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10-27-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Poll: Is There a Good Way to Fix School Funding in New Jersey? Two school funding plans have been proposed and another is in the works, but will any of them actually get the job done? Gov. Chris Christie has been pushing his "Fairness Formula" — which would level school funding across the state — both in the courts and by taking it directly to the public. Senate President Steve Sweeney’s plan calls for a special committee to find a solution, and by including only legislators, it bypasses the governor entirely. Assembly Speaker Prieto is said to have his own strategy on the way. In the waning days of the Christie administration, what’s the best way to address what everyone agrees is an unbalanced school funding formula...'

Trenton Times--Special-ed group asks feds to investigate Trenton schools TRENTON — A special education advocacy group is asking federal officials to investigate Trenton Public Schools over allegations that the district has failed to provide special-needs students with mandated services and the required support staff in classrooms. The Special Parent Advocacy Group, along with the Trenton branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, filed two complaints Friday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Nicole Whitfield, the group's founder and executive director, said that even though she has spent the last year filing complaints with the state and meeting with school, city and state officials, she still gets almost daily calls from parents and teachers frustrated with the district's continued noncompliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act...'

NY Times: An Annuity for the Teacher — and the Broker A look inside the high-pressure job of selling workplace annuities to public schoolteachers. Bradley Bergeron’s first professional job out of college was selling retirement savings investments to public schoolteachers in Connecticut. The applications he carried in his black leather briefcase, however, were for one type of product only: a high-priced variable annuity. “From the teacher’s standpoint, they really miss out getting quality advice,” said Mr. Bergeron, 27, who sold the plans for Axa Advisors’ retirement benefits group. “People who are in the schools pitching them and positioning themselves as retirement specialists are really there just to sell them one product.”...'

10-26-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--New Technology Helps NJ’s Developmentally Disabled Gain Independence State agency, advocacy groups pair people with disabilities with devices that can help them live on their own, go to school, work Efforts to help individuals with a disability live independently date back nearly a century in this country, but technological innovations in the past decade have greatly expanded opportunities for people to live, learn, and work on their own terms. In New Jersey, the state works with a network of nonprofit agencies to connect thousands of residents each year with programs, technologies, and other assistance that can help them do more on their own. These advocates are finding new allies in high-tech devices like tablets and smartphones, products that continue to become more affordable and approachable as they evolve...'

Star Ledger--Getting N.J. school funding right and help control property taxes    Opinion
School funding is New Jersey's endless ordeal. No matter how many times this immense issue has been pushed toward a successful solution, it just rolls right back onto the taxpayers — and our children. New Jersey has many issues to confront, but many of them revolve around school funding. Property taxes. Tax fairness. Real estate value. Our children's future...'

10-25-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Opponents of Christie’s PARCC Graduation Requirements Go to Court Advocates say requirements violate state law, argue NJ has high graduation rates because students have multiple paths to diplomas New Jersey is once again turning to the courts to decide education policy, as advocacy groups yesterday announced a new legal challenge to the Christie administration’s latest requirements for high school graduation. A coalition of groups said it filed a challenge in state appellate court to the administration’s latest requirements that students pass prescribed sections of the new PARCC exams to receive a diploma, starting with the class of 2021...'

Star Ledger--Prieto to pitch plan to fix 'unacceptable' N.J. school funding TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney have spent the past few months pitching dueling plans to revise New Jersey's school funding system. Now, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is joining the fray. Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen) on Thursday will introduce their own proposal for addressing what Prieto called an "unacceptable" status quo. Like Sweeney, Prieto is calling for a panel of experts to study the issue and make recommendations. But in contrast to Sweeney's proposal, Prieto's plan would allow state lawmakers to make tweaks to the group's recommendations before voting...'

Jersey Journal--One of N.J.'s largest high schools is on the move in 2019 NORTH BERGEN – One of the largest high schools in the state is on the move. School board officials announced today that North Bergen High School will be moving into the current High Tech High School building, which will be vacated once the school's new campus is Secaucus is complete. Officials say the move will increase classroom space and alleviate much of the over-capacity issues North Bergen's school system faces from top to bottom. North Bergen Mayor and state Sen. Nicholas Sacco joined members of the town's school board as well as the Hudson County Schools of Technology -- the district that operates High Tech High School -- for a press conference at the vocational high school today to announce the plans. The new deal should allow North Bergen High School to open at its new location for the 2019-2020 school year...'

Education Week--Here's Why ESSA Might Direct More Federal Dollars to Private Schools The Every Student Succeeds Act makes plenty of changes to education policy, including several key ones that provide more control to states. But here's one that's been largely overlooked in discussions about ESSA: the possibility that the law will ultimately enable private schools to obtain more federal aid to K-12 than they have previously...'

10-24-16 Education in the News
The Record--Educators gather for NJ conference to find ways to help undocumented students NEW BRUNSWICK — A Teaneck guidance counselor arrived at Rutgers University intent on collecting information about colleges that would be helpful to bilingual and undocumented students in her school district. A teacher in Morristown wanted to learn how she could help bilingual students in her district develop self esteem around their heritage. And an admissions counselor at a county college wanted to find new ways to attract English as a Second Language students. They were among 140 educators that gathered Friday at Rutgers’ Cook Campus Center for a conference focused on ways to build coalitions, connections and pathways to help undocumented students in elementary school through college...'

NY Times--How Much Graduates Earn Drives More College Rankings College Rankings Confusion PayScale introduced its first college salary report in 2008, and the College Scorecard from the federal government followed last year, ushering an elephant into the hallowed halls of college admissions: What do the schools’ graduates actually earn? Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--2nd-grade teacher wins $25K Milken award SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) - A second-grade teacher at a New Jersey school has won a $25,000 national award honoring outstanding educators. The Milken Educator Award was presented to Van Derveer Elementary School teacher Lindsay Frevert at an assembly Thursday at the Somerville school. Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance and state Acting Commissioner of Education Kimberly Harrington joined Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Timothy Purnell in attending the presentation...'

Education Week--See New Details on ESSA Funding for Healthy, Safe, Well-Rounded Students One of the big goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act was to give states and districts significantly more say in how they spend their federal dollars. As part of that effort, Congress collapsed a bunch of small federal programs aimed at health, safety, arts, technology, and more into a big giant block grant called the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program. And Friday, the department put out guidance on how those funds can be spent. The guidance isn't binding, and it ultimately amounts to a set of recommendations...'

10-21-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Interactive Map: Many Poor Kids Still Miss Free Breakfast In NJ Advocates urge schools to shift to serving meals after the start of school day More students ate breakfast at school last April than in any of the prior six years, but 300,000 low-income students who are eligible to get breakfast still don't, a new report shows. Advocates for Children of New Jersey released its annual report on the school breakfast program Thursday. Titled “Healthy Food, Strong Kids,” the report shows a 4 percent increase in the number of low-income students getting a free or low-cost breakfast at school in April 2016 compared with 2015. Since 2010, that number has risen by 77 percent. That increase has led to a doubling of the amount of federal aid schools get to provide that meal to an estimated $98 million in the current fiscal year. The report also found that more children are likely receiving summer meals than in the past, as the number of sites providing these meals across the state rose by more than 20 percent in just the last year, to 1,350 this past summer...'

The Record--Lawmakers say they'll introduce student accident insurance measure Two state legislators didn’t waste any time addressing the Paterson Public Schools’ elimination of student accident insurance. State Sen. Paul A. Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) announced in a joint statement Thursday afternoon that they will introduce legislation requiring public schools in New Jersey to provide accident and injury insurance for students who participate in school sports and other extracurricular activities. Their initiative came in response to an article published Thursday in The Record that detailed the financial burden Paterson parents must absorb if their son or daughter is injured playing a sport for the city’s schools, or while participating in such extracurricular activities as a field trip or recess. “The schools have a responsibility to protect and care for their students,” said Sarlo, who is active in youth sports and was a three-sport athlete at Wood-Ridge. “These are school-sponsored events, where the students are competing on teams that represent their schools and in extracurricular activities that are part of their education. If they get hurt or injured in the process, they need to get treated, and their parents shouldn’t be forced to pay the bills...

Philadelphia Inquirer--Free associate's degrees coming for some Phila. H.S. students Some city students will soon be able to earn associate's degrees along with their high school diplomas, as the Philadelphia School District launches its first middle college high school. Beginning in September, 125 students at Parkway Center City will take courses at that high school as well as at Community College of Philadelphia. The program is aimed at teens who would become the first in their families to attend college. Students will have the opportunity to earn up to 61 college credits by the time they graduate from high school - enough for an associate's degree. They can also earn certificates in entrepreneurship and in computer programming and software development...'

