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Please Note - NEW GSCS EMAIL ADDRESS--Effective Immediately
Click on More below for GSCS' full contact information (new email address is gscschools@gmail.com), as well as for Lynne Strickland's email and contact information.
6-24-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Interactive Map: Taking the Portfolio Review Route to Graduation So far, some 10,000 students who did not pass PARCC or an alternative test have submitted a portfolio of their work to meet graduation requirements As high school seniors continue to receive diplomas and flip their tassels throughout New Jersey, it remains unclear as yet what effect the controversial PARCC exam will have on graduation rates. More than 10,000 high school seniors, roughly 11 percent of those enrolled in 12th grade this year, had completed, as of June 1, a special portfolio review process in order to be able to graduate this month, according to data the Education Law Center received from the state Department of Education. This appeals process was available to students who did not pass the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or another test that could serve as the requirement for graduation...'

Star Ledger--Christie starts his school funding plan tour at kitchen table instead of town hall SOUTH PLAINFIELD — Two days after Chris Christie unveiled his controversial proposal to drastically overhaul New Jersey's school funding system, the governor made good on his promise to pitch his plan directly to voters. But he started small. The governor sat at the kitchen table of a South Plainfield couple's modest home on Thursday to personally lobby them to support his proposal. The event, dubbed by the governor's office as a "conversation with taxpayers," was a far cry from Christie's most often used method to get his message out to voters: The town hall meeting...'

Star Ledger--How would Christie's school funding plan affect charter schools? TRENTON — While New Jersey's urban school districts could be forced to slash spending and perhaps shutter schools under Gov. Chris Christie's proposed funding overhaul, charter schools in the same communities might be spared negative financial consequences. Christie said this week that his "fairness formula" — which he acknowledged may be unlikely to win approval — would not carry over to funding to the state's charter schools...'

Courier Post (Cherry Hill)--Would Christie's school aid plan cut taxes in your town? Homeowners in almost half of all municipalities in the tri-county region wouldn't see even a penny of property tax relief under a sweeping plan to reshuffle school funding that Gov. Chris Christie unveiled this week. The "Fairness Formula" he introduced Tuesday would redistribute school aid from urban and poor communities, which receive a majority of the aid under the current formula. The result: Every district would get an equal amount of aid per student, regardless of the financial need...'

6-23-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Q&A with Gov. Christie About His Radical School Funding Plan ‘Monumental change’ is how governor describes his reform, but will it meet monumental opposition? Gov. Chris Christie’s plan this week to dismantle New Jersey’s school-funding formula and replace it with a uniform allotment to every district -- regardless of wealth or poverty -- has drawn far more questions than answers...'

Star Ledger--Black and Hispanic students would suffer under Christie school aid plan Gov. Chris Christie's plan to institute a standard school aid figure across all districts would disproportionally harm schools in poor black and Hispanic communities, an analysis by NJ Advance Media has found. On Tuesday, Christie pushed the idea of implementing a flat rate of $6,599 per pupil across all public school districts, a proposal that would upend the education funding system, roll back court-ordered protections for struggling districts and provide substantial property tax relief to many towns across the state...'

The Record—Op-Ed--Stile: Why did Christie pick this fight? School aid battle a big reversal and seems unwinnable Governor Christie’s “fairness” plan for funding public schools – slashing aid to poor urban schools and distributing it to suburban districts — already appears doomed in the Legislature controlled by Democrats. Senate President Steve Sweeney, the Gloucester County Democrat, called it unfair and unconstitutional. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, says it would harm the state’s most vulnerable children. So why is Christie, an unpopular lame-duck governor, suddenly eager to shop this reverse Robin Hood funding plan to the suburban Republican base? Why now is Christie, who before he campaigned for president proclaimed that urban education is the “new civil rights issue of today,” suddenly calling for Draconian aid cuts to cities like Newark and Camden, which he once touted as laboratories of reform?..'

