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12-5-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Across N.J. and U.S., once revolutionary turf fields now show signs of 'defect' Work finished on a pristine artificial turf field at Highland Park High School in 2008, the jewel of a $1.5 million project paid through a grant from Middlesex County. Two years later, the varsity football coach, Rich McGlynn, noticed something unusual. “You would get pieces in your sock, and your shoes would be covered with it,” McGlynn said. “You’d have to come in and stomp your feet, and you’d have all green from the turf.” Now in its eighth year, the surface at Highland Park may still be green, but it behaves like a grass field choked by an August drought. The fibers have cracked, split, frayed and become matted across a thinning playing field. Those were the conditions of hundreds of fields across the country that FieldTurf, the self-proclaimed leader in artificial turf, has deemed defective...'

Education Week--Warning Sounded on Tech Disrupting Student Sleep

Educators who promote the use of education technology are working harder to caution students and parents about the impact of digital devices and the "blue light" they emit, which can disrupt student sleep patterns...'

12-2-16 Education in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer--Ocean County first in NJ to equip school nurses with Narcan TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) - Ocean County has become the first county in New Jersey to supply all of its high school nurses with Narcan, the drug that is used to reverse opioid overdoses. County prosecutor Joseph Coronato says he made the decision to equip nurses with the life-saving antidote after hearing about a recent overdose at a high school in a neighboring county...'

Bloomberg News (via Chicago Tribune)--Why the U.S. Education Department never dies Ever since President Jimmy Carter created the U.S. Department of Education in 1979, conservatives have been trying to abolish it. Rick Perry, the Texas governor who in a 2011 presidential debate couldn't remember all the U.S. agencies he wanted to shutter, had total recall over one -- the Education Department...'

12-1-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Pension Leaders Question if NJ Should Do More to Shore Up System Amid efforts by lawmakers to improve the funding of the public-employee pension system, there are calls for more aggressive action New Jersey has the nation’s worst-funded public-employee pension system, and in a bid to help put it on a firmer footing, state lawmakers last week overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill that calls on the state to begin making pension contributions on a quarterly basis. But the leaders of the board that oversees investment policy for the pension system are divided on whether lawmakers should be going even further to address the state’s pension-funding problem...'

Star Ledger--N.J. wins $17.5M grant to continue adding pre-K seats TRENTON -- The federal government will give New Jersey another $17.5 million to continue a preschool expansion program that has already added pre-K seats and improved programs in 17 communities, education officials said Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced New Jersey is one of 18 states that will receive more than $247.4 million to continue the Preschool Development Grant program for a third year. New Jersey's $17.5 million will be used to continue adding preschool seats for 4 year olds across the state...'

Christie signs bill letting armed, retired cops provide security in N.J. schools TRENTON -- Specially trained retired police officers may be hired to provide security for public and private schools and community colleges in New Jersey under a bill Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Wednesday. The governor conditionally vetoed an earlier version of the legislation two months ago because it did not require these "special law enforcement officers" to undergo "specialized training covering security issues that routinely arise in the school setting." Special training is needed before retired armed officers can be deployed in Garden State schools, the governor said Tuesday...'

11-30-16 Education in the News
The Ledger--Hackensack board delays transgender policy discussion HACKENSACK — The Board of Education postponed discussing regulations on how to handle transgender students due to consideration of a policy from a civil rights organization. The first reading of a policy for transgender students was tabled Tuesday night pending "further investigation." Board President Jason Nunnermacker said the postponement was due to the board's learning of a policy from Garden State Equality, a civil rights organization for the LGBT community. "We’re going through the three different policies," said Nunnermacker. "We are considering them and seeing what’s in the best interest of our students."...'

The Press of Atlantic City--Ordinary people trained to save lives in shootings, attacks STONY BROOK, N.Y. (AP) — It's become a hallmark of terror attacks and school shootings: the fateful minutes or hours when the wounded are hunkered down, waiting for the violence to play out and for help to arrive. In Monday's car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University, one of the 11 wounded victims hid in a campus building for nearly 90 minutes before police gave the all-clear and she could be treated. When a gunman opened fire at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, in June, a woman sent a frantic text message to her mother saying she had been shot and couldn't stop the bleeding. She later died. Such incidents are the impetus behind a new federal initiative to train everyone at schools and other public places — custodians, security guards and administrators — on how to treat gunshots, gashes and other injuries until actual EMTs can get to the scene...'

Education Week--States Eye Greater Control Over K-12 Policy in Trump Era Washington was already poised to return a lot more authority over K-12 policy to states, thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act, slated to hit school districts next fall. Now, with President-elect Donald Trump's victory, that process is only likely to accelerate. State leaders aren't waiting for the new administration to name all its players or fill in the blanks on in-the-weeds policy details. They're already charging forward with the agendas they have been crafting since ESSA's passage a year ago...'

