the News - Salary Caps
Trenton Times - Hopewell Valley school district superintendent stays on for next five years, despite state-mandated salary cut
7-26-13 Superintendent Salary Caps, Privacy Rules In the News
NJ Spotlight - Schools Must Warn Students, Families If Big Brother Is Watching...New guidelines require districts to notify parents, kids that software and built-in camera can monitor use.
7-24-13 Cost of new assessment test mandate, known as PAARC, coming to the fore
NJ Spotlight- The Multimillion Dollar Question for Online Testing: What Will It Cost?...Chief developer of exam program says NJ shouldn’t have to pay much more than current $21 million price tag -- at least to start...Bear in mind that none of the foregoing figures cover the cost of the technology that districts say they will likely need to test students online during the state’s mandated window each spring, a cost that the state said it is currently surveying.As of last fall, only half of New Jersey's school districts said they had the requisite software and half said they had the Internet bandwidth..." "
7-23-13 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - PARCC Test Cost: Higher for Nearly Half the States

NJ Spotlight - Explainer: Abbott v. Burke, Changing the Rules for Funding Schools… A series of state Supreme Court rulings starting in 1985, Abbott v. Burke continues to shape and reshape education -- especially for New Jersey's poorest kids.

NJ Spotlight - New Charter School Looks Hopefully to the Future, Cherishes Its Past… Private academy in Newark is first in state to switch to become public charter.

Philadelphia Inquirer - New school bus safety recommendations expected

7-22-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Schools beef up security after Newtown; cameras, panic buttons installed

NJ Spotlight - Newark’s School Chief Is Up for Her Next Performance Bonus…Cami Anderson’s contract enters third year of potentially earning extra pay of as much as $50,000.

7-22-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Schools beef up security after Newtown; cameras, panic buttons installed

NJ Spotlight - Newark’s School Chief Is Up for Her Next Performance Bonus…Cami Anderson’s contract enters third year of potentially earning extra pay of as much as $50,000.

7-21-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. sees hiring rise in local government, schools

Star Ledger - The real scandal in school lunch: Editorial

Star Ledger Opinion - For Christie, former ally becomes a roadblock: Moran

7-19-13 Six New Charter Schools Approved by DOE to Open in September
'Focused on increasing the number of high-quality school options for high-need students across the state, the Christie Administration today approved six new charter schools to open in September. Today’s action, along with the five charter schools closed this year...brings the total number of charter schools in New Jersey to 87. “Though they serve only a small percentage of New Jersey students, we are strongly committed to expanding the number of high-quality public school options for all New Jersey students, especially those who are struggling academically,” said Commissioner Chris Cerf.'

GSCS Note: New charter schools are located in: (2) Camden, (1) Newark-Irvington-East Orange, Camden, (1) Millville-Vineland-Pittsgrove, (1) Paterson, and (1)Jersey City.

7-19-13 Governor Vetos S2163, known as the Binding Arbitration bill
7-18-13 Politickernj - Christie takes action on pending bills… Christie also vetoed S2163/A3696, which sought to provide to non-teaching employees of local, county or regional school districts, boards or commissions the right to submit to binding arbitration any dispute regarding whether there is just cause for a disciplinary action. (GSCS Note: GSCS was against S2163, joining the NJ School Boards Association in voicing strong opposition to this bill.)

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Christie Veto of School Arbitration Bill...Governor's action represents second legislative defeat within a month for NJEA

7-18-13 Christie: $44.5M given to NJ towns and school districts left in huge budget hole by Sandy
Star Ledger - Christie: $44.5M given to N.J. towns and school districts left in huge budget hole by Sandy New Jersey towns and school districts left with huge budget deficits because of Hurricane Sandy cleanup costs have received $44.5 million in federal aid, money local officials say will help them avoid layoffs and other cutbacks — at least for this year...
7-18-13 Process for School Lunch Program Scrutinized and Reported Flawed by State Comptroller
Star Ledger - N.J. school board members and others lied to get free lunch for their kids, state comptroller says

NJ Spotlight – NJ School Lunch Probe Raises Questions of Oversight – State Comptroller says more than 100 public employees or family members improperly got subsidized meals in schools

Politickernj - program abuse findings show need to change funding formula, Christie says

7-17-13 GED exams - change, revamping in the future
NJ Spotlight - State DOE Looking to Graduate from Relying Solely on GED...Changes in venerable equivalency exam prompts state to evaluate alternatives
7-16-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight – Anti-Bullying Tactics 101: NJ Educators Get Lessons from Experts…Hundreds attend training sessions that include learning interrogation techniques used by State Police

NJ Spotlight – Bill would Offer Respite for Caretakers of Children Who Need 24-7 attention…Rount-the-clock providers would be regulated by state under measure approved by Assembly

Courier Post - United Arab Emirates donates $4.5 million to 30 Sandy-struck schools…Highlands Elementary will receive funds to be used for technology

GSCS Board Meeting 7-10-13: GSCS Trustees Discuss Priority Issues - MEMBER FEEDBACK WELCOME
At its July Board meeting, GSCS Trustees focused on specific issues of interest for the forthcoming 2013-2014 year...among some of the topics that are emerging for GSCS scrutiny are: Special Education funding (especially in light of the effect 2% cap on Regular Education needs); State Aid; Stability in NJ Educator Leadership; Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Schools and Health Care Requirements; Annual Negotiations Required for Assistant Superintendents and Schools Business Administrators; Tuition Costs imposed on local districts due to existing schools conversation to Charter Schools...

In the Members Only window on this homepage, sidebar left, GSCS seeks it members' input on issues of concern...Member feedback is valuable and welcome, please take the opportunity to let us know your issues and concerns.

7-11-13 S1191 Legislation Status: Remains on the Governor's Desk
(GSCS NOTE: This bill was passed, primarily along party lines,by both Houses on June 27...it is currently on the Governor's desk and it remains to be seen as to whether the Governor will sign, conditionally veto or veto the bill. GSCS is on record as opposing this legislation since it can tie up local cost-effective decision-making.Click on More below to see roll call of legislator's votes.)

S1191 ScaScsAca (SCS/1R) Allows establishment of county-wide purchasing system for certain school district services; offers employment protections for certain food or custodial services employees; and regulates subcontracting by districts and public higher education institutions.*

State Audit Report: Special Education Private Provider Costs (pdf)
7-11-13 NJ Spotlight on State Audit Report re Special Education Private Providers
NJ Spotlight – Special-Needs Schools Salaries Draw Scrutiny of State Auditor – Some earn $50,000 more per year than maximum allowed in public-school districts
7-10-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - -Audit: DOE missing out on $10M in special-ed reimbursements..."The state and some school districts are missing out on more than $10 million annually..."

Alternative Grad School Raises Concerns About Who's Teaching NJ's Teachers...Founded by three charter school networks, Relay stresses skills-based modules over academic theory

7-9-10 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight – NJ Encourages Grant Recipients to Work Together on Autism … Coordination of research, treatment epitomized by new center based at Montclair State

NJ Spotlight – Appeals Court Upholds State Control of Newark Schools…Strongly worded ruling cites lack of sustained improvement

New Jersey Department of Education July 2013 (Issue 2)Family and Community Circle Newsletter! • More about New Jersey's New Evaluation and Support System: Achieve NJ • PARCC: A Change in New Jersey State Testing • The ABC's of Special Education: Parent's Rights and Responsibilities • New School Performance Reports • Understanding Graduation Rates • The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Announce Free Educational Activities for Students this Summer • Frequently Asked Questions

7-8-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Appeals court says state intervention in Newark schools can continue

NJ Spotlight – State Special Ed Office Earns Federal Seal of Approval…For first time in three years office get clearance, but feds say there’s plenty of room for improvement

7-3-13 What's Been Happening... GSCS Catch Up-Catch All
NJ Budget Fiscal Year 2013-2014: Some In’s and Out’s

Star Ledger - Proceed with caution on virtual charter schools: Editorial

NJ Spotlight – Updated List of School construction Projects Doesn’t quiet Critics…Coalition chastises Schools Development Authority and Christie over slow pace of court-ordered work - Even as some projects overseen by the state’s Schools Development Authority get up and running, the debate over the pace of repairs to New Jersey’s neediest schools isn’t ebbing at all.

Press of Atlantic City - Cape May to study pulling out of regional school district over property-based taxes

NJ Spotlight – How – and Why – NJ High School Sports Association is Taking on ‘Trash Talking’ … New rules have zero-tolerance for bullying, harassment of the field, threaten stiffer penalties - New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law has stepped out onto the sports field, with the state’s high schools athletics association taking steps to clamp down on “trash-talking” that goes too far.

NJ Spotlight – Legislature Takes Last Look at Education Bills Before Summer… Dyslexia legislation and amendments to Urban Hope Act coming up for vote today, on cusp of legislative recess…Just as schools are closing for summer, the Legislature today is likely taking its last shot before recess at several prominent education bills -- both long fought and relatively recent. Here's a look at several notable examples, as well as a couple of controversial bills that won’t be making appearances -- at least for now

Department of Education Broadcast Memos July 2nd week…In this issue – Broadcast Memos, Resources and Opportunities, In the News

6-28-13 Dyslexia bills pass in Senate...now go to Gov's desk for signature
Press of Atlantic City - State Senate passes bills aimed at helping students with dyslexia, after years of lobbying by Ocean City family...'After almost eight years of lobbying, Beth Ravelli sat stunned as the state Senate unanimously passed a group of bills [Sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew] Thursday that should make it easier for children with dyslexia and other reading disorders to be diagnosed and treated.
6-27-13 Last day of legislative session before summer break - education bills on the agenda
NJ Spotlight – Dyslexia legislation and amendments to Urban Hope Act coming up for vote today, on cusp of legislative recess…Just as schools are closing for summer, the Legislature today is likely taking its last shot before recess at several prominent education bills -- both long fought and relatively recent. Here's a look at several notable examples, as well as a couple of controversial bills that won’t be making appearances -- at least for now...'Another piece of legislation that may not even get reconsideration is an Assembly resolution from two of the sponsors of the state’s new teacher tenure reform law to slow down some of the accountability measures in that legislation...resolution was not only absent from the voting board today but also unlikely to be taken up in the future, said one sponsor.“It’s pretty much moot at this point,” said Jasey this week.

(GSCS Note: GSCS is supportive of the concept behind the Jasey-Diegnan resolution as the gift of time would go a long way to productive and positive implementation of the important tenure legislation.)

6-26-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Christie says voucher program was a sticking point in N.J. budget

NJ Spotlight – Longtime Newark Teachers Union Chief Ekes Out Election to 10th Term…Still outspoken, if no longer quite as militant, Joseph Del Grosso has been the president of the Newark Teachers Union – the state’s largest teachers local -- for 18 years, for a total of nine terms in all.

Asbury Park Press editorial - Re-examine cap for school chiefs

Star Ledger - Study: Charter schools are improving, but performance still close to public schools

Star Ledger - Elizabeth schools' 7.5 percent tax hike is within bounds, state education official says

6-24 and 25-13 State Budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 on the Governor's Desk
(GSCS Note 6-24-13: The FY'14 Budget passed through both the Senate and Assembly on Monday efficiently, with both votes recorded prior to 5 pm. For education there were no big "surprises" as earlier anticipated in statements by the Budget Committee Chairs Senator Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto. While language adjusting the SFRA formula was deleted by the legislature, the aid amounts remained in place similar to the way the legislature dealt with the Governor's State Budget proposal from February 2013. This process mirrors the legislature's approach to the Governor's Budget proposal of last year. As already reported by GSCS, the legislature found additional aid to reduce the SDA Assessment Fees by $7.4M so that no local disticts would receive less aid that last year, as well as boosting state support by $1M for local school costs for anti-bullying programs.

(GSCS Note [reprinted per 6-21-13 subsequent to Budget Committee votes last Thursday]: In the end, $7.4M in school aid was added to offset SDA fee costs to local districts [this means that no district will receive less aid than last year and impacts about 270 school districts]…GSCS advocated early and often for SDA fees to be reduced; $1M was also added for school bullying…On the other side of the equation, $5M was reduced which will eliminate budget support for the proposed Innovation Fund, and $2M was eliminated which was to support a pilot voucher program. Both Legislative Budget Committees voted the compromise FY’14 State Budget out of their committees on Thursday and thus the stage is set for a session vote on Monday, and then the Appropriations Act of or FY’14 will go to the Governor for his signature.)

Star Ledger - Christie's $33 billion budget sails through Legislature

NJ Spotlight - Sweeney: More Compromise Budgets Likely in Years Ahead…Built-in rise in pensions payments means “there’s no money’ to fight over, Senate president says

6-24-13 Education in the News
The Record - N.J.'s tough new writing tests have students, teachers anxious
6-21-13 Trenton Compromises Puts State Budget FY'14 On Track To Gain Final Passage This Monday
(GSCS Note: In the end, $7.4M in school aid was added to offset SDA fee costs to local districts [this means that no district will receive less aid than last year and impacts about 270 school districts]…GSCS advocated early and often for SDA fees to be reduced; $1M was also added for school bullying…On the other side of the equation, $5M was reduced which will eliminate budget support for the proposed Innovation Fund, and $2M was eliminated which was to support a pilot voucher program. Both Legislative Budget Committees voted the compromise FY’14 State Budget out of their committees on Thursday and thus the stage is set for a session vote on Monday, and then the Appropriations Act of or FY’14 will go to the Governor for his signature. )

NJ Spotlight – Deal Answers School Funding Questions – For Now…Late compromises mean no districts will lose state aid in ‘election year’ budget

The Record-Statehouse Bureau- Legislative committees give green light to $33B N.J. budget … ‘There’s more money for cancer research, nursing homes, local school districts and county colleges. Communities in the Meadowlands that were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy will also get additional tax relief.But the $33 billion budget deal Governor Christie and lawmakers agreed to this week doesn’t fund the new income-tax credit the governor has been pressing for. Also left out of the spending bill was a school voucher program that Christie wanted…’

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Senate panel readying vote on budget compromise ‘…The negotiated plan projects a $300 million surplus and reallocates $97.2 million in spending that is offset by $97.2 million in revised spending projections for Medicaid and state health benefits by the administration.

