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3-29-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. teachers union aims to oust Sweeney as Senate president TRENTON -- As its longtime foe, Gov. Chris Christie, prepares to exit the governorship next January, New Jersey's largest teachers union is also pushing to get rid of the state's highest ranking lawmaker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper reported Monday that the New Jersey Education Association is weighing many options to oust Sweeney, a south Jersey Democrat whom the union is criticizing as someone who has frequently collaborated with Christie, a Republican, over the last seven years. "We're looking for a new governor and a new Senate president," NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer told the Inquirer...'

Associated Press (via ABC News)--Ivanka Trump, Education Secretary DeVos promote STEM careers Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday exhorted young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, saying those fields will provide the jobs and innovation for the future. Their tour of the National Air and Space Museum with a group of middle school students came as the Trump administration proposed further cuts to education and science, drawing harsh criticism from teachers' unions and others...'

Education Week-- The Challenge of Creating Schools That 'Work for Everybody' When the bell rings at Wheaton North High School, a river of white students flows into Advanced Placement classrooms. A trickle of brown and black students joins them. But mostly, the Latino, African-American, and Asian teenagers file into lower-rung classes. In this way, Wheaton North is like thousands of other high schools across the country, replicating along its polished hallways the inequities that mark the daily lives of minority and low-income students beyond the school's big glass doors. Studies show, in fact, that achievement gaps within schools can be greater than those from school to school...'

3-28-17 Education in the News
Washington Post (via Chicago Tribune)--Trump signs bills overturning Obama-era education regulations President Donald Trump signed bills Monday overturning two Obama-era education regulations, continuing the Republican majority's effort to undo key pieces of the previous administration's legacy. Trump's move scraps new requirements for programs that train new K-12 teachers and rolls back a set of rules outlining how states must carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan federal law meant to hold schools accountable for student performance. In a signing ceremony at the White House on Monday, the president hailed the measures for "removing an additional layer of bureaucracy to encourage freedom in our schools."...'

Education Week--Betsy DeVos: States Should Decide How Much Testing Is "Actually Necessary" U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a video interview that it should be up to states and districts to decide how frequently to test their students. "It's really a matter for states and locales to determine how much testing is actually necessary for measuring what students are learning," DeVos said Friday. "I think it's important to know and understand, however, what they are learning, and it's important for parents to have that information, so that they can be assured that their students are in the right place. ... Testing is an important part of the equation, but I think it's really a matter for the states to wrestle with, to decide how and how frequently the testing is actually done."...'

3-27-7 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Will NJ Schools Be Affected by U.S. Top Court Ruling on Special Ed? State already answers to higher legal standard, but federal ruling should re-emphasize that minimum progress is not enough for special-needs students When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 last week in favor of raising standards for special education nationwide, the decision was widely applauded by parent and children advocates. But when it comes to how much the ruling will directly impact New Jersey, the answer is a bit more complicated...'

Star Ledger-- During the first two years of New Jersey's new standardized tests, state education officials said they knew they had a problem: Students who didn't care about the exams could blow them off without repercussions.

But, on Monday, state math and English tests begin again. And this time there are real stakes...'

NY Times--College Is the Goal. The Problem? Getting There. TOPEKA, Kan. — She was a blur of motion — leading the school step-dance team, working long hours after school at a beauty products store, mentoring younger students and caring for her siblings. So TaTy’Terria Gary, a senior at Topeka High School, had little time last fall to study for the ACT college admission test. She was crushed when she scored below the threshold for admission to some local universities. She saw her dreams of being the first in her family to go to college and becoming a gynecologist turning to dust. “I was angry at myself,” she said. “I had underestimated the test.”...'

Education Week--With Hacking in Headlines, K-12 Cybersecurity Ed. Gets More Attention Amid a steady drumbeat of reports on cyber-espionage and election-related hackings, lawmakers are wrestling with questions of how to best protect the country from digital threats and address a severe shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers. That means new attention for nascent efforts to support cybersecurity education, including in K-12 schools...'

