Six Ways in Which Lakewood is “Special”; Or, What Happens When Local Control Runs Wild

I’ve been thinking about local control lately and the ways in which it contributes, both locally and nationally, to public education inequities. New Jersey, of course, is local control run wild —  late Assemblyman Alan Karcher called us an exemplar of  “multiple municipal madness” —  with our 590 school districts and 565 municipalities. Every attempt to even out disparities in funding and affordable housing fails miserably because no amount of money — think of Asbury …

We Are #CharterStrong!

State Street in Trenton was hopping today! With the Senate and Assembly both in session on this bright chilly morning, NRA members gathered around the War Memorial to protest new gun control proposals, Lakewood attorney Michael Inzelbuch bussed in students to press the state for more money for non-public students, and Asbury Park residents gathered to support the confirmation of their former superintendent Lamont Repollet, nominated for State Education Commissioner. But the loudest and largest crowd …

When Politics Undermines Scholarship: A New “Analysis” from Julia Sass Rubin and Mark Weber

A new report is out called “New Jersey Charter Schools: A Data-Driven View – 2018 Update, Part I” by Julia Sass Rubin and Mark Weber. This study, draped with a Rutgers University banner, purports to be a scholarly analysis proving that charter schools are an untenable fiscal burden on traditional districts and enroll proportionally fewer special education students, English Language Learners, and low-income students than their sending district public schools. The report concludes with recommendations …

A Preliminary Analysis of Murphy’s Education Budget from N.J.’s School Funding Expert

(This is a guest post from the anonymous writer of the great school funding blog called New Jersey Education Aid. The writer notes that this is a preliminary look based on the Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed education budget, presented yesterday, that calls for a $283 million increase in aid to public schools.) On Tuesday, March 13th, Phil Murphy gave his first budget address. The budget address gives the amount of money Phil Murphy wants the state …

Great News! Lakewood Board of Education and Michael Inzelbuch Threaten to Resign

“Tell the state we’re not to be messed with,” Board of Education lawyer Michael Inzelbuch boomed into a microphone inside the high school commons last week, prompting cheers from hundreds of athletes. That’s yesterday’s Asbury Park Press capturing the tone of a meeting masquerading as an athletic banquet that was really Lakewood Public Schools’ roll-out of the big artillery in its quest for more state cash. Why does Lakewood need more money than anyone else? …

The Lakewood Vaad Says, “Vote For Murphy, He’s a Mensch”

To no one’s surprise, the Lakewood Vaad, a group of eleven ultra-Orthodox men who control all educational, political, budgetary, and construction activity in this rapidly-growing city, has endorsed Phil Murphy for governor. (See here and here for background.) According to the Asbury Park Press, this announcement comes two weeks after Murphy visited Lakewood for a fundraiser and  “mixer” with 50 ultra-Orthodox men. I’ve printed the endorsement below. First, a few comments. The Vaad, which typically …

“You Have to Ask — What is Going on Here?’’ The Canary is Dead in Lakewood

I’ve written much about Lakewood’s practice of privileging ultra-Orthodox Jewish schoolchildren, particularly those with special needs, over the school district’s almost entirely Latino and Black enrollment. This culture of inequity extends beyond public education services.   The school district’s practice of devoting disproportional funds to non-public school students who attend the 130 or so Jewish day schools and special education private schools that accept only Jewish students is merely the canary in the coal mine, an …

Guest Post: “The Morality Problem Lurking Below the Surface in Lakewood”

This is a guest post from Thomas G. Gatti, a Lakewood resident and supporter of municipal and educational equity. Gatti is a media consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of the College Television Network. He was previously COO of  DIR Broadcasting and an executive at Eastman Radio. (For those of you new to Lakewood’s history of shortchanging non-ultra Orthodox schoolchildren and residents, see here, here, and here. For complete NJLB coverage, click here.) ******************************************************************  I …

Surprised By the Lakewood FBI Arrests on Welfare Fraud? Don’t Be: Just Look at the Schools

Lakewood was the subject of much media attention last week, from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press. Why the sudden interest? Because FBI agents and county police began arresting local Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) on charges of defrauding state and federal programs by claiming poverty and wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities. If you’re a regular …

Lakewood Public Schools Update

There’s no shortage of news from Lakewood: even the Wall Street Journal takes notice today. Of course, they’re late to my party; no, on second thought, late to my shivah, the Jewish ritual mourning period, typically seven days but in Lakewood an eternity. I probably cover Lakewood’s morally and fiscally bankrupt schools too often, but this Ocean County school district that enrolls almost entirely Latino and Black low-income students pushes all my education reform buttons: …