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Budget bill passes Assembly budget panel

Politickernj-State Street Wire- Opportunity Scholarship Act money gone from budget

6-20-13 (Late morning), Trenton Budget Update: Fiscal Year 2013-2014
The State Budget bill, S3000, just passed out of the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator Sarlo (Wood-Ridge)...Funding for the SDA Adjustment fees will be $7.4M (not the $13M reported in the media yesterday)- this increase, as stated by the Chair, ensures that no district will receive less school aid than received per last year's state school aid. Per the committee statements, $2M proposed for the Opportunity Scholarship aid and the $5M proposed for the Education Innovation Fund were removed from this final budget plan (S3000). Stay tuned for any further information, such budget language changes, that may still be forthcoming.
6-20-13 Stay Tuned...State Budget FY'14 Finalized, in Budget Committees Today...Senate Education Comm OK'd Special Education Package of Bills Yesterday
The Record-Statehouse Bureau - N.J. lawmakers, Governor Christie reach deal on budget bill...State lawmakers will take up a budget bill during committee meetings Thursday morning after finalizing a deal with Governor Christie on Wednesday, a key legislative leader said. Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, told The Record late Wednesday that...“We have a deal in place,” Sarlo said. “All the language has been finalized.” The budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 will go before the respective budget committees in the Senate and Assembly on Thursday morning, with final passage likely on Monday, Sarlo said...'

NJ Spotlight – Senate Committee Makes Dyslexia Its Main Order of Business…In addition to bills dealing with reading disability, panel moves on measure to crest special-ed ombudsman

6-19-13 Evaluations and Testing - Reasons to delay
NJ Spotlight – Op-Ed: 'An Open Letter to New Jersey Legislators … There’s no reason that implementing the new teacher evaluation system has to be a mad rush – and there are plenty of reasons against it…’ New Jersey’s public schools are suffering under the weight of the teacher evaluation system we are compelled to implement in September 2013. The timeframe currently required by statute is neither realistic nor fair. Quite frankly, it is creating a crisis where none exists. There is an easy solution at hand. All you need to do is support the resolution recently introduced by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) that seeks to postpone the implementation of this system for one year...’

The Record - 'New Jersey will forge ahead with plans to link student test scores to thousands of teachers’ evaluations starting with next spring’s state tests, despite a new federal offer to delay using them in tenure decisions, officials said Wednesday...Even so, many district leaders say it’s hard to grapple with so many changes at once. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents mostly suburban districts, said her members hoped for a delay. She said most saw benefits in the overhaul but had concerns about launching it properly and finding time for more frequent, in-depth classroom observations.“It would be a relief if they could have a year to put it in place and work out the kinks,” she said.’

6-19-13 State Budget Nears Agreement...SDA Fees to be Reduced
GSCS Note: It is anticipated that the SDA Assessments Fees will be cut back by approximately $13M. GSCS has argued against the fees increase, and backed up with district-by-district data, since GSCS' testimony on the proposed FY'14 State Budget before the Senate Budget Committee this March. (To see GSCS data reports of impact on schools of the SDA fees, as proposed, click on 'GSCS Data & Charts' under Quick Links/sidebar left on this website homepage.)

NJ Spotlight – Christie, Democratice Leaders Nearing Budget Compromise….$32.9 budget likely to add some school aid, but no tax cut or vouchers… “As part of the last-minute budget talks, the state will take out a $13 million charge for additional debt service that would have resulted in about 270 school districts -- or 48 percent of the total -- suffering net losses in school aid ranging from a few hundred dollars in some districts to more than $200,000 each in East Brunswick and Barnegat, sources close to the negotiation confirmed…”

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Sarlo: Budget deal imminent

6-19-13 'Education Chief Lets States Delay Use of Tests in Decisions About Teachers' Jobs'
NY Times – Education Chief Lets States Delay Use of Tests in Decisions About Teachers’ Jobs ... "..In his letter to state education chiefs, Mr. Duncan wrote that he appreciated “both the courage to tackle so many challenges at once and the burdens this imposes on frontline educators.”

GSCS Note: This acknowledgement by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan (that state education officials…could postpone making career decisions about teachers based on performance evaluations tied to new tests) is welcome news, and is in keeping with the strong sentiment of the GSCS Board of Trustees. Coincidentally, it also underscores the similar concept behind Assemblywoman Mila Jasey’s recently introduced resolution “urging the Commissioner of Educationto extend the piloting of the educator evaluation system through the 2013-2014 school year.”

6-19-13 Special Education on Senate Education Committee Agenda Today
GSCS Supports: S2645 (Sponsor - Senator Teresa Ruiz) BILL STATEMENT - This bill establishes the Office of the Special Education Ombudsman in the Department of Education, which will serve as a resource to provide information and support to parents, students, and educators...

NJ Spotlight – State Backs Off on Changes in Special-Education Regulations…Proposed new code encountered strong opposition from advocates, families... "Next up, the Senate education committee will hold a rare Wednesday hearing this morning on nearly a dozen special-education measures, including a bill to create a state ombudsman for special-education complaints and several other proposals to improve identification, training and programs for teaching students with dyslexia and other reading disorders."

6-18-13 Today - Senate Budget Committee Scheduled to Hear Legislature's Proposed Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2013-2014
Senate Budget and Appropriations Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 11:00 AM Meeting - Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

All 3 pending intro & referral - S-3000 (Sarlo) - Appropriates State funds and federal funds for the State budget for fiscal year 2013-2014. S-3001 (Sarlo) - Makes FY 2013 State & federal supplemental appropriations, reduces FY 2013 approps & supplements various language provisions affecting approps in FY 2013. S-3002 (Sweeney) - Authorizes the Judiciary to revise & supplement court filing fees & other statutory fees to fund a Statewide digital e-court information system, & to fund Legal Services of NJ.

6-18-13 Charter Schools - Increased Scrutiny and Action
NJ Spotlight – Christie Administration Censure Another Batch of Charter Schools…State’s latest move means nearly 25% of New Jersey’s charters are on watch list

Star Ledger - Christie administration closing Newark charter school founded by city activist Fredrica Bey

6-18-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Newsroom – NJ Schools to Suffer with Federal Aid

NJEA Goes Inside for Next Executive Director…Edward Richardson, new top staffer at teachers union, moves up from human resources to assume chief post

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers advance bill granting in-state tuition for students in country illegally

6-17-13 Upcoming On Trenton's Legislative Agenda this week
Monday, the Assembly Budget Committee has subcontracting bill on its agenda, A1191, (GSCS opposes)

Tuesday, the legislature plans to introduce its version of the Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013-2014, in the Senate Budget Committee meeting

The Senate Education Committee will be hearing a series of Special Education bills

6-17-13 Special Education Interview, Teacher Certification Rules, Newark Schools - In the News
NJ Spotlight – Outgoing Commissioner Commissioner Assesses Past, Present, Future of Special Ed…With three decades of experience in the field, Barbara Ganwerk is in unique position to talk about testing, parents rights, and other issues

Star Ledger - N.J. might toughen requirements for prospective teachers to get certified

Star Ledger - Newark school gets reprieve; superintendent calls for year's hiatus on school closures

6-14-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight – Leadership Changes inn the Office for State Teachers Union… President and executive director both poised to step down from NJEA posts

Wall Street Journal - Newark Proposes New Charter Admissions Policy

6-13-13 Education & Related Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer – Cameras could be used to catch motorists who pass New Jersey school buses … Legislation moving through the New Jersey Legislature would authorize school districts to install cameras on their buses to catch motorists who illegally pass.

NJ Spotlight – Shore School Flooded Out by Sandy Reopens…Monmouth Beach Elementary meets goal of completing storm repairs in time for eigth-grade graduation

6-11 and 12 -13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Politickernj - Special ed concerns placed before committee... "...Fifty-seven percent of special education costs are borne by taxpayers, he said, while the remainder comes from state and federal aid, but it wasn’t always that way. State funding once covered half of special education’s costs, he said (John Burns, NJ School Boards Assoc)..."

Politickernj - League of Municipalities unveils tax cut proposal

6-11-13 Charter school bill - in the News
GSCS Note: Yesterday A4177Diegnan passed unanimously out of the Assembly Education Committee...this bill is intended to start a grounded dialogue on the updating on the 1995 Charter School Law and incorporates the input of many interest groups. At this time, there is no corresponding charter legislation in the Senate but Senator Ruiz has stated that she will be introducing her own bill on charters in the near future. GSCS is in favor of many of the elements in the bill, while stating certain concerns such as the basic omission of how to fund charters.)

NJ Spotlight – Legislation Would Create Board to Review Charter School Bids…But debate continues as bill would still give final say on charters to state education commissioner… “…The Assembly committee yesterday only discussed the proposed legislation. Diegnan said it would likely not get posted for a committee vote until the fall. He said he hoped it would go to the full Assembly thereafter.State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chairwoman of that chamber’s education committee, is expected to file her own charter school bill. She has said in the past that she does want multiple authorizers but she has also indicated some support of Diegnan’s bill…”

6-10-113 Education Issues in the News - Charter bill, Salary Caps
NJ Spotlight, New Charter School Bill Previews Before Committee…Even before discussion, the new measure is missing two key components – funding and virtual charters… ““The process is just started,” Diegnan said. “My hope was we were going to get it on the governor’s desk before we adjourn [for summer], but we will not. It is my goal more to do it right than do it quickly, and it is still my plan to have it done before the end of the year.”

Star Ledger - Ridgewood superintendent to stay, despite state-imposed pay cut... "Fishbein, who lives in Ridgewood, said he didn't feel it was a good time to leave..."

6-7-13 In the News - Resolution to Extend Evaluations Process...School Board Candidates Waning
NJ Spotlight – Two Tenure Law Sponsors Now Seek Delay in Tougher Teacher Evaluations…Resolution calls for one-year-wait before full implementation of new law’s requirements "State Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr., both Assembly sponsors of the new tenure law...are asking the state to extend the current ...[yet Senator Teresa Ruiz, prime Senate sponsor of TEACH NJ said] "I think the most important thing is to roll this out, and then come back and look and see if it is working. Still, Ruiz said she would still push for the state to provide greater resources, including funding, to help districts.."

South Jersey Times -Editorial: Where did all the N.J. school board candidates go?..."A move to November school elections by most districts has boosted voter participation, but seems to have done the opposite for candidates."

6-5-13 Virtual Charter Schools Ruled Out by Education Commissioner Cerf
The Record - N.J.'s education commissioner scuttles state's proposed 'virtual' charter schools… “New Jersey’s education commissioner has scratched plans to let the state’s first two virtual charter schools open in the fall, citing questions about their legal foundation and “serious concerns” about the state’s ability to oversee them.

NJ Spotlight – Cerf Pulls Plug on Online Charter Schools…Growing opposition to virtual charters, legal challenges and gray areas help inform commissioner’s decision

6-5-13 Fight Over Newark Schools Takes Unexpected Turn
NJ Spotlight – Fight Over Control of Newark Schools Takes Unexpected Turn…Cerf offers up fiscal controls in court, while holding onto key district functions
6-4-13 Schools Superintendent Staying in Ridgewood Despite Salary Cap
GSCS Note: The Garden State Coalition of Schools is very pleased that Dan Fishbein has been well- recognized by his Bergen County peers. Dan has served ably as GSCS President and currently remains a GSCS leader in his role on the GSCS Executive Officers Board a Past President of GSCS. New Jersey school children need and directly benefit from the experienced, high-quality leadership and caliber of dedicated chief school administrators, such as Dan Fishbein. Congratulations Dan!

The Record - Schools superintendent staying in Ridgewood despite salary cap "Superintendent Daniel Fishbein has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Bergen County Association of School Administrators (BCASA). Fishbein on Tuesday expressed appreciation for the award. He also announced that he will be staying in the district after his contract expires this summer, despite the much-publicized salary cap that the state put into effect in 2010.The cap, which has been opposed by the Ridgewood Board of Education, will result in a significant pay cut for Fishbein next year - from more than $220,000 to about $170,000..."

6-4-13 DOE Commissioner Cerf before Senate Budget Committee on FY'14 issues
NJ Spotlight - Forced Spending Cuts in D.C. Starting to Be Felt by NJ Schools..Sequestration means state faces loss of $41 million in education aid..."“We’ve had discussions with the treasurer, it’s for about $13 million that would take (the increase) out and bring everyone back to being at least flat-funded,” Sarlo said. “I’m going to fight real hard for that.” “If we would be willing to work that out with Treasury,” Sarlo asked Cerf, “would your department be opposed to that?” Cerf responded: “I am sure that will be an important part of negotiations, and whatever comes out of that, we will (follow) fully and faithfully.”Sarlo added, drawing some smiles from the room: “Good answer.”

and, by NJ Spotlight-Agenda: State Board of Education…Wrapping up the Camden takeover, outside money to implement Common Core standards, Teacher evaluations – board continues to deliberate on the new regulations, including its specific formula for how to rate teachers

6-3-13 Education in the News - SDA Assessments, Vouchers
(GSCS Note: In addition to vouchers and SDA assessments being under discussion in Trenton today, the Commissioner of Education and the SDA are appearing before the Senate Budget Committee to discuss Budget FY'14). Re: the SDA assessment issue, GSCS brought this to the Committee's attention in March, and provided district by district impact data - see School Funding link on top banner here for that data - and has pressed for the legislature and administration to remove the fee increase. FYI - Treasurer Sidamon-Eristoff related when he last testified before the Committee that the assessments could be on the table during the FY'14 negotiations with the legislature this month.)

NJ Spotlight - Christie's Proposed School Voucher Program At Latest Crossroads…Democrats claim Opportunity Scholarship Grants will never make it to the final budget, but can they deliver … “Meanwhile, the scholarship program is only one of several issues that are expected to come up today in the Senate committee’s deliberations. A big question remains the Christie administration’s whopping increase in assessments to make districts pay a share of the state’s bonds for school construction grants…“When you ask the PTA mom, it’s the total amount the schools get from the state, that’s what they care about,” Sarlo [Senate Budget Committee Chair] said.”

5-31-13 Construction Grants Available to Regular Operating Districts (RODs, County Vo-Techs
The Record - N.J. school districts can apply for $455M in construction grants “The grant program from the state Schools Development Authority uses funds from previous bond issues to pay about 40 percent of certain costs of renovations and construction, with local districts paying the rest. These grants aim to help regular districts and county vocational schools.”

