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7-26-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--On the Record with Arcelio Aponte, New President of State Board of Ed In his second stint in the top slot, look for Aponte to advocate for PARCC, push to lift state controls on Newark and Jersey City Arcelio Aponte is hardly new to his “new” position as president of the New Jersey state Board of Education. Elected earlier this month, this is his second stint at the helm of the board that oversees state education policy and regulation. He previously served as president from 2011-2013...'

NJ Spotlight--Running Mates: Oliver is Murphy’s Pick, Rendo Likely as Guadagno’s Former Assembly Speaker brings political experience to Democratic gubernatorial ticket, Cuban-born Republican mayor seen as appealing to Hispanic voters Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy will announce former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver as his running mate at a news conference today...'

The Atlantic--The Collateral Damage of Testing Pressure A new study shows that rigorous accountability systems may be pushing schools to place the lowest-performing teachers in the youngest grades. Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are often free of the high-stakes testing common in later grades—but those years are still high-stakes for students’ learning and development. That means it’s a big problem when schools encourage their least effective teachers to work with their youngest students. And a new study says that the pressure of school accountability systems may be encouraging exactly that...'

Education Week--Social-Emotional-Learning Researchers Gather Input From Educators Real-world advice for research agenda In the increasingly popular fields of student engagement, social-emotional learning, and school climate, educators and researchers sometimes feel like they are working in totally different worlds. While researchers tout long-term studies that show economic and academic benefits of such efforts, teachers say they sometimes struggle to apply the findings in classrooms...'

7-25-17 Education in the News
Associated Press (via Education Week)-- R.I. Schools Can Now Make Up Snow Days with At-Home Lessons Providence, R.I. School districts in Rhode Island can now make up lost time on snow days by assigning students school work at home...'

Education Week--The Next Generation Science Standards' Next Big Challenge: Finding Curricula As states wrestle with putting the Next Generation Science Standards into action, one question I'm hearing more and more: What to do about curriculum? It's also a question that's been on the mind of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which provided major support to the groups that developed the framework and standards that evolved into the NGSS. Earlier this year, it convened a group of curriculum experts, many of whom worked on curricula development for groups like the National Science Foundation. This week they're putting out a summary report on what they found...'

7-24-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Time to Take Another Crack at Closing the State’s Budget Gap? Consensus forecasting, according to advocates, could eliminate the ‘April surprise’ that sends the state scrambling to make up funds when tax collection projections don’t match reality State lawmakers are taking another crack at enacting legislation that would overhaul the way New Jersey forecasts tax collections, after the past two fiscal years ended with Gov. Chris Christie’s administration scrambling to close budget shortfalls that totaled a combined $1 billion...'

Star Ledger--Christie signs bill to create bathroom, other rights for transgender students TRENTON -- Transgender students at New Jersey's public schools were given new layers of protection under a bill that Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Friday. The legislation (S3067/A4652) -- which takes effect immediately -- requires the state education commissioner to draft specific guidelines to help schools address "the needs" of transgender students and establish policies that "ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment" for those students. Schools will be expressly told that they cannot force transgender students to use bathrooms or locker rooms that conflict with their gender identity...'

Education Week--Florida to Seek Waiver From Key ESSA Provisions Florida plans to seek a waiver from several fundamental portions of the Every Student Succeeds Act that dictate how schools handle some of the country’s most historically underperforming and disadvantaged students. But the draft request, which seeks to mostly keep intact a state school accountability system that predates the new federal K-12 law, already has inflamed civil rights advocates, and could prove an early test of how the U.S. Department of Education intends to weigh states’ bids for flexibility in the ESSA plans being submitted for approval...'

7-21-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Fine Print: NJ Revises Accountability Plan for Federal Approval Seven years after Race to the Top fiasco, Christie administration goes through federal review of its latest accountability plan What it is: New Jersey State Plan, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Amended July 14, 2017 What it means: The revised plan submitted this week to U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is part of the review process that every state is going through on their accountability plans to meet the new federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The process is painstaking — and potentially heartbreaking, as New Jersey learned seven years ago — and has involved pointed questions from the Trump administration. The eventual plan is critical to all schools; it lays out how the state will monitor students, schools, and districts...'

Star Ledger--Why some N.J. districts could lower tax rates at 'the 11th hour' TRENTON -- In 19 years as a school superintendent, Brian Zychowski can't recall a summer quite like this, he said. Zychowski's district, North Brunswick Township, finalized its 2017-18 budget in April. But, now, three months later and just seven weeks before the start of school, Zychowski has been presented a rare opportunity thanks to a state budget compromise that increased K-12 school aid by $100 million...'

Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer--Teachers union chief: School choice rooted in segregation WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of one of the country's leading teachers' unions charged Thursday that school choice, a key policy agenda of the Trump administration, is rooted in segregation and racism. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation's second largest teachers' group, said that decades ago school choice was used by officials in the South to resist desegregation...'

Education Week-- Bill With More Than $2 Billion in Teacher-Training Cuts Advances in House Lawmakers in charge of the U.S. Department of Education's budget voted Wednesday to advance a funding bill that cuts $2.4 billion from the agency's budget, with most of that reduction coming through the elimination of a major program focused on teachers. The GOP-backed bill approved by the House appropriations committee on Wednesday by a 28-22 vote cuts the department's budget to $66 billion. That's a less-severe cut than the spending blueprint floated by President Donald Trump in May that includes a $9.2 billion reduction. House Republicans followed the Trump budget's lead and cut the $2 billion Title II program that covers teacher training, as well as class-size reductions...'

7-20-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--TCNJ receives $91K federal grant to train teachers EWING -- The College of New Jersey has been awarded a $91,000 federal grant to provide environmental education training to local teachers. The college was one of about 30 selected for the Environmental Protection Agency's grant nationwide...'

The Record-- Editorial: No amount of lead is good America’s worries about a tainted water supply first came to the forefront a couple of years ago in Flint, Michigan, but they have spread quickly, and now, they have spread to Bergen County. Lead has been detected in more than half of the water fountains and sinks in 47 school districts tested in Bergen County, according to a report by Environment New Jersey, an advocacy group. As Staff Writer Scott Fallon reported, the majority of districts surveyed had at least one water fountain or sink where lead readings exceeded 15 parts per billion – the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency that requires districts to take action...'

The Atlantic--Will Churches Ever Be Allowed to Run Charter Schools? Some legal scholars say Trinity Lutheran v. Comer could forge a path toward more charter schools overseen by religious groups...'

Education Week--Share of Girls Taking AP Computer Science Tests Grew in 2017 Girls' participation in AP Computer Science tests boomed last year—largely thanks to a brand-new, broader course offering with less of an emphasis on programming. All in all, about 29,700 girls took either the AP Computer Science A test or a new exam that debuted this year, AP Computer Science Principles, according to the data released by Code.org, a nonprofit supporting computer science education. More than 111,000 students took the test in all, twice as many as the previous year...'

7-19-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--How the original purpose of charter schools is working in Newark    Opinion
It's often noted that the original vision for charter schools, championed by legendary teachers' union leader Al Shanker and others, was that they'd be "laboratories of innovation" whose lessons could inform the broader system. It hasn't worked out that way. Instead, the relationship between charters and district schools has been acrimonious and competitive. But in Newark, quietly, with little fanfare, a course is being charted back to that original vision...'

Education Week--Why Betsy DeVos and ALEC Are Natural Allies on School Choice U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—an ardent school choice supporter who has turned out to be among the Trump administration’s most polarizing cabinet picks—will deliver a speech this week to members of a controversial organization that some argue is her best shot at advancing an aggressive school choice agenda...'

7-18-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Lead in Water Remains Pervasive Problem in New Jersey Schools More than half the school districts in Bergen County have lead — a dangerous neurotoxin — in faucets and other fixtures The state’s top infrastructure priority ought to be getting the lead out of drinking water in schools, a problem exemplified by half the school districts in one county showing some lead levels in outlets, an environmental group said yesterday...'

NJ Spotlight--Christie’s Charter Legacy: A Clear Record of Growth In the eight years the governor has headed up state government, charter school enrollment has more than doubled When Gov. Chris Christie leaves office in six months, one of his clear legacies will be the growth of charter schools in New Jersey, with school enrollment more than doubling in his eight years in office. Yesterday, his administration finished the job, announcing the final approval of five more schools to open this fall. That brings to 89 the number of charters that will be open when Christie steps down in January...'

The Record—Editorial: Lottery-pension deal good for Jersey Pension funding and the solvency of New Jersey’s public pension system has been a crushing taxpayer burden and our state’s greatest fiscal challenge. After decades of rosy assumptions and underfunding, the state system had run up an estimated unfunded liability of $49 billion, constraining New Jersey’s budget and viewed by Wall Street rating agencies and bondholders as a fiscal albatross on the State’s finances...'

The Atlantic--Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country's Schools Are public schools generally meeting Americans’ expectations? Or are they teetering on the brink of failure? Each year, parents responding to the Phi Delta Kappan poll report high levels of satisfaction with their kids’ education. Asked to assign letter grades to their children’s schools, the vast majority of parents—generally around 70 percent—issue As and Bs. If those ratings were compiled the way a student’s grade point average is calculated, the public schools would collectively get a B. When asked to rate the nation’s schools, however, respondents are far less sanguine. Reflecting on public schools in general, a similar share of respondents—roughly 70 percent—confer a C or D. Again calculated as a GPA, America’s schools get a C or C-...'