11-29-16 Education in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer--Feds give states more time to bolster struggling schools WASHINGTON (AP) - States will have more time to identify failing schools as part of new Obama administration rules aimed at supporting troubled public schools and students who are struggling. The rules, released Monday, provide a broad framework for states as they design new accountability systems to evaluate schools, to improve ones that aren't adequately educating students and to narrow achievement gaps. It's a key part of the bipartisan education law passed almost one year ago and signed into law by President Barack Obama to replace the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act...'

Press of Atlantic City--US students lag peers in East Asia, Russia in math, science WASHINGTON (AP) — In a globally competitive world, American students have strides to make when it comes to math and science, where they lag behind a solid block of East Asian countries as well as Russia and Kazakhstan. Eighth graders in the United States improved their scores in math over the last four years on the global exam. Scores for science, however, were flat. In fourth grade, scores were unchanged in the math and science tests, according to results released Tuesday...'

11-28-16 Education in the News
The Record--Christie bid to revamp schools may end with new governor Governor Christie’s campaign to remake education funding in New Jersey and tweak seniority rules for teachers could come to an abrupt halt under the next governor because of a continuing dispute over the proper venue to hear his latest lawsuit. Christie filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court in mid-September, asking the justices to suspend the current funding formula for poorer school districts and approve other changes. But the high court is questioning whether Christie should go to a trial court first...'
11-23-16 Education in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer--10,000 NYC schoolchildren to get college savings accounts NEW YORK (AP) - Some 10,000 New York City children will start kindergarten with $100 in a college savings account thanks to a public-private partnership intended to boost the number of students attending college. Under the three-year pilot program announced Tuesday, about 3,500 kindergartners will get so-called 529 college savings accounts next fall...'

The Press of Atlantic City--Get ready to build! Hands-on toys that teach are hot NEW YORK (AP) — Toys that teach aren't a new thing, but a growing number are calling for kids to build with blocks, circuits or everyday items before reaching for a tablet screen. Play is how kids learn about the world around them, whether it's a toddler throwing a ball or teens playing video games. It's about seeing how things work and what happens when they do something. And over the years, toys have gotten more high tech to keep screen-obsessed children engaged with such play. But there's growing worry among parents and educators that toys are moving too far in that direction. Educational toys that have a math and science bent — marketed under the umbrella of STEM — are now trying to get back to the basics: less screen time, more hands-on activities...'

Education Week--Many Students 'Stop Out' of High School, Studies Find For many students, dropping out of high school isn’t the end of the line but a “stop out” along the path to a diploma, new federal and state data suggest. Of the students who entered high school in 2009, fewer than 3 percent were no longer in school when researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study checked in 2012. But nearly 7 percent of the 2009 freshmen had “stopped out”—left school for four weeks or more at some point in grades 9-11, only to have returned by 2012...'

11-22-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Can Quarterly Payments Help Rescue NJ’s Underfunded Pension System? Christie gets bipartisan plan that he calls ‘more fair than the previous proposals,’ but it offers no constitutional guarantee enforcing payments After failing to find any common ground for the past several years over the best way to address New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system, state lawmakers reached a rare, bipartisan agreement yesterday, voting in favor of legislation requiring quarterly instead of yearly state pension contributions. The measure — which legislative leaders say they are confident Gov. Chris Christie will eventually sign — would help the $73 billion pension system by breaking up the annual state pension contribution into smaller installments that the sponsors hope will be easier for the state to afford than the lump sum that administrations typically try to make at the end of each fiscal year...'

NJ Spotlight--Knowledge, Cash Critical in Fight Against Lead Poisoning in NJ’s Kids Experts argue that education professionals — superintendents, teachers, nurses, and school psychologists — must learn to identify symptoms of this deadly epidemic Lead exposure in very young children and the resulting brain damage remain devastating long-term problems in New Jersey and around the country. That’s one of the reasons experts say teachers and school nurses, as well as parents, must become better educated and work more closely with doctors and health officials to help reduce the impact on affected kids...'

Education Week--Few Women Run the Nation's School Districts. Why? Nearly a decade after she was hired as the first woman to run the Council Bluffs, Iowa, school district, Mary Martha Bruckner is often one of the only women in the room. That was the case last month when about two dozen superintendents and finance officers from Iowa's urban school systems met to set their legislative agenda for the coming year. Surveying the room, Bruckner spotted two other women. "It was like, 'Wow, things haven't changed much at all,' " said Bruckner, who is used to being a pioneer. In 1986, she became the first female high school principal in the Ralston, Neb., district...'