3-24-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Opinion: Finding the Right Fit for Charters and Special-Needs Students Accusations that charters don’t want to deal with special-ed costs and challenges are getting us — and our children — nowhere Within the foxholes of New Jersey’s charter school wars, the target de jour is special education, specifically the accusation by school-choice opponents that alternative public schools intentionally discriminate against children with special needs. In posh Princeton, the charter school there just received approval to expand its enrollment by 76 students, and a primary line of attack is that Princeton Charter School enrolls far fewer students with disabilities...'

The Atlantic--How a New Supreme Court Ruling Could Affect Special Education Advocates for students with disabilities argue the decision could help millions of children. In a stunning 8-0 decision in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a higher standard of education for children with disabilities. Advocates and parents say the case dramatically expands the rights of special-education students in the United States, creates a nationwide standard for special education, and empowers parents as they advocate for their children in schools. But critics say the decision will not have any impact on schools, arguing that the vast majority already provide a good education for those kids...'

Education Week--Parents See Benefits in Spec. Ed. Vouchers, But No Silver Bullet While the senators were lecturing, Tera Myers was fuming. Myers, the mother of an adult son with Down syndrome, had traveled to Washington to support Betsy DeVos, then the nominee for U.S. secretary of education, during her confirmation hearing. DeVos, a staunch supporter of school choice programs such as vouchers, faced pointed questioning from skeptical lawmakers at the January hearing. Several of them said that such options leave students with disabilities behind...'

3-23-17 Education in the News
Press of Atlantic City--HonorScholars program would give college scholarships to more NJ students A proposed state scholarship program would revamp NJSTARS, increasing the number of eligible students and the money they would receive to attend college in New Jersey. But the plan could face the same funding problems that ultimately led to cutbacks in the program it would replace. The new NJ HonorScholars Program would cover tuition costs for high school graduates in the top 20 percent of their classes who attend a two-year community college...'

NY Times--Supreme Court Rejects Education Minimum Applied by Gorsuch The justices said Wednesday that schools should not be satisfied with minimal educational progress for students with disabilities. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times WASHINGTON — Schools may not settle for minimal educational progress by disabled students, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, rejecting a standard that some lower courts have applied, and that the nominee to join the high court, Neil M. Gorsuch, has been criticized for using...'

Education Week--Advocates Hail Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education Rights Special education advocacy groups are cheering a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that a special education student's individualized education program must be "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances," in the language of the opinion. The decision in Endrew F. v Douglas County School Board, is seen as strengthening the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act...'

3-22-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--78 Days and Counting in Governor’s 100-Day School-Funding Challenge Christie offered legislators a 100-day window to remake the school-funding formula with him, but so far there have been few takers On the last day of February, Gov. Chris Christie offered the Legislature in his state budget address a 100-day window to negotiate a new way to fund public education. It was a long shot, given Christie’s dwindling political capital, but the governor isn’t one to let go easily of an issue he has considered for the past seven years...'

NJ Spotlight--Parents, Educators Give Budget Committee an Earful on School Funding As they begin deliberations on the state’s budget, lawmakers learn just how hot an issue school funding is for many in New Jersey Parents, educators and school administrators came out in force for the first public hearing of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday — and placed the focus firmly on school funding, or the inadequacy thereof in New Jersey...'

Star Ledger--Christie responds to NJEA president’s editorial TRENTON -- Gov. Chris Christie attacked a familiar foe on Tuesday, saying an op-ed penned by the president of the state's largest teachers' union was a "delight" to read -- and then burn. The governor lashed out at New Jersey Education Association's Wendell Steinhaur after the group's president said the state should wait for the next governor before tooling with New Jersey's school funding formula...'

Star Ledger--Should N.J. spend more on education? This poll says yes TRENTON -- A majority of New Jersey voters think the state should spend more on education, including additional state funds for districts in low-income areas, according to a new poll. Of 1,098 New Jersey voters polled, 63 percent said the state should spend more to improve all public schools, compared to 34 percent who did not, a Quinnipiac University poll found...'

Star Ledger--Christie's budget wipes out security aid for N.J. parochial schools TRENTON -- Last fall, Gov. Chris Christie said parents who send their children to a parochial or private school should have no reason to be concerned about their safety. "The safety of children, no matter where they go to school, is the responsibility of government," Christie said as he signed a law that established parameters for public dollars to flow to private schools for security improvements...'

Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)-- Survey finds exchange students think US high schools easier WASHINGTON (AP) - Easier classes, less homework and lots of sports - this is how American high schools are viewed by students from other countries studying in the U.S. Despite a push in recent years to make the U.S. education system more competitive and effective, foreign exchange students continue to view American high school experience as much less stimulating, according to a study published Wednesday...'

Education Week--ESSA Rules' Rollback Complicates States' Planning Obama-era regulations sent packing by Congress Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump's administration recently put their own stamp on the Every Student Succeeds Actt by dismantling key elements of the previous administration's work. State school leaders say the moves won't significantly influence their approach to the law, but advocacy groups will be watching closely to see how the new, more flexible policy environment affects decisions about underperforming schools and disadvantaged students...'

3-21-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Opinion: Heads They Win, Tails You Lose Police and fire unions’ power grab sticks New Jersey’s taxpayers with the pension bill In 1866, Surrogate Gideon J. Tucker wrote that "[n]o man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session." Over a hundred years later, the New Jersey Legislature is doing its very best to keep Surrogate Tucker’s warning pertinent by once again advancing special-interest legislation that reaches for a new low in bad public policy and stunning indifference to taxpayers...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--News Literacy Project: Teaching students to tell the true from the fake News Literacy Project: Teaching students to tell the true from the fake Web posts from sources of global news await reaction. A post from the International Rescue Committee shows an emaciated baby in a hospital bed. A picture of drooping, deformed daisies bears the headline “Fukushima Nuclear Flowers.” From Time.com, the headline is “Trump’s Budget Would Kill a Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens.”...'

The Atlantic--How Betsy DeVos Could End the School-Integration Comeback Federal attention to classroom diversity made a resurgence in the final months of the Obama administration. Will the established programs peter out? Under President Trump, the federal role in education is set to be drastically curtailed. Last Thursday, Trump proposed slashing federal spending on schools by $9 billion. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has vowed to shrink her agency and return power to local officials, which could mean scaling back civil-rights enforcement. All of these signals may also foreshadow a retreat on school integration...'

3-20-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--The 25 N.J. school districts that get the least state aid The $13.8 billion Gov. Chris Christie proposes spending on education next year accounts for more than one-third of the state budget, including $9.1 billion that goes directly to schools to support their classrooms. But that doesn't mean each of New Jersey's nearly 600 school district is taking home millions in state aid. Why some districts get less The state's school funding formula considers a district's enrollment, the demographics of the community and each district's ability to raise funds through local property taxes...'

The Record--Charter school founders face scrutiny from local officials A former Bergen County sheriff. A retired Paterson school administrator. The head of a non-profit group paid to manage charter schools. Along with two parents, they form the founding team of a charter school in Union County that is slated to open in September, one in a network that began years earlier in Bergen County...'

Philadelphia Inquirer--Textbooks could be history as schools switch to free online learning To Garnet Valley High School social studies teacher Christine Gumpert, the biggest waste in her Non-Western Cultures class is the $100 the district shells out for each bulky textbook that covers, at best, 10 percent of the curriculum and is out-of-date the minute it rolls off the presses. Next year, though, when Gumpert’s ninth graders reach into their backpacks, they will pull out slim laptops instead of overweight tomes and use mostly free online resources, including the latest current events from Africa, the Middle East, and anywhere else on Earth. Garnet Valley is one of a handful of Philadelphia-area districts, and three in northern New Jersey, that are in the vanguard of a nationwide movement to ditch traditional textbooks...'

Education Week--Trump Ed. Dept. Has Yet to Hit the Accelerator Under the last two presidents, the U.S. Department of Education was a mighty—and mighty well-funded—agency. But, all signs point to it being much sleepier under President Donald Trump. For one thing, the department’s bottom line may be about to plummet. Trump has proposed a 13 percent cut in funding for the agency, to $59 billion for the coming fiscal year. That could mean serious reductions to the department’s current workforce of about 4,000 employees...'

