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11-1-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Agenda: School-by-School PARCC Scores to Be Released

State board to hear report on Year 2 of PARCC testing, along with further debate on charter schools and report from Newark schools

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.

Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

PARCC scores, top item: The Christie administration will use the State Board of Education meeting to release and report on the school-by-school PARCC scores from last spring, one of the earliest releases yet of statewide testing data. The meeting will also hear the annual report on the state of Newark Public Schools, as that district moves back to local control. And public testimony in the afternoon should be lively, with new regulations to essentially deregulate charter schools up for public comment.


John Mooney | November 1, 2016


Star Ledger--N.J. parents expected to file suit over state's teacher layoff rules

NEWARK — A group of parents from New Jersey's largest school district is going to court to fight a state law that forces districts to layoff teachers based on seniority rather than performance, NJ Advance Media has learned. 

With the backing of a national education reform group, six parents from Newark Public Schools are expecting to file a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state's last-in-first-out (LIFO) rule for teacher layoffs, said Kent Yalowitz, an attorney representing the parents. 

The statute forbids districts from considering any factors other than seniority when laying off teachers due to budget cuts, Yalowitz said. By enforcing that law, state and local officials violate students' right to a "thorough and efficient" education, which is guaranteed under the state constitution, he said. 

"We know that quality matters," Yalowitz said. "To say you have to ignore quality in favor of seniority is totally irrational." 

The LIFO rule amounts to "dooming kids who are trying to learn," Yalowitz added. 


Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| November 01, 2016 at 9:10 AM


The Press of Atlantic City--Districts searching for substitute teachers

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When the Atlantic City School District contracted with the private company Source4Teachers this year, the goal was to fill substitute-teaching positions with greater consistency at lower costs.

But the district, along with many others in the area, continues to grapple with a shortage of substitutes.

The lack of substitutes, especially in specialized subject areas, can leave students sitting in classrooms that in effect become temporary study halls.

Meanwhile, for teachers who might be trying to make a living as a substitute, the process can be challenging.

Atlantic City used to pay long-term leave replacement substitutes a salary similar to first-year teachers, about $45,000 a year.

But this year, under the new contract with the Source4Teachers, long-term substitutes are paid $125 per day, or a maximum $22,500 per year if they work a full school year.

Tom Forkin is working as a substitute teacher at Atlantic City High School, filling in for a history teacher out on long-term leave. He lost his job in the district layoffs last year but is hoping to still get a full-time position.

Forkin questioned the new lower rate at a school board meeting. School board President John Devlin said the board is looking at the situation and may adjust the rate.


DIANE D’AMICO Staff Writer


Star Ledger--These 5 new schools cost a combined $360M

ELIZABETH — It's not as though students at Frank J. Cicarell Academy didn't have music, gym and lunch before.

Prior to this school year, however, music classes, gym classes and lunch at the high school for advanced students in Elizabeth Public Schools all took place at the same time — and in the same space, principal Michael Cummings lamented.

"We were cramped, to say the least," said Cummings, whose student body was  sent to two vacated elementary schools because of overcrowding in the district. 

This fall, the academy's students and teachers reported to a spacious, state-of-the-art facility, one of several sparkling-new schools that opened across the state. NJ Advance Media toured five of New Jersey's newest school buildings — with a combined cost of about $360 million — to get an inside look at what students and teachers see each day. 


Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| November 01, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated November 01, 2016 at 7:40 AM


Philadelphia Inquirer--Quitting school: Turnover rises for urban superintendents

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - As the architect of school reform in New Haven, Superintendent Garth Harries appeared to be making progress. Test scores were up, dropout rates were down and a new teacher evaluation system became a national model.

But after only slightly more than three years, and clashes with members of the city's Board of Education, Harries is stepping down Monday.

He lasted about as long as the average for superintendents in urban American school districts, a turnover rate that has been on the rise. While the churn reflects growing strains on leaders in the largest and neediest school systems, it also adds to the challenges by disrupting improvement plans that are measured over years, not months.

Harries, 44, had the support of the mayor and the teachers union, but the Yale University alumnus with experience at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and New York City schools said differences with the board drove him to leave New Haven.


MICHAEL MELIA, The Associated Press| Updated: October 31, 2016 — 2:44 PM EDT


NY Times--Supreme Court to Rule in Transgender Access Case

Gavin Grimm is suing his Virginia school district to use the boys’ bathroom, which corresponds with his gender identity. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday entered the national debate over transgender rights, announcing that it would decide whether a transgender boy may use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school.

The court is acting just a year after it established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, as state laws and federal actions on transgender rights have prompted a welter of lawsuits. In taking the case, the court signaled that it may move more quickly in the area of transgender rights than it has in expanding gay rights.

The public debate has been ignited, in part, by a North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates, a statute that has drawn protests, boycotts and lawsuits.

The case revolves around how the Obama administration is entitled to interpret a federal regulation under a 1972 law that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal money. The legal question is whether it can also ban discrimination based on gender identity.

The Department of Education said last year that schools “generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” In May, the department went further, saying that schools could lose federal money if they discriminate against transgender students.

That left school districts grappling with how to treat transgender students. In August, a federal judge in Texas blocked Obama administration guidelines on restroom access for such students.