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 …

DeVos Is Stripping Away Civil Rights Protections for Students With Special Needs

I’m detecting a trend. Recently, The Atlantic ran a piece that catalogues the Trump administration’s disregard of civil rights protections for Americans (and aspiring Americans) during the tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Across every issue, from criminal-justice reform to voting rights to LGBTQ rights,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “the attorney general is advancing a vision of America that is narrow, and abdicating some of the Justice Department’s …

Guest Post: The State Must Immediately Take Over the Lakewood Board of Education

Michael Hoban was an educator for 48 years, teaching at the elementary, high school and university levels.  He was a university professor of mathematics for 35 years, is a Professor Emeritus at the City University of NY, and has lived in Lakewood for 14 years. Prof. Hoban is the senior educational consultant to Lakewood U.N.I.T.E., the group that advocates for minority families in Lakewood. This post originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press. A June 20 column by Randy Bergmann, Asbury Park Press …

It Doesn’t Just Happen at Starbucks. Teachers Need Racial Bias Training Too.

Zachary Wright is the 12th-grade world literature and AP Literature teacher at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus where he has been for the last eight years. Over his more than 10 years in Philadelphia classrooms, he was named Philadelphia’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2013 and has participated in the fight for equal education funding. Zach wrote this piece shortly after the April 12th incident at a Philly Starbucks; it was originally published at Education Post. Last week, two Black men were arrested for sitting …

Sheesh, SCHI: A Civil Rights Complaint, Plus the Director of Lakewood Special Ed School Accused of Stealing Million Dollars from the District

Last week Rabbi Osher Eisemann, the founder of the School for Hidden Intelligence (SCHI), previously arrested for mere money-laundering, is now facing corruption charges. A year ago the State said he stole $630,000 in tuition paid by Lakewood Public Schools to SCHI, a state-approved private special education that educates almost exclusively ultra-Orthodox children.. (Lakewood schools’ monthly bill to SCHI is $1.8 million for 200 students’ tuition.) This new indictment, says the Asbury Park Press, “increases the sum …

Here’s What It’s Like to Have a Teacher Think You Can’t Write Because You’re a Black Boy From Trenton.

(This piece, originally published at Education Post, is by Tre Johnson, a freelance writer on race, culture and politics. He’s also an educator, advocate and part-time superhero.) “Can you see me after school about this?” was scrawled across the last page of my essay in that trademark punitive red ink that teachers always used in school. A sinister visual, it might as well have been lettered “REDRUM.” But this wasn’t a letter grade; this was a …

Fishing for Integrity in Lakewood

Two weeks ago Jersey Matters interviewed State Senator Robert Singer about Lakewood Public Schools’ practice of placing ultra-Orthodox students with disabilities in expensive private placements like the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) while keeping Black and Brown students with disabilities in-district or sending them to other public placements. Here’s Singer’s answer: “They (the school) have tried and worked with the school district in trying to entice Hispanic and African-American children to come there,” …

How Do We Foster Integration and Inclusion in New Jersey?

(This is a guest post by Aggie Sung, a certified early education teacher whose passion is in children’s books that teach young learners to express themselves through art, words, and motion. Her books include “Mommy Duck.” She resides in Princeton, N.J.) Historically, the American education system has been shaped for the concept of inclusion, which means accepted without condition. Aligned with the beliefs of the ostracized Christians who settled the 13 colonies, education in America …

Confessions from A Recovering Academic; Or, The Problems with Proffered Solutions To N.J.’s Segregated Schools (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

The Civil Rights Project has a new academic paper out called “New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward,” a follow-up to a report on the same subject supplemented by new data from 2010-2015. This release of this report has been dutifully covered by New Jersey traditional media outlets (see the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, NJ Today) by reciting a few talking points: New Jersey is more diverse than it used to be—there’s a “remarkable increase in …

Follow the Money All the Way to Lakewood; Or, Kneel to the Vaad

This just in from Matt Rooney of Save Jersey, who speculates how Governor-to-be Phil Murphy so easily secured the Democratic nomination. Says Rooney, “he bought it, Corzine-style,” but with one difference. [W]hereas Corzine did it the old fashioned way (donating HUGE sums of cash to Democrat county organizations who decide the nomination), Murphy spread the cash around through various front organizations over the course of years. Rooney is dinging Murphy here. I’m not; it’s de …