Star Ledger-Guest Columnist - A school aid sleight of hand: Opinion … Westfield taxpayers pay more than $74 million in state taxes and will get back this year only $2.8 million in state school aid

NJ Spotlight - SDA Picks up the Pace of School Construction -- For Some Administration announces $455 million more funding for "regular operating districts" -- but not Abbotts…”State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) [said] “It is certainty a positive thing for the [regular operating districts],” he said. “But frankly, districts are struggling to keep costs within the tax caps we have, and trying to get a bond passed to match these [state] funds is very hard these days...”He was more circumspect about the Abbott work, but added he has received assurances that the work will speed up as well…”

5-30-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Schools Takeover: All Quiet on the Camden Front…Local board signs consent decree, last step is state board approval

NJ Spotlight - Race to the Top Moving at Slower Pace for New Jersey…After frantic pursuit of federal funds, state takes more deliberate approach to putting initiatives in place

5-28-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - Oceanside Charter School students forced to go to poorer performing schools in Atlantic City

NJ Spotlight - Bill Wants Taskforce to Take a Tougher Look at School Security...Measure could make school security less of a local issue in New Jersey

NJ Spotlight - Part 7: Schooled By Substitutes at Quitman Street...Perseverance at a Newark 'renew school' following midyear teacher turnover

5-24-13 Legislation - Diegnan Charter Bill Controversial....Teacher endorsement bill discussed
(GSCS Notes: GSCS appreciates time Assemblyman Diegnan has spent developing his charter school law revision-update bill, yet we note that while the bill includes a number of improvements, it still does not address the issues with how charter schools are funded directly from local school budgets. This funding tug-of-war exacerbates a conflict of competing needs that pits people withing communities against one another and will continue to be stumbling block to any realistic consensus on charter schools overall.)

Newsworks (WHYY online publication) - New Jersey bill would convert public schools into charters with vote

NJ Spotlight - Bill Would Give Teachers New Career Ladder to Climb…So-called teacher leaders would gain training, new skills, to serve as coordinators, facilitators -- without abandoning classrooms

Registration form - GSCS 22nd Annual Meeting May 29 The Forsgate
5-23-13 Education Issues in the News
5-22-13 Deignan Charter LegislationFormally Introduced...Judge Rules on Bullying Complaint-Appeal
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Diegnan’s Charter School Bill…Assemblyman drops bill, which called for central review board and local approval for new and expanded charters

The Record-Associated Press - N.J. judge rejects protest in school bullying ruling

5-21-13 Charter Schools Chart Course for Teacher Evaluations
NJ Spotlight - Charter Schools Chart Course for Teacher Evaluations…State issues guidelines that are far less stringent than new rules for evaluation of district school educators
5-17-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - NJEA Clockwork Elections Belie Stormy Relations with Governor, Administration...Buono endorsement and new super PAC could indicate teachers union is ready to fight

Politickernj - Special interests alive and well, Christie says in lamenting lack of voucher programs

Politickernj - EDA whittles down charter school construction bond applications

5-16-13 Bullying Decision - Judge and Commissioner of Education on the same page
NJ Spotlight - Judge’s Reversal of Bullying Ruling Upheld by State Education Chief…Cerf agrees that conflict between two students didn’t meet anti-bullying law’s criteria
5-15-13 In the News - Dept of Education Superintendent Survey......Program Helps High School Students Graduate On Time
NJ Spotlight - Education Department Gets Better Grades From District Supers…. New survey gives DOE high marks for communication and special ed, less than satisfactory for helping districts fulfill initiatives...See posting immediately below for Superintendent Survey Results

Press of Atlantic City - Program lets Atlantic City High School students graduate on time… “But between transferring from Baltimore and spending time in the hospital because of diabetes, she fell behind in school and failed both Algebra II and English III. Now, she stays after school four days a week to make up those credits in the school’s Credit Recovery program so she can graduate on time…”

5-15-13 PDF of DOE Superintendent Survey 2012 (pdf)
5-14-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Online Charter School Hopes to Escape from Limbo...The nation’s largest online education company, K12 Inc., is once again registering kids and offering jobs to teachers for the debut of New Jersey’s first virtual charter school – all without knowing if the school will even open.

Star Ledger - Task force may look at full-day kindergarten in all districts…”While most of New Jersey’s elementary school districts offer full-day kindergarten, at least 114 districts still offer half-day only, according to the state Department of Education. The Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would create a task force to explore full-day options…”

Star Ledger - State's largest teacher union forms Super PAC

5-13-13 NJ Spotlight - Teacher Evaluation Procedures Can Take up to a Year to Learn
NJ Spotlight -Rutgers Report Briefs Educators on Training for New Teacher Evaluation…Mastering procedures alone can take up to a year, even if schools won’t have that long under new law...“The idea of having highly reliable systems in that first year is questionable, because it does take a year to learn this stuff,” he said. “This is the downside of jumping in so fast, that the system won’t be as reliable as it could be.”Firestone also said that it takes time to train teachers on how they will be evaluated. “Teachers need to understand it well to both benefit from it and to trust it,” he commented.
5-13-13 Star Ledger - Support Slipping for Newark's School Chief
Star Ledger column - Moran: Support slipping for Cami Anderson, Newark's schools chief "...The school advisory committee recently cast a vote of no confidence. Not to be outdone, the city council passed a resolution opposing all reforms during the next school year.You read that right: Not a single change through the 2013-2014 school year. A complete freeze."
5-10-13 NJ High School Proficiency Assessment: The Run-Up to Graduation
NJ Spotlight - NJ High School Proficiency Assessment: The Run-Up to Graduation…By the time they reach their junior year, students must have mastered at least the basics of algebra, statistics, biology, and essay writing to move on to that cap and gown

GSCS Notes: Potentially related issue is NJ SENATE bill, No. 459 Sponsored by: Senator SHIRLEY K. TURNER, District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)…SYNOPSIS - Prohibits a student from participating in high school graduation ceremonies unless the student has completed all graduation requirements

The Senate is scheduled to vote on S459 this Monday, May 13, 2013. A companion bill to S450 has not been introduced in the Assembly. Click on More here to see NJ Spotlight story and bill S459

5-9-13 NJ Ask Puts Pupil's Skills in Language Arts to the Test
NJ Spotlight - NJ ASK Puts Pupils’ Skills in Language Arts to the Test….Students in grades 6-8 tackle two writing tasks, reading comprehension in 4-hour exam
5-8-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Feasibility study on regional school funding formula presented to Woodcliff Lake Borough Council

Philadelphia Inquirer - Camden board votes to lay off teachers, aides

5-6-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Special report: Born in hope, Newark charter school now embroiled in controversy

NJ Spotlight - Student's-Eye View of NJ's Statewide Tests…When your kids sit down to one of NJ's state tests, what do they need to know?

GSCS EVALUATIONS POSITION re Evaluations Changes Made at State Board. on 5-1-13
GSCS Note: It is positive that the State Board revisions, put forth by Commissioner Cerf, indicate that – but only to a limited extent - concerns of the public and practitioners have begun to be heard. However, GSCS’ position remains one of concern for the practicality and workability of the new code as it is implemented this fall. Among other issues, GSCS has held that it would be a wiser course to use at least the first year of implementation as an opportunity to test out the new evaluation process and thus 1) it is more reasonable to begin with an Student Growth Percentile (SGP) of 15%, rather than the adopted 30%. This aligns to the Student Growth Objective of 15% for the 80% of teachers that cannot be qualified for SGP analysis; 2) the sticking point of the different treatment of teachers where 20% are measured not only differently, but also more incisively , than the remaining 80% of NJ’s teaching staff would not be so severely drawn; 3) the issue of whether growth and achievement are too tightly correlated could be studied in depth in a less high stakes situation; and, 4) it is very problematic that tenure decisions will have to be made without having actual data results on hand. Actual data feedback will not be available for several months after decisions are required to be made, and 5) the problems with the rush to move ahead, while confined by federal 'Race to the Top' restrictions, is compounded by the fact that in two years the state will be transitioning to a new assessment system altogether under PAARC. Is there a plan in place to match today's new data system with PAARC data requirements so that critical time and like analysis is not lost in this this transition?

An additional concern of the GSCS is that the Student Performance Reports (SPR's)require a new public understanding on what the reports demonstrate which will evolve over time. For instance, one GSCS member analyzed its school district's particular ranking among its newly-designated peer group and found that the "... [Our] school is less than 1% under the next 11 higher “ranked” peer schools. State folks did admit that the rankings are “tight” at the top…so for less than 1% in achievement as measured by HSPA, [our high school district] is ranked under 11 other schools, all of whom are well over 92% proficient overall…"

NJ Spotlight - Student Test Scores to Carry Just a Little Bit Less Weight for Tenure Decisions…Administration shaves test score component of teacher evaluations by 5 percent

Star Ledger - State board of education adjusts teacher evaluation rules ”After hearing criticism about a plan to rely heavily on student test scores in evaluating teachers, the state Board of Education today cut back — slightly — the amount of weight given to the scores… The test results will count toward 30 percent of teacher evaluations under the change discussed today — down from 35 percent. Teacher observations will be worth 55 percent, up from 50, and other student progress measures — things like classroom work — will count for 15 percent…”

5-3-13 Camden Kids Speak Proudly of Thier Schools, Offer Answers to Challenges
NJ Spotlight - Camden Kids Speak Proudly of Their Schools, Offer Answers to Challenges…Writing assignment brings 7th graders’ suggestions as state takeover looms
5-1-13 Voucher Controversy in the News
Star Ledger - Christie faces potential legal fight over school vouchers
5-1-13 Camden Schools in the News
NJ Spotlight - Camden Board Doesn’t Resist State Takeover of Schools…Community activists, educators voice concerns over impact on troubled urban district “With little debate among board members but plenty in the audience, the Camden Board of Education last night voted not to challenge the Christie administration’s planned takeover of its public schools…”

Philadelphia Inquirer - Camden board says it's cutting more than 100 jobs

4-30-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - State Arbitrators Rule on First Cases Brought Under New Tenure Law…A handful of early cases address misconduct and inefficiency, a charge stemming from teachers' classroom performance

Star Ledger - N.J.'s poor districts have limited role designing new schools, court rules

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…TEACHNJ back on the agenda, along with career and technical education

Star Ledger -Police seize powerful bombs, shotgun shells from Edison High School student

Draft of Diegnan Charter School Bill (pdf)
Click on More here to see draft updating the 1995 charter law, which includes a bullet point statement on the bills particulars a the end of the draft. GSCS is following this bill closely.
4-26-13 Charter legislation - Draft bill Updating the 1995 Law Released
NJ Spotlight - Draft Charter Bill Calls for Local Approval, More Reviewers…Bill sponsor -- Assemblyman Diegnan -- hopes to build consensus before Legislature tackles NJ's 18-year-old charter law
4-26-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer - Burlington County board votes to eliminate autism unit

NJ Spotlight - Draft Charter Bill Calls for Local Approval, More Reviewers…Bill sponsor -- Assemblyman Diegnan -- hopes to build consensus before Legislature tackles NJ's 18-year-old charter law

4-24-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Newark Board Votes ‘No Confidence’ in Schools Chief…Action adds to strife in district already in turmoil over state control, sweeping layoffs and severe spending cuts

Politickernj - Newark Schools Advisory Board issues Anderson unanimous no-confidence vote

4-23-13 Education & related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Governor, Legislature Tend to Treat School Violence as Local Issue…Districts across the state are weighing an array of tactics, from expanded use of ID cards to armed guards in schools

The Record column-Stile: Christie's gun plan plays it safe politically

Star Ledger - Democrats may negotiate final N.J. budget before voting against it

4-22-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey schools must have technology for state tests by 2014

NJ Spotlight - Can Dems Make Education Pivotal Issue in Governor's Race?...Even with backing of both teachers unions, Buono faces challenge to articulate how she differs from Christie

Philadelphia Inquirer- The latest worry for parents and schools: cyberbullying

4-19-13 Forum in Camden on State Intervention
NJ Spotlight - Hard Questions, Heartfelt Concern Abound at Camden Schools Forum…About 200 turn out to offer suggestions as state officials detail takeover plans
4-18-13 Most School Budgets Win Voter Approval
NJ Spotlight - Most School Budgets Win Voter Approval…In districts still holding traditional April elections, 36 of 39 spending plans get go-ahead
4-1713 More Education in the News from NJ Spotlight
Charter Schools Arrive … at Well-Attended Conference in Atlantic City…Event’s biggest turnout yet underscores growth of alternative education in New Jersey

Opinion: Democrats and Republicans Stockpile Ammo for Budget Battle…At Assembly budget hearing, both sides map out strategies for long, bloody campaigns By Michael Aron

4-17-13 Education Issues in the News, including overwhelming voter OK on school budgets that still require April vote
Politickernj - State Street Wire - School budgets approved in 36 of 39 districts across N.J.

The Record - North Jersey school districts overwhelmingly approve budgets “…Unofficial results from Englewood, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Emerson, Norwood, Midland Park, Ridgewood, Oakland, Garfield, Fairview, Wood-Ridge, Ramsey and Harrington Park – all in Bergen County -- showed voters approving the tax levies…”

Burlington County Times - 19 Burlington County school districts will receive less aid due to school construction debt (GSCS Notes: GSCS first brought this issue to the public with its testimony on the proposed State Budget for FY 2013-2014 March 20, 2013, including a district by district data listing of the impact the fees assessed/scroll down to March 20,2013 on this homepage for testimony and data.)

Star Ledger - Christie vetoes union labor bill championed by Sweeney “…Among the bills Christie signed was the “Anti-Big Brother Act” (S2057), which requires school districts to notify students and parents that school-issued electronic devices may record the students’ activities…”

4-16-13 Education In the News, plus School Elections Today for 41 Districts - Remember to Vote
NJ Spotlight - Holdout Districts Hold Traditional April School-Budget Votes Today…Not many left, as most have switched to November vote on board seats, with no approval needed for spending plans

The Record - Christie signs measure that bars 'school spying'

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Newark Charter School Revocation…Despite warnings and promises, 100 Legacy charter to be shuttered at end of inaugural school year

4-15-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - NTU President Blasts District Super on Finances, Calls for External Audit…Del Grosso faults Anderson for "serious and disturbing problems," secrecy, and intended layoffs...'A district spokeswoman, Renee Harper, called DelGrosso’s claims “a blatant attempt to divert attention from the serious issues we face in our challenge to deliver excellent schools for all of our kids...” '
Link to Richard Keevey's Presentation to GSCS-NJSDC Spring Leadership Conference on State Budget Crisis Task Force
Many of our conference attendees requested this link, click on More here ... Our thanks to Richard Keevey, as well as to panelists Bari Erlichson, DOE Chief Performance Officer, and Time Matheney, DOE Director of the Office of Evaluations for contributing to making this room-filled conference a great success.
4-12-13 More Education News from Assembly Budget Hearing yesterday
NJ Spotlight - Opposition Muted as Christie’s School-Voucher Pilot Makes Public Debut…Scholarships up to $10,000 would let 200 low-income students switch to public or private schools elsewhere

Politickernj - Voucher pilot program scrutinized

4-11-13 News from the Assembly Budget hearing on the Department of Education Budget for FY'14
GSCS Note 4-11-13: During the Assembly Budget Committee hearing on the Department of Education budget this afternoon, Commissioner Cerf said he would support a ‘legislative champion’ to seek lifting restrictive limits on administrative spending caps, in light of safety needs for School Resource Officers(SRO’s) and the additional administrative costs required in new evaluations process.

