Newark Update

I have a new column up at NJ Spotlight called “The Four Factors Behind Newark’s Education Turnaround.” It starts here: New Jersey is a fragmented and complicated state, splintered into 565 municipalities and even more school districts. Newark is its microcosm, a byzantine culture of powerful ward bosses who control every aspect of governance, including its school system. Although I’ve been writing about education in New Jersey for a decade, it wasn’t until a few …

Newark Signatories Put Adults Before Kids

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, except when  treasured memories are delusional. Which pretty much describes yesterday’s op-ed in NJ Spotlight signed by State Senator Ronald Rice Sr., Newark School Board member Leah Owens, Newark Teachers Union president John Abeigon, and other Newark luminaries. In this piece the writers lament that they were “disenfranchised by the state takeover of the public school system for 22 years” and — even worse —  “boldly disrespected during the past …

What is Driving Newark Students’ Academic Growth? Answers Here, Via New Harvard Analysis

Researchers at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) are releasing a  study today called “Assessing the Impact of the Newark Education Reforms.” This report analyzes student academic growth since Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million Facebook donation in 2011, matched by another $100 million raised by U.S. Senator (then Newark mayor) Cory Booker. The researchers — Thomas J. Kane (Harvard), Douglas Staiger (Dartmouth), Beth Schueler (Harvard), Whitney Kozakowski (Harvard), and Mark Chin (Harvard) — according …

“Significant Reforms” Drive Newark Students’ Steady Academic Gains

We are very encouraged by results that show our students continue to make steady gains, especially when comparing their results to students in other cities. This data shows us that while there remains progress to be made, thousands more Newark students are reading and doing math on grade level today than just a few years ago, and that these students have a better chance at attending college and pursuing a meaningful career when they leave …

Chris Cerf Unplugged: Charter Schools, Phil Murphy, NJEA, and Save Our Schools-NJ

In an interview in today’s Star-Ledger, Newark Superintendent and former New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf discusses the threat of a charter school moratorium, his views on “boutique” charter schools in leafy suburbs, why NJEA leaders and Save Our Schools-NJ fight so vociferously against public charters yet give discriminatory magnet schools (and their own access to school choice) a pass, the impending governorship of Phil Murphy, and how Newark charters are incubating new ideas …

“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 …

Do All Schools Rise? They Do In Newark!

On Thursday I attended College Signing Day at North Star, one of Newark’s best public charter schools. But someone beat them to the punch. On May 1st, Newark Public Schools inaugurated its first annual district-wide College Decision Day. where  each member of the 2017 NPS senior class who has committed to attending college this upcoming fall was celebrated by peers, teachers, administrators, and Superintendent Chris Cerf. “Today is a remarkable moment in the educational journey …