Education Week--Ed. Dept. Releases Guidance on Early-Learning Support in ESSA In guidance to states released Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education outlines ways that states and districts can use federal funds to support young learners through the Every Student Succeeds Act. The guidance notes that early-education support is woven throughout the law, which is the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act. For example, for the first time, the law explicitly allows federal funds to be used to train school administrators in the best ways to support educators who work with students through age 8. Other early-learning initiatives that can be paid for through federal funds include: • Training early-learning teachers to support English-language learners in developing English proficiency and academic readiness; • Updating and aligning certification and licensing standards for early-childhood educators, including administrators working with young children from preschool through 3rd grade; • Providing support and ongoing training to early-learning teachers on the interactive use of technology for enhancing classroom instruction and reaching out to families; • Ensuring regular observations of early-learning classrooms to improve teachers' effectiveness in creating high-quality instructional, social, and emotional climates. The guidance also describes the new Preschool Development Grant program. The current grant program supports 18 states that are either starting, or improving, their preschool programs...'

10-20-16 Education in the News
Officials rally at Trenton school to urge testing for lead poisoning TRENTON – Local political leaders, educators, and representatives from nonprofit organizations gathered at a city school Wednesday to express support for legislation that calls for mandatory testing for lead in school drinking water. The legislation, (A-3539/S-2082) sponsored by Assemblywoman Liz Muoio and Sen. Shirley Turner (Mercer) would also make disclosing the results mandatory. The city's schools have recently come under scrutiny for 20 buildings having high lead levels. "Unfortunately the results from last week, while very disturbing, are not surprising," Muoio said in the courtyard of Grace A. Dunn Middle School in Trenton. "We have aging infrastructure throughout our state and this has effects." "Throughout the state we have school districts where lead poisoning levels in the blood are higher than those experienced in Flint," Muoio said...'

Education Week--National School Spending Inches Up to $623 Billion, Says Recent Federal Data Spending on the nation's public schools has gone up slightly, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, with state spending on K-12 increasing at exactly the same rate as federal spending has gone down. In a blog post published last Friday, NCES reported that the amount of money spent per pupil in elementary and secondary schools rose by 1.2 percent from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, up to $11,066 per student, after declining from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2013. (Hat-tip to Mike Zinshteyn at the Education Writers Association.) Spending from federal, state, and local resources totaled $623 billion in fiscal 2014. From fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, state revenues for schools rose by 3.9 percent, from $278 billion to $288 billion, while federal revenue dipped by 3.9 percent, from $57 billion to $56 billion, according to the post written by Stephen Q. Cornman and Lauren Musu-Gillette. Local spending rose by 0.5 percent, from $279 billion to $281 billion...'

Washington Post--These states are spending less on education now than before the Great Recession This 2015 file photo shows a vacant classroom at Southwestern High School in Detroit, where schools have faced a fiscal crisis. Michigan is among the states spending less now on education than before the recession. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) When the Great Recession hit, states trimmed — and in some cases slashed — their budgets for public services, including for education. As the recession ended and the economy improved, some states began restoring funds to schools. But by 2014, 35 states were still spending less per student than they did in 2008, before the recession took hold, according to a report released Thursday...'

10-19-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--How big is too big? N.J.'s 25 largest high schools WAYNE — New Jersey's largest public high school is about to get a lot bigger. Passaic County Technical Institute, a sprawling vo-tech high school, already has more than 3,300 students from around the county taking classes in more than 200 classrooms in Wayne. Under a new plan, the massive school will build an addition to house a new STEM academy for another 1,200 students who want to study science, technology and math. The $30 million addition will make Passaic County Technical Institute one of the largest high schools in the country, with 4,500 students on a multi-building, 55-acre hilltop campus. That is twice as many students as Drew University, Caldwell University and more than a half dozen other nearby colleges. Is it too big?...'

NJ Spotlight--Beleaguered Christie Holds Town Hall in Friendly Territory But even in suburban New Providence some question his ‘Fairness Formula’ to equalize state aid to schools The town hall setting has been Gov. Chris Christie’s best and certainly most famous format, where he gets to indulge the masses and show off his improvisational and political skills. But as Christie’s second term enters its last year and he remains beleaguered under the weight of a failed presidential bid — not to mention the Bridgegate trial — even these forums have not gotten any easier. Yesterday, Christie held yet another town hall at a senior center in New Providence, this time around his “Fairness Formula” proposal for New Jersey’s schools...'

Education Week--Shooting Reignites School Safety Concerns Boy, 6, dead in wake of teen's gunfire A shooting at an elementary school rocked Townville, S.C., leaving a 6-year-old dead and two other students and a teacher injured. But school leaders say the situation that unfolded late last month could have been worse if not for practices that limited the alleged 14-year-old shooter's access to the building and the students inside. Those included self-locking external doors, visibility inside the building, and staff members prepared to respond to an active shooter, Anderson District 4 Superintendent Joanne Avery said in a letter to parents...'

10-18-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. has country's 2nd-best high school graduation rate TRENTON — New Jersey high schools posted the second-best four-year graduation rate in America in 2014-15, according to new data released by the White House. The 89.7 percent graduation rate for New Jersey students was topped only by Iowa, which saw 90.8 percent of its students graduate from high school within four years of starting ninth grade. High school graduation rates are difficult to compare because each state has different requirements for graduating from high school. New Jersey is in the minority of states that require students to pass exit exams in math and English before they can graduate...'

The Record--Bills to rein in college costs clears N.J. Senate committee A package of 10 bills aimed at making higher education more affordable cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee on Monday. The bills were recommended by a study commission last month called by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. The commission was charged with finding ways to address tuition and fees in New Jersey that average more than $13,000, making them among the highest in the nation...'

Education Week--Level of Benefits at Issue in Special Ed. Case Case could yield landmark ruling Just how much benefit must a student receive through special education to meet the goals of the key federal law? Four decades after the passage of what was to become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the U.S. Supreme Court plans to take up that question in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District...'

10-17-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Phil Murphy Hedges on Charter Schools, Says ‘It’s Complicated’ ‘NJ Spotlight on Cities’ brings early focus to charter schools in 2017 governor’s race With eight months to go until the primaries, charter schools already have become an early issue in New Jersey’s 2017 election for governor. The annual “NJ Spotlight on Cities” conference, held Friday at the NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark, brought together for the first time four men who have either declared their candidacies for governor or said they were seriously considering running. In a wide-ranging discussion that touched on issues from neighborhood gentrification to the state’s economy to pension reform, charter schools were one of the more pointed topics as the four men staked their positions on where the alternative schools should stand in New Jersey’s cities...'

Star Ledger--N.J. lawmakers seek to stop felons from running for school board EDISON — After a felon had made it on this year's township school board ballot, lawmakers introduced bills that would require all board of education candidates to "certify under oath they have never been convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from campaigning for school boards." State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex) have introduced identical bills in the state Senate and state Assembly. Currently, felons convicted of first- and second-degree crimes cannot serve in school district positions, according to state Department of Education regulations. But those felons can serve as candidates and have their names on the ballot since criminal background checks are not conducted until after the election...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Breakfast after the bell gets high school students ready to learn After the homeroom bell, Andreanna Jenkins, 17, rushed to a second-floor kiosk station to grab a quick breakfast from a cart. During a brief break after her first-period class at Woodbury High School, Jenkins picked up the packaged breakfast that included a cheese stick, a whole-wheat loaf, and orange juice. "I'm not really a morning person," said Jenkins, a junior. But she added: "When I don't eat breakfast, I have a slow day." This Gloucester County district is among only a handful in New Jersey that offer breakfast to high school students during the first few minutes of the school day. Atlantic City High provides breakfast in the classroom during the first 10 minutes of the day...'

The Press of Atlantic City--High school graduation rate reaches new high WASHINGTON (AP) — High school graduation rates have reached a record high of 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all ethnic groups, the White House said Monday. President Barack Obama planned to talk about the gains when he visits a Washington, D.C. high school on Monday morning. Increases in the graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year were seen for all ethnic groups, as well as for disabled students and students from low-income families...'

10-14-16 Education in the News
Education Week--Modern E-Rate Puts Telephones On Hold in K-12 Even in the internet age, the lowly telephone remains an indispensable tool in the day-to-day operations of nearly every school. But thanks to the double whammy of declining state aid and disappearing federal subsidies for such "legacy" technology services, districts nationwide are scrambling to fill a roughly $359 million hole in their collective budgets, according to a new analysis by the Edmond, Okla.-based consulting firm Funds for Learning...'
10-13-16 Education in the News
NY Times--Tech Companies Expect Free High-Speed Internet for Poorer Americans to Pay Off Later WASHINGTON — There is an axiom in technology: New products typically go to wealthy customers first, before prices eventually fall to reach the masses. With broadband now classified like a utility, telecom and tech companies, including Sprint, Comcast and Facebook, are increasingly working to make high-speed internet accessible to every American, not just a luxury. The companies are among those that have set their sights on bringing free or cheap high-speed internet service to low-income and rural populations in the United States, spurred by philanthropy and, for some, the hope of turning Americans who are not online today into full-paying customers in the future...'

