Something Farshtunkene* in Lakewood

When news broke last year that the FBI raided homes of 26 Lakewood ultra-Orthodox residents on charges of wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities (see here), New Jersey Comptroller Philip J. Degnan’ issued a statement that said participants must make “full restitution of all improperly received funds.” Unless, that is, if you’re a Lakewood Board of Education member. Or maybe just …

Oops. New Jersey DOE Leaders Just Made a Mistake.

On October 12, last Friday,  Assistant Education Commissioner Linda Eno sent a letter to all “Chief School Administrators, Charter School and Renaissance School Project Leads,” copied to Commissioner Lamont Repollet. The letter, entitled “Spring 2019 State Assessment Name, Length and Time Changes,”  describes the differences between last year’s administration of standardized tests to those that will be given this coming Spring. There’s just one problem. The information shared with school leaders is wrong. Two weeks ago …

The NJ DOE Says It’s Asking for Input on Charter Schools But Is the Verdict in Already?

When I examine the NJ Department of Education’s spanking-new webpage called “Charter School Program Act Review — Outreach 2018” I keep thinking of a scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland when the Knave of Hearts is on trial for stealing tarts baked by the Queen: “Let the jury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. “No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first–verdict afterward.” “Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice …

Charter School Review Must Address Funding Bias Against Charter Schools

This is a press release from the New Jersey Charter School Association. Those interested in the state’s “comprehensive review” of NJ charter schools can submit written feedback and attend meetings. For information about how you can contribute, click here. (And do it soon! The DOE has established a very short window for accepting comments.)  For my own concerns about the Murphy Administration’s oversight of the charter sector, see my column today in NJ Spotlight. Charter …

Hot Off the Press: New Report from NCTQ Reviews Newark’s Teacher Evaluation System

When the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and the Newark Public Schools, under the superintendency of Cami Anderson, agreed in 2012 to a new contract that linked teacher pay to performance, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation.” This past summer NTU President John Abeigon, when queried by a Chalkbeat reporter about those 2012 innovatives and upcoming negotiations for a new …

Governor Phil Murphy Does Not “Eliminate PARCC Day One.” Here’s the Compromise.

The New Jersey Board of Education and Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet have reached a compromise on PARCC testing. (See here for the contentious background.) Repollet wanted, per Governor Murphy’s promise to NJEA, to reduce the number of end-of-course tests that students take in high school from six to two. (Those tests would be 10th grade English language arts and Algebra 1, which some students take in 8th or 9th grade). Advocates for educational improvement wanted …

The Abusive Parent in The Charter School/Traditional School Family

This is a guest post by my friend and colleague Lane Wright. Lane lives in Tallahassee with his wife and three children and serves as Director of Policy Analysis at Education Post, a national nonprofit. You can substitute NJEA and other abusive parents for Lane’s references to the Florida Education Association. Imagine a family with 10 kids: Nine biological and one adopted. After a couple years, the parents and siblings start to regret their choice to …

Great News as Camden Prep Closes the Achievement Gap!

Camden Prep, part of the Uncommon Schools network, first opened on Mt. Ephraim Avenue in 2014 through the Urban Hope Act, which authorized “renaissance schools,” hybrid charter-district neighborhood schools, to open if approved by the school board.  Camden Prep replaced the old Bonsall Elementary School, which was labeled one of the five most troubled schools in the worst district in New Jersey. When Camden Prep first opened, only 4 percent of students tested proficient in …

Hannukah Gelt or Coal in Your Stocking? Checking in on Lakewood.

Stacey Barchenger of the Asbury Park Press is indefatigable in her investigations into the shenanigans in Lakewood Public Schools. Example: last week she reported that the district, which operates as a funding stream for 130+ private religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish day schools, used $1.6 million in federal money intended for secular material to buy religious textbooks. This is a violation of New Jersey state law and federal law. Welcome to Lakewood. From the APP story: The …