7-17-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J.'s 25 highest paid superintendents, up to $297K TRENTON — More than 20 New Jersey school superintendents made more than $200,000 in base pay last school year, despite a state salary cap aimed at reining in administrative salaries, according to new state data. The 2016-17 school year was the final year under Gov. Chris Christie's initial superintendent salary cap, which limited pay for most superintendents to no more than $175,000. A revised cap that went into effect in May raised that bar to about $191,500 with incentives to earn more if school chiefs stay in the same district...'

New York Times--There is widespread concern about over-testing in schools. Yet we need all students to take the right tests if low-income and minority children are to have a good shot at a quality college education. The two standard college admission tests — the SAT and the ACT — could be administered universally and free of charge to students...

Education Week--Prospects Seem Dim for Trump School Choice Initiative This Year Members of her own party appeared to deal a major blow to that goal Thursday, when the House panel charged with overseeing education spending approved a bill that doesn't include two of DeVos' big budget asks: using an education research program to offer school vouchers, and allowing Title I dollars to follow students to the school of their choice...

Education Week--Principals Are Loath to Give Teachers Bad Ratings Principals continue to rate nearly all teachers as “effective,” despite states’ efforts in recent years to make evaluations tougher, two new studies show. And there’s good evidence that those scores are inflated: When principals are asked their opinions of teachers in confidence and with no stakes attached, they’re much more likely to give harsh ratings, the researchers found...

7-14-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--What's next for underfunded school district? Sweeney will talk about it tonight WOOLWICH TWP. -- Kingsway Regional High School will host state officials to mark the successful start of the school funding reform plan that will increase aid to many underfunded districts, including Kingsway who will see a four percent increase this upcoming school year. Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro will join with local officials, educators and community members to discuss the new state budget. The budget will add $150 million in aid and reallocate $30 million to underfunded districts as the first step towards full funding...'

The Record-- America sees alarming spike in middle school suicide rate America is experiencing a striking rise in suicide among middle school students. The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014, for the first time surpassing the death rate in that age group from car crashes. In 2014 alone, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives, including five in New Jersey. "It’s alarming. We’re even getting cases involving 8- and 9-year olds,” said Clark Flatt, who started the Jason Foundation in Tennessee 20 years ago to help educate teachers about teen suicide after his 16-year-old son took his own life. “It’s scary. This isn’t an emerging problem – it’s here.”...

Education Week--As Schools Tackle Poverty, Attendance Goes Up, But Academic Gains Are Tepid P.S. 123, a K-8 school in Harlem, had been a chaotic place when Melitina Hernandez arrived as principal in 2013. Students would often run out of class to get attention. Staff members sometimes dodged confrontational parents. The school had old computers and tattered textbooks. So Hernandez and her staff set out to make big changes with a $4 million grant from the state. They started with upgrading technology and other classroom amenities. They also turned their attention to the needs of the school’s large population of homeless children. Then their efforts kicked into higher gear in 2014 when P.S. 123 became part of New York City’s broad efforts to turn around dozens of low-performing schools by injecting them with a range of health, social-emotional, and academic support services for students and their families...

7-13-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Now It’s Official: Harrington (Finally) Sworn in as Education Commissioner She’s spent nine months doing the job, and now that she has the title it may be short lived: Christie’s term runs out in six months It got little notice and may not last all that long, but yesterday Kimberley Harrington finally won the full title that has gone with her job for nearly the past year: New Jersey’s commissioner of education...'

Philadelphia Inquirer—Op-Ed: Council should follow New Jersey's lead in helping students interact with police I don’t often say this, but it’s time for Philadelphia legislators to look across the river and model a recent decision by New Jersey legislators. The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a law that would require school districts to teach students how to talk and interact with police officers. Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) was the primary sponsor and likened her vision to schools reinforcing the interaction many African-American parents have with their kids to lessen tensions with police, particularly during car stops...'

Associated Press (via The Press of Atlantic City)--Detroit school district may rethink charter schools DETROIT (AP) — Detroit school officials may decide to stop authorizing and overseeing charter schools in order to focus on improving traditional public schools...'

NPR: On Education, The States Ask: Now What? The new federal education law is supposed to return to the states greater control over their public schools. But judging from the mood recently at the annual conference of the Education Commission of the States, the states are anything but optimistic about the future, or about the new law. The apprehension reminded me of the 1989 education summit convened by President George H.W. Bush. Back then the goal was to persuade governors to adopt a set of national education goals. All but a couple of states bought into the idea of "systemic change" with support from the federal government...'