Washington Post-- Obama administration releases long-delayed regulations for teacher-preparation programs The U.S. Education Department published regulations Wednesday governing programs that prepare new K-12 teachers, a long-delayed effort meant to ensure that graduates emerge ready for the nation’s classrooms. The new regulations, at least five years in the making, require each state to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs within their borders...'

Education Week--New Effort to Promote Social-Emotional Learning in Schools Helping schools figure out how to better teach social and emotional skills to students alongside traditional academic subjects will be the focus of a new, multiyear endeavor recently announced by the Aspen Institute. The aim of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, which has members from all three sectors, is to "advance a new vision for what constitutes success in schools," the Aspen Institute said in a statement announcing the group's formation...'

10-12-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Should Christie get to revise N.J.'s school rating system? TRENTON — With a new federal education law set to take effect next school year, Gov. Chris Christie's administration has the chance to revise New Jersey's school rating system just before he leaves office. But that doesn't mean Christie should take advantage of that opportunity, a Democratic state lawmaker said Tuesday. Sen. Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) suggested New Jersey seek an extension from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow the state to submit its new school accountability plan after the next governor takes office in 2018...'

Star Ledger--POLL: Should schools ban clown Halloween costumes? MONTCLAIR — The Halloween costume that's all the rage this year? Well, one is certainly causing rage, and rules against it. Montclair Public Schools made headlines last week after prohibiting students from wearing clown costumes to school on Halloween, a reaction to the rash of creepy clown hoaxes, threats, and attacks that have plagued the country. In light of a rash of creepy clown social media threats, one N.J. district is preemptively disallowing the previously popular costumes this Halloween...'

NY Times--Tech Companies Expect Free High-Speed Internet for Poorer Americans to Pay Off Later WASHINGTON — There is an axiom in technology: New products typically go to wealthy customers first, before prices eventually fall to reach the masses. With broadband now classified like a utility, telecom and tech companies, including Sprint, Comcast and Facebook, are increasingly working to make high-speed internet accessible to every American, not just a luxury. The companies are among those that have set their sights on bringing free or cheap high-speed internet service to low-income and rural populations in the United States, spurred by philanthropy and, for some, the hope of turning Americans who are not online today into full-paying customers in the future...'

Education Week--Storm Clouds Over Ed-Tech Law's Renewal Approval in House, speed bump in Senate Congress has made a late, bipartisan push to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which governs vocational and other programs that teach workforce and career-related skills. But it's still unclear, with a presidential election and a lame-duck session coming up, whether lawmakers will be able to get a bill to President Barack Obama's desk before a new administration and new session of Congress begin...'

Washington Post--Facebook-backed school software shows promise — and raises privacy concerns Summit's Personalized Learning Platform shows where a student is in the year-long learning plan. Blue rectangles represent cognitive skill projects. Green rectangles represent "power focus areas," or discrete concepts for students to learn. (Summit Public Schools) By Emma Brown and Todd C. Frankel October 11 at 7:02 PM Caroline Pollock Bilicki felt uneasy about the new education program introduced this year at her children’s Chicago school. Summit Basecamp, built with the help of Facebook engineers, was billed as a powerful tool that could reshape how students learn. Dozens of schools nationwide have signed up to use the program, which tailors lessons to individual students using software that tracks their progress...'

NJ 105--Should NJ wait for new governor, president before finishing new education plan? A new federal education law gives the state and local districts more control over New Jersey schools. But some are already raising concerns about a spring deadline for a plan to be submitted. At issue is that a four-year plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act is due to be submitted in March by the Department of Education of the lame-duck administration of Gov. Chris Christie. That plan potentially could be at odds with the priorities of whatever candidate gets elected governor next year. “We do resubmit every four years, and so we will be obligated to follow our plan for about four years,” Diana Pasculli, the DOE deputy chief external affairs officer, told the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Public Schools at a hearing Tuesday...'

10-11-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Moody’s Issues ‘Credit Negative’ in Response to Passage of TTF Legislation Wall St. firm raises fiscal concerns about effect of tax cuts included in bill to replenish Transportation Trust Fund Last week’s historic vote on legislation to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund was generally praised by lawmakers and state officials, who saw it as a welcome solution to a months-long impasse and a costly shutdown of road and bridge projects statewide. But a major Wall Street firm, citing the legislation’s ultimate impact on the state budget, begs to differ...'
10-10-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Influential state teachers union throws support behind Murphy TRENTON — New Jersey's biggest teachers' union on Saturday endorsed Phil Murphy's bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, saying his "pro-public education stance is in line" with its members' values. The New Jersey Education Association announced the endorsement after its 125-member political action committee unanimously backed the former ambassador and Goldman Sachs executive. "From high-stakes testing to college affordability to school funding, Murphy has a clear, well-thought out plan that prioritizes education and the needs of the school employees who have made New Jersey's public schools a global leader" union President Wendell Steinhauer said in a statement announcing the endorsement...'

The Record--Schools and police taking hard line against clown threats Some school districts in New Jersey have taken to banning clown costumes, while one police department in Union County has warned of “possible exposure to criminal prosecution” for “suspicious or threatening clown behavior on social media or in public.” Even the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has gotten involved. In an email to county superintendents on Wednesday, it remarked on “an uptick in online threats involving clown images” and urged districts to report such instances to authorities. The warnings come as police departments across the country have been responding to reports of disturbing clown sightings and online threats of violence involving clowns...'

Education Week-- New Teachers Make Up a Significant Segment of Profession Everybody involved in K-12 education knows that new teachers tend to need a lot of extra support. What they may not fully grasp, however, is just how many new teachers are out there. As a segment of the total U.S. teaching force, their representation appears to be considerable. Nationally, 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year, according to an Education Week analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights. And in some states, that figure is more than 15 percent. The data, while still under review, are consistent with other recent research pointing to a "greening" trend in teaching over the past 20 years. They also raise questions both about the overall stability of the teaching force and the ability of school systems to provide adequate support to so many novices...'

10-7-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--North Jersey city to stop suspending kids in kindergarten, report says PATERSON — The Paterson School District will no longer issue out-of-school suspensions to its youngest students, the district's superintendent announced Wednesday, NorthJersey.com reported. The policy comes after the Paterson Press reported that 238 students in Kindergarten through second grade received out-of-school suspensions last school year. The new rule will take effect November 1, according to the report...'

Star Ledger--Should N.J. lower qualifications for charter school teachers? TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie may be ready to lower qualifications for charter school teachers and administrators, but the state Board of Education isn't quite ready to sign off on the proposal. The Christie administration on Wednesday provided an overview of its promised charter school deregulation plan, which, among other changes, would create a pilot program for a special teaching certificate valid only at charter schools. However, the state board said it needs to a hear a "deep dive" into the details of the proposal, President Mark Biedron said. The board may need several more meetings before it's ready to vote, he said...'

Trenton Times--Kids who miss school fall behind in life    Editorial
Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at the proper grade level when they reach third grade. By the end of third grade, the U.S. Department of Education warns, these youngsters are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school. The news is particularly tragic for Trenton, where a new study by the nonprofit group Advocates for Children of New Jersey reports nearly a third of public school students habitually miss more than 10 percent of their classes. Sadly, in some instances the decision of whether or not to go to school on a particular day is too often out the student's hands – or even the family's...'

Philadelphia Inquirer-- Want your high school diploma? Pa. lawmakers propose civics test Can you name the current speaker of the U.S. House? Do you know when the Declaration of Independence was adopted? Can you identify our nation's economic system? If you can answer such elementary civics questions, education experts say, you have the makings of an engaged citizen - equipped to grasp the nuances of the current contentious race for the White House. But if you draw a blank on these, and 97 more like them, you might be denied a high school diploma in Pennsylvania, starting in 2021...'

10-6-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Christie Proposes Giving Top-Performing Charter Schools New Flexibility Education chief says easing certification rules for teachers would be five-year pilot program On a pledge to provide more freedoms to New Jersey’s charter schools, the Christie administration yesterday presented new regulations for the alternative schools that would include essentially waiving many of the state’s certification rules for educators in the highest-performing ones. But as with anything related to charter schools in New Jersey of late, the changes are sure to be hotly debated in the coming months, and parties from all sides yesterday predicted they are hardly a done deal. Should charters have a different set of rules?...'

