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10-6-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Christie Proposes Giving Top-Performing Charter Schools New Flexibility

Education chief says easing certification rules for teachers would be five-year pilot program

On a pledge to provide more freedoms to New Jersey’s charter schools, the Christie administration yesterday presented new regulations for the alternative schools that would include essentially waiving many of the state’s certification rules for educators in the highest-performing ones.

But as with anything related to charter schools in New Jersey of late, the changes are sure to be hotly debated in the coming months, and parties from all sides yesterday predicted they are hardly a done deal.

Should charters have a different set of rules?

 “That’s a big question, that’s a super-huge question,” said Mark Biedron, president of the State Board of Education. “My concern is you go back 20 years, yes, charter schools were to elevate student performance, but it was also to share practices. Have we seen that? I don’t know.”


John Mooney | October 6, 2016


NJ’s Teacher of the Year: From Armenia to Pascack Valley High

The first arts teacher to win the honor in more than ten years, refugee Argine Safari has found her passion teaching music

Argine Safari of Pascack Valley High School was yesterday named New Jersey’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. She is the first arts teacher to win the award in more than a decade.

A 46-year-old Armenian refugee, Safari — who is an accomplished musician — was cited for her passion and knowledge as music teacher at the Bergen County high school. That was on full display yesterday as she accepted the award before the State Board of Education.

The following are excerpts from her remarks:

Bigger picture: “I am deeply honored and humbled to be representing the thousands of New Jersey educators. I am honored because I know I am only a snapshot of what is happening in my district, in my county, and in the state of New Jersey. I am humbled because I would not be standing in front of you if it wasn’t for the incredible support I receive from the community I am part of.”


John Mooney | October 6, 2016


Star Ledger--Christie's parting gift to Camden: A $133M high school

CAMDEN — Gov. Chris Christie announced that the state would spend $133 million to raze and rebuild a new Camden High School in the same district where he's called for cutting in state education funding by almost 80 percent.

Standing in the Camden Panthers' gymnasium, the governor called the investment "emblematic of my position that no child in this state is worth more than another, that all children deserve a quality education, regardless of ZIP code."

However, under Christie's newly proposed "Fairness Formula," Camden would see its state educational aid cut by more than 78 percent.

Camden currently receives more than $30,000 per pupil in state aid, so the city's property taxes would be need to be hiked $3,536 per household just to offset the governor's proposed reduction to a uniform $6,599 per pupil.

The demolition of Camden High School would begin in fall 2017, with the new high school scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.


Claude Brodesser-Akner | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| on October 05, 2016 at 6:28 PM, updated October 05, 2016 at 6:42 PM


Education Week--Clown hoaxes force police to check pranks for real threats

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Carrying golf clubs, shovels and hockey sticks, several hundred University of Connecticut students gathered just before midnight in a cemetery, ready to do battle with menacing clowns they had heard might be lurking among the headstones.

Police determined that Monday's clown rumors, like dozens of others across the country, were a hoax. But with reports of clown sightings spreading, fueled largely by social media, authorities are being forced to take them seriously as a potential threat to public safety, particularly at schools, where principals have conducted lockdowns and canceled classes.

"There are many other emergencies and calls for service that troopers and other first responders need to get to without being misdirected to a prank," Connecticut state troopers said in a statement.

Similar incidents have been reported this week at schools around the country, including Penn State University, where police said more than 500 students showed up early Tuesday to hunt for clowns.


Associated Press| October 5, 2016