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Cerf, lawmakers spar ovr debt service in FY14

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Webber: Issue of overcharged 'sending' school districts needs to be addressed

4-11-12 Assembly Budget to hear Department of Education on FY'14 Proposed State Budget Today
NJ Spotlight -Early Look at OLS Report Reveals Many Districts Will See Net Loss in State Money…On eve of budget hearing, increased debt service on school construction grants blunts Christie’s funding promises

NJ Spotlight - Interactive Map: Elementary and Middle School Student Growth Measures

Star Ledger - N.J. school chiefs take issue with 'peer group' rankings in revamped reports“…While superintendents largely said they welcome the new information, many took issue with the state’s use of data to compare schools with "peers" deemed similar based on levels of students’ poverty and special needs. In some cases, schools with nearly identical test scores, in the same peer groups, have wildly different percentile ranks… "

4-10-13 School Performance Reports Available to Public Online at Dept. of Education Website This Afternoon
Star Ledger - New N.J. school reports released by state education department; bring new rankings, data

The Record - State officials release comparative 'performance reports' for every NJ public school

4-9-13 Newark Student Protest
Star Ledger - Newark students protest budget cuts with walkout, rally
4-9-10 New School Performance Reports coming out tomorrow
Commissioner’s Weekly Message - Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dear Colleagues, Tomorrow, we are planning to release our new School Performance Reports to the public...

GSCS-NJSDC Program Agenda and Directions for Spring Leadership Conference 4-10-13 at Douglass College Center
4-9-13 School Construction Assessment Fees An Issue in FY'14 Proposed Budget
NJ Spotlight - …With the budget coming in at almost $9B, it's something of a surprise to learn what it isn't going to cove “…another nearly 500 districts are seeing an increase in their required contributions to the debt service on grants they received for new construction costs, not a sizable amount for many of them, but a significant six-figure hit for more than a dozen. “While the fees are not part of state formula aid, which has been held at no less than flat for districts, the fees nonetheless reduce a school district’s budget and the high increase was another bad surprise,” read prepared testimony from Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools…”

Star Ledger - School districts to pay more for construction projects

4-5-13 Star Ledger - New school report cards coming from state Ed Dept
...'State education officials released drafts of the new report cards to school superintendents last month and many expressed concerns about the accuracy of the state's data sets.Erlichson said state education officials culled data from more than a dozen sources to prepare the reports. Though state officials corrected many of the errors, they were not able to address all of them, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said. The state Department of Education plans to release the reports this month anyway. "This was a massive undertaking and we made multiple efforts to ask districts to check their data before we began preparing these reports," Cerf said. "When districts didn't like what they saw, they looked at their data more closely and asked for adjustments." "We can't make all of those changes for a complicated set of reasons," Cerf said. "It's very complicated..."' (GSCS Note: Concerns have similarly be expressed at the GSCS Board table.)
April 2013 The Bridge
A monthly newsletter for educators from the New Jersey Department of Education:In this issue of The Bridge we discuss measures of school performance, which take many forms. in this issue. To help provide clear information about New Jersey’s schools, we have information about the new School Performance Reports which build upon and replace the previous annual School Report Cards. These new reports present a more complete picture of school performance, with the ultimate aim of helping schools and stakeholders Providing timely and useful data to districts is important so that schools can track their own progress both at a student and district level, but also so that districts can participate in shared goal setting for the future. Over the past two years, we have worked extensively to improve the type and timeliness of data to districts, much of which is discussed engage in local goal setting and improvement. (Published per Dept. of Educ. request)
AchieveNJ Broadcast week of 28 (pdf)
AchieveNJ… The primary focus of AchieveNJ is to assist educators in strengthening their practice by using evaluations to create more meaningful professional growth opportunities (GSCS has been requested by the Department of Education to publish AchieveNJ broadcast on its website.)
Updated! GSCS-NJ School Development Program for April 10 Spring Leadership Conference
Program updated as of 3-27-13...See Registration form immediately below to sign up to register, thank you.
4-4-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Revised teacher evaluation regulations decrease test scores' weight… ‘…When Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf first introduced the regulations last month, he said students’ standardized test scores could count for up to 50 percent of fourth through eighth grade teachers’ annual ratings, though state education officials recommended test scores make up 35 percent. Classroom observations would account for the rest of the score.The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, and state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who sponsored the legislation, criticized the regulations when they were announced.Yesterday, Cerf announced that standardized test scores will count for no more than 35 percent of those teachers’ annual ratings…’

NJ Spotlight - NJEA Raises Red Flag at First Public Hearing on Teacher Evaluation…Union says student performance weighs too heavily in first-year evaluation ‘…State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his staff did make some amendments that would limit how much state testing could be used for teachers’ ratings, capping it to no more than 35 percent in the first year … For the most part, the board steered clear of the tussle between the union and the administration. Some board members raised a few specific questions about the late timing of the state test scores coming back and the potential impact that will have. But board president Arcelio Aponte said afterward that he didn’t expect a big change in at least the baseline plan to start.”

NJ Spotlight - Three Dozen Applicants Submit Bids for Charter Schools…Most would be located in state’s urban areas, aiming to open in fall of 2014

Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch - Ramsey BOE Opposes Superintendent Pay Caps, Joining Ridgewood …Ramsey school officials say caps on school superintendent pay has created an "educational leadership crisis"

4-2-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - School Districts to Assess How Strong a Start They've Made With Anti-Bullying…New guidelines and monitoring process will ultimately grade schools on compliance
Registration Form for GSCS-NJSDC April 10 Spring Leadership Conference
Click here on More for the registration form (Word)
Directions: Douglass College Center for April 10 GSCS-NJSDC Spring Leadership Conference
4-2-13 NJ Department of Education - Weekly Broadcast Information Memo
4-2-13 Education Issues in the News - NJ Spotlight - Camden Roundtable...State Board Agenda for Wednesday
NJ Spotlight - Deep Concern Over Camden Schools Evident at Public Forum…Despite disagreements about specifics and particulars, underlying thrust is putting Camden's public schools right

Philadelphia Inquirer - Changes in Camden schools debated

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…The board will work through some controversial code, especially concerning teacher evaluations and special ed

4-1-13 Trenton Budget hearings - Upcoming
Click here on More to see schedule through April 11 (GSCS Note: Department of Education to be heard by Assembly Budget Committee on April 11 10 a.m. in Trenton)
4-1-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj - Breaking: Advisory Board votes down school budget in Newark

The Record Editorial: Arming schools

NJ Spotlight - Streaming Live: The NJ Spotlight Roundtable -- Camden Schools and the Future of Urban Education in New Jersey…Even if you can't make it to today's roundtable, you can still have one of the best seats in the house

3-31-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Newark school board candidates change tone on charter schools

Star Ledger - Former Newark schools chief indicted in Georgia cheating scandal

3-28-13 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - School districts get help on debt payments... "Local state legislators said Tuesday they will work to reduce or cap the increased payments school districts are expected to make in 2013-14 for construction grants they received from the state Schools Development Authority..."

The Record - State urges patience on new report cards... "Many North Jersey superintendents have expressed concern that drafts of a new version of the state's school report cards, to be released soon, contained a number of errors..."

NJ Spotlight - Ruiz Raises 'Severe Concerns' About Administration's Teacher Evaluation Program Chief architect of tenure reform cautions against putting too much importance, too soon, on student performance on state tests... "The pace of changes has been one of the prime concerns about the new regulations since they were introduced last month. The administration does not appear to be bending much, however, as the proposed code goes to the state Board of Education for a second discussion and its first public hearing next Wednesday..."

3-27-13 Camden Intervention in the News
Star Ledger - State takeover of Camden schools is a necessity: Editorial… “It is in some ways a shotgun wedding, this partnership between Christie and Camden. But it had to happen. And for the sake of kids in this state’s most desperate city, let’s hope it works.”
3-26-13 Education in the News - Camden Schools Intervention
NJ Spotlight -Christie, Cerf & Co. Take the Reins of Camden Public Schools…Governor vows to be sensitive to local board and community, but is ready to 'exert whatever control' is called for..."Christie was less combative than he can be in these situations, and while he said he would “call out” critics, he vowed that he also would listen to concerns. ‘I know this is a difficult reality for the community to confront,” he said to close the press conference. “But I come here in a spirit of cooperation and determination to make a difference in the lives of families and children in this city.”

Courier Post - For Camden schools, takeover may not mean change

Acheive NJ Update from Dept. of Educ.- Student Achievement Measures, Evaluating Specialists and Other Educators
By the end of today, we will have completed six regional presentations which provide us the opportunity to share more information about AchieveNJ and to hear questions, concerns, and suggestions from educators across the state... Perhaps the biggest area of inquiry resulting from the information sessions thus far surrounds measures of student achievement in the proposed evaluation and support system. This week, I am pleased to provide you with some additional information and resources about this..."

Click here on More to see full letter and related information links from Assistant Commissioner and Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman.

3-25-13 State aims to intervene in Camden school district
Star Ledger - Cerf calls Camden schools 'human catastrophe' as state seizes control

Politickernj - State takes reins of troubled Camden schools

Politickernj – Christie: Previous state takeovers not necessarily blueprint for Camden schools

NJ Spotlight - As Newark Battles School Takeover in Court, Is Camden Next?

3-24-13 Christie to announce state takeover of Camden schools
Philadelphia Inquirer - Christie to announce state takeover of Camden schools..."Gov. Christie plans to announce Monday that he is taking the extraordinary step of putting the educational and fiscal management of the Camden School District under state control, The Inquirer has learned..."
Excerpts - GSCS 3-20-13Testimony before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Also presented to the Committee along with GSCS FY 2013-2014 State Budget testimony: see files immediately below for Data Analyses attached to GSCS Testimony re: Increases in SDA Fees Assessed on 493 districts for school construction costs, including districts that received grants, as well as statewide Special Education Aid data listings.
Fees Assessed to 493 Districts for School Construction: Percentage Increases from FY 2012-2013 to FY 2013-2014 (pdf)
Compare Special Education Aid FY'14 to SDA Assessment Fees FY'14 (pdf)
State Special Education Aid to districts: Compare FY 2012-2013 to FY2013-2014 (pdf)
The Future of Higher Education - Forum at Rutgers April 12
3-22-13 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Long-Debated “Renaissance” School Gets Go-Ahead from Camden, State…Plan calls for five privately run schools to open in city, operated with public funds
3-20-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - Study: Preschoolers in poorest districts made 'significant gains' through 4th and 5th grades “…Seizing on the latest report, officials from Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the Newark-based Education Law Center have called for the state to expand preschool — and officials from the Education Law Center said they will ask the Legislature on Wednesday to add more preschool funding to the state budget…”

NJ Spotlight -Report Demonstrates Continuing Value of Preschool for New Jersey's Poorest Kids…Seven-year study puts pre-K students as much as three-quarters of academic year ahead of classmates “…“We are energized by these findings and are grateful to the educators that work tirelessly for these results,” Cerf said in a statement. ”We are committed to continuing to share successful practices from these programs with educators across the state to help all children receive high-quality early learning opportunities…”

The Record - N.J. teens fight odds, skeptics to serve on school boards

Special Education Task Force bill signed into law by Governor
S600 "Establishes task force to study various issues related to improving special education programs and services for public school students...There is established a Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students to consist of 17 members as follows: the Commissioner of Education, ex officio, or a designee; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including one parent or guardian of a public school student receiving special education services, one parent or guardian of a student attending a private school for students with disabilities, one public school special education teacher, one director of special education services for a school district, one representative of the Arc of New Jersey, one representative of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, one representative of the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, one representative of the New Jersey Education Association, one representative of the New Jersey School Boards Association, one representative of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, one representative of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, one representative of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey, one representative of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, one representative of ASAH, and one representative of the American Federation of Teachers..."

GSCS thanks the lead sponsors of S600 for bringing this important bill to fruition: Senator JENNIFER BECK District 11 (Monmouth) Senator M. TERESA RUIZ District 29 (Essex) Assemblyman DAVID P. RIBLE District 30 (Monmouth and Ocean) Assemblywoman MARY PAT ANGELINI District 11 (Monmouth) Assemblyman JASON O'DONNELL District 31 (Hudson) Assemblywoman DONNA M. SIMON District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset

New Jersey Newsroom - N.J. Taking Big Steps to Improve Special Education “... Rible and Beck introduced the bill, S-600 / A-1365, in response to an Asbury Park Press series in 2010 on New Jersey’s special education system...”

Click here on More for bill copy and NJ Newsroom article

3-19-13 Eudcation-related Issue in the News - Supreme Court Nominations...Or Not
Star Ledger - Democrats don't plan hearings on Christie's N.J. Supreme Court nominees for at least 8 months

The Record-column-Stile: Democrats unlikely to relent on Christie's choices for New Jersey Supreme Court

3-18-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Time spent on standardized tests set to increase in 2014-2015 school year
3-14-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Teacher Evaluation Plan Gets Mixed Reviews in First Public Forum…Educators raise questions, concerns about heavy emphasis on student test scores

Star Ledger - Newtown, Conn. school superintendent talks security with N.J. administrators

Associated Press-Star Ledger - Privacy advocates blast database with students' personal information

3-13-13 'Former Gov. Thomas Kean Talks Education'
NJ Spotlight - Spotlight Interview: Former Gov. Thomas Kean Talks Education… Former Gov. Thomas Kean Sr. has never really left the education conversation in New Jersey – he just maybe stepped back a little… “…But Kean, at age 77, is stepping back into the fray a little, with the announcement yesterday that he will co-chair a new school-reform organization focused on research, policy and advocacy. JerseyCAN, an offshoot of the national 50CAN network, has launched under the leadership of Janellen Duffy, former education advisor to Gov. Jon Corzine and more recently the policy chief for the Charter School Fund of Newark…”
3-12-13 Principals' Evaluation Issues...Sequester Crunch
NJ Spotlight - Matter of Principals: School Administrators Also Getting New Grading System…Revamped evaluations, which don’t apply only to teachers, prompt questions from principals association about criteria... ”… The new evaluation system – renamed “Achieve NJ” on the eve of a public campaign starting this week – was outlined in new proposed regulations released last week by the state Department of Education…”

Star Ledger - Menendez: Federal spending cuts will slash millions for N.J. students

http://www.state.nj.us/education/AchieveNJ/

3-11-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer- New teacher and principal evaluations pose a challenge for districts to implement

The Record editorial -The Record: Tenure reform

NJ Spotlight - Department of Education Posts List of Nearly 60 Reward Schools…Designation indicates overall high performance or marked progress on statewide exams (GSCS Note:List of Reward districts can be accessed via Members Only Portal, sidbar left on this homepage.)