11-21-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. school won't drop ban on home-schooled kids playing sports SHAMONG — Some school districts allow it, but Lenape Regional School District last night reaffirmed its decision not to let children who are home-schooled join district sports teams. The Burlington County Times reported that the Board of Education took the vote Wednesday night after hearing from a Tabernacle parent whose 14-year-old son, Adam Cunard, wants to join the Seneca High School football team. The teen had addressed the board in October, according to the Pine Barrens Tribune. The Tribune reported he has played in the under-14 Seneca youth football league, which has no rules barring home-schooled children, but now that he is in the ninth grade he is not allowed to play the sport because it is a high school team...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Former U.S. education secretary rips teacher-prep programs Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in an open letter to college presidents and education school deans, says the system for training teachers "lacks rigor, is out of step with the times," and leaves them "unprepared and their future students at risk." His letter was posted Tuesday on the website of the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank where he is a nonresident senior fellow. Duncan, said a Brookings' spokeswoman, hopes to spark a conversation about teacher-preparation programs, something he also tried when he led the Education Department. The criticism is hardly new and comes as fewer students are entering teacher-preparation programs nationally...'

Washington Post--Seeking common ground with charter critic Diane Ravitch I have been exchanging emails with Diane Ravitch, the clearest voice in the movement to reverse American emphasis on raising school achievement no matter what. She is a brilliant historian and essayist, even if she does not share my fondness for this century’s biggest education reform: charter schools. We agree that disadvantaged children have to be rescued from poverty before most of them can learn as much as middle-class kids. But while the country struggles to make that happen, why can’t we, in the meantime, support those public charter schools that are preparing significant numbers of low-income children for college?...'

Education Week: Legal Backgrounder on Title IX and Transgender Students The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which involves a high school senior, Gavin Grimm, who was born female but now identifies as male. He is seeking to use the restroom corresponding with his gender identity, but the Virginia school district adopted a policy requiring that students use restrooms limited to their "biological gender." A central issue in the case is the proper interpretation of a federal regulation under Title IX.

Here are some key background points in the debate:...'

11-18-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Op-Ed: PARCC Is a Symptom, Not the Problem Fixing school accountability, property-tax equity, fair distribution of resources, and charter school expansion may be necessary but is not sufficient. A recent article on the NJ Spotlight website reporting on the release of school-by-school PARCC results generated a number of comments. As usual, the responses represented a cross-section of perspectives, demonstrating that we continue to get drawn into discussions and debates about doing the wrong thing better...'

Star Ledger--N.J. outperforms other states on most PARCC exams TRENTON — New Jersey bested other PARCC states on the majority of math and English exams administered last school year even though many of its students still struggled on the tests, according to new data. Among the six states and District of Columbia that participated in testing, New Jersey had the highest average score on 14 of the 18 exams as well as the highest percentage of students who earned what's considered a passing score. New Jersey students scored particularly well on the elementary school and middle school tests, posting the highest average score on each of the exams for grades 3-7, according to new data released by PARCC...'

The Record--Transgender teens quietly gain rights North Jersey schools have put policies in place, but they differ greatly from district to district Almost 50 North Jersey high school districts quietly passed policies during the past few years spelling out the rights of transgender students – a process that continued unabated and often without a great deal of public attention, even as a national debate over the issue raged in recent months and the federal government issued mandates. Through an examination of public records, The Record found that transgender policies were already commonplace prior to a May letter issued by federal justice and education officials laying out requirements for schools to accommodate transgender students. The federal directives heated up a national discussion and led to lawsuits in other parts of the country – with the U.S. Supreme Court recently wading into the fray when it said it would decide whether a transgender boy may use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school...'

The Record--Schools play major role - good and bad - in life of kids with anxiety This article was originally published April 26, 2015. A kindergartner is grabbed by the arm and dragged into the classroom she is afraid to enter. A middle-schooler has an anxiety attack in gym class, and the teacher stands there looking at his watch, timing the student's struggle while classmates laugh. An aide yells when a student starts to cry. A nurse tells a 5-year-old who just threw up on herself out of nervousness, "You may have your mother wrapped around your finger, but you don't have me." These are incidents that have occurred in North Jersey public schools, according to parents and their kids who suffer from anxiety disorders, which remain misunderstood and often considered less serious or more a weakness than a health condition...'