NJ’s Teacher of the Year: From Armenia to Pascack Valley High The first arts teacher to win the honor in more than ten years, refugee Argine Safari has found her passion teaching music Argine Safari of Pascack Valley High School was yesterday named New Jersey’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. She is the first arts teacher to win the award in more than a decade. A 46-year-old Armenian refugee, Safari — who is an accomplished musician — was cited for her passion and knowledge as music teacher at the Bergen County high school. That was on full display yesterday as she accepted the award before the State Board of Education...'

Star Ledger--Christie's parting gift to Camden: A $133M high school CAMDEN — Gov. Chris Christie announced that the state would spend $133 million to raze and rebuild a new Camden High School in the same district where he's called for cutting in state education funding by almost 80 percent. Standing in the Camden Panthers' gymnasium, the governor called the investment "emblematic of my position that no child in this state is worth more than another, that all children deserve a quality education, regardless of ZIP code." However, under Christie's newly proposed "Fairness Formula," Camden would see its state educational aid cut by more than 78 percent...'

Education Week--Clown hoaxes force police to check pranks for real threats STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Carrying golf clubs, shovels and hockey sticks, several hundred University of Connecticut students gathered just before midnight in a cemetery, ready to do battle with menacing clowns they had heard might be lurking among the headstones. Police determined that Monday's clown rumors, like dozens of others across the country, were a hoax. But with reports of clown sightings spreading, fueled largely by social media, authorities are being forced to take them seriously as a potential threat to public safety, particularly at schools, where principals have conducted lockdowns and canceled classes...'

10-5-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Salaries for NJ Teachers Moving Up After Several Years in Doldrums Teachers union says pay hikes do not compensate for bigger employee contributions to pensions and healthcare With the latest contract settlements, New Jersey’s teacher salary increases are starting to creep up again after a precipitous drop seven years ago, although there is hardly a consensus about what the trend means. In its annual release, the New Jersey School Boards Association put out its update on the state of school contracts at the start of the school year, and one message was clear —salary increases for teachers have bottomed out from the Great Recession and Christie administration tax caps and have started to climb back...'

Star Ledger--Who's the Teacher of the Year? N.J. will name winner today TRENTON — New Jersey will name its annual public school teacher of the year Wednesday in a ceremony at the state Board of Education meeting in Trenton. The prize comes with a six-month paid sabbatical to work with the state Department of Education and act as a liaison between the teaching community and the department...'

The Record--Christie's school funding plan gets mixed reviews in Wayne Gov. Christie continued his public pitch for a revamped school funding plan with a stop in Wayne Tuesday afternoon, where he rallied residents with promises to save them money and help reduce taxes. Under the governor’s proposed “Fairness Formula,” all districts, regardless of their current state aid allotments, would receive the same school funding share of $6,599 per student. If the plan were to pass, about three-quarters of the state would see an increase in school aid and a resulting reduction in property taxes, Christie said...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Former U.S. education secretary rips the nation's teacher preparation programs Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in an open letter to the country's college presidents and education school deans takes a firm, hard swing at teacher preparation programs. The system, he wrote, “lacks rigor, is out of step with the times, and is given to extreme grade inflation that leaves teachers unprepared and their future students at risk.” His letter went live at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the web site of the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-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 to do when he led the education department...'

10-4-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Agenda: New Charter School Regulations Finally Unveiled State board to take first look at Christie’s deregulation proposal; NJ Teacher of Year also to be announced Date: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 Time: 10 a.m. Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton Charter schools, unregulated: Gov. Chris Christie in a speech in May pledged he would move to provide more flexibility for the state’s charter schools. Five months later, the state board will finally see the administration’s proposals on Wednesday,...'

Star Ledger--N.J. school district to be 1st in state to use town-wide literacy app ENGLEWOOD — A school district in North Jersey will pay for an app that officials hope will allow kids to start learning at an earlier age. Robert Kravitz, superintendent at Englewood Public School District, is planning on providing an app called, "Footsteps2Brilliance" for Englewood residents, with a launch in January. Anyone who lives in Englewood will be able to download the app with a web address that the district will provide, he said. It will be free to users and offers tutorials to teach young kids, up to the third grade, basic lessons, such as phonics and sight words. The program will cost the district $40,000 a year, Kravitz said...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--State weighing plan to raze, rebuild Camden High The state Schools Development Authority is considering demolishing Camden High School and replacing it with a new building - a project that would cost an estimated $133 million. The New Jersey Schools Development Authority is to vote Wednesday on a proposal to demolish Camden High School and replace it with a new building - a project that would cost an estimated $133 million. If the plan is approved at the SDA's regular meeting in Trenton, the state will oversee a razing of the building known as the "Castle on the Hill," including the tower that defines the school's silhouette. Plans to upgrade the century-old building have been delayed for more than eight years, and in the past, officials indicated that the tower would be preserved. But according to the proposal before the SDA, studies have determined that a complete renovation of the facility would be cost-prohibitive. Preserving the tower while building new construction around it would cost at least $200 million, said Paymon Rouhanifard, superintendent of the state-run district...'

NY Times-- Protest Started by Colin Kaepernick Spreads to High School Students Aurora Central High School football players in Colorado went down on one knee in a sign of protest while the national anthem was being played before a game on Saturday. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times AURORA, Colo. — Vicqari Horton dropped a knee to the grass. The varsity choir piped out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And in the bleachers at a sun-soaked football stadium here on Saturday, parents clenched their teeth in anger or raised their fists in support. “You can’t continue to slap people in the face and not expect them to stand up,” said Mr. Horton, a junior tight end at Aurora Central High School who is black and began kneeling during the national anthem at games in mid-September. “When Kaepernick kneeled, he gave us an outlet. He gave us something to do.”...'

Education Week--Hunt Is On for Clues to Students' Test-Taking Processes Studies to yield fuller picture of learning process Large-scale standardized tests have become a staple of school accountability, but they don't give teachers much information to improve students' learning strategies in the classroom. That's changing, as researchers on some of the leading national and international assessments work to pull more data about students' learning strategies and skills from summative tests...'

10-3-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. advances 4 new charter schools, denies Montclair plan TRENTON — The Christie administration on Friday advanced four charter school applications to the final round of state review but denied a proposal in Montclair that had stirred strong resistance in the community. The following four schools were cleared to open as long as they pass a final review next year: • College Achieve Greater Asbury Park Charter School (Asbury Park, Neptune Township • College Achieve Paterson Charter School (Paterson) • Ocean Academy Charter School (Lakewood) • Ailanthus Charter School (Franklin Township, New Brunswick) All of the schools, except Ailanthus Charter School, plan to open in the fall of 2017. Ailanthus plans to open in 2018...'

Star Ledger--Christie claims Dems want to delay school reform plans until after he leaves office CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Taking a shot at likely 2017 governor candidate Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Gov. Chris Christie on Friday claimed again that Democrats want to delay reexamining how the state apportions education funding until afterhe leaves office. Speaking at a firehouse to promote his "Fairness Formula" education funding plan, the governor said that Democrats' called-for commission on state aid would only issue it's report after the expiration of his term in office in January 2018. "If you were running for governor, you wouldn't want it to report back a minute earlier," said Christie, to laughter from the 150 residents who'd gathered inside the firehouse...'

Star Ledger--Schools, police say killer clown threats on social media aren't legit A threat on social media of clowns planning to kill teachers and kidnap students has spread like wildfire on the Internet, leading school districts and local law enforcement in New Jersey — and nationwide — to tell parents and students to calm down. Rumors of schools throughout South Jersey being on lockdown because of clown sightings were unfounded, according to officials...'

NY Times--The Unintended Consequences of Taking a Hard Line on School Discipline Over the last 30 years, schools across the country have enacted tough disciplinary policies. Did they go too far? It did not take long for school safety agents in New York to find their first gun of the new school year. Day 1 had barely begun at a Brooklyn high school last month when the officers stopped a 15-year-old student who had stowed a loaded .22-caliber pistol in his backpack and thought he could pass it through a metal scanner...'

Education Week--Significant Education Cases on Supreme Court Docket 2016-17 Term May Prove Consequential for K-12 The U.S. Supreme Court opened its new term Oct. 3 still feeling the effects of the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. With the nomination of Merrick B. Garland stuck in political limbo, the eight members of the court have adopted a cautious approach to their docket for the new term, many legal experts say. But for K-12 education, the new term may be the most significant in years. For example, the justices have agreed to hear two cases involving students with disabilities and another that could be significant for government aid to religion, include private religious schools...'

