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 …

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.” …

When School Supply Lists Give Rise to Bullying (and Worse). Here’s What’s Missing from those “Back to School” Stories.

Kei-Sygh Thomas is a freelance writer and a former editorial fellow at The 74, as well as a KIPPNJ alumna. Find her on Twitter: @KeiSyghThomas. This post was originally published at The Grade. The return to school filled my household with anxiety – not because of nervousness about the new teacher or new kids, but because we couldn’t afford the expense. A free and public education isn’t free when there are backpacks to be filled with …