3-17-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Making a Priority of Getting Lead Out of Drinking Water in Schools Lawmakers, advocates argue that mandatory testing of pipes in schools is a critical first step to tackling the problem With more schools finding lead contamination in drinking water, legislators and advocates are calling for more aggressive steps to identify problems and fix them when unsafe levels are found...'

NJ Spotlight--Assembly Hopes Senate Will Go Along with PARCC Rollback Lower chamber wants to eliminate PARCC as graduation requirement for NJ’s public high schools As it has before, the state Assembly yesterday moved to limit the reach and impact of PARCC testing in New Jersey’s public schools. And as it has before, the issue now goes to the state Senate to see whether it will stick. So far, that hasn’t much happened...'

Star Ledger--7 ways Trump's spending plan would affect education in N.J. Back when he was running for president, Donald Trump said he might "cut the Department of Education" entirely if he was elected president. In his first budget proposal, the newly elected president is keeping the federal Department of Education. But several K-12 and higher education programs are targeted for deep cuts or elimination...'

Education Week--Trump Budget Would Make Massive Cuts to Ed. Dept., But Boost School Choice President Donald Trump's first budget seeks to slash the Education Department's roughly $68 billion budget by $9 billion, or 13 percent in the coming fiscal year, whacking popular programs that help districts offer after-school programs, and hire and train teachers. At the same time, it seeks a historic $1.4 billion federal investment in school choice, including new money for private school vouchers and charter schools, as well as directing $1 billion to follow students to the school of their choice...'

3-16-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--WATCH: Videos make school closings fun for superintendent, too WEEHAWKEN -- It's not just students who can have fun when schools close for snow days. Weehawken Superintendent of Schools Robert Zywicki went beyond the standard robo-calls, tweets and alerts on district web sites in spreading the word that township schools would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the winter storm...'

Education Week--New Trump Executive Order Could Lead to a Smaller Education Department President Donald Trump's proposed budget for education could lead to significant cuts to staff and various programs, sources have told us. But it's not the only action on the president's agenda that could shrink the U.S. Department of Education...'

3-15-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Push to Expand Public Preschool Likely to Be Part of Budget Battle Advocates recognize money is tight but argue now’s the time to roll out public pre-K to 100 low-income communities As the state Legislature’s budget deliberations start up again this week, one topic that is sure to get a lot of attention — including on the airwaves — is whether New Jersey is to ready and willing to expand access to public preschool anytime soon...'

NJ Spotlight--Cops, Firefighters Could Pull Pensions from NJ Public-Employee System Striking out on their own could give these public employees more control over how assets are managed, better protection from pension-system reforms While New Jersey’s public-employee pension system was recently ranked the worst-funded state retirement plan in the country, the individual fund for police officers and firefighters is not in such rough shape, a fact that often gets overlooked in the ongoing debate about pension reform.,,'

Washington Post (via northjersey.com)-- Dumping devices into classrooms won’t improve education Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently issued a plea for greater student access to high-tech tools. “The persistent lack of access to world-class educational resources and technology in far too many communities is at the heart of this issue,” Duncan wrote on the Brown Center Chalkboard, a blog of the Brookings Institution. “This inequality breeds more than just subpar test scores. It snowballs to create economic immobility, stranding people without the training necessary to earn well-paying jobs.”...'

Education Week--A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback Critics call method simplistic; backers tout transparency As states overhaul their accountability systems under the new federal K-12 law, officials in some are pushing to replace or revamp A-F grading for schools, which supporters tout as an easy way to convey to the public how schools stack up. In recent years, at least 18 states have adopted some version of a system that relies mostly on standardized-test scores and graduation rates to generate letter-grade report cards, similar to the ones students receive throughout the school year. Legislation is pending in a handful of states to join that group...'

3-14-17 Education in the News
Education Week--Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Monday released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. And, as you might expect, it is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be on the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates. More below. DeVos said the template will allow states and districts to implement the law with "maximum flexibility" as Congress intended...'

Education Week--Trump Sharpens Budget Knife for Education Department, Sources Say The Trump administration is contemplating dramatic cuts to K-12 spending, including a possible $6 billion reduction to existing programs in the U.S. Department of Education, according to multiple education policy sources who have gleaned details about budget documents still being finalized. The department currently has a budget of about $70 billion...'