9-30-16 Education in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer--Supreme Court says it will hear special education case WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says it'll decide the minimum that public schools must do to help learning-disabled students. The court agreed Thursday to resolve differences among federal appeals court over the standards schools must meet under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act...'

NY Times--Teaching Teenagers to Cope With Social Stress Almost four million American teenagers have just started their freshman year of high school. Can they learn better ways to deal with all that stress and insecurity? New research suggests they can. Though academic and social pressures continue to pile on in high school, teenagers can be taught effective coping skills to skirt the pitfalls of anxiety and depression...'

Education Week--School Inspections Offer a Diagnostic Look at Quality Aiming to get beyond just spreadsheets and test scores, Vermont and other states experiment with inspections to scope out schools' strengths and weaknesses Educators have gotten used to poring over spreadsheets filled with test scores to get a sense of their students'—and schools'—strengths and weaknesses. What they don't often see: feedback from other teachers, administrators, and students who can offer a fresh perspective on where a school stands when it comes to instruction, resources, climate, financial efficiency, and more...'

9-29-16 Education in the News
The Record--Report: Lobbyists’ efforts focused on health insurance, N.J. budget The biggest targets for lobbyists so far this year have been the state budget and bills that would affect health care insurance, the minimum wage and paid sick leave, according to a report issued Wednesday by a state watchdog agency. Out of the bills that have attracted the most attention, only the budget, which lawmakers are required to adopt by June 30, has passed both the Assembly and Senate and been signed into law. "I think the one thing that this report shows is that it's not that easy to get legislation passed," said Jeff Brindle, executive director of the Election Law Enforcement Commission whose report detailed the lobbyists’ activities. "So many of these items were heavily lobbied and yet no bills have been passed." "In fact, many lobbyists will tell you that a big part of their job is actually blocking legislation from ever happening," Brindle added...'

The Record--N.J. lawmakers unveil plan to cut costs of college in N.J. Legislation aimed at making college more affordable - through increased tuition grants, streamlined loan programs and a greater reliance on community colleges - will be introduced on Thursday, lawmakers said. An 11-bill package — based on recommendations made by a study commission and released this week — was announced Wednesday at a press conference in Trenton. Tuition and fees at New Jersey’s public four-year colleges and universities are among the highest in the nation, at an average of more than $13,000. “We’re going to show people we can reduce the cost (of a degree),” said State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester...'

NY Times--Next Target for IBM’s Watson? Third-Grade Math The IBM computer platform Watson in 2011 with “Jeopardy” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press It knew enough about medical diagnoses and literature to beat “Jeopardy!” champions at their game, and has been put to use in cancer wards. Now, an IBM computer platform called Watson is taking on something really tough: teaching third-grade math. For the past two years, the IBM Foundation has worked with teachers and their union, the American Federation of Teachers, to build Teacher Advisor, a program that uses artificial-intelligence technology to answer questions from educators and help them build personalized lesson plans. By the end of the year, it will be available free to third-grade math teachers across the country and will add subject areas and grade levels over time...'

Education Week-- How to Find Evidence-Based Fixes for Schools That Fall Behind The new federal flexibility in dealing with struggling schools comes with some strings in picking approaches proven to have value The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states and districts significant flexibility in how they turn around struggling schools, as long as the local approaches are backed by evidence. But without support, that flexibility runs the risk of putting smaller or more rural districts at a disadvantage. "This is a sea change from the highly prescriptive approach to school improvement [under the No Child Left Behind Act] to what can seem like a bit of a Wild West structure under ESSA," said Mike Magee, the chief executive officer of Chiefs for Change, which has created an ESSA working group of 15 experimentally minded state education leaders. "We have potentially unprecedented flexibility in how states address school improvement—but that's just another factor in how high the stakes are."..'

9-28-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Here's how N.J. students fared on the SAT exams TRENTON — New Jersey's Class of 2016 outperformed the national average on the SAT exams, according to new data released Tuesday by the College Board. The average scores for last school year's seniors in New Jersey were 495 in reading, 492 in writing and 514 in math, a total score of 1,501. Nationwide, students posted averages of 494 in reading, 482 in writing and 508 in math, a total of 1,484...'

Education Week-- ESSA Clears Out Underbrush on School Improvement Path The new federal education law gives states and districts a freer hand in fixing their lowest-performing schools, but questions loom on whether that leeway will translate into better outcomes

For more than a decade, states and districts have had to consider off-the-shelf, federally prescribed interventions for many schools in which students weren't meeting expectations. That's about to change...'

Patterson Press--Alarm in Paterson over out-of-school suspensions of youngest pupils What does a kindergartner have to do to get suspended from school? And what did 238 Paterson children in kindergarten and first and second grades do to get sent home for days presumably for bad behavior? The answer still is unclear amid revelations that out-of-school suspension among the youngest children in Paterson public schools rivals those of high school seniors, according to statistics released Tuesday by the school district...'

9-27-16 Education in the News
Education Week--SAT Results 2016: It's Complicated So you'd like to find out how well the class of 2016 scored on the SAT, you say? Well, have fun with that. Normally at this time of year, we report the scores and trends for the college-admissions exam. But this is a weird year, a year so full of disclaimers, caveats, and partial cohorts that it makes it pretty tough to tell you anything at all. That's because some students took the newly redesigned SAT (March 2016 and later), and the lion's share of them took the old one (January 2016 and earlier). The College Board's report is here. So we're gonna walk through this nice and calm-like, taking occasional deep breaths along the way. Because you're gonna need them. You're gonna feel frustrated. You've got lots of company...'

Washington Post--‘Brain-hostile’ education: how schools are failing adolescents Schools too often ignore how the brains of middle and high school students develop...'

9-26-16 Education in the News
Philadelphia Inquirer—Refugee students sue for their place in public education The Lancaster schools lost round one last month, when a district judge ruled the students could attend the city's main high school, 3,900-student J.P. McCaskey. From flashpoints around the world - wars in Africa and the Middle East, terrorism in Asia, gang violence in Central America - tens of millions of migrants have run for their lives in just the past few years, creating crises of epic scale for many destination nations. A small fraction, about 85,000 annually, find a haven in the United States as refugees. Last year, 2,645 were resettled in Pennsylvania, including 510 in Philadelphia. New Jersey became home to 314, 91 of whom moved to the Camden area...'

The Press of Atlantic City-- Goodbye to homework for some elementary schools and classes SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Guess what, kids? No homework. Really. All year. A small but growing number of elementary schools and individual teachers are doing away with the after-school chore to allow kids more time to play, participate in activities, spend time with families, read and sleep. There's been pushback against homework from parents in recent years who say their children's time is monopolized by other activities, said Steven Geis, president of the National Elementary School Principals' Association...'

Education Week-- ESSA: Ed. Dept. Releases English-Language-Learner Guidance States and school districts that get federal funding to support students who are English-language learners can use that money to support long-term ELLs and ELLs in special education, as well as to help figure out how those students are progressing, according to new Every Student Succeeds Act guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education Friday. The guidance also makes it clear that districts and states can use their English Language Acquisition grants—provided through a $737 million programalso known as Title III of ESSA—for many of the same purposes as they did under No Child Left Behind. That's true even though schools' accountability for ensuring ELLs progress in their English-proficiency has moved to Title I of the law, along with accountability for all other groups of kids...'

9-23-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Op-Ed: What the Public Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Our Students, Our Schools As a community of parents and educators, we must come together to rebuff the politicization of public education On August 31, 2016, at 3:32 p.m. the New Jersey Department of Education released a memorandum changing the evaluation criteria for all grades 4 to 8 language arts and mathematics teachers (including special education). The change moves the percentage that student growth percentages (SGPs) count in a teacher’s overall performance rating from 10 percent to 30 percent. The SGP score attained for teachers is derived from each individual teacher’s students’ performance on the PARCC examination.

Education Week--English-Language-Learner Classification Can Impede Student Growth, Study Finds English-language-learner services are designed, in theory, to prevent educational inequity, but for some students the specialized services may be reinforcing it. A new study out of the University of Oregon found that designating early elementary students who are close to being proficient in English as ELLs may actually do more harm than good. Ilana Umansky, an assistant professor in the university's college of education, argues that kindergarten students who score at or just above threshold for English-learner services are often indistinguishable from those who score just below. However, the students on the cusp who are identified as English-learners end up scoring significantly lower on math and English/language arts tests in 2nd through 10th grade, Umansky's research determines.

9-22-16 Education in the News
GovNetNJ--JASEY NAMED DEPUTY SPEAKER OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has appointed Assemblywoman Mila Jasey to the post of deputy speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly.

Jasey, of South Orange, was first sworn into the General Assembly in 2007.

