School Choice is Improving Prospects for Newark Schoolchildren But It’s Not Doing Much for Weber/Baker’s Analytical Acumen

In Wednesday’s NJ Spotlight, Mark Weber takes aim at two recent editorials, mine and Michele Mason’s, which cover different aspects of recent public school improvements in Newark, N.J.’s largest school district. Weber also uses the editorial to hype a new report he wrote with Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker (his dissertation advisor), published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) called “School District Reform in Newark and Impact of the Newark Education Reforms. The NEPC report by Weber/Baker, …

New Jersey Skated by for Years on Misleading Graduation Rates, But Now We’re Closing the “Honesty Gap”

Does it seem odd to you that we’re celebrating the fact that half of New Jersey’s third-graders are at or above grade level in language arts and math? If you’re puzzled by this exuberance—only half?—then you’re missing a critical piece of our state’s history: For decades we’ve been lying to ourselves, our families, our constituents and our children. While our high school graduation rates are traditionally sky-high and a source of great pride, we have …

Freehold, SOS-NJ, and Valerie Strauss: An Example of the Proliferation of Fake News

You know fake news is being normalized when an organization that flaunts its supposedly grassroots progressive pedigree engages in Trumpery. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But Save Our Schools-NJ really needs to check its facts before it misleads its followers about New Jersey high school graduation requirements. Here’s the timeline. On November 21st, Charles Sampson, the Superintendent of Freehold Regional High School District, posted a piece on the district website that (still!) says, NJs …

Is Integration Your Silver Bullet? Time to Get Real.

Last week I wrote a post about a report on N.J.’s segregated schools by Professor Gary Orfield et. al. which I found vacuous and flawed, particularly its conclusion that charter schools increase segregation because they cluster in districts that serve children of color. I noted that  “the reasons why more Black families are enthusiastic about charter school culture is beyond the scope of my blog post.” (Also, I’m not Black and, therefore, not an authentic …

Newark Update

I have a new column up at NJ Spotlight called “The Four Factors Behind Newark’s Education Turnaround.” It starts here: New Jersey is a fragmented and complicated state, splintered into 565 municipalities and even more school districts. Newark is its microcosm, a byzantine culture of powerful ward bosses who control every aspect of governance, including its school system. Although I’ve been writing about education in New Jersey for a decade, it wasn’t until a few …

Beverly City Schools Makes “Incredible Progress” By Using Data to Focus on Kids

(This post is by Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers, and originally appeared in Huffington Post.) I visit many schools across the country. I get to talk with teachers and hear about their incredible students. I meet with students and hear about their big dreams for the future. I also get to talk with school and district administrators. Those conversations usually focus on what’s working well and what’s not working so well. …

How Do We Foster Integration and Inclusion in New Jersey?

(This is a guest post by Aggie Sung, a certified early education teacher whose passion is in children’s books that teach young learners to express themselves through art, words, and motion. Her books include “Mommy Duck.” She resides in Princeton, N.J.) Historically, the American education system has been shaped for the concept of inclusion, which means accepted without condition. Aligned with the beliefs of the ostracized Christians who settled the 13 colonies, education in America …

Confessions from A Recovering Academic; Or, The Problems with Proffered Solutions To N.J.’s Segregated Schools (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

The Civil Rights Project has a new academic paper out called “New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward,” a follow-up to a report on the same subject supplemented by new data from 2010-2015. This release of this report has been dutifully covered by New Jersey traditional media outlets (see the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, NJ Today) by reciting a few talking points: New Jersey is more diverse than it used to be—there’s a “remarkable increase in …

New Jersey’s Pension Crisis is Largely the Fault of NJEA Leaders: Here’s Why.

(This is a guest post by Michael Lilley,  former executive director of Better Education For NJ Kids (B4K) and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. For his five-part deep dive into NJEA’s political clout and how it drives N.J.’s pension crisis, click here.) Democrat Phil Murphy won the New Jersey gubernatorial election last week with the support of many of the state’s public-sector unions, including the powerful New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Now Murphy …

“For the Camden Teachers’ Union, It’s Politics as Usual”: A Response to an Attack on Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard

I’ve written about  Keith Benson before, president of the Camden Education Association and and paranoid conspiracy theorist who claims that the terrorist attack on 9/11 was a massive government plot and that that public school reform is a conspiracy among money-grubbing reformers and “oppressed natives” who are afflicted with a “psychosis” that leads them“to improve their own subjugated standing by attempting to join the ranks of those who do the oppressing.” (See here and here.) …