Look What Happens When District and Charter Schools Collaborate

(This is a guest post by Charles Sahm, who is director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility. It was originally published in the Star-Ledger.) It’s often noted that the original vision for charter schools, championed by legendary teachers’ union leader Al Shanker and others, was that they’d be “laboratories of innovation” whose lessons could inform …

New Jersey’s Educational Inequities Go Right Through the Superintendent’s Office

Howard Lerner is the Superintendent of Bergen County Technical Schools, which comprise several buildings with a combined enrollment of 2,211 students. He makes $255,877 a year. Chris Cerf is Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, N.J.’s largest school district, which comprises 66 buildings and a combined enrollment of 35,835 students. He makes $255,524 per year. Chalk up another inequity in school funding, as well as another failure of a signature Chris Christie initiative. (You can check out the top …

Guest Post: “The Morality Problem Lurking Below the Surface in Lakewood”

This is a guest post from Thomas G. Gatti, a Lakewood resident and supporter of municipal and educational equity. Gatti is a media consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of the College Television Network. He was previously COO of  DIR Broadcasting and an executive at Eastman Radio. (For those of you new to Lakewood’s history of shortchanging non-ultra Orthodox schoolchildren and residents, see here, here, and here. For complete NJLB coverage, click here.) ******************************************************************  I …

Just How Irrelevant is the NEA?

This irrelevant: on Tuesday, July 4th, at its annual Delegate Assembly, the National Education Association passed a resolution that would suck the heart out of the healthy charter school sector that currently serves 5% of American schoolchildren. Specifically, NEA leaders resolved that charters must be approved by local traditional school districts (ensuring that no charter ever be approved); that all charters adopt local districts’ pay scales and, presumably, tenure laws; that no charters be expanded, …

Surprised By the Lakewood FBI Arrests on Welfare Fraud? Don’t Be: Just Look at the Schools

Lakewood was the subject of much media attention last week, from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press. Why the sudden interest? Because FBI agents and county police began arresting local Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) on charges of defrauding state and federal programs by claiming poverty and wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities. If you’re a regular …

“I Love Newark And Am Proud To Say I Live Here,” Says NPS Grad

It’s easy to be skeptical about improvements to Newark Public Schools,given its sordid history of corruption, desultory oversight, and — most critically — poor student outcomes. But it just may be time to lighten up: after the incorporation of higher academic and operational standards, greater accountability and transparency, and Superintendent Chris Cerf’s leadership, New Jersey’s largest school district is finally able to point to meaningful measures of progress. To wit: a substantial increase in high …

A Hope for the Heart of Phil Murphy

The big news story today, of course, is U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s failure to summon enough votes to bring to the floor a bill that would decimate the Affordable Care Act and throw 22 million Americans, mostly low-income, old, or disabled, off the insurance rolls. The New York Times Editorial Board, for example, writes that “the bill is a cruel hoax that would help the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poorest.” And, as …

Lakewood Public Schools Update

There’s no shortage of news from Lakewood: even the Wall Street Journal takes notice today. Of course, they’re late to my party; no, on second thought, late to my shivah, the Jewish ritual mourning period, typically seven days but in Lakewood an eternity. I probably cover Lakewood’s morally and fiscally bankrupt schools too often, but this Ocean County school district that enrolls almost entirely Latino and Black low-income students pushes all my education reform buttons: …

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 …