The Atlantic-- The Office for Civil Rights's Volatile Power The influence of the office has waxed and waned with each administration. How will it fare under Betsy DeVos? Here is a question nobody asked Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearing to become the eleventh secretary of education: Is the U.S. Department of Education a civil-rights agency? The last secretary, John King, thinks so. Over 600 education scholars who protested the nomination of DeVos think so, too. In a letter to the Senate, they recalled that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which created the federal role in American schools, is “at its heart a civil-rights law.”...'

3-13-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Beep, beep, beep: N.J. might lift ban on pagers in schools TRENTON -- New Jersey lawmakers are considering lifting a ban on an item once considered so disruptive and synonymous with drug dealers that it was outlawed on school grounds. Soon, if state Senators Ron Rice and Jim Whelan get their way, the once controversial pager, also known as a beeper, will be considered contraband in schools no longer...'

Washington Post--Education Digest: Senate votes to overturn teacher-education regulations Teacher education Senate votes to ditch standing rules The Senate voted 59 to 40 Wednesday to overturn Obama administration regulations meant to ensure that new K-12 public school teachers are ready for the nation’s classrooms...'

The Atlantic-- Religious Conviction and Prison Convictions: This Week's Top 7 Education Stories The best recent writing about school...'

Education Week--No, Congress Didn't Vote to Scrap ESSA: Answers to Your FAQs Congress has voted to get rid of the Obama administration's accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act. And that's opened a bunch of questions about the state of play for the new education law. We have answers—both to your wonky questions and the ones you were too embarased to ask. Is ESSA still on the books?...'

3-10-17 Education in the News
Jersey Journal--Jersey City council OKs contract with lawyers to fight school funding changes JERSEY CITY -- The City Council last night unanimously approved a measure authorizing a $70,000 contract with a Morristown law firm the city says will help fight possible changes to the state's school funding formula. The vote was taken at the end of a nearly four-hour meeting. There was no discussion among council members about the contract with Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti...'

NY Times--Obama Education Rules Are Swept Aside by Congress President Barack Obama after signing the Every Student Succeeds Act at the White House in 2015. The bipartisan support for the measure later disappeared. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times With all the attention paid to President Trump’s lightning-rod secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and her advocacy for private school vouchers, little public notice has been paid to the action on education in Congress — where lawmakers have broader power than Ms. DeVos to make changes to the nation’s school system...'

Washington Post--Transgender families press education secretary on rights WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos watched a transgender girl eat apple sauce and draw and listened to another student’s emotional story of feeling marginalized at school, as activists pressed DeVos to make good on her promise to protect all students. Parents and activists who met with DeVos on Wednesday said they thought she was moved by their stories, but they still left with little hope that she would be a strong advocate for transgender children...'

Education Week--With White House Backing, Senate Overturns ESSA Accountability Rules The Senate on Thursday voted 50-49 to block the accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act created by the Obama administration. Without the rules, the requirements for accountability and state plans will be found in the language of ESSA itself. The Obama-era accountability rules, finalized late last year, set ground rules for how schools must be rated for school-improvement purposes, specified the requirements of (and flexibility for) states dealing with high testing opt-out rates in individual schools, and outlined how states would have to handle the "school quality" indicator in accountability systems...'

3-9-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Five Opportunities to Get Involved with the Fiscal 2018 Budget Review New Jersey lawmakers have scheduled five public hearings for residents who want to sound off or speak in favor of Christie’s final budget plan State lawmakers are planning to hold five public hearings at venues across the state over the next several weeks as they launch the formal process of scrutinizing Gov. Chris Christie’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year. The hearings will give New Jersey residents, public-policy advocates, and interest groups an in-person opportunity to share with lawmakers what they like and don’t like about the $35.5 billion spending plan that Christie put forward last week...'

Trenton Times--Educators should be given the skills to help all students    Editorial
Studies increasingly show that children with disabilities who are integrated into general education classrooms fare better than their peers in non-inclusive classrooms. Not only to do these students get more instructional time, but they also are absent less frequently, and have proven more successful in post-secondary settings...'

