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 …

Confessions of a Jersey-Born White Teacher in an Urban School

(This is a guest post by Jennifer Rich, an assistant professor in the College of Education at Rowan University, and the director of research and education for the Rowan Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. It first appeared in the Hechinger Report.) My first year of teaching, I did almost everything wrong. They tell you to be yourself. Here was my first mistake: I didn’t want to be myself. I wanted to be Michelle Pfeiffer. …

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 …

Ed Comm. Repollet Goes For the “Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations” but State Board of Education Refuses to Play – For Now.

Last month the State Board of Education considered some big changes to our requirements for a high school diploma. The recommendations were proffered by Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet and were widely anticipated to be adopted during the meeting. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Board wisely decided to delay the decision and continue discussions in September. They must know that there’s far more at stake than rejiggering standardized tests that NJEA, Education Law Center, and …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “When Everyone Dresses the Same, The Focus is on Learning.”

Ubaidullah Jackson, who just turned seven years old, peers up at me with undisguised curiosity. I’m here to interview his mom, Shati Gerald, about why and how she has molded an ambitious academic track for her gifted son and so he’ll have to be satisfied with access to his mom’s smartphone and a promise for a snack at the closing brunch at the 2018 NJ Parents Summit. Shati is a social services coordinator for senior …

Not So Fast with the “We” Word, Trenton Superintendent McDowell. You’re Leaving Out the Parents.

“We in Trenton are adamantly opposed to charter school expansion,” Trenton Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Wednesday at a community meeting on the subject. “We are united in that statement.” Um, no, Dr. McDowell. I don’t know whom you are referring to when you say “We in Trenton” but it’s definitely not the Trenton parents I spoke to at last weekend’s NJ Parent Summit, where 250 parents, mostly single moms of color, mostly from Abbott …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “As the Only Black Person in My Class, I Lost a Sense of Self.”

This is a love story. Twelve years ago, Shiana Torres was a student at Essex County Community College. She had grown up in Summit, a mostly white town where she often felt alienated. “I excelled academically,” she recalled, “so I was always the only Black person in my class. You lose a sense of self.” Suddenly she noticed a young man in a restaurant on Springfield Avenue in front of a Chinese restaurant and, well, …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “There’s Proof That Charter Schools Work So Why Would You Stop?”

Jamila Jendayi-Scott, who attended Paterson Public Schools during the state takeover (from 1991 to this past May) and whose son attends the Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, is a firm believer in school choice. Her views stem not from politics but from personal experience. Her own experience within the traditional public system was just fine, by the way. Her Paterson school was not a part of the “paradigm program” that formed a portion of …