Asbury Park Press Column - Christie Bravado has Quieted NJEA

Trenton Times - Guest Opinion: Why America demonizes its teachers

GSCS Clarification re Teacher Evaluation Data Definition of 'Academic Peer' used for Student Growth Percentile - SGP
Per Dept. of Educ. website: NJ SMART “SGP VIDEO” Student Growth Percentile...How an Academic Peer is defined -

• The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) is calculated by comparing student achievement to his/her academic peers.

• Academic Peers are students across NJ with similar scores on the NJSASK test to students across New Jersey that have a similar NJASK test score history

• The growth model does not include any demographic factors by gender of ethnicity, nor does it group at specific programs, including English language learner (ELL) or learning disabled students when identifying academic peers.

• Academic Peers are selected solely by their achievement on the NJASK test.

• Academic peers share these three elements in common: they are in the same grade level, they have taken same NJASK tests, and they share similar testing history results.

3-8-13 Department of Treasury Increases School Construction Fees Assessed to Local Districts - Stresses Local School Budgets
NJ Spotlight -Debt Payments Cast Shadow on Christie’s School-Aid Picture…While budget freezes or slightly boosts aid, state construction-grant assessments soar 60 percent “…According to data provided by the state yesterday, nearly 500 districts will see double-digit percentage increases in assessments paid to the Schools Development Authority for debt service on construction grants for projects launched in the last several years. For many districts, it won’t be a lot of money, with the average increase at about $26,000. But for more than dozen districts, the impact will top $100,000, not small change when state aid increases were as small as $1 for 41 districts and averaged about 1 percent overall. ..”
3-8-13 ACHIEVE NJ Initiative announced by Department of Education - information updates on statewide educator evaluation system
"...For teachers, the proposed regulations differentiate between teachers of tested and non-tested grades and subjects. For next year, the following weights will apply: • Teachers in Tested Grades and Subjects: o 35 percent based on Student Growth Percentile (SGP) data. o 15 percent based on Student Growth Objective (SGO) data from 1 or 2 teacher-set SGOs. o 50 percent based on classroom observations. • Teachers of Non-tested Grades and Subjects: o 85 percent based on classroom observations. o 15 percent based on SGO data from two teacher-set SGOs. We are also committed to communicating with you and your colleagues about these changes. To that end, every Thursday for the next six weeks, we will be sending you additional information to support your understanding of the various aspects of AchieveNJ and its implementation..."

AchieveNJ updates will be sent every Thursday for the next 6 weeks. Questions: educatorevaluation@doe.state.nj.us or call our Help Line at 609-777-3788.

3-7-13 In the News - Subcontracting bill Issue...School Construction Numbers
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sen. Diane Allen pulls her name off school subcontracting bill

NJ Spotlight - By the Numbers: Lots of Money, Fewer Projects at School-Construction Agency…Only one project begun since 2010, despite millions spent by School Development Authority

3-7-13 Released: Department of Education Power Point - Teacher Evaluations Regulations' Process (pdf)
3-7-13 Teacher Evaluation Regulations Regulations Presented
NJ Spotlight - Cerf Goes Public About Student Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations…At standing-room-only meeting of the state BOE, administration puts rough percentages to components of teacher ratings

Star Ledger - Teacher tenure, evaluation regulations introduced at state BOE

Save the Date: GSCS-NJ Schools Development Council Spring Leadership Forum at Rutgers' Douglass College April 10 (pdf)
Spring Leadership Conference - State Budget...State School Aid...Education Reform: A Tug of War

Click on More here for Save the Date flyer, and Stay Tuned for Details...Program Details & Registration Information coming soon!

3-6-13 Teacher Evaluations, Student Testing, State Board hears new regulations
NJ Spotlight - Teachers Union Looks Askance at New Regulations for Tenure Evaluations…NJEA says law goes beyond what it agreed to, puts too much stress on student test scores

The Record - N.J. increasing tests for students

GSCS Note: Go to 'Issues' on top banner here to see Proposed Regulations for Teacher Evaluations

3-6-13First Senate Budget Committee hearing on State Budget Proposal for FY 14
(Note: GSCS will be testifying on FY'14 State Budget proposal later this month)

The Record - Advocates press for more funding for schools, towns during N.J. Senate budget hearing

Politickernj.com - Advocates say FY14 proposal doesn't go far enough for schools

3-5-13 More on State Board of Education tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…New regulations for teacher evaluation, special education, public testimony all add up to busy day of administrative code review
3-5-13 State Board meeting tomorrow - Teacher Evaluation Regulations on tap
NJ Spotlight - State Board of Education to Release Regulations for Teacher Evaluations Tomorrow…Some wiggle room built in to give system room to evolve, but will it be enough to head off arguments over student test scores? “…The proposed regulations posted online by the state Department of Education yesterday indicated there could some flexibility in the yardstick for grading teachers under the new system, potentially quelling some of the expected debate over the use of student test scores… Either way, student achievement will still count for as much as half of a teacher’s evaluation, the rest based on classroom observations. But state officials yesterday stressed they wanted some leeway built in to continue to develop the best mix…”
3-4-13 Newtown Superintendent to Address New Jersey Colleagues on School Security
NJ Spotlight - Newtown Superintendent to Address New Jersey Colleagues on School Security…Janet Robinson's horrific experience has taught her how far emergency planning can go, how to identify and implement new safeguards
3-1-13 State Aid and Charters - In the News
NJ Spotlight - Gov. Chris Christie’s election-year state aid package for New Jersey’s public schools looks like it has a little bit for almost everyone -- or at least not any less for anyone. “Looks flat here, which I have been conditioned to be grateful for,” said James Crisfield, superintendent of Millburn schools, which saw no increase at all on its $1.9 million aid from the state… “…Overall, people are relieved that funding is stabilized with flat funding at the very least, and increases for districts, such as those that are at 10 percent or more under adequacy is important,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “Being that is an election year as well, we are optimistic these aid levels will not be lessened and may even be increased under the legislative process with the Appropriations Act for FY14,” she added

Star Ledger -No N.J. school district will have state aid cut next year; 40 districts increase of $1

NJ Spotlight - State Renews 13 Charter Schools But Flunks Three Others…Several win approval but are put on probation or have expansion plans rejected

Star Ledger - Charter schools in Jersey City, Atlantic City and Hammonton set to close

2-28-13 State Aid Figures Released early afternoon today
State Aid allocations by district:

http://www.nj.gov/education/stateaid/1314/

Click here on More to read related press release, as well as decriptions of various aid categories

2-28-13 'Charter-School Reform, On Back Burner, Starts to Heat Up Again'
NJ Spotlight - Charter-School Reform, On Back Burner, Starts to Heat Up Again…Democratic lawmakers in state Assembly, Senate both drafting new legislation
2-27-13 In the News - Governor's State Budget Message...State School Aid, more
GSCS Note: In-Depth Analysis to come, with release of state school aid district-by-district figures tomorrow, February 28.

The Record - Christie budget includes $97M more for N.J. schools, but critics warn it's far from enough “…Details on how much each district will receive are expected Thursday. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents mostly suburban systems, said, “Districts were worried about losing aid, so this puts that concern aside, but we do need to take a good look at how it’s laid out district by district.”

Star Ledger - School vouchers, aid increase, included in Christie budget “…The modest increase was welcome in a state that just a few years ago saw Christie cut nearly $1 billion from schools. "I imagine we'll get flat funding, and we're thankful for that," said Marlboro School Superintendent David Abbott. His district lost $6.2 million in the 2010 cut…”

NJ Spotlight - Christie Won't Give Up on School Voucher Program…Governor vows to fight on, even though proposed $2 million pilot is just a shadow of original, supersized program of 2010

Newsday-Associated Press - Christie's $32.9B NJ budget expands Medicaid “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed a $32.9 billion budget Tuesday that allows more poor residents to enroll in Medicaid and increases public school aid but defers property tax rebates for three months to cover a projected budget shortfall…”

2-26-13 Early Information per Department of Treasury Website re Governor's Budget Message FY 2013-2014
Governor Chris Christie Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Address Highlights Governor Christie today unveiled a FY 2014 budget that provides $32.9 billion in state spending with no tax increases. The budget includes a record $1.676 billion pension payment and a $40 million Sandy contingency fund for expenses not reimbursed by the Federal government. The budget reflects the Governor’s decision to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Key funding priorities in Education, Higher Education, Health and Human Services include: Education • $87 million increase in state aid funding for schools bringing total state aid to almost $9 billion • $2 million to fund opportunity scholarship grants for needy students • $5 million for an “Education Innovation fund” to implement innovative teaching models in all schools Excerpt from State Budget Fiscal Year 2014 : Budget Summary

Delivering on the Promise of a Quality Education for Every Child in N.J.

Governor Christie’s Budget Funds Education At Record Level With An Increase To Nearly $9 Billion

HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS Nearly One Billion Dollars in Education Funding Increases Over Three Years

Governor Christie's fiscal year 2014 budget represents a commitment to provide both the resources and reforms to deliver opportunity to every New Jersey child regardless of zip code. The budget proposes distributing approximately $9 billion in state aid to schools, $97.3 million more than distributed in fiscal year 2013, allowing for the continued implementation of a bold reform agenda to extend the promise of a quality education to every child in New Jersey.

Governor Christie is also providing the resources necessary to make the required payment on behalf of teachers towards their pensions. The State’s obligation to fund the health benefits of retired teachers and the social security costs of districts is also being met. Combined, these payments total close to $2.9 billion.

In total, the budget recommends spending $12.4 billion, or $670.6 million more than in fiscal year 2013 and nearly $1 billion more since fiscal year 2011, representing the largest appropriation of State education aid in New Jersey history.

• In fiscal year 2014, all districts will receive an increase in aid or maintain flat funding.

• A new category of aid for Under Adequacy Districts will benefit 131 districts that are at least 10% below adequacy.

• $4.14 million is provided to the districts that received Supplemental Enrollment Growth Aid (SEGA) funding in fiscal year 2013.

• A new geographic cost adjustment (GCA) will be used, smoothing artificial differences between counties.

• $49.1 million will be distributed to school districts accepted into the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. There are 107 approved choice districts, up from 70 last year.

• Charter School aid supports hold harmless aid to charter schools and students coming from a nonpublic school. $16 million is recommended in fiscal year 2014, an increase of approximately $3 million from fiscal year 2013.

• The thresholds for the amounts reimbursed by the State for high-cost special needs students will be increased by $5,000 in order to ensure that the school districts serving those students with the highest cost services receive the highest reimbursement.

• $83.5 million is recommended for Nonpublic School Aid, $1 million more than provided in fiscal year 2013.

2-26-13 Limited Grants for Sandy Schools...State Budget Message Today...Abbott v Burke Issues Discussed
The Record - N.J. offers schools post-Sandy disaster grants - 'New Jersey school districts that were severely affected by superstorm Sandy can apply for a share of a $1.25 million federal grant for recovery, state officials announced Monday...The money, to be awarded in April, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence.'

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie to unveil budget plan for post-Sandy N.J.

NJ Spotlight - School-Funding Issues Remain at Forefront 40 Years after Landmark Decision "...Speaking to about 20 people gathered at Rutgers Law School were Paul Tractenberg, founding director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, which has led the school-funding litigation for more than 40 years, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, who served 10 years on the state’s top court and wrote two of the Abbott case’s 21 opinions to date..."

2-25-13 'Reviewing budget address 2012 -Tax cut stalled; drug courts, education reform progress'
Politickernj.com-TRENTON – Higher-ed reform, check. Drug courts, check. Tax cut, not so fast. 'When Gov. Chris Christie takes to the podium Tuesday afternoon to give the annual budget address, he will be able to take credit for following through on some of the goals he outlined in last year’s speech. While his biggest goal – a 10 percent income tax cut – went nowhere, he did see fulfilled several of the other initiatives he unveiled last February...'
2-25-13 Christie and Co. Keep Tight Lid On Education Funding in State Budget
NJ Spotlight - …It's a good bet that governor will bump school aid, but where the money goes is tougher to predict "...“What we need and hope for is at least stable funding so that schools don’t fall backwards,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “We hope for some increase, but we are not speculating beyond that,” she said. “We’re realists..."
2-25-13 Governor to Deliiver State Buget MessageTomorrow for Fiscal Year 2013-2014
The Record - Christie's budget hinges on federal aid for storm relief ‘…The budget Christie will present Tuesday lays out the billions he plans to spend on public education, health care, property tax relief and other state programs … Spokesmen for both Christie and the Department of Treasury declined to provide details ahead of Christie’s budget presentation, and lawmakers said they are not scheduled to be briefed until hours before the governor’s speech Tuesday afternoon. Christie himself said little about the new budget during a campaign event in Sea Bright last week…“Budgets, which we’re about to put forward, are statements of priorities, and how you spend your money is often an indicator of what you think is important,” Christie said…’
2-13 Education Week-Digital Directions - State, Federal Ed-Tech Leadership Seen as Key to Innovation
'Last school year, Arizona state Rep. Richard Crandall heard about a Georgia school district with an impressive "bring your own device," or BYOD, initiative. States "look at federal requirements or create state requirements and then tell schools to do it," he says. "That's not modeling creativity and innovation." But lobbying for innovation in schools can be fraught with disappointments and political peril...'
2-22-13 Teacher Evaluation Program in the News
NJ Spotlight - Majority of NJ Schools Opt for Widely Used Teacher-Evaluation Method…Princeton-based consultant’s model is choice of 60 percent of districts as they prepare for tenure law’s new mandate… “…Close to 60 percent of nearly 500 school districts have chosen models scripted by the Danielson Group of Princeton, according to preliminary results reported yesterday by the state Department of Education ‘…Of the 496 districts reporting so far, virtually every one said it has put in place new “school improvement panels” that will oversee teacher evaluation and professional development in each school…”
Dept. of Educ. 2-19-13 memo 'Announcing Regional Presentations on Educator Evaluations'. memo 'Announcing Regional Presentations on Educator Evaluations'
“…On March 6, 2013, the Department of Education (“the Department”) plans to propose regulations to the State Board of Education providing rules for educator evaluation and professional development as outlined in the TEACHNJ Act. These regulations are scheduled to become effective at the beginning in SY13-14 and will include greater details about several elements of evaluation…In March and April, the Department will hold presentations across the state in order to communicate the details of these regulations…”
2-21-13 Senate Education Releases Subcontracting bill S1191
This bill "Concerns subcontracting agreements entered into by public school districts and higher education institutions....This bill provides that, during the term of an existing collective bargaining agreement covering its employees, and employer is prohibited from entereing into a subcontrqacdting agreement whici affects the employment of those employees..."