NY Times--Revamping Community Colleges to Improve Graduation Rates Offer students a less confusing array of courses. Require fewer remedial classes to improve students’ basic math and English skills. Or find a way to pair these not-for-credit courses with others that would provide progress toward a degree. Provide more personal advice. And lower the cost. While some of these steps might seem more obvious than others, they are among the changes community colleges across the country are making in hopes of ensuring that more students graduate...'

6-22-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Gov. Christie’s School-Funding Plan: Bold or Botched -- or Both? All students getting the same would be fine in the leafy suburbs, but poorer districts would end up hemorrhaging money -- and teachers It’s hard to say whether Gov. Chris Christie and his proposal yesterday to blow up the state’s school-funding formula for a simple everyone-gets-the-same plan is bold or delusional...'

Star Ledger--Christie: Give all school districts same amount of aid, provide some towns property tax relief HILLSBOROUGH — In a proposal that would drastically overhaul New Jersey's school funding system, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday outlined a plan which would give every school district the exact same amount of state aid per student. Christie, in a speech at Hillsborough High School, introduced the "Fairness Formula," which would provide $6,599 per student for each district, a proposal he said would significantly reduce aid to urban districts while lowering property taxes in many suburban towns...'

Star Ledger--Democrats to Christie on his school funding shake-up: No way TRENTON — The sweeping overhaul of the school funding formula Gov. Chris Christie announced on Tuesday requires the New Jersey Legislature to let voters adopt it by amending the state constitution in November 2017. But judging from the immediate reaction from the Democrats who control the Statehouse, the governor should expect a bitter fight. "This plan is unfair, it is unjust and it is blatantly unconstitutional," according to a statement by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and state Sen. Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee...'

6-21-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Is Lakewood on the Verge of a Meltdown? The former resort town is struggling with city-size problems: overstressed infrastructure, underfinanced schools, and growing social tensions The Ocean County town of Lakewood is New Jersey’s fastest-growing municipality, thanks to a soaring number of Orthodox Jews who have moved there from New York. Located about 10 miles from the shore, it’s more than doubled in size over the past two decades and is on pace to become the state’s third largest city by 2030...'

NJ Spotlight--Checking in on the South Hunterdon School Consolidation The regionalization is running smoothly, but required more work than anybody involved ever imagined In the state’s first school consolidation in two decades, South Hunterdon’s merger of four school districts in 2013 has proven to be an example of both the good and the difficult in school regionalization...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Children's lot is worse in Pennsylvania, better in New Jersey, report says For the second consecutive year, the well-being of Pennsylvania's children slipped in a national ranking based on health, education, poverty, and family and community connections, while New Jersey moved up a notch, boosted by major improvements in the health of its youth. Among states overall, New Jersey came in seventh; in terms of education alone, it was second, trailing only Massachusetts...'

6-20-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Op-Ed: Striving for Student Success, Not Just Proficiency According to one assessment, PARCC is a better predictor of college success than other tests that are supposed to do the same thing We live in a world of hyperbole where everything is “amazing” or “the best” or “the greatest ever” so it’s refreshing to see an educational tool do exactly what it was designed to do -- without the exaggeration or qualifiers. The standardized assessment PARCC test is actually telling us whether students are ready for college or to enter the workforce...'

Education Week: The 'Maker' Movement Is Coming to K-12: Can Schools Get It Right? For fans of hands-on, student-driven learning, the migration of maker education into the highly regulated world of K-12 education is a step in the right direction. But how well will it work? The maker movement is going mainstream, migrating from museums, garages, and informal "faires" into the highly regulated world of K-12 education. For fans of hands-on, student-driven learning, the shift presents an opportunity to breathe fresh life into old teaching philosophies. And for the maker community, too often focused on the interests of middle-class white men and boys, the move into public schools marks a chance to diversify. But as districts rush to embrace the trend, some key observers are also worried. Can schools, with their standards, state tests, and bell schedules, maintain the do-it-yourself, only-if-you-want-to ethos that fueled making's popularity in the first place?..'