"Mila has a genuine understanding of the fact that caring about people and working tirelessly to shape the future of one's community are at the foundation of public service," said Prieto (D-Bergen / Hudson). "Having observed her commitment to education, housing and several other issues over the years, I have full confidence that she will serve the Assembly well as a deputy speaker."...'

NJ Spotlight--Fine Print: State Auditor Calls Out ‘Convoluted’ Allotting of School Aid Auditor confirms Christie administration’s underfunding — and overfunding — of school districts What it is: State Auditor Stephen Eells, whose office is an arm of the state Legislature, yesterday released a report on the distribution of state aid over the last two years under Gov. Chris Christie. The report detailed the levels of state funding to the New Jersey’s 500-plus districts and how they have matched — or not matched — the state’s School Funding Reform Act. The report concluded that although the Christie administration and Legislature had properly followed state budgeting rules, as required, the mandates of the school funding law had not been met...'

Advocates Argue All New Jersey Schools Should Offer Arts Classes The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership points to studies that show training in music, dance, and other arts is linked to academic success All but 3 percent of New Jersey public K-12 students have access to arts education. But the state’s arts advocates say even one student without access is too many...'

Trenton Times--Less really is more when it comes to homework    Editorial

If your fourth-grader comes home from the Robert Mascenik School #26 in Woodbridge Township and tells you she has no homework that day – believe her. The elementary school, one of 16 in the township, has joined the ranks of schools nationwide that have dared do the unthinkable. Its administration has placed family time over homework time, sending the message that building strong interpersonal relationships is a better use of time than memorizing the multiplication tables or identifying the major exports of Peru – although these are certainly worth knowing...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Camden's school test scores still lag, but some positives, too There was some good news and more bad news in results released Wednesday for Camden students in the second year of a new standardized state test. Camden's school test scores still lag, but some positives, too Nearly all schools in the struggling South Jersey district made slight progress in math and language arts on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. Students in grades three through 11 across the state took the exam last spring. Despite the increase, the majority of Camden students in all grades failed to meet the state standard for their grade level. At the high school level, the results were grim, especially in math. "Test scores are one of many ways we measure progress," Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said. "We have a long way still to go."...'

Education Week--Flashpoints Emerge as States Step Up ESSA Planning Tight timelines loom as work continues States are still moving through the gears of preparing their accountability systems and federally mandated plans under the new policy environment created by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Although a few flashpoints have already emerged, they're not the only issues that highlight the challenges states face...'

9-21-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Don't judge N.J. teachers based on standardized test scores, lawmakers say TRENTON — How students fare on standardized tests would no longer influence how teachers and administrators are evaluated under a bill that cleared an Assembly committee Monday. The growing emphasis of PARCC, New Jersey's standardized assessment, sparked the bill. Testing affects only 15 percent of teachers, principals and other educators in the state, and up until this year, test results accounted for 10 percent of a teacher's evaluation. In August, Deputy Education Commissioner Peter Shulman announced the test results would make up 30 percent of an educator's score. "Using test scores to evaluate teachers puts pressure on teachers to teach to the test, which takes away from invaluable classroom instruction and learning," said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), one of the bill's sponsors. "If the end goal is to ensure teachers are indeed reaching their students, then let's use measures that will give us a more accurate glimpse of who is doing a good job, and who is lacking."...'

Jersey Journal--Developers to build new Jersey City public school JERSEY CITY — Developers have pledged to build a new public school for Jersey City as part of a $370 million housing development planned for the city's Paulus Hook neighborhood. The 200-student school, for pre-k, kindergarten and first grade students, will be the second privately funded public school to open in the city in recent years. Today's announcement comes less than two weeks after the public-school district opened its first new public school in a decade, the state-funded School 20 on Ocean Avenue...'

The Record--N.J. gets grant to help low-income students afford Advanced Placement tests New Jersey will get $586,167 in federal funds to expand a program to help students from low-income families to take Advanced Placement tests, it was announced Tuesday. The grant is one of 42 awarded by the U.S Department of Education totaling $28.4 million. The AP tests allow students to gain college credit for courses taken in high school – a move that helps students finish a degree quicker, thus reducing college costs...'

NY Times--Connecticut to Appeal Decision in Schools Funding Case The State of Connecticut said on Thursday that it would appeal a sweeping ruling in a schools funding case that ordered it to re-examine virtually the entire education system. “There are strong arguments that the trial court exceeded its authority and the standards articulated by the Connecticut Supreme Court, and so today we are asking that court to review this ruling,” Attorney General George C. Jepsen said in a statement. In the long-running case, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford found last week that Connecticut was “defaulting on its constitutional duty” to give all children an adequate education because the state was allowing students in poor districts to languish while those in wealthy districts excelled...'

9-20-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Push to Protect Public School Students from Concussions Children could not return to class or athletic activities without the permission of a healthcare professional Growing concern about the effects of concussions – particularly on young people – has fueled efforts by New Jersey lawmakers to require greater protections for students who have suffered potentially dangerous blows to the head. “Concussions, especially in young people, should not be taken lightly,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), a lead sponsor of a measure that would require students diagnosed with a concussion to obtain permission from a healthcare professional before they could return to class or participate in any school-related athletic activities...'
9-19-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Christie Asks Top Court to Let Him Rewrite School-Funding Formula The governor, who has decried the Supreme Court as ‘activist,’ asks it to sweep aside 30 years of support for Abbott rulings The irony is hard to miss. Gov. Chris Christie has gone to the same state Supreme Court he has long decried as too activist to help him attain his last policy goals for public education in New Jersey. And while the odds seem long, he may actually have a shot...'

The Press of Atlantic City--Maine school purchases computer program to serve as teacher MADISON, Maine (AP) — A Maine high school has turned to a computer program to educate its students after being unable to fill a vacant position for a foreign language teacher. With money already earmarked for the job, The Morning Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/2cJzmJL ) Madison Area Memorial High School opted to purchase the Rosetta Stone program to serve as its full-time French and Spanish teacher...'

9-16-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--The Public School Funding Battle: No Holds Barred Christie wants to scrap Abbott v. Burke; Sweeney wants a commission to make sure that funding decisions are fair The hotly debated topic of school funding in New Jersey may have just hit the boiling point, as two opposing approaches to how the state funds its public schools came into sharper focus yesterday. For starters, Gov. Chris Christie — a longtime antagonist of the state’s public teacher unions — called on the Supreme Court to reopen a landmark education ruling that helped poor communities get more school funding. He also asked that the court give the Department of Education control over laws and bargaining agreements that protect tenured teachers...'

Star Ledger--Christie: 'My patience has run out' with N.J.'s urban 'failure factories' BAYVILLE — Just hours after he announced that he'd was petitioning the state Supreme Court to scrap key provisions of the monumental school funding case Abbott v. Burke, Gov. Chris Christie drew sharp criticism from a retired special education teacher at a town hall meeting to promote his move. The governor had opened the town hall in Bayville with a warning. "Today, my patience has run out," Christie admonished the crowd, adding that he was not longer content to be "a bystander in this."..'

Star Ledger--‘Unprecedented’ hand-foot-and-mouth disease outbreak reaches fourth school district

The first outbreak seemingly came out of nowhere in late August: Fifteen football players from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey had come down with coxsackievirus, also known as hand-foot-and-mouth disease, forcing the cancellation of the team’s final scrimmage. Thirteen days later, a similar eruption of HFMD struck 16 miles away at Pequannock High School, postponing the football team’s season-opener...'

The Record--Christie asks court to revisit landmark school funding case Governor Christie asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to overhaul the landmark school funding ruling that has steered the bulk of education aid to 31 of the poorest districts over three decades, in what he called a “historic legal action.” Christie said he wants the high court to reconsider the Abbott v. Burke ruling because the districts continue to fall behind in academic performance and graduation rates despite getting nearly $100 billion in aid since 1985. At the same time, he has asked the court to allow state education officials to waive teacher contract rules that he claims have been the real impediment to progress in these districts...'

Education Week-- Analysis Projects Growing National Shortfall of Teachers Already faced with worrisome hiring gaps, the country is on the precipice of a dramatically widening shortfall of teachers, a new analysis warns. In a package of reports released Wednesday, the Learning Policy Institute, a California-based think tank led by Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, digs into federal data sets to gauge the state of teacher supply and demand, and what it means for school staffing and diversity in the near future...'

9-15-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Op-Ed: ESSA Offers Opportunity for Schools to Change Course Stakeholder involvement in the requisite re-imagining and re-inventing – by educators and parents alike – is critical if ESSA is to reach its full potential With the anticipation and excitement of the new school year upon us, parents and educators have a unique opportunity to participate in shaping public education in New Jersey. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law passed late last year to replace the notorious No Child Left Behind (NCLB), critical decisions about our schools have been returned to the state and local districts. With that increased control comes a federal requirement to engage education stakeholders in the process of creating state and local plans...'