Note: GSCS has opposed this bill (and its Assembly companion bill, A3627), which recently passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.

2-21-13 Education Issues in the News
US News - Education considering district-by-district waivers

NJ Spotlight - Schools Development Authority Looking to ‘Do More With Less’ After Cutting Staff, Payroll Critics still point to just one project started in three years but agency cites 12 more in the pipeline

Education Adequacy Report - Commissioner's Cover Letter December 2012.PDF (pdf)
GSCS Members - For full School Funding Education Adequacy Report 2012, is availabe on Members Only portal, sidebar left on this homepage. 'This document fulfills the statutory requirement of N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-46(b) in recommending: 1. the base per pupil amount based upon the core curriculum content standards established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-46(a); 2. the per pupil amount for full-day preschool; 3. the weights for grade level, county vocational districts, at-risk pupils, bilingual pupils, and combination (at-risk and bilingual) pupils; 4. the cost coefficients for security aid and transportation aid; 5. the state average classification rate for general special education services pupils and for speech-only pupils; 6. the excess cost for general special education services pupils and for speech-only pupils; and 7. the extraordinary special education aid thresholds.'
2-20-13 Education Issues in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer - NJ Legislature looking at requiring all schools to offer full-day kindergarten classes'...No cost estimate for the proposed mandate has been calculated.“It really needs to be addressed, because it’s such a large stumbling block,” said Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, an advocacy group for suburban districts. “Thinking districts will be able to take this on with the 2 percent tax cap is wishful thinking.”....Delran Superintendent Patricia Camp said the district probably would not have been able to make the change if it didn’t have the available classroom space.“It really does boil down to money, but space is also a big issue,” Camp said.'

NJ Spotlight - More School Districts Move Elections Into November…The chance to remove school budgets from the ballot continues to attract districts statewide … “Among those making the change was Glen Ridge, where the school board last year in April saw its lowest turnout in history.“We decided that nothing terrible has happened to the 80 percent of districts who switched to November last year,” said Elisabeth Ginsburg, the school board’s president. “Our process here is truly nonpartisan and Borough Council members already run that way in November with no partisan interference,” she said in an email. “We didn't really see a downside.”

NJ Spotlight - Two Newest Paterson Charters Are Well Connected -- With Established Networks…The latest charter schools approvals may indicate the state is leaning toward providers with proven track records… “Twenty-five charter schools have opened since Christie was elected, 18 since Cerf took office. A total of 46 have been approved under Christie, the bulk of them in 2010 when the administration approved 36 new schools. Since Cerf came on board, just 14 have been approved. In addition, five charter schools have been closed due to poor performance and mismanagement.”

2-18-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - New school report cards will provide more data, compare schools

NJ Spotlight - For NJ Early Education Advocates, State of the Union Carries Hopeful Message…President's call for universal preschool for needy children resonates with state's Abbott v. Burke school equity funding

2-15-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Democrats to Christie: Rethink Changes to School-Funding Formula…Party-line vote demonstrates strength in numbers, but with budget just weeks away, can Democrats hold the line? “…With the Democrats opposing some of the changes to extra aid or so-called funding “weights” that would be allotted for the neediest students, the Christie administration has 30 days to revise the adequacy report. But the law does not specify the process beyond that, and with the state budget presentation just two weeks away, most legislators interviewed yesterday said that this is where the differences will need to be worked out…”

Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey schools hurt by Sandy to share $1.25 million in federal grants

NJ Spotlight - For NJ Early Education Advocates, State of the Union Carries Hopeful Message…President's call for universal preschool for needy children resonates with state's Abbott v. Burke school equity funding

2-14-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Florence Township Charter Withdraws Application to Expand…After much hue and cry, Riverbank charter bows to public pressure, does what it says is best for kids and community

The Times of Trenton - Vineland BOE unanimously OKs school uniform policy

NJ Spotlight - Newark Superintendent Turns Attention to Revamping High Schools…District-wide choice program to be key component of plan to improve 9th-through-12th grade academics

2-13-13 Assembly Voting Session for 2-14-13
The voting session includes legislative concurrent resolutions SCR134/ACR172 (identical bills)which "Express(es) the Legislature's objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor's Education Adequacy Report (EAR)"...the concurrent resolution already passed out of the Senate last week. If passed in both houses, the Governor has 30 days to respond to the objections, per the SFRA law. After the Governor responds, the law is 'silent'. Complicating the issues in this debate is that the data analysis recently released on the EAR compares state aid funding of the EAR student weights to aid funding as if the SFRA were fully funded. However,SFRA has not been fully funded since 2008 (the SFRA law's first year of implementation).
2-13-13 McKinneyVento Funding for Homeless Children may help schoolchildren impacted by Superstorm Sandy
American Recovery & Reinvestment Act 2009 New Jersey K-12 Education - Educating the Homeless (McKinney Vento)

ON THIS PAGE: • » Uses of Funds • » Application Process • » Fund Allocations • » Guidance Documents ... These ARRA funds are in addition to the annual allocation.

2-13-1 3 In the News - Charter School Facilities Bonds
Politickernj - $125M in bonds to help build more charter schools
2-12-13 'Full-day kindergarten great, but costly, idea'
Politickernj-State Street Wire - “Calling half-day kindergarten "antiquated," Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-38) of Fair Lawn, said it's time for all the state's school districts to offer full-day kindergarten to keep up with growing expectations and worldwide competitiveness...Her bill that would require full-day kindergarten, A2927, was up for discussion only at the Assembly Education Committee on Monday”…“Wagner's bill received support from education groups…However, Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition said while she is supportive of the concept, she is worried about the costs."It really needs to be addressed because it's such a large stumbling block," To help find ways, she suggested creating a task force…Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-40) agreed with her, adding that the costs of not only hiring additional staff, but to expand school facilities, could be challenging for many school districts…”
2-11-13 Education Issues in the News - Charter Schools, School Nutrition Requirement
NJ Spotlight - In Local Battles Against Charters, Florence Township Joins the Fray…Burlington County school district raises familiar refrain, charters drain too much money from local school “…The state has already pulled back since Christie’s first year in office from approving new charter schools in suburban communities, and even new charters anywhere. Talk continues in the Legislature over a rewrite of the state’s 15-year-old charter school law, adding more say for local districts and more accountability for charters. The next round of approvals is expected to be announced this month, providing further indication of how -- and how much -- charter schools will play in this election year, when both Christie and the entire Legislature are up for vote…”

Philadelphia Inquirer - Do new school lunch rules go too far?

2-8-13 Assembly Education Committee Monday, 2-11, 1 pm - Agenda
2-8-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Politics and Education: Perfect Together…A decade in the making, Union City’s new school gives Christie a chance to celebrate the beleaguered Schools Development Authority… ““I know the criticism, but I can’t really say anything negative,” Sanger [Union City Schools Superintendent] said, crediting the cooperation and promotion of local and state officials, led by Stack..."
2-7-13 State Board of Education meeing - in the News
NJ Spotlight - New School Report Cards Measure More Than Just the ABCs of Student Performance...By digging deeper into data, School Performance Reports can analyze and compare grades and progress for students statewide

NJ Spotlight - Changes to Special-Ed Code Add to Tensions Between Parents, Administration…Taken singly, the proposed revisions deal with minutia, but parents argue they add up to significant amendments

2-7-13 State Board of Education meeingt yesterday in the News
NJ Spotlight - New School Report Cards Measure More Than Just the ABCs of Student Performance...By digging deeper into data, School Performance Reports can analyze and compare grades and progress for students statewide

NJ Spotlight - Changes to Special-Ed Code Add to Tensions Between Parents, Administration…Taken singly, the proposed revisions deal with minutia, but parents argue they add up to significant amendments

2-6-13 Dept of Education Evaluation Report Released
The New Jersey Department of Education (“the Department”) released the Evaluation Research and Policy Development Memo on February 5. The following topics are addressed...Click here on More for full information as released by the DOE
2-6-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Independent Report: Teachers Remain Skeptical About New Evaluation System….Study also raises concerns about deadlines and reliability, but lead author finds reasons to be optimistic

The Record -Study: Many N.J. teachers wary of new evaluations

NJ Spotlight -School Superintendents Try Once More to Overturn Cap on Pay...Petition to NJ Supreme Court asserts governor’s action overstepped his authority

2-5-13 State Board of Education Meeting Coming Up
NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…Back to deregulation for the panel, as new codes are introduced pertaining to special education, facilities and standards
2-4-13 Common Core and PAARC facing hardline questioning - Implementation, Testing Rationale and Extent, Costs
Education Week - Pressure Mounts in Some States Against Common Core…Opponents of common core redouble legislative efforts

NJ Spotlight - Online Testing Is Coming to New Jersey Schools -- Ready or Not…Education department confident that testing rollout will hit its mark, some school administrators uneasy about 2014-2015 deadline..."The testing -- which is being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) -- is about to go through its first pilot evaluations in a about a dozen districts. State officials said it remains on track to be in place for the 2014-2015 school year...""...The PARCC tests -- and New Jersey’s own plans for separate end-of-course exams in high school -- ultimately are meant to measure students against the new national Common Core State Standards. But the common core also is just being introduced to schools. “No one would argue that better assessments for our students are worthwhile,” Sampson said in an email. “But PARCC was supposed to help us gauge our success with implementing new and improved standards. At this point in time, I question how that will occur anytime within the next several years...”

2-4-13 Excerpts from - The Bridge, Feb 2013 – New DOE Monthly Newsletter for Educators
Updates included: Evaluations Update, Keeping NJ Schools Safe, Common Core Q&A, Career & Technical Education in New Jersey – Addressing Current and Future Needs
2-2-13 NY Times –editorial- More Lessons About Charter Schools
"...In any case, the researchers and policy makers need to pay closer attention to how these schools function. For according to the study, Kipp and the Uncommon Schools have actually managed to eliminate the learning gap between poor and higher-income students.Currently, only 6 percent of all schools are charter schools, and charter networks account for only about one-fifth of that total. States that are in a hurry to expand charter schools should proceed carefully...
2-1-13 Bullying Decision in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. education commissioner upholds decisions to discipline school bullies NJ Spotlight – Cerf Upholds Bullying Charges in First Cases Under Tough New Law…State education chief rejects parents’ appeals in East Brunswick, Tenafly incidents
1-31-13 'Anti-Bullying Report Recommends Greater Autonomy for School Officials'
NJ Spotlight - Anti-Bullying Report Recommends Greater Autonomy for School Officials…Task force advises that principals make the call as to whether incident qualifies as bullying, gives law positive review overall
1-30-13 Education in the News
NY Times - Education Dept. to Hear School Closing Complaints

NJ Spotlight - Advocates for Newark Education Make Their Case in D.C….Claims of racial bias behind school closings face lengthy process, uncertain outcome

Members Only - GSCS Notes on Senate Education Committee Dialogues with Commissioner Cerf 1-28-13
Go to the Members Only Portal (side left on GSCS homepage here) for details of Senate Education Committee 1-28-13 Q & A with Commissioner of Education, Chris Cerf. Among issues discussed - School Security; State aid; Property taxes - tax abatements, free and reduced lunch and local fair share; Charter schools - applications review criteria, teacher certification criteria; teacher preparations and evaluations; Special education; Extraordinary Special Education Aid; Education Adequacy Report
1-29-13 Bills related to schools that passed in NJ Assembly yesterday
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Bills passed in Legislative Session 1-28-13
1-29-13 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Education commissioner, Senate committee spar on school funding

NJ Spotlight - Cerf's Visit to Education Committee Raises Question About Budget Balance of Power…Committee member: why wrangle over state school aid if lawmakers can't affect final numbers?

Montclair Times,The Record - Montclair district conducting budget review

1-28-13 Commissioner Cerf converses with Senate Education Committee
Star Ledger -N.J. schools chief addresses Senate education committee

Politickernj - Cerf: N.J. ahead of other states regarding school safety; per-pupil funding remains problematic

1-25-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - Feds tell schools to include disabled kids in athletic programs… The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come..."North Jersey superintendents said they expect Duncan’s announcement to have little effect, if any, on their districts.“In River Dell, we’ve always included students with disabilities in athletics,” Superintendent Patrick Fletcher said. “New Jersey has been on the forefront of inclusion for quite some time. We’re pleased to offer these opportunities.”(GSCS Note - There are complicated issues involved here and GSCS will be analyzing the potential impact of this directive and will be reporting back to you and policymakers soon.)

NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Teacher Evaluation Update…The administration eases some guidelines, two pilot districts weigh in with their experiences and progress

NJ Spotlight - State Education Chief Will Finally Meet with Key Senate Committee…Cerf, on the job for two years and controversial reform agenda in tow, will discuss issues and initiatives

1-24-13 'Revisions to 'Extraordinary Aid' Program Draw New Questions'
NJ Spotligh…After reviewing proposed changes to trigger thresholds, legislators and advocates ask Cerf to redo his math
1-23-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Christie Gets Tougher With Charter School Teachers…According to the administration, making it more difficult for charter teachers to earn tenure gives the schools themselves "more flexibility"

Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey ranks low in teachers with National Board certification

Member note: Go To 'Members Only' portal [side left here] to read Dept. of Education Memo re: Implemenation Teams to be set up by local districts for Common Core Curriculum requirements
1-22-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger-Assoc Press - N.J. dropout rate stays among lowest in nation, study shows

NJ Spotlight - School Killing Informs Educator's Passion for School Safety…A murder in the hallway of Bayonne High School gave Michael Wanko a calling as well as a career

Celebrate His Leadership: Martin Luther King Day 1-21-13
1-16 and 17-13 School Security in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Puts Focus on School Lockdown Drills in Wake of Newtown Tragedy…State augments rigorous regulations to further protect students and staff against the unthinkable

Star Ledger - Mercer County schools enhance security after Sandy Hook shooting

Star Ledger - Schools to face unannounced security checks in wake of Newtown massacre, state Ed. Dept. says "State officials will conduct unannounced security drills and visits at New Jersey schools as a way to check security preparedness..."