Education Week-- Common Core Gives Nod to Digital Skills The Common Core State Standards allow for teaching digital literacy, but they don't make a big push for it Despite requiring some technology use, the Common Core State Standards for English/language arts don't do enough to ensure that students become effective digital readers, some literacy experts say. "At the top level, they're saying, yes, we recognize literacy means being digitally literate," said Bridget Dalton, an associate professor of literacy studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "But when you go to specific standards in reading, there's not a lot there to guide you."...'

11-17-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Administration Poised To Ease Superintendent Salary Caps Under new regulations, school leaders could earn $191,000 — not including bonuses and merit pay After stringing the state along for months, the Christie administration has finally moved to amend New Jersey’s controversial caps on school superintendent pay, which could significantly loosen the current limits. The state Department of Education released the regulations yesterday with a host of proposed rules that provide considerable flexibility to districts going forward, including vanquishing Gov. Chris Christie’s famous — some say infamous — cap of $175,000, his own salary. Now, most districts — those with 3,000 or more students — will be able to go as high as $191,000, not including extra bonuses for merit and other considerations that could put pay over $200,000...'

The Press of Atlantic City—Op-Ed--Our view: Scores improve on PARCC, which shows where more work is needed The standardized test results for individual students and schools released early this month show the expected continued improvement in line with the earlier statewide scores. Steadily improving scores on the PARCC, or Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, were also expected simply because it’s a new test and everyone — students, teachers and parents — adapt to it and use it better over time. Spring’s test was only the second since it replaced the deficient High School Proficiency Assessment as the state’s (eventual) requirement for graduation...'

Washington Post--Trump, a Common Core foe, considering Core supporters for education secretary Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush talk after the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press) When Donald Trump was running for president, he said repeatedly that the Common Core State Standards initiative has been a “total disaster” and he would get rid of it if he landed in the White House...'

11-16-16 Education in the News
The Press of Atlantic City--Political pupils: Civics gets renewed attention in schools HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The incumbent governor ran on a kindness platform and is just finishing up a year of public appearances and speeches. The candidates vying to succeed her are focusing their campaigns on issues including homelessness, recycling and bullying prevention. Welcome to politics, elementary-school style. Seven candidates are running to be the fifth-grade "kid governor" of Connecticut in an election that seeks to spark deeper interest for all students in government and civics, a subject getting less attention in American schools today than it did in earlier decades. Similar efforts have sprouted as education-focused nonprofits and schools aim to prepare better-engaged citizens. Advocates say a need for more civic instruction has been apparent for years but was highlighted by the low voter turnout and acrid tone in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump...'

Washington Post--Trump’s school choice expansion plan may face uphill battle WASHINGTON — School voucher programs in the nation’s capital and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana could serve as a blueprint for a Trump administration plan to use public money to enable disadvantaged students to attend the public or private school of their choice. President-elect Donald Trump made clear that school choice would be an education priority. Speaking at a Cleveland charter school in September, he vowed to funnel $20 billion in existing federal dollars into scholarships for low-income students. That’s an idea that would require approval from Congress, which last year passed a bipartisan overhaul of No Child Left Behind and is unlikely to alter it in the near future. Still, there are smaller-scale ways Trump could reshape public education...'

11-15-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--S&P Global Downgrades NJ’s Credit Rating Again Concerns about state’s public-employee pension system and new package of tax cuts indicate financial problems will persist into next governor’s term, possibly beyond New Jersey’s financial reputation took another hit yesterday, with S&P Global, one of the Big 3 Wall Street credit-rating agencies, announcing it has once again lowered the state’s debt grade by one step. The downgrade is another setback for Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who has now suffered through more credit-rating reductions than any New Jersey governor — despite emphasizing fiscal reform since taking office in early 2010...'

Education Week--After Election, Students Express a Mix of Emotions For teachers, hard conversations are just getting started When teachers walked into their classrooms the morning after Donald Trump claimed the presidency in a stunning victory, they had their work cut out for them. Some students were jubilant, with many wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and shirts in celebration. Others were angry and upset, with some crying in class. Immigrant students, or those from immigrant families, expressed fear that they or their family members would be deported under the Trump administration. In a handful of schools, including in Berkeley, Calif.; Phoenix; and Des Moines, Iowa, students—and in some cases, teachers—staged walkouts in protest of the Republican nominee's win. Educators even reported physical outbursts and confrontations as emotions ran high...'

2015-16 Announcement Archives
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The Special Education Task Force Report was released  in November 2015. GSCS, a Task Force member,  is looking forward to discussion on this important topic.  See below for links to the report.

RELATED LINKS

FINAL REPORT OF THE NEW JERSEY TASK FORCE ON IMPROVING SPECIAL EDUCATION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS

LETTER TO LEGISLATURE, GOV. CHRISTIE AND STATE OFFICIALS

Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828