6-17-16 Education in the News
NY Times—Editorial: The Building Blocks of Learning The ancient Greeks had different words for different kinds of love — like Ludus (playful love), Pragma (longstanding love) and Agape (universal love). Sixteen hundred years ago, Augustine argued that the essence of a good life is choosing the right things to love and loving them well. But over the past several centuries our models of human behavior have amputated love. Hobbes and other philosophers argued that society is a machine driven by selfishness. Enlightenment philosophers emphasized reason over emotion. Contemporary social science was built on the idea that we’re self-interested, calculating creatures. This philosophical shift has caused unimaginable harm, especially in the sphere of education...'
6-15-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Should N.J. preschool teachers be paid the same as K-12 teachers? CLIFTON — Sitting on a carpet with a dozen 4- and 5-year olds, John King Jr. spent his Tuesday morning drawing pictures and singing about five little ducks that went "quack, quack, quack." But the U.S. Secretary of Education didn't visit the Clifton Early Learner Academy just to play monsters and Power Rangers as students requested. On the day the federal education department released a new report highlighting the wage gap between K-12 and preschool teachers, King presented the Clifton school as a model public preschool program where teachers are paid the same as elementary school staff. "This investment in salaries is also an investment in retaining talent and making it possible for people to make a life as early learning educators," said King, flanked by a young preschool teacher...'

Star Ledger--Thousands of N.J. high school students file appeals to graduate TRENTON — After controversial changes to New Jersey's high school graduation requirements, about five times as many students than last year have filed last-resort appeals to earn their diploma and at least hundreds more were still not eligible to graduate as of May 31, according to state data. The 10,323 portfolio appeals approved so far by the state Department of Education represent a sizable surge in the number of students using the appeals process. In most previous years, about 2,000 students filed an appeal, department spokesman David Saenz said...'

6-14-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Nine More Charters Advance Through Phase I of Application Process Contenders include schools from three suburban towns, added to the mix of charters from urban centers As Gov. Chris Christie continues to trumpet charter school growth in the state, his administration yesterday announced another nine schools have advanced through the first phase of the application process...'

Herald News—Editorial: School funding New Jersey's state aid funding formula for K-12 education has been a hit-and-miss proposition for decades, and particularly since Governor Christie came into office. The Legislature, too, has been reluctant to make any lasting commitment to fully and adequately fund school districts across the state. The result has been that while some districts have received excess funding under the existing formula, others — including Clifton and Paterson — have been forced to make painful cuts to programs and staff. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, unveiled a plan last week that he believes will alleviate some of the pain, a proposal that would increase state schools' aid by $100 million per year over five years...'

Star Ledger--Why Obama's top education official is visiting N.J. CLIFTON — The nation's top education official is coming to New Jersey on Tuesday to promote the importance of early childhood education. John King Jr., the U.S. secretary of education, is scheduled to visit Clifton Early Learner Academy, where he will shadow a preschool teacher. The academy receives a portion of a federal grant awarded to New Jersey for high-quality preschool programs. King, a former New York state education commissioner, will participate in a discussion about early education, according to the U.S. Department of Education...' The Press of Atlantic City--Time for South Jersey districts to shuffle their school chiefs As students clean out their desks and lockers for the summer, a number of local school superintendents are doing the same...'

Education Week--The Evolution of the 'Chartered School' 25 years on, the movement has expanded, shifted, and evolved Twenty-five years ago this month, tucked in a voluminous education funding bill headed to the Minnesota governor’s desk, was a quirky and contentious idea to allow teachers and parents to create a new kind of public school—chartered schools. With a stroke of his pen, then-Gov. Arne Carlson signed into existence a movement that has grown over the last quarter-century into a national juggernaut: a charter school sector with thousands of schools, millions of students, a cadre of deep-pocketed benefactors, dozens of advocacy groups, and sophisticated networks of schools that in some cases dwarf the nation’s average-size school district. Although charter school students only make up about 5 percent of the 50 million K-12 public school students in the country, charters have posed the only credible competition to the traditional system of public schooling. While the growth of charters has mostly been in large urban districts, in 14 of those cities, such as San Antonio, Detroit, and Philadelphia, charters now enroll at least 30 percent of children in public schools...'