Education Week--House Education Spending Plan's Cuts Less Severe Than Trump Budget UPDATED The House spending bill that would fund the U.S. Department of Education for the coming budget year seems to mostly ignore the school choice proposals put forward by President Donald Trump and would cut overall spending at the U.S. Department of Education by less that the president proposes. However, the budget appears to cut Title II funding for teacher training, which currently stands at about $2 billion. That is in harmony with the Trump budget, which also seeks to scrap the program...'

7-12-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--The best counties for kids in N.J., ranking all 21 Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) released its annual Kids Count county profiles and pocket guide on Monday, comparing the state’s 21 counties across 12 measures of child well-being and providing 5-year child trend data at the state and county level. The group didn't provide a cumulative rank for each county this year, but it did evaluate these counties across four domains: child and family economics, child health, safety and well-being, and education. NJ Advance Media then averaged each of the ranks of N.J.'s 21 counties in these four domains to establish a cumulative rank...

Washington Post—Op-Ed: What today’s education reformers can learn from Henry David Thoreau Snobbish elitism will hurt their cause. When educators lose touch with regular people, they turn to less effective methods, such as high-stakes testing. As a young schoolteacher in the 1830s, Henry David Thoreau took his students to meadows and rivers to observe the plant and animal world. They also visited the local newspaper in Concord, Mass., to watch how printers set type. But writing from Walden Pond, where Thoreau moved after his brief teaching stint, he ridiculed the broad public that actually read the paper. “I am sure,” Thoreau declared, “that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper.”...'

7-11-17 Education in the News
The Record--Editorial: School funding winners and losers The best news to come out the state budget deal brokered last week was the $150 million increase in state aid to schools. It is the first time the state is embracing a 2008 law that sought to bring more equity to the distribution of state monies for public education. What was agreed upon last week is a start toward that goal. Like all deals, there were winners and losers...'

Washington Post—Op-Ed: Chicago will require high school students to have a plan after graduation. Good. THE JOB of K-12 education traditionally has been considered complete when students walk across the stage to get their diploma. That is about to change in Chicago with an ambitious, and controversial, initiative requiring public school students to have a post-graduation plan to earn a diploma. Chicago leaders are right to make official what long has been recognized — the need for more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy — and, more importantly, to accept responsibility for helping students meet that challenge...'

The Atlantic--One School's Quest for Personalized Public Education A San Diego-area high school hopes a new program based on individual interests will keep more students in class. Will it work? SAN DIEGO—To understand just how far Vista High School will go to keep kids interested in school, consider the case of 17-year-old Hernan Hernandez and his skateboard. Hernan, an avid skateboarder, was bored in gym class. So were his classmates. So, late this spring, Hernan approached Principal Anthony Barela with a potential solution: What about offering them a skateboarding course instead?...'

Education Week--Just 20 Percent of K-12 Students Are Learning a Foreign Language Arguing that the inability to communicate in any language but English constitutes a threat to the nation's economic and military security, two recent studies have painted a grim picture of foreign-language education in the nation's K-12 schools. The reports from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and American Councils for International Education found that public schools and state departments of education are struggling to find qualified world language instructors and unequipped to track local and national trends on language learning...'

7-10-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight—Money Still Makes Biggest Difference to Kids’ Wellbeing in NJ But even wealthiest counties can improve in some ways while the poorest do surprisingly well in some aspects of education, health, and safety Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s annual Kids Count report on the state’s counties has a different look, but the same basic message: wealth makes a difference when it comes to the education, health, and safety of children...'

Star Ledger--5 things parents & students should know about N.J.'s new education budget TRENTON — The dust has settled on New Jersey's final 2018 budget, approved earlier this week after a political standoff and three-day government shutdown. Education funding, including the expansion of pre-kindergarten, was a key part of the negotiations. Here's what parents and students should know about the state's spending plan...'

NY Times--DeVos’s Hard Line on New Education Law Surprises States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike...'

Education Week--Too Few ELL Students Land in Gifted Classes Linnea Van Eman, the gifted education coordinator for the Tulsa school district, sees too many gifted students who simply don't have the language skills to show what they can do. The 36,000-student Oklahoma district has been pushing hard to bring more students from traditionally underrepresented groups—and English-language learners in particular—into its gifted program. Using a combination of more-diverse testing, greater parent outreach, and closer observation, Van Eman and her teachers are working to fill equity gaps in the district's advanced programs...'

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

RELATED LINKS

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

LETTER TO LEGISLATURE, GOV. CHRISTIE AND STATE OFFICIALS

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