Washington Post--Trump’s education adviser promotes private schools WASHINGTON — A senior presidential aide said Wednesday that American families should have various school options for their children, including private schools. Jason Botel, Donald Trump’s education adviser, told a National PTA conference that some children may not thrive in traditional public or charter schools and should have an opportunity to attend private schools...'

Education Week—For Young People, News Is Mobile, Social, and Hard to Trust, Studies Find Tweens, teens, and young adults consume a wide range of news, often as a byproduct of their frequent use of the mobile devices and social media applications they carry around in their pockets. But they view much of the news they encounter as biased and unreflective of their own experiences. They struggle to identify "fake" news. And what they see and read often makes them feel afraid, angry, and depressed. It all contributes to a profound sense of mistrust, as well as a growing need for new strategies to help youth navigate a shifting media landscape, according to two recently released research studies on children and the news...'

The Atlantic--A Tale of Two Betsy DeVoses The generous Grand Rapids resident and the tone-deaf Trump official GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Residents of this western Michigan town are having trouble reconciling the Betsy DeVos they know with the Betsy DeVos who serves as President Donald Trump’s controversial education secretary...'

3-8-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--With State Aid in Deep Freeze, Towns and Schools Are Out in the Cold What does a flat budget look like? Higher property taxes, fewer services and staff, and nothing extra for teachers and students Home owners in New Jersey, which has the highest property taxes in the nation, should expect taxes on their homes to rise even higher as a result of Gov. Chris Christie’s budget proposal to freeze state aid to nearly all municipalities and school districts. The state-imposed 2-percent property tax cap should blunt tax increases, but could mean cuts in services or staff in some places. School aid is also being kept flat, which will put even more pressure on districts already struggling to keep teachers happy and give students what they need...'

Star Ledger--N.J. just made it easier to become a certain type of teacher TRENTON -- Facing a shortage of bilingual teachers in its public schools, New Jersey has made it easier to become one. The state Board of Education this month approved what education officials called a "slight relaxation" to the score teachers need on the written proficiency test for bilingual teachers, a move officials expect will boost the number of bilingual educators by 10 to 15 percent. The change applies only to prospective teachers for students learning English as their second language. It does not affect foreign language teachers for native English speakers...'

Jersey Journal--Jersey City to hire lawyer to fight school funding changes JERSEY CITY -- Facing renewed threats of cuts to state funding for its public-school system, Jersey City wants to hire a law firm the mayor's spokeswoman says will "protect" the city's interests if state lawmakers move to slash state aid. A resolution on Wednesday's City Council agenda would award a $75,000 contract to Morristown-based Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti to represent the city in the expected battle over state funding for schools...'

3-7-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger--Charter school tracker: Which N.J. schools are closing, expanding TRENTON -- The Christie administration last week announced its decisions on more than two dozen applications to expand, renew or open new charter schools. While four schools were ordered to close at the end of this school year, the state approved more than 6,000 new charter school seats through the expansion of existing schools, a significant increase in school choice...'

Star Ledger--What will Trump's push for 'school choice' mean for N.J. students? Calling education the “civil rights issue of our time,” President Donald Trump used his address before Congress last week to highlight one of his top issues – school choice. Echoing a campaign promise, Trump vowed to push for students in poor school districts to be able to use public funds to attend a charter, private or religious school. “I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children,” Trump said. “These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”...'

Washington Post--Congressional Republicans poised to overturn Obama-era education regulations Congress is pushing to overturn as early as this week regulations that outline how states must carry out a federal law that holds public schools accountable for serving all students. Leaders of the Republican majority claim that the rules, written during the Obama administration, represent an executive overreach. Democrats argue that rescinding the rules will open loopholes to hide or ignore schools that fail to adequately serve poor children, minorities, English-language learners and students with disabilities...'

Education Week--What Happens to Education Spending if the Budget Stays in a Holding Pattern Right now, the federal budget is flying in circles. It's operating on a "continuing resolution" through April 28 that essentially holds fiscal year 2017 spending levels at their fiscal 2016 amounts. Trump recently released a very broad outline of his spending priorities for fiscal 2018 that includes a $54 billion cut from domestic agencies—fiscal 2018 starts in October—although we still don't know how that 10 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending would specifically impact the U.S. Department of Education...'