Star Ledger--POLL: Should elementary schools stop giving homework? WOODBRIDGE — Two New Jersey elementary schools are putting less emphasis on homework this year, and some schools in other states have eliminated homework completely. Proponents of reducing homework say the assignments should be more meaningful and less stressful. But supporters of homework believe it's a critical part of a child's education...'

Star Ledger--Here's the plan to expand N.J.'s largest vocational high school

The Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously agreed Tuesday night to expand Passaic County Technical Institute despite opposition from local school officials who said the expansion would hurt their own budgets. The state awarded the Wayne school a $15 million grant last year, which the county matched on Tuesday when freeholders issued $30 million in bonds. The money will be used to build PCTI's STEM Academy.

9-14-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Consent Order Brings Teachers, Administration to Benefits Table NJEA has refused to meet, saying unfilled seat on health benefits commission tips balance of power in favor of Christie Following a lengthy dispute over the summer that culminated in a court order earlier this week, state representatives and members of the New Jersey Education Association are finally set to meet face to face about potential changes to retiree healthcare plans in New Jersey...'

Star Ledger--Play time, family dinner more important than homework, N.J. school says WOODBRIDGE — A New Jersey elementary school is de-emphasizing homework this school year and telling parents their children should spend more time playing, doing household chores and eating dinner with their families. Robert Mascenik School #26 in Woodbridge Township is testing the importance of homework by giving fewer traditional assignments, principal Judith Martino wrote in a message to parents. The goal is to make school work at home a more meaningful experience and not an exercise in compliance, Martino wrote. Studies have shown that there is no link between homework and academic achievement for elementary school students, she added...'

Education Week--ESSA Raises K-12 Stakes in 2016 State-Level Elections The stakes for K-12 policy in this year's state-level elections couldn't be clearer: Whoever voters pick in the legislative and gubernatorial races will have significant new leverage in shaping states' education agendas in the years ahead. The reason is the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives state governments sweeping authority to design, among other things, teacher evaluations and school accountability systems, topics that political observers expect to dominate policymakers' 2017 legislative seasons. Observers wouldn't necessarily know that, however, by hanging out on the campaign trails this year...'

The Press of Atlantic City--State tells A.C. to withhold teachers' opt-out pay The state Department of Education has told the Atlantic City school district not to pay teachers who opted out of the district health insurance benefits the stipend agreed to in their expired contract. Many teachers will immediately lose thousands of dollars through a provision that allows them to be paid half the cost of their health insurance benefits if they opt out of the district plan and have coverage through a spouse...'

9-13-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger-- Sweeney moves to cut Christie out of N.J. school aid talks .TRENTON — After months of promoting dueling plans to revise New Jersey's school funding formula, Senate President Stephen Sweeney could be limiting Gov. Chris Christie's influence over discussions about school aid. Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) on Monday introduced a plan to study school funding without Christie's approval. Additionally, the plan would not allow the governor to appoint members to the panel charged with suggesting school aid revisions, the lawmakers said. That marks a departure from the Democrats' previous plan, which would have allowed the Republican governor to pick half of the members on the proposed task force. Christie's office declined to comment on the Democrats' new plan until it is passed by the Legislature...'

Star Ledger--Christie, NJEA agree to meet about changes in health care for TRENTON — In a victory of sorts for the New Jersey Education Association, the teachers union and Gov. Chris Christie's administration agreed to hold an information-only meeting on proposed changes to retiree health care. The administration took the teachers union to court to compel members who sit on the School Employees' Health Benefits Commission to attend commission meetings. They have boycotted recent meetings to block the administration from forcing a vote to move retirees onto Medicare Advantage...'

NJ Spotlight--Senate Committee ‘Green Lights’ Sweeney’s School-Funding Plan A plan that would circumvent Gov. Chris Christie on future school-aid funding cleared its first hurdle Monday, after the state Senate Education Committee approved a resolution by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) to create a six-member commission to revise the state education aid formula. This is the second idea for a commission introduced by Sweeney, and this one bypasses Christie because it is a resolution, rather than full legislation. ..'

The Record--Tenafly proposes later high schools start time TENAFLY – Tenafly district leaders may allow high school students to stay in bed a little longer by moving the school start time to as late as 8:30 a.m.. “Our academics are known for their rigor,” said Tenafly High School principal James Morrison. “We want to make it less stressful.”..'

9-12-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Sweeney to Bypass Christie to Set Up School-Funding Commission Senate president hopes to work with Republicans in the Legislature to create a bipartisan commission by resolution Ever since Senate President Steve Sweeney first proposed his legislative bill for fixing New Jersey’s school funding morass, there was the obvious question as to whether Gov. Chris Christie would ever sign it if it passed. After all, Christie has his own radically different proposal that he has been championing around the state. Now, it may not matter...'

Star Ledger--15 years after 9/11: Honor the lost by combating hate, ignorance    Opinion
Sunday marks 15 years since hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon in Washington, DC; and a field in rural Pennsylvania. The United States Capitol building was the intended target of that final plane, but the heroic actions of passengers and crew members aboard the flight prevented its hijackers from accomplishing their goal. For many of us, the memories of that day will never fade and the emotions always will be difficult to manage on this anniversary. So, we continue to honor the lives and memories of the thousands who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, through remembrance, through contemplation or prayer, and, we hope, through our actions...

Philadelphia Inquirer--Chesco students plot course to later school starts, more shut-eye Like many high school students, Matthew Daniels has a schedule so jam-packed - classes, clubs, sports, job - that he rarely hits the sack before midnight. Then it's up at 6 to start all over, with six hours or less of shut-eye. School begins at 7:35. "Some of my friends don't go to bed until 1 or 2," said Daniels, a senior at Unionville-Chadds Ford High School, where he is also class president. Daniels is among a group of students from various Chester County schools studying ways that districts can delay their start times - an adjustment even knottier than it sounds. It has, however, proved possible...'

Washington Post-- A new way to honor high schools, without looking at test scores Tests taken. Test scores. Graduation rates. These are the central data points for most high school rankings. But now there is something new — and very different. Everybody knows about U.S. News & World Report’s famous college rankings, but they also rank high schools, based largely on standardized test scores as well as graduation rates. Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews does his long-standing “Challenge Index” rankings based not on test scores themselves but on a percentage of students in a school who took Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Advanced International Certificate of Education tests. But now there is a high school honors list that has a different set of priorities...'

9-9-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Anger Over EpiPen ‘Price Gouging’ Sparks Calls for Wider Pharma Cost Inquiry The EpiPen is not the only medication whose cost has spiked, leading lawmakers to examine ways to keep life-saving medicines affordable Outrage over major price hikes in the cost of the EpiPen, a lifesaving device used to reverse serious allergic reactions, has prompted New Jersey lawmakers to call for further scrutiny of this particular medicine and a legislative review of the rising prices of a number of critical drugs...'...'

Jersey Journal--Jersey City schools face threat of changes in state funding Jersey City's public schools started the school year today as the district faces two serious funding challenges. Gov. Chris Christie and state Sen. President Stephen Sweeney over the summer revealed competing plans to alter the way the state funds its public schools and each plan could lead to dramatic funding changes for Jersey City's 28,000-student school district. The district gets nearly three-quarters of its funding from the state. Christie's plan would leave the district short about $217 million, or 38 percent of the district's $570 million operating budget. Sweeney's plan would lead to more gradual changes that may include eliminating an aid program that brought in $114 million to the district from the state this year...'

The Record--Teachers push for curriculum on 9/11 attacks Students in this year’s incoming high school freshman class were not yet born on Sept. 11, 2001. Unlike so many adults who lived in North Jersey 15 years ago, they do not have a vivid and visceral memory or a personal tragedy tied to that day. They never looked out the car window and saw the skyline with the Twin Towers. They don’t remember the news reports, chaos, fear, crumbling buildings and days of smoke. They don’t remember friends and family overwhelmed by a stunned sadness for weeks and months afterward. “They have a general sense that this happened, but it’s a historical event to them — it’s something that feels very far away,” said Noah Rauch, director of education programs at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. “They have a sense that the world changed, but they have no sense of what the pre-9/11 world looked like in a way that they knew what that shift actually meant.” Educators also know that their students Google — and that can send them down a road of misinformation and conspiracy theories. But in New Jersey, for a variety of reasons, there’s a good chance they won’t learn what really happened that day in school. ..'