6-13-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Sweeney on School Funding: Q&A with the State Senate President Sweeney’s proposed plan calls for a four-member commission and an up or down vote on its recommendations. Here’s his thinking on the issue It’s hard to overstate the importance of school funding to New Jersey’s future. The last time such a critical issue was left to a single commission to recommend a solution was in 1947, with epic changes to the state’s constitution at stake. This time, Senate President Steve Sweeney has proposed a plan for a new State School Funding Fairness Commission to bring the state in line with its landmark School Funding Reform Act...'

Star Ledger--N.J. school funding is a hot mess. Sweeney plans a sensible fix    Editorial
Each year, Trenton doles out about $9 billion in aid to local schools, the biggest item in the state budget, and the most important by far. But who gets how much? That may be the most contentious issue in New Jersey politics. The dispersals are supposed to follow a formula established in 2008. But politics intervened, as legislators sought advantage for their home districts. After eight years of such tweaks, we have a mess on our hands...'

6-10-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Fine Print: Sweeney Proposes Commission to Report on School Funding Task force to report in year on inequities in funding, followed by five years to implement recommendations What it is: State Senate President Steve Sweeney yesterday unveiled a bill to create the School Aid Funding Fairness Commission to present within a year a plan for fully funding New Jersey’s School Finance Reform Act -- the prime pump for state aid for public schools -- within five years...'

NJ Spotlight--Interactive Map: 1M Students Explore Broad Palette of Arts Classes at NJ Schools Almost all elementary and middle-school students took at least some arts classes in 2014-2015, according to new report More than half of New Jersey high school students took classes in the arts during the past school year, with more than 1 million at all grade levels participating in public school arts programs, according to a new report. The analysis of state Department of Education data by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership also found that 89 percent of middle-schoolers and 94 percent of elementary students received at least some arts education in the 2014-2015 school year...'

Star Ledger--Winners and losers in high-stakes N.J. pension ruling TRENTON — The state Supreme Court on Thursday morning upheld a 2011 pension reform law that stripped public workers of their annual cost-of-living adjustments. The ruling spared the state, its taxpayers and the public pension fund itself some financial pain, but it's a big loss for public workers who have no guarantee when, or if, the COLAs will be restored...'

6-9-16 Education in the News
Education Week--Teachers Still Struggling to Use Tech to Transform Instruction, Survey Finds Many teachers see themselves as risk takers or early adopters in using tech, a new Education Week Research Center survey shows. A majority of K-12 educators responding to a new survey see themselves as risk takers or early adopters in using technology. But the exclusive survey, conducted by the Education Week Research Center for this year's edition of Technology Counts, found that teachers, on the whole, still face systemic challenges in adapting their instruction to new technologies in transformative ways...'

NY Times: New York City to Help Blacks and Hispanics Attend Elite High Schools The New York City Education Department is expected to announce a plan on Thursday to help black and Hispanic students gain acceptance to some of the most competitive high schools...'

6-8-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Dueling Plans to Fix Public Pension System, One with a ‘Safety Valve’ Democrats and unions are cool to Republican O’Scanlon’s offering, which allows governors to skip or skimp on payments if financial projections are off Democratic leaders want the voters to decide this fall whether the state should make a series of hefty contributions to the underfunded public-employee pension system. But Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) wants voters to consider a different pension funding proposal. He claims that his scheme would eliminate the possibility of new tax hikes or drastic cuts to state programs...'

Washington Post--Is this part of Teach for America’s rejuvenation effort — or a PR stunt? Prospective Teach for America candidates mix with current TFA teachers in an exchange at Templeton Elementary School in Riverdale, Md., on April 12. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post) Things aren’t going all that well for Teach for America, what with recruitment significantly down and the bloom off of its rosy cachet, so it is now trying to rejuvenate, so to speak. This story by my Post colleague Emma Brown spells it out, noting that applications have fallen 35 percent during the past three years and that the organization is working to find new ways to attract recruits and putting a broader mission front and center...'

