Shavar Jeffries, Montclair Public Schools, and the ESSA Shell Game

I once heard a Montclair High School student describe how he could tell whether a class was an AP or honors course by glancing into the room: If the students inside were almost all white, it was AP or honors; if the students were mostly Black and brown it wasn’t. That’s Montclair, a plush district in Essex County that is externally diverse but internally segregated. The 6,700 students are half White, one-third Black, and one-tenth …

Gov. Murphy Promised NJEA He’d “Get Rid of PARCC Day One.” Not So Fast, Say Those Who Value Honest Representations of Student Proficiency and School Quality.

Last week New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet presented a  proposal to the State Board of Education to reduce the end-of-course (EOC) state tests administered in high school from six to two, the minimum required under federal law. To the shock of those who follows these typically pro forma sessions, the BOE tabled the proposals because it didn’t have the votes to pass them and generously spared Repollet and his boss, Gov. Phil Murphy, the …

Better Education for Kids and JerseyCAN Issue Joint Statement on Legislative Hearing Re: DOE Proposals On Lowering Standards

Context: Today members of the Legislature, led by  Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt and Senator Education Chair Teresa Ruiz (both Democrats), asked smart questions of New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet regarding his proposals to water down accountability and standards by eliminating four of the six end-of-year course tests in high schools. (Last week he diminished the link between students outcomes and teacher evaluations from 30 percent to 5 percent.) According to The Record, …

Is Betsy DeVos on the Verge of Removing Civil Rights Protections for Students of Color?

(A different version of this piece appeared earlier this month at Education Post.) Let’s just call her Betsy DeVoid. Our secretary of education earns a name-change because of her predilection for voiding laws that protect our most disenfranchised students. First it was rescissions to the civil rights regulations that protect students with disabilities. Now it’s the 2014 Obama administration’s school discipline guidance, also based on civil rights law, that requires districts to address the wide …

The NJ State Board of Education Has the Right Stuff.

“Amen,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “I think this gives us an opportunity to come up with the best plan,” Ruiz said in an interview. “I’m in favor of change all the time. We should be changing the mark. But it should be moving it up, and not staying in one place or even lowering the bar.” “These policies that were being made were based on the high-performing high …

Not Backpacks Full of Cash But Backpacks Full of Rights: NCSECS Takes On Special Education Equity in Charter Schools.

It’s a common complaint among those who look down their collective nose at public charter schools: they don’t serve their fair share of students with disabilities, or at least those with moderate to severe disabilities, and they counsel out kids who can’t deal with academic rigor, either back to their sending districts or to private placements at district expense. Let’s pay our respects to Mark Twain who said, “all generalizations are false, including this one.” …

This NJ Spotlight Op-Ed is Wrong.

Scott Taylor, the superintendent of the Highland Park school district, has an op-ed in today’s NJ Spotlight that argues that the New Jersey State Board of Education should eliminate all high school diploma-qualifying tests. This is a suggestion we’ve heard before and there are reasonable arguments for both sides. However, Mr. Taylor runs into unreasonable territory when he declares that the primary reason for eliminating all diploma tests is because New Jersey schools are so …

Murphy Gives A Big Wet Kiss to NJEA and a Punch to the Gut for Camden Families as He Vetoes a Student-Centered Bill.

Last week Governor Phil Murphy “conditionally” vetoed a bill that would have allowed the most popular and high-achieving public schools in Camden to add seats, expanded parents’ public school options, and stabilized the universal enrollment system called Camden Enrollment. He did this at the bidding of NJEA, which celebrated by issuing a press release lauding Murphy’s dedication to “truly public schools” that are run “not for the benefit of outside corporate management companies.” Camden teacher …

New Jersey Has One of the Lowest Rates of Inclusion of Special Education Students in America. A New Report Explains What We’re Doing Wrong.

A new report called “An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education” by the nonprofit group Innovate Public Schools (IPS) doesn’t mince words: students with disabilities are segregated into classrooms with low expectations, “regardless of how moderate their disability may be.” Families and advocates are often “dismissed and ignored.”Special needs children, especially those of color, are systematically relegated to lower tracks, regardless of cognitive potential, all in violation of the basic tenet of federal law that children …

The Star-Ledger Gets the Story Right But The Headline Wrong.

Don’t blame that inconsistency on journalist Adam Clark:  typically writers have no control over headlines. Nonetheless, he’s stuck with the problem that his article on New Jersey’s latest state assessments, known as PARCC for the moment, is topped by the headline “Most NJ Kids Failed the State Math Exam (Again),” although his story accurately conveys great news: our students are rising to the challenge of higher standards that reflect the skill sets necessary for life after …