Politickernj - N.J. needs to examine 'violence control' in wake of Conn. shootings, Christie says "Gov. Chris Christie announced plans Wednesday to respond in the coming days to the Newtown, Conn., shooting..."

1-15-13 More on Democrat-sponsored resolution opposing Education Adequacy Report
Star Ledger - Democrats oppose Christie proposal to change school funding formula “…Watson Coleman, a sponsor of the Assembly resolution, said her staff determined aid to low-income and bilingual students would be cut by $160 million under the recommendations, although an Education Department analysis indicates that financing would increase in every category under the proposal. "It will still be a reduction — a ratio reduction," she said.”
1-14-13 and 1-15-13 Resolution voted out of Assembly and Senate Budget Committees 1-14-13 mostly along by party vote
(GSCS Note: Given the nature of the discussions surrounding the issues; given the mostly partisan nature of the committee votes; given the fact that this is an election year for the legislature and the governor; and, given the tight revenue picture NJ is facing, this will be a partisan controversy that will play out throughout the budget debate for FY2013-2014. Stay tuned...)

Politickernj-State Street Wire - Resolution opposing school funding reduction for at-risk students passes committee

"...The resolution, SCR-134 was passed by the committee along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14) who said while she was not totally in favor of the plan, it resulted in an additional $3 million for Hamilton Township school district, the largest school district in the 14th..."

NJ Spotlight - Democrats Seek to Block Administration's Attempt to Revise School Funding Formula…Under governor's proposal, poorest districts could get less in next year’s state budget… Conversely, Republican legislators said there was no evidence the additional funding would help these schools, and cited what they called the unfairness of a funding formula in which some districts receive exponentially more in state aid than others..."

Press of Atlantic City - Assembly, Senate panels oppose reductions in New Jersey school funding proposal

Click on More for full articles...Attention Members-go to MEMBERS ONLY portal for the actual Resolution, and for state aid analyses per Education Adequacy paramters v. SFRA if fully funded...

1-14-13 Ridgewood Board of Education pro-active against superintendent salary cap
The Record - Ridgewood school board to take up resolution on superintendent salary cap

Star Ledger - Report: Ridgewood school board plans fight against superintendent salary caps "The Village Board of Education will ask the state to change the salary cap on superintendent salaries, Ridgewood Patch reported..."

1-14-13 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Assembly Budget Comm. to consider educational funding resolution

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education

Press of Atlantic City -Students with disabilities focus of new legislative efforts sparked by Ocean City girl

NJ Spotlight - Legislation Promises Help for Dyslexic Kids in New Jersey Schools…Early screening, more training, and better identification of dyslexia among recommendations of state task force

1-11-13 Education Funding Issues on on Fast Track Agenda
Legislative Calendar posted 4:55 p.m. Friday, January 11, includes the following 2 companion bills to heard this Monday in the Senate and Assembly Budget committees respectively:

Senate Concurrent Resolution/SCR134 - [Ruiz, M. Teresa//Whelan, Jim], Expresses Legislature’s objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor’s Educational Adequacy Report

Assembly Concurrent Resolution/ACR172 [Watson Coleman, Bonnie/Schaer, Gary S./Wimberly, Benjie E./Spencer L. Grace], Expresses Legislature’s objection to certain recommendations included in the Governor’s Educational Adequacy Report.

In addition, the Assembly Education Committee is meeting on Thursday, January 17, and will include hearing testimony from invited guests regarding school safety and security measures...Click here on More to see full agenda

1-10-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
Politickernj-State Street Wire - Armed guards at schools not best way to stem violence, Christie says

NJ Spotlight - Should Students Grade their Teachers?.. Some educators suggest student surveys should be part of teacher-effectiveness evaluations

Star Ledger - Treasury audit: N.J. finished fiscal year with $123M budget gap

Politickernj - State audit of Katzenbach School cites large, 'inefficient' campus use for dwindling student body

Governor Christie's State of the State Message delivered this afternoon
Star Ledger - Gov. Christie pledges devotion to Hurricane Sandy recovery in State of the State Address

The Record - Christie outlines Sandy recovery in State of the State

NJ Spotlight - Christie's State of State Offers Little New for Education…Education plays reduced role in yesterday's address to legislators, residents, and wider audience

Politickernj-State Street Wire - 2012 speech much longer on substance than latest version

Excerpt from Governor Chris Christie's 2013 State of the State address “…In K-12 education, we have made great strides, but there is much more to be done… In New Jersey, we have combined more funding with needed reform. Both money and reform of our schools are essential, but neither alone is sufficient. In New Jersey, we are leading the way for the nation by providing both. • Ensuring accountability by passing the first major reform of tenure in 100 years; Establishing performance-based pay in Newark through hard-nosed collective bargaining so that we can reward and retain the very best teachers where we need them most; Implementing inter-district school choice, which has tripled its enrollment in the last 3 years and will grow to 6,000 students next year; Growing the number of charter schools to a record 86 in New Jersey; Signing the Urban Hope Act to turn failing schools into Renaissance Schools in Newark, Trenton, and Camden; And finally, investing the largest amount of state aid to education in New Jersey history — $8.9 billion in this year’s budget, over $1 billion higher than in Fiscal Year 2011…” For FULL TEXT of the Governor's address, go to Members Only, sidebar left on this homepage...

1-8-13 Education Issues in the News
The Record - State monitor is installed to supervise spending in Elmwood Park school district … “education experts said Monday that small districts such as Elmwood Park, operating under state-imposed budget caps, are vulnerable when special needs children enroll in their schools, sometimes requiring districts to spend as much as $100,000 per pupil.…Special state aid kicks in after $40,000 per student but the costs are greater than average enrollments and the districts have to front the entire cost for students moving in since they don’t receive the state reimbursement until the following year, said Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.She said a district in Middlesex County was forced to lay off staff a number of years ago because of problems budgeting for special education enrollment.“It’s a worry for districts,” said Strickland…”

NJ Spotlight - NJ Touts Educational Reforms But Earns ‘D’ in One Nationwide Report Card…StudentsFirst rankings raise eyebrows for judgment of Christie’s record -- and who's doing judging

1-8-13 Education Information FYI - Inaugural Issue: Department of Education ‘The Bridge’
(Per Dept. of Educ.) "Welcome to the inaugural edition of “The Bridge”, a newsletter for educators from the New Jersey Department of Education. Why the name? We hope that this newsletter will serve as a bridge between the NJDOE and educators across the state and provide valuable information and resources to help educators in the classroom. The Bridge will be a monthly resource for educators to find out the latest information from the NJDOE on a number of educational issues including policy considerations and changes, statewide initiatives and NJDOE programs. We will also highlight best practices, award winning educators and successful models in districts and schools around the state. Finally, we will provide you with some links from the NJDOE to provide useful resources and relevant news articles to keep you abreast of the most recent information about public education." (FOR FULL DETAILS AND HOW TO SUBSCRIBE, GO TO MEMBERS ONLY PORTAL - GSCS homepage, sidebar left - Your LOGIN code will be sent to you separately this week in a GSCS MEMBER-NET email)
1-7-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy Application…Application under Urban Hope Act would bring first 'renaissance schools' to Camden

The Record - Paterson school offers signs of hope in urban school reform

1-4-13 Determining Priorities: School Security
New Jersey School Boards Association Presents Forum on ‘Safe And Secure Schools’ Jan. 18

Star Ledger - Marlboro is first N.J. district to place armed guards at schools

Star Ledger - Union City Board of Commissioners votes to put armed school resource officers in five city schools

1-4-13 Education and Related Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight Most Newark Teachers Take a Pass on Bonus Program…Superintendent and union head both say teachers are being understandably cautious about new contract

NJ Spotlight - NJ Teachers Union Moves to Block 'Blended' Learning at Newark Charter…NJEA argues that blending online technology with traditional teaching has to be cleared by Legislature before it can be used in school

NJ Spotlight - Budget Cuts Loom as Shortfall Tops $700 Million…OLS: Sandy reconstruction, income tax surge will help, but not enough

1-3-13 ' View from the Top: Cerf and Ruiz Talk Education 2013'
NJ Spotlight…Following up on the past year's initiatives is just the beginning of what the commissioner and the senator plan to accomplish in the year ahead… “There is an enormous amount of implementation and execution work that has to be at the top of the list,” Cerf said yesterday. “It’s one thing to announce them, as we did last year, but another to implement them.The major theme for 2013 will be to support districts as we move through that implementation,” he said. The teacher evaluation portion of the state’s new tenure reform law is job number one…”
1-2-13 Education Issues start the New Year
NJ Spotlight - The Coming Year in Education -- Bigger Questions, Higher Stakes…2013 is the year that educational theories like tenure reform and online charters run into reality

Courier News - Town to start new year with police in schools — One New Jersey school district is starting the new year by adding armed guards at its schools...

12-26-12 Education Adequacy Report article - 'Aid squeeze looks likely for schools in South Jersey'
Press of Atlantic City - Aid squeeze looks likely for schools in South Jersey…” Lynne Strickland, of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which is made up largely of suburban districts, said they are concerned about the proposal that would raise the cost threshold at which districts could request extra funds for special-education placements. The current threshold is $40,000 for public placements and $55,000 for private placements. The proposal would raise each threshold by $5,000. Strickland said that could make a big difference for districts that are on the border, and would lose all extra funding. She noted that private schools for the disabled do not have to cap their budgets as do public schools, creating tension when districts are creating their budgets. She said her biggest concern is the status of state of revenue, which will determine how much money overall there is for education aid. “Between the economy and Hurricane Sandy, funds are tightening up,” she said. “That will set the stage for the state budget and state education funding...”
12-21-12 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - Judge Agrees School-Repair Projects Taking Too Long…Ruling adds weight to complaints about Christie administration’s delays in court-ordered construction
12-20-12 Education Issues in the News
The Record - NJ education chief to review school security procedures with superintendents

Star Ledger -Man arrested in threat of Bergen County high school, security increased

NJ Spotlight - Newark Teacher First to Win Contested Case Under Tenure Law…State arbitrator cites glaring contradictions between ratings by school’s principal and written comments

12-18-12 Report Offers Glimpse of School-Aid Breakdown
NJ Spotlight - Report Offers Glimpse of School-Aid Breakdown – and Fight That’s Likely to Follow…Christie, Cerf appear poised to once again try to cut extra funds for low-income students
12-18-12 Schools' Security Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Security high as N.J. kids return to school in wake of Connecticut shooting

Press of Atlantic City - South Jersey school officials say security precautions now a way of life

12-17-12 Schools Around the Country - Responding to the Tragedy
[Click on More below for a compendium of information on dealing with the effects of this tragedy, specifcally inclduing resources for talking with children, President Obabms's speech at Newtown, more...].....NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Move to Reassure Families After Newtown Killings.....Shootings at Columbine more than a decade ago opened educators' eyes to the need for stringent school safety As the news from Newtown, CT, unfolded on Friday, New Jersey's schools started sending emails of reassurance to families, letting them know that local schools remained safe places for their children.

Related Links NASP: Safety Tips for Administrators...NJ Safer Schools Initiative...School Security Drill Guidelines

In some communities, local police were dispatched to schools during their Friday dismissals, just for a show of presence. In a few, they are also expected to be there on Monday.

But over the weekend another response was less visible in many New Jersey schools, as superintendents and principals made quieter plans: meet with staff, go over safety procedures, and be especially alert to the emotions of students and staff in the days ahead.

“If any students are particularly concerned, or seem emotional about the news they have heard, please alert a counselor or administrator in your building,” wrote Perth Amboy superintendent Janine Caffrey to her staff last night.

“Our counselors and administrators have had training in responding to this sort of situation, and are ready to assist any student in need,” she added.

It’s a long way from the weeks and months that followed the events of 13 years ago, when New Jersey and the rest of the nation were jolted awake to the reality of school violence with the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

At that time, schools were far less prepared to deal with the causes and the impact of such acts. School safety was not foreign, by any means, but prevention was nowhere near as stringent – and mandated -- as it is today.

Now, every New Jersey school is required by law to hold monthly security drills, and safety procedures are standard. Counselors are at the ready, and the state just this year added still more requirements: by October 15 every school must address cybercrimes and improve communications and surveillance .

That’s not to say every school follows these measures to the letter, but lockdown drills and camera monitors at school entrances are now commonplace. Not only do local police practice “active shooter” responses, but schools do as well.

“That was a new frontier back then,” said Adam Fried, superintendent of Harrington Park’s one-school district in Bergen County and a middle school vice principal at the time of Columbine shootings. “What do we do, who do we talk to? It was rough.”

“That changed it for a lot of us,” he said. “Security measures, making sure we are supporting the kids, we all do that.”

Harrington Park even now has “crash kits” of water and food in every classroom in case of an extended lockdown, Fried said. Still, Friday’s shooting was a jolt in its own right.

“This time, we woke up to a new reality,” he said. “An elementary school had been attacked . . . These were six year old kids.”

The victims’ ages may be the most disturbing thing of all for New Jersey educators contacted this weekend, as was the reported circumstances of the Newtown shooting, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza apparently shot his way into the building.

One Monmouth County superintendent said in an email this weekend: “We may not have an answer for one disturbed individual armed to the teeth who is willing to take his own life . . . Sobering.”

Some local school officials did think a show of police presence would help in the days ahead. At Red Bank Borough’s middle school, police were on hand at dismissal and were expected to be there again this week.

Laura Morana, the Red Bank superintendent, said the police have always been a ready and welcome presence at the school, doing walkthroughs and talking with students.

“I felt that it was appropriate to have police presence to reflect our response to the tragedy that took place on Friday, and that local government and the schools are partners in ensuring the safety of our students and staff,” she said.

Others administrators repeatedly used the words “normalcy” and “routine” in describing how they want their schools to react, especially with the youngest children who won't be able to fully comprehend Friday’s events. On top of dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy that continues to rock many communities, that is not an easy task.

Still, a frequent point raised by school leaders was the suggestion of caution in talking about the events with the youngest children, several citing guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists to what is age-appropriate.

“Early elementary schoolchildren need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them,” read the guidelines shared by Morana and others.

In all, it proved a busy weekend for school leaders throughout the state, each preparing for an unpredictable week.

“In many ways, the world before us has changed,” Freehold superintendent Charles Sampson wrote his staff last night. “Sadly, we have seen this before.

