NJEA’s Toxic Strategy Against Steve Sweeney

Those following New Jersey education politics are probably aware that NJEA, in a confounding lapse of judgement, has declared Senator Steve Sweeney Public Enemy #1. (See here for background.) If one were measuring NJEA leaders’ level of vindictiveness towards the long-time Senate President, it would be higher than Reince Priebus’ blood pressure. Why? Because in 2011 the Senator shepherded through the Legislature a health benefits/pension reform bill and last year refused to bring to the …

Charter Parent: With Adults, It’s All About Money; This Is Supposed To Be About Children

As you can see from the post below, I had an informative visit with Ms. Dreya Teel, her son Jared, and staff members from KIPP NJ’s Life Academy. That post was all about Jared, but towards the end of the day Ms. Teel, a long-time Newark resident and single mom of four boys, and Farida Mallah, Jared’s teacher, shared with me their thoughts about New Jersey charter school politics. Newark remains the epicenter of New …

Jared’s Got Something Special and KIPP’s ‘Pathways’ Is Helping Him Show It

Eight-year-old Jared Teel-Drayton hops into the room, hands flapping, eyes darting, smile alight. He’s been painting—his class went to the art room today—and his teacher, Farida Mallah, patiently combs through a plastic drawer for a clean tee-shirt, which he dons happily. It’s his favorite one, navy blue with the word “grit” stenciled in front, usually awarded as a prize. Jared’s got something special, and it’s not just a new tee-shirt. “Can you tuck it in?” …

“I Thought They Were Creaming Off Top Students”: Camden Charter Leader on His Own Learning Curve

“Even in my seat as a charter school leader, I always say that I wish I could have done what I’m able to do here in a traditional district school.” That’s William Hayes, principal of East Camden Middle School, one of Camden’s new “renaissance” charters (this one operated by Mastery) that are distinguished by an unusually collaborative partnership with district schools. Hayes acknowledges a bit of surprise at his career trajectory.  Earlier on “I bought the …

The Big Gay Way to End the School Year

(This is a guest post from my friend and colleague Beth Hawkins, an award-winning journalist and Education Post’s current writer-in-residence. She blogs at Bethhawkins.org.) Happy Pride, y’all! June 1 marks the start of a month-long celebration of LGBT history and culture and of our extraordinary leaps forward in terms of equality in recent years. If what you know of Pride is the rainbow- and glitter-bomb-saturated parades that are the grand finale–great. I hope to see you …

Follow the Money: A Guest Post from a Lakewood Resident

Once again the Lakewood Public Schools has been bailed out of their financial hole. This has become a rite of spring. The school-age population in Lakewood is around 35,000, of which only 6,000 children are public school students. Lakewood Schools have demographics like no other school district in New Jersey. The school district spends over 15 million dollars on courtesy busing for the 120 nonpublic ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in the Township. Additionally, special education costs for …

New York Times, You’re Breaking My Heart

Let me say it straight out. I love the New York Times. I grew up with the Grey Lady in my home every morning. When my husband and I were living in upstate New York and contemplating a move closer to the City (where he worked) so he wouldn’t have to leave me with two tiny kids two nights a week, our list of “must haves” included — at my insistence — a location within …

NJEA Jumps The Shark

New Jersey’s teacher union leaders are unhappy with Senate President Steve Sweeney. And so they have endorsed and are funding a campaign for his challenger, who happens to be a Trump-supporting Republican named Fran Grenier who thinks that N.J.’s progressive school funding formula — one that NJEA ardently supports — should be abolished. “Why does one community get a break over another?” says Grenier, in a clear nod to Governor Christie’s absurd flat funding proposal. …

What Does the New Camden Teacher Union President Think About Superintendent Rouhanifard? Hold Onto Your Hat!

Keith Benson, newly-elected President of the Camden Education Association, must be terrified. Over the last five years Camden public schoolchildren increased their graduation rate by 21 percent, up from 49 percent to 70 percent, and their academic growth has outpaced their peers in the rest of the state. Schools are safer. Families are, at last, hopeful about the city school system. And, after a revolving door of superintendents — 13 in the last 20 years …

Let’s Play a Guessing Game

There is a sector of schools in New Jersey that rigorously creams off top-performing students, provides little (if any) support for students with disabilities, doesn’t backfill (accept students to fill open spots when students leave), increases segregation, and is paid for by a combination of tax dollars and tuition payments from traditional district schools. If you get your state education news from NJEA, Education Law Center, or Save Our Schools-NJ, then you would most  likely …