NY Times--Crux of Connecticut Judge’s Grim Ruling: Schools Are Broken When a Connecticut judge threw out the state’s school financing system as unconstitutional this week, his unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education. Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford was scathing: He criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” that found “virtually every teacher in the state” proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels. He attacked a task force charged with setting meaningful high school graduation requirements for how its “biggest thought on how to fix the problem turned out to be another task force,” and called it “a kind of a spoof.”...'

Washington Post-- U.S. to track religious discrimination in schools as anti-Muslim sentiment grows GERMANTOWN, MD- Hannah Shraim, who graduated in June from Northwest High School says she felt discrimination for being a Muslim during her High School years. (Photos by Amanda Voisard) The U.S. Education Department announced it will begin collecting data this year about allegations of discrimination or bullying of students based on their religion, bringing new attention to what educators and advocates call a growing problem in public schools, particularly for Muslim students...'

9-8-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--'Amazing' Montclair district opposes French charter school TRENTON — Montclair doesn't want a charter school, Montclair doesn't need a charter school and the state shouldn't force Montclair to have a charter school, local residents and school officials say. That's the message the district superintendent, school board president and parents brought to the state Board of Education on Wednesday, the latest salvo in an ongoing campaign to kill a French-language charter school proposed in the affluent town with a reputation for good schools. "Montclair is not a failing school district," interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi said as a group of parents watched in approval. "Montclair is a wonderful school system. Parents support it... that's not the case in many times when charter schools are approved."...'

Star Ledger--Christie: Private schools will get state money for security CALDWELL — Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed into a law a bill that give private schools state funding for security costs. Speaking at Grover Cleveland Middle School on Tuesday morning, the governor signed into law the "Secure Schools for All Children Act," which establishes a state aid for security services and equipment at private schools at a cost of up to $75 per student enrolled. "If parents choose to send their children to a parochial or private school in New Jersey, there's no reason for them to be concerned about their children's safety," said Christie...'

New York Times--The Title: Parent Coordinator. The Job: Whatever Needs to Be Done As the parent coordinator at the Community Action School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Karla Fittipaldi said she usually works at least 10-hour days. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times Event planners. Choreographers. Designated hand-holders. Fonts of information. Lice-checkers in chief. These are among the many roles parent coordinators play in New York City’s public schools, and as the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren return to class on Thursday, their busy season is about to begin. “The kids are excited,” Caren Austen, the parent coordinator at East Side Middle School, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said of the first day for new sixth graders. “The parents look shellshocked.” The job of the parent coordinator was introduced by the Bloomberg administration 13 years ago, and today, every public elementary and middle school, as well as some high schools, has one. They are often parents of public-school students themselves...'

9-7-16 Education in the News
The Record-- As 1.4M students return to school, N.J. education faces a year of profound change Students shuffled nervously through the doors at Smith Middle School in Ramsey Tuesday morning, trying to spot familiar faces and find their homerooms on their first day back to school. “Do you know where you’re going? I have no idea,” one blonde-ponytailed girl asked another. The girl’s reply seemed to reflect how many kids were feeling Tuesday morning. “This is going to be interesting,” she said, half-smiling. Across New Jersey, 1.4 million public school students are returning to classrooms this week in what will be a year of change, with new graduation measures, a new education commissioner and a roiling debate among Trenton lawmakers over the way schools are funded...'

Star Ledger--Armed, retired cops in N.J. schools? Not yet, says Christie CALDWELL — Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday conditionally vetoed a bill that would have put armed retired police officers in public and private schools and colleges to provide security. The governor said he's not against having special police officers designated inside New Jersey's schools, but said he wanted changes made that reflected the special nature of an educational environment...'

TRENTON TIMES-- Senate leader Sweeney touts statewide pre-K in Trenton TRENTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney visited Trenton's Grant Elementary School on Tuesday to tout his plan to expand the state's pre-kindergarten system, one day ahead of children returning to classrooms. Sweeney (D-Glocester), who is involved in a high-profile battle with Governor Christie over the state's current school funding formula, touted his plan to expand the state's pre-K system. "We're trying to expand pre-K throughout the state," Sweeney said. "The goal is to get all school districts to provide pre-K."..'

The Record--Christie uses back-to-school bill-signing to draw attention to school funding proposal Governor Christie is beginning a new school year battling an old adversary on multiple fronts. Christie used a back-to-school bill-signing event on Tuesday in Caldwell to draw attention to his plan to overhaul public school funding and once again attack the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which has vowed to fight his “Fairness Formula.” The two sides go into the courtroom Wednesday in a separate, but no less heated, dispute over health benefits...'

NJ SPOTLIGHT-- Agenda: Hespe Makes His Swan Song as Commissioner Back-to-school meeting dives into fiscal rules, puts off some other more controversial topics Date: Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 Time: 10 a.m. Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton Hespe departure: State Education Commissioner David Hespe is expected to attend his final State Board meeting in office, after announcing last week that he would be leaving by the end of the month. He is to be replaced by assistant commissioner Kimberley Harrington. Otherwise, the board is dealing with mostly procedural matters at its first meeting of the new school year, with new rules for charter schools and for superintendent pay put off for at least another month...'

9-6-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Final Year of Christie Administration Could See Big Education Battles School funding and state controls for Newark and other cities, PARCC graduation requirements and superintendent caps — It could be a bumpy ride Over the course of Gov. Christie’s administration, each year in New Jersey education policy and political intrigue seems to surpass the last...'

Star Ledger--Here's how millennials are keeping N.J. school enrollment flat Millennials: the subjects of countless think pieces about how the generation is leaving its mark on everything from politics to real estate to workplace culture. Now, their footprint is becoming visible in New Jersey's public schools, where experts say their tendency to delay marriage and parenthood is having a measurable impact on school enrollment...'

Star Ledger-- N.J. education commissioner Hespe calls it quits TRENTON — State Education Commissioner David Hespe announced his resignation Friday morning after 30 months on the job. Kimberley Harrington, the assistant commissioner and chief academic officer, will become acting education commissioner at the end of September, according to a statement released by Gov. Chris Christie's office. She will become the fifth education commissioner in seven years...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Camden schools make house calls to students on verge of dropping out .For 13 Camden kids, help with school and family life arrived in an unexpected place last fall: at home, during visits with district administrators and even the superintendent. The visits were part of a pilot program aimed at treating the root causes of problems that interfere in the lives of Camden's students and prevent them from succeeding. Spending time with the struggling students, school officials encountered more easily solvable problems, such as a student who could not get to school safely, to complicated issues such as a child who needed to move to a safer home...'

Press of Atlantic City--Newark schools reopen, not water fountains, after lead scare NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Schools are reopening in New Jersey's largest school district, but water fountains remain offline after last spring's lead scare. Officials say bottled water will be distributed for the next month at Newark's 30 schools. The district expects to reopen water fountains by October...'

9-1-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. triples weight of PARCC results in teacher evaluations TRENTON — The results of controversial standardized tests that many New Jersey students have yet to pass will carry three times as much weight in some teacher's evaluations this school year, the state announced Wednesday. Teachers in grades 4-7 whose students participate in the PARCC math tests or in grades 4-8 whose students take PARCC English exams will have 30 percent of their rating based on students' performance on the tests, an increase from 10 percent, Deputy Education Commissioner Peter Shulman said in a memo to schools...'

The Record--State appeals court says N.J. may deny access to public records Government agencies in New Jersey may deny access to public records by saying they can “neither confirm nor deny” their existence, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday. New Jersey is now the second state to adopt as law what one veteran media lawyer called “a broad and damaging secrecy tool” first used by the U.S. government during the Cold War to protect its national security interests. The other state, Indiana, has authorized “neither confirm nor deny” responses through a statute, not a court ruling...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Judge orders teachers union to court over benefit talks TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey's biggest teacher's union are again headed to a courtroom to settle differences after a judge ruled Wednesday the labor group must explain why it skipped meetings to help determine health insurance coverage and rates for public school teachers and retirees. Judge Mary Jacobson granted the New Jersey attorney general's request to require representatives from the New Jersey Education Association to explain why it missed at least two meetings this summer...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--New fund would direct millions to Camden's Renaissance schools George Norcross, the longtime Democratic power broker of South Jersey and chairman of Cooper University Health Care, on Wednesday announced the launch of a $28.5 million fund that will pay for construction and renovation of Camden's Renaissance schools. Norcross, also an insurance executive, said he would raise $5.7 million from local organizations and individuals, including $1 million from his family, and that the rest of the money will come from 4-1 matching by national philanthropic foundations. The local fund is being established by the nonprofit Charter School Growth Fund, a national venture capital fund that invests in charter schools...'

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.




Garden State Coalition of Schools
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