6-7-16 Education in the News
The Record--N.J. Assembly committee OKs pension payment proposal New Jersey Democratic lawmakers moved another step closer Monday toward asking voters to require that state make pension payments for public employees on a quarterly basis. The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 along party lines to advance a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would place the issue on the ballot in November. The measure now goes to a full vote in the Assembly...'

NY Times--Where Nearly Half of Pupils Are Homeless, School Aims to Be Teacher, Therapist, Even Santa There are supposed to be 27 children in Harold Boyd IV’s second-grade classroom, but how many of them will be there on a given day is anyone’s guess. Since school began in September, five new students have arrived and eight children have left. Two transferred out in November. One who started in January was gone in April. A boy showed up for a single day in March, and then never came back. Even now, in the twilight of the school year, new students are still arriving, one as recently as mid-May. At Public School 188, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, students churn relentlessly in and out. Administrators estimate that nearly half the students enrolled at the school do not last the full year. And how could it be otherwise?..'

6-6-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Christie Isn’t Ready to Talk About Expiring Caps on Superintendent Salaries Caps will sunset in November of this year, but governor doesn’t expect to start thinking about issue before October The move in mid-2010 was one his boldest to date, when Gov. Chris Christie pretty much unilaterally imposed new salary limits on New Jersey’s school superintendents, capping them at his own salary of $175,000. Before that, the superintendent slot had long been among the more lucrative in New Jersey’s public sector, with salaries well above $200,000 hardly unusual, even for a relatively small district...'

Star Ledger--Which N.J. towns pay the highest school tax bills? The average New Jersey homeowner paid $4,372 in school taxes in 2015, but residents of many towns saw significantly higher bills, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Across the state, 15 municipalities had an average residential school tax bill higher than $10,000, according to the state data. There were 49 townships, boroughs, cities or villages where the average amount paid by residential property owners was higher than $8,000...'

6-2-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Assemblywoman Caride to Head Lower House’s Education Committee Influential seat goes to relative newcomer to state’s take-no-prisoner education debates Assemblywoman Marlene Caride is a relative novice to New Jersey’s rancorous debates over education policy. The five-year Democratic legislator has sponsored a few bills dealing with Internet privacy in schools and the extent of online testing. But serving on committees like insurance, transportation and commerce, the southern Bergen County assemblywoman has not been a big voice in the big issues that dominate the state’s debates over public education...'

Star Ledger--Christie vows continued support of charter schools in N.J. TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie championed his message that charters schools are a boon to urban communities across the state during a visit to Village Charter School in Trenton Wednesday. During a roundtable, several parents spoke highly of the school's social and emotionally nurturing environment. Christie's visit comes on the heels of last week's New Jersey Charter School's Conference in Atlantic City, where sweeping reforms that would benefit charter schools were unveiled...'

6-1-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Agenda: Career-Tech Education Gets Special Board Meeting More talk to come on teacher evaluation and graduation requirements, but no charter regulations yet Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Time: 9 a.m. Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton State Board’s other role: By statute, the state Board of Education also serves as the state Board of Career and Technical Education, and the latter will hold a special meeting starting at 9 a.m. this morning to hear the current status of that education sector. Included will be presentations from both business and education leaders. Back to other business: Starting at 11 a.m., the state Board will be back to its usual agenda and covering some old ground. The board holds more discussion and its first public testimony on new teacher evaluation rules, and also takes more testimony on the controversial graduation requirements that would mean passing the state’s new PARCC tests..."

Education Week—Proposed ESSA Rules Aim to Walk Fine Line on Accountability In their proposed rules on school accountability, federal officials are attempting to walk a fine and aggressively scrutinized line. They say they've tried to offer the meaningful flexibility to states and districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act that many say the law requires, while answering the call to make sure that all students are accounted for and given appropriate, equitable support..."

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

RELATED LINKS

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

LETTER TO LEGISLATURE, GOV. CHRISTIE AND STATE OFFICIALS

Garden State Coalition of Schools
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