My Sister Carla: A Personal Story About Mental Illness

I have an acute aversion to pretense. I think that’s why I react so strongly to charades like “New Jersey can remedy educational inequity by funneling massive amounts of money to poor urban districts”; or “98 percent of teachers are effective or highly effective”; or  “low student proficiency levels are the fault of terrible PARCC tests” or “charter schools cherry-pick students” (through anonymous lotteries!). In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month I’ve decided to come …

Five Take-Aways from Lakewood’s Most Recent School Board Meeting

As a public service, I just watched last week’s two and a half-hour meeting of the Lakewood School Board that, once again, was run by board attorney Michael Inzelbuch. Here are five take-aways.  Lakewood Board Accepts State Loan of $28 million: Inzelbuch, referring to the loan: “The state grant — I mean ‘loan.’ That was Freudian.” Aaron Hirsch during public comments: “It’s like a snowball effect. We keep taking out loans. At some point we’ll be …

Breaking News: State “Loans” Lakewood $28 Million

Late yesterday the Asbury Park Press reported that the state would accede to the request by the Lakewood Board of Education and board attorney Michael Inzelbuch by handing over a loan of $28,182,090 to close the district’s budget gap. Of course this is not a loan: currently Lakewood “owes” the state $47 million that it will never be able to pay back. Everyone knows this. This is not a loan but an expression of the …

Sweeney, Ruiz & Madden Announce Committee Hearings on Troubling Videos of Teachers Union Officials

A quick response from New Jersey legislative leaders (see here for context): TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman M. Teresa Ruiz and Senate Labor Committee Chairman Fred H. Madden today announced that they will hold joint committee hearings in the wake of online videos that appear to show teachers union officials suggesting that teachers should not report assaults against students, including an alleged sexual assault. “These union officials appear to be advocating …

Two Teacher Union Presidents, Per These Videos, Excuse the Inexcusable

The following is a letter sent by Patricia Morgan of JerseyCAN and Shelley Skinner of Better Education for Kids to Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Chair of the State Senate Education Committee, regarding two videos released last week. The first (below) features the President of the Hamilton Education Association and the second (below that) features the President of the Union City Education Association. Both expose what Morgan and Skinner describe as a teacher disciplinary system “vulnerable …

“You Broke Our Dreams.” Latina Mom “Talks the Truth” to Lakewood’s School Board and Lawyer

“You promised to help my community but that’s not the truth,” said Alejandra Morales of the advocacy group La Voz Latina to the Lakewood Board of Education and board attorney Michael Inzelbuch. “How do you know what’s going on in the schools? You don’t have children there. I want to talk the truth. Now you’re asking for money from the state and my children don’t have a teacher.” It was a chaotic scene during the …

This May Be The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: A District Embraces a Charter School

Just one year ago the Hoboken Public Schools District (HPSD) was locked in a years-long battle with one of the state’s most successful charter schools, the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School, or HoLa. On Friday the superintendent of Hoboken Public Schools joined HoLa for a celebration of an honor awarded to only five public schools in the state. What a difference a year makes. Over the last two years the HPSD has spent hundreds of thousands …

Sheesh, SCHI: A Civil Rights Complaint, Plus the Director of Lakewood Special Ed School Accused of Stealing Million Dollars from the District

Last week Rabbi Osher Eisemann, the founder of the School for Hidden Intelligence (SCHI), previously arrested for mere money-laundering, is now facing corruption charges. A year ago the State said he stole $630,000 in tuition paid by Lakewood Public Schools to SCHI, a state-approved private special education that educates almost exclusively ultra-Orthodox children.. (Lakewood schools’ monthly bill to SCHI is $1.8 million for 200 students’ tuition.) This new indictment, says the Asbury Park Press, “increases the sum …

How do PARCC Tests Match Up with “Gold Standard” Assessments?

New Jersey is celebrating its national dominance in academic achievement. The new National Assessment of Educational Progress scores (NAEP) just came out — these tests, given to a sampling of 4th and 8th grade students in reading and math every two years (as well as other subjects), are regarded as the “gold standard” for measuring student growth and proficiency — and N.J. students are at the head of the pack.  Acting State Education Commissioner Lamont …