3-6-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Unfunded Liability of Public-Employee Pension System Closes in on $50 Billion Lowering rate of return on fund investments will help, but some experts argue full actuarial payments — not called for in Christie budget address — remain critical New actuarial calculations for New Jersey’s beleaguered public-employee pension system show an unfunded liability of near $50 billion, a staggering number for a retirement plan that’s been set up to cover roughly 780,000 current and retired government workers...'

The Record--Students say the state has shorted Clifton schools $50 million each of the last nine years CLIFTON – More than 300 high school students are expected to protest the state's school funding formula in Wednesday's march which will begin at the high school and end at City Hall. Students said they want the event to send a message to New Jersey lawmakers that they won't stand for the funding shortfall any more...'

The Press of Atlantic City--School buses in New Jersey still don't have safety sensors TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — More than a year after a law was signed requiring them, child-detection sensors are still not installed on most new school buses because regulations on how to implement it have not been approved. Gov. Chris Christie signed Abigail's Law in January 2016. It requires that all school buses manufactured after July 17, 2016, come equipped with child detection sensors that would sound an alarm if a child were to run in front of or behind the bus...'

Education Week--Two Possible Paths for a Tax-Credit School Choice Plan in Congress Of the various school choice bills that might enter the arena in Congress, creating tax credits to fund private school choice might be the most logical, and it's one of the options the Trump administration is considering. There's already a recent blueprint for such tax credits in the form of a 2015 bill, the Educational Opportunities Act, written by Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. And in his address to Congress Feb. 28, President Donald Trump specifically urged lawmakers to take up school choice legislation to help disadvantaged children, which could impact the policy specifics of any tax-credit bill...'

3-3-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Contradiction in Christie Budget Plan: Grow Revenue $1B While Cutting Taxes The governor may be taking a gamble, but if he’s wrong it will be up to his successor to make things right — most likely with last-minute spending cuts The new budget that Gov. Chris Christie proposed earlier this week for New Jersey’s next fiscal year counts on state revenues growing by about $1 billion even as a round of phased-in tax cuts enacted last year will continue to take hold...'

StarLedger--School aid stays flat in Christie budget plan New Jersey school districts got a first look at their state aid figures for the coming school year on Thursday, two days after Gov. Chris Christie unveiled his $35.5 billion spending plan. Christie kept funding the same in nearly every district compared to the current year – except for a handful that got slight increases mostly of 1 percent or less...'

3-2-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Is Teacher Preparation in New Jersey Failing Students with Disabilities? Educators say many teachers in the Garden State and elsewhere are unprepared to teach wide range of students When Mary Fair became a teacher in Bloomfield in 2012, her classes often contained a mix of special education students and general education students. Placing children with and without disabilities in the same classroom, instead of segregating them, was a growing national trend, spurred on by lawsuits by special education advocates...'

NJ Spotlight--Poll: Should Lawmakers Take Christie’s 100-Day School Funding Challenge? The governor has pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats to find an equitable solution to the school-funding mess. Should legislators jump at the chance or let it pass? Rather than try to implement the “fairness formula” school-aid plan that he has been touting for months, Gov. Chris Christie left education funding essentially flat in the budget he proposed on Tuesday, but called on legislative leaders to work with him to craft a revised formula. Christie has called the current funding system broken, and pledged on Tuesday to work with lawmakers to hammer out a workable formula for distributing $9 billion in aid to schools. Both houses of the Legislature have been holding separate hearings on the issue and consider a different approach a priority...'

Star Ledger--N.J. shuts down 4 charter schools for poor performance TRENTON -- The state has ordered three low-performing charter schools in Newark and one in Camden to close at the end of this school year, bringing the total number of failed charter schools to 20 under the Christie administration. The three Newark schools -- Newark Prep Charter School, Paulo Friere Charter School and Merit Prep Charter School -- had all been on probation for academic problems. Upon further review, the state Department of Education decided to close the schools, it announced Wednesday...'