“We move forward much more cognizant of the fact that we are the first line of defense to ensuring safe schools,” he continued. “We reiterate the importance of reporting unusual activity immediately. We must close all exterior doors behind us and be vigilant in signing in and out. We must practice our security drills with the utmost purpose. And, most importantly, we must lay this foundation of expectations with our students.” [by John Mooney, December 17, 2012]

12-14-12 Schools Report on Sandy's Aftermath at Assembly Education Hearing
Star Ledger – Star ledger - Lawmakers propose canceling N.J. standardized tests due to Sandy setbacks

NJ Spotlight - Schools Still Struggle to Cope with Sandy’s Aftermath…Displaced students, lost class time, fiscal worries among lingering problems, Assembly panel told

School Officials from Around the State Share Testimony on Present & Future Challenges… Diegnan Holds Assembly Hearing on Sandy’s Impact on Schools throughout New Jersey

GSCS Note: GSCS President David Abbott testified at the hearing, bringing information, concerns, and recommendations of members to legislators directly. Concrete suggestions were offered to the committee in Dr. Abbott's testimony, and received with interest (GSCS Testimony attached here).

12-13-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Report: Nearly all of Newark's most disadvantaged students attend failing schools

NJ Spotlight - Newark Schools Chief Pulls No Punches in Depicting Challenges…Superintendent presents new study’s data in bid to make case for major reforms

12-12-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Hopatcong teachers wrong to use student college letters as leverage in contract talks: Editorial

NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools Trail the Field (Again) in Race to the Top…Newark and Monmouth County consortium, state’s only finalists, fall short in bid for federal funds… “…I’m really encouraged with Newark,” the education secretary said. “The new teacher contract is a step in the right direction. Whether Newark received a nickel or not, I'm very hopeful about the direction they're going."

12-11-12 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Tenure Reform Law Delivers First Verdict…TEACHNJ speeds and clarifies process for removing substandard teachers, starting with one charged with disorderly conduct…” As part of the process, 25 specially selected arbitrators hear the cases -- protecting the defendants' right to due process while working with tighter timelines and narrower windows for appeal. No more administrative law judges to hear the cases, no more lengthy court schedules, which critics contend cost districts -- and their taxpayers -- thousands of dollars. It was a rallying cry that Gov. Chris Christie invoked more than a few times to promote tenure reform, but one the teachers unions agreed with for the most part…And in some ways, the law did appear to make difference…”

Lessons Being Learned - Here's a good example of public school children helping their peers - what's going on around the state in NJ's public schools...Star Ledger - Millburn students give financial help to 100 children in Sayreville displaced by Hurricane Sandy

12-10-12 11a.m. Breaking News - Supreme Court Nominees Announced by Governor
Politickernj - Gov. nominates Robert Hanna, Judge David Bauman to Supreme Court "...Both men have already been confirmed once by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hanna as BPU commissioner last year and Bauman in 2008 after he was nominated to the Superior Court by Gov. Jon Corzine."
Assembly Education Committee Meeting Thurs., 12-13-12, 1 pm
"The committee will receive testimony from invited guests regarding the effects of Hurricane Sandy on school districts, including: the storm's impact on infrastructure, the challenges of educating students after the storm, the displacement of students and school personnel, and the use of school buildings as shelters during a natural disaster." In addition several bills are scheduled to be heard, click here on More for full agenda.
Dept of Education Accepting Applications for Teacher Advisory Panel (pdf)
The NJ Department of Education is accepting applications from teachers who wish to participate as teacher leaders in a pilot program to advise the department on issues. Applications to serve on the Teacher Advisory Panel (TAP) are due on Monday, Jan. 7.
12-10-12 Education Issues in the News
NJSpotlight…Cyber-Charter Challenge: How Does State Watch Over What It Can't See?...Legislature grapples with basic issues concerning online charters, starting with working definitions… “There is a place for online learning, there is a place for it,” Wagner said. “Especially for the students 17-to-19 years old, there is a tremendous need for it. There is definitely a place.”One of the legislature’s chief critics of online charters, state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), said this weekend that he, too, has softened his stance concerning some facets of online learning.”

Star Ledger - Too soon to tell on Newark graduation rates: Editorial

Press of Atlantic City - Schools incorporate portable devices in learning process

Star Ledger - Christie announces initiative to address shortage of math, science teachers in N.J.

12-9-12 NJ educators unsure how to improve 4th grade boys' reading scores on state test
Star Ledger - N.J. educators unsure how to improve 4th-grade boys' reading scores on state test..."...Aaron Pallas, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said the shift in fourth-grade males’ reading performance in recent years may not be cause for concern, but certainly indicates a need for further analysis..."
12-7-12 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Op-Ed: American Education -- Wrong Questions, Wrong Answers…The ultimate goal of education: helping students learn how to be, how to do, and how to know

NJ Spotlight -State May Ease Alternate-Route Rules for Charter-School Teachers…Education Department provision would provide more flexibility in hiring, training

12-6-12 Education In the News - More analysis on graduation rates 2012
Star Ledger - N.J. high school graduation rates climb 3 percentage points to 86 percent

NJ Spotlight - High-School Graduation Rates, Test Scores on Upswing in NJ…Annual report shows big achievement gaps remain for minority students

12-5-12 p.m. Dept of Education Releases 2012 Graduation Rates
The Record - New Jersey's high school graduation rate edges up to 86 percent "...New Jersey’s graduation rate edged up slightly to 86 percent last spring, from 83 percent in 2011...Many districts have shared their 2012 test scores with their communities in recent weeks, but Wednesday’s release gives all district results together so they can be compared."

Star Ledger - N.J. high school graduation rates climb 3 percentage points to 86 percent"...This is the second year state officials have used a new, federally mandated formula to calculate the percentage, which had historically been among the highest in the nation..."

12-5-12 p.m. Jt. Comm. on the Pulbic Schools hearing on online-blended learning
State Street Wire -Wagner: Online, blended learning a matter of balancing socialization skills with new technology "...Chair Assemblywoman Connie Wagner said the purpose is clear: “We cannot have New Jersey make any mistakes. With input from everyone we can strike a balance.”...General support for the concept of blended learning was expressed by Richard Bozza, executive director of the N.J. Association of School Administrators...And Sen. Teresa Ruiz said “We are in an age of technology, and we have to embrace it. There has been ‘blended’ learning since we allowed calculators in the classroom."

Note: GSCS Testimony stated that 'GSCS recognizes and supports the fact that blended learning is here to stay and to grow. Sharing information about our blended learning experiences with one another is important and will clearly help and improve the quality of student learning...It is important to recognize that there are clear differences between programs that are delivered in a blended learning environment, where the student is mainly housed in the school building for instruction, compared to virtual schools where the student does not have to attend school in a certain location with other students at all...'

12-5-12 School Board Elections, State Board of Education Meeting - in the News
NJ Spotlight - Shifting School Board Ballots to November Leaves Financing, Controversy Behind…With school budgets held in check, NJEA has little reason to reach deep in its pockets

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…Test scores, charters, graduation rates, administrative code, Newark's groundbreaking contract, and public comment will make for a hectic meeting

12-4-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. education chief won't lower number of school days in wake of Hurricane Sandy

NJ Spotlight - Dealing with Sandy’s Aftermath Puts Schools to the Test…Senate Budget Committee hears about impact on school year, tax ratables, budgets

12-2 and 3-12 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. charter school study shows success, but need for close monitoring: Editorial

NJ Spotlight - Hoping for a Strong Comeback, Governor's Schools Prep for 2013…Two prestigious academic summer camps start to recruit top high school juniors

NJ Spotlight -Fine Print: Newark’s Race to the Top Application…Ambitious and expensive, the proposal from the state's largest district wants almost $30 million to put "personalized learning" in the schools

11-30-12 Federal Formula Impacts States' Graduation Rates
NJ101.5 Radio - NJ’s High School Graduation Rate Drops [AUDIO] Once the highest in the nation...Under the new federal formula, only students who graduate in four years are counted, dropping New Jersey from 8th to 12th in the nation. “So now they are looking at college freshmen and how many graduate in four years…and in New Jersey there are a number of students who do not graduate in four years and so they would be considered a dropout. For instance, if a parent has a special needs student and they take five or six years to graduate, they might be considered a dropout…mobility is also an issue in this state, we have students who move from district to district and it can’t always be tabulated where these students end up.”Stickland said overall the state is still performing well...Achievement wise I don’t think anything has changed..."
11-29-12 New Measurement System ImpactsNational Rankings States' Graduation Rates
The Record - New Jersey's graduation rate, once best in the nation, drops dramatically "...“You have to give it a little time to see how it balances out in three years,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents about 100 New Jersey school districts, mostly in the suburbs. “I hope people don’t jump to conclusions going out the gate if we’re only in the first turn on the racetrack now...’’
11-29-12 Renaissance School Approval by Camden Board
NJ Spotlight - 'Renaissance Schools’ Get Board’s Go-Ahead in Camden Charter plan still faces tight timeline, opposition by parent-activists
11-28-12 Education Issues in the News - Charter Schools Study and Race to the Top Finalists
Star Ledger - New report gives state's charters high grades, says many outscored other schools..."...Published by the university’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, the report compares test scores from sets of charter and district school students of similar races and backgrounds..."

NJ Spotlight - NJ Charter School Students Learn More Than Their Peers, Says New Report…Newark charters lift statewide averages, while advantages not necessarily shown elsewhere

NJ Spotlight - Two NJ Districts Named as Race to the Top Finalists…Newark public schools and Monmouth County consortium culled from more than 20 applicants from New Jersey

11-27-12 Commissioner Cerf comments on Stanford CREDO Report re NJ Charter Schools
"...The findings actually buck the trend of similar CREDO studies in other states. CREDO finds that, on the whole, New Jersey charter school students make larger learning gains in both reading and math than their traditional public school peers. This is especially true for minority students and low-income students, with some of the largest gains in Newark, demonstrating that charter schools, on the whole, are providing much needed options for New Jersey students...This report is not a criticism of the largely high-performing schools in New Jersey, nor the hard work that all public school educators in the state put in each day. Instead...", it further reinforces that all students learn differently, and that we should ensure that our highest-need students have a choice that meets their needs
11-27-12 'Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance'
NJ Spotlight - Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance…State posts new rules as 250 failing schools work on improvement plans NJ Spotlight - Lagging Districts Under Pressure to Boost Performance…State posts new rules as 250 failing schools work on improvement plans "Three months into the school year, more than 250 schools in nearly 90 districts are going through the first phases of the Christie administration’s expanded oversight for schools that show low performance or wide achievement gaps..."
11-26-12 'Teacher Seniority Still a Four-Letter Word to Administration'
NJ Spotlight -Teacher Seniority Still a Four-Letter Word to Administration -- 'LIFO'…Last-in, first-out seniority continues to irk Christie and Cerf, administration issues survey on subject
11-25-12 Politickernj - Weekly Advance Week of November 26
TRENTON – The Garden State continues to move on from the devastation left behind in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and the last week of November provides further proof of the progress.
11-21-12 'Race to the Top Returns'
NJ Spotlight - Race to the Top Returns, This Time for School Districts…But with signoff from local unions required, some districts have been sidelined
11-17-12 Newark Teachers' Contract in the News
The Record - Governor Christie hopes Newark teachers bonuses will serve as model for the state “Many educators will be watching closely to see whether performance pay leads to student progress, said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “Everybody is blown away by the fact it’s happening in Newark first,” she said.”

Philadelphia Inquirer – Christie exults over Newark's pilot school deal

NJ Spotlight - Facebook Fund Helps Seal the Deal for Newark Teachers' Contract…Money funneled to high-profile performance bonuses, and nuts-and-bolts retroactive pay

11-16-12 'NJ Teacher-Evaluation Reform Compared to Other States'
NJ Spotlight - Spotlight Research: NJ Teacher-Evaluation Reform Compared to Other States…Drew professor looks at progress in implementing systems required by Race to the Top
11-15-12 Hurricane Sandy - Update FYI (pdf)
"As of today, all but a handful of schools are open and serving students. Those that are not open have a plan for all of their students at alternative settings. I want to thank each of you for the tremendous effort to get schools open, especially those of you that went the extra mile to find creative solutions to help get students into classrooms." (Excerpt of letter to districts about Hurrican Sandy efforts from Commissioner Cerf.)
11-15-12 Education Issues in the News
Education Week - Politics K-12 Obama Talks Fiscal Cliff and Education
Educator Evaluation Update Memo from Dept of Education 11-13-12 (pdf)
11-14-12 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - School elections…More democratic NJ Spotlight - Department of Education Cheating

Investigation Implicates Two More Schools…Report claims that improvements in test scores at Robert Treat Academy, a high-profile charter, defy all odds

Star Ledger - 6 N.J. educators breached security on standardized tests, report says

11-13-12 Schools beginning to normalize
Star Ledger -2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy, most schools are finally back in session
11-12-12 'NJ Schools May Face Influx of Students Displaced by Storm'
NJ Spotlight - NJ Schools May Face Influx of Students Displaced by Storm...Memo from state outlines emergency procedures for taking in children from other districts
11-5-12 In the Midst of it All - Remember to vote tomorrow
NJ Spotlight - Bedeviled November School Board Elections May Be Even Harder to Spot..."National elections and amended district calendars -- not to mention Superstorm Sandy -- could obscure school votes even further..."

In all, 468 districts will hold board elections on Tuesday, with less than 80 remaining with April votes. Overall, there will be 1,813 candidates vying for 1,448 open seats, according go the state’s school boards association, a slightly smaller ratio than usual for April elections. A little more than half of the candidates are incumbents, a slight increase.

But while the move to November was meant to boost turnout in school elections that usually hovers in the teens, several observers wonder how many more people will actually cast local votes on what will is already a crowded ballot.

11-1-12 FYI - Public Service Announcements
Christie Administration Announces Disaster Unemployment Assistance Available in Eight New Jersey Counties Impacted by Storm

Christie Administration Announces Department of Health Hotline to Answer Questions About Food/Water Safety, Cleaning and Mold Removal

11-1-12 Timelines for Many Schools Up in the Air...NJEA Will not Convene Covention in A. C.
Star Ledger - Some N.J. schools might be unusable following Hurricane Sandy, officials say

The Record - State's largest teachers union cancels two-day school conference next week

2012-13 Announcement Archives
Pre 2012 Announcement Archives

Attention

GSCS next Board of Trustees Meeting -scheduled to August 12, 10 a.m. at the East Brunswick Board of Education; Officers to meet at 9:30 a.m..

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

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