Star Ledger--5 things to know about Christie's 2018 education budget TRENTON — Though Gov. Chris Christie didn't try to blow up New Jersey's school funding in proposed state budget, he spent plenty of time talking about it in his annual address. Christie made it clear he still wants to revamp the state's school funding if he can strike a compromise with state lawmakers over the next 100 days. But it's too soon to tell whether that will happen or what a potential deal may look like. For now, here are five things to know about the budget Christie's proposed on Tuesday:...'

NY Times--Trump’s Call for School Vouchers Is a Return to a Campaign Pledge President Trump, returning to a promise that won him cheers on the campaign trail, signaled in his first address to Congress on Tuesday that he will move aggressively to allow more public school students to use tax money to pay for tuition at public charter schools, private schools and even religious schools...'

Associated Press (via Press of Atlantic City)--Christie's plan to use lottery for pensions raises questions TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie's new proposal to move New Jersey's lottery revenues to the state's underfunded pension is being met with interest and skepticism. Christie unveiled the plan with few details on Tuesday as part of his $35.5 billion budget — his last as governor. He said it's an effort to shore up the state pension, which carries billions in unfunded liabilities after years of underpayment by Democratic and Republican governors and legislatures...'

3-1-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Christie’s School Funding Surprise: Maintain the Status Quo Governor pledges 100-day window to work with lawmakers to fix funding, but caps offer with veiled threat if no solution is reached Well into the second half of his budget address yesterday, Gov. Chris Christie turned to the topic of school funding, raising an audible murmur in the State House chamber. It was one of the great unknowns of Christie’s eighth and final budget presentation: whether he would try to remake how more than $13 billion in state aid is distributed to public schools, continue the status quo, or follow a third path...'

Star Ledger--Christie drops plan to overhaul school funding, issues new challenge TRENTON -- Opponents of Gov. Chris Christie's plan to dramatically overhaul New Jersey school aid long considered it "dead on arrival" when it was first introduced last year. On Tuesday, the controversial proposal, known as the "Fairness Formula," appeared to be officially buried. In his latest and final state budget address, the governor abandoned his pitch to slash funding to urban districts and give tax relief to wealthy suburbs and instead put forth a budget on school funding that effectively maintains the status quo...'

The Record--By the numbers: Christie's 2018 budget proposal Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday presented his budget for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1. A look at the broad strokes of his proposal, which now heads to the Legislature for consideration:...'

The Record--Editorial: Christie’s message: Cooperate or face the consequences Gov. Chris Christie’s final budget address to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday can be summed up in two sentences he read near its completion: “I want to act with you,” Christie said. “But, if forced, I will act alone.” The sentences were both a plea and a threat. With less than a year left in office, it’s hard to know if the governor’s words were effective on either level. What was supposed to be a no-surprise budget address contained several...'

Associated Press (via Press of Atlantic City)--Christie's plan to use lottery for pensions raises questions TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie's new proposal to move New Jersey's lottery revenues to the state's underfunded pension is being met with interest and skepticism. Christie unveiled the plan with few details on Tuesday as part of his $35.5 billion budget — his last as governor. He said it's an effort to shore up the state pension, which carries billions in unfunded liabilities after years of underpayment by Democratic and Republican governors and legislatures. Democrats who control the Legislature say they'll review the idea, but also criticized it...'

Washington Post-- Obama also called education ‘the civil rights issue of our time’ Trump is not the first to say that education is the “civil rights issue of our time.” George W. Bush said it when he worked to pass No Child Left Behind, and it was almost a refrain for President Obama and his longtime education secretary, Arne Duncan. Obama and Duncan injected new energy into the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which investigates discrimination complaints in schools and colleges...'

Education Week--Schools Often Fail to Educate, Support English-Language Learners Schools across the United States often provide substandard instruction and social-emotional support to the nation's English-language learners—and fail to properly train the educators who teach them, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds. Noting that limited English proficiency remains a substantial barrier to academic success for millions of children in K-12 schools, the study explores how under-resourced schools and under-prepared educators can hinder efforts to help those students learn and master English...'

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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.




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