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 …

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. …

During KIPP’s “Summer Jump,” Kids with Disabilities Learn With Typical Kids. How Does This Work?

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicolina Abruzzese, Assistant Principal of Special Education at KIPP Bold Academy, a charter middle school in Newark that is part of the KIPP New Jersey charter school network. This is Nicolina’s fourth year with KIPPNJ and tenth year in education. She has worked as a Special Education coordinator, department chair and coach of special education teachers and  paraprofessionals, co-chair of the Child Study Team, and as a special education teacher in her …

Getting the Facts Straight on New Jersey Charter Schools: This Is No Time For a “Pause” On High-Quality Charter Growth

Donna Siminski is Director of Policy and Advocacy for the New Jersey Charter School Association with a focus on the policy issues impacting the the state’s charter schools. Donna works with members, charter families, and charter school professionals to advocate for high-quality charter schools and the children they serve. Governor Murphy and Acting Commissioner Repollet are interested in New Jersey’s charter school facts and reviewing the current law & regulations. As this analysis proceeds, the …

This May Be The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: A District Embraces a Charter School

Just one year ago the Hoboken Public Schools District (HPSD) was locked in a years-long battle with one of the state’s most successful charter schools, the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School, or HoLa. On Friday the superintendent of Hoboken Public Schools joined HoLa for a celebration of an honor awarded to only five public schools in the state. What a difference a year makes. Over the last two years the HPSD has spent hundreds of thousands …

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 …

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 …

What Can My District Do to Increase Parent Engagement?

I live in a township in the middle of New Jersey that’s home to a culturally and economically diverse school district. That’s not very common in this state’s highly segregated school system. My local stretch of U.S. Route 206 tells the tale: Driving north, you’ll first pass the inner-city school district of Trenton where 90 percent of students are economically disadvantaged (i.e., meet the requirements for free or reduced-price lunch, the government’s proxy for poverty), …

If We’re Really About Leveling the Academic Playing Field, We Need to Prioritize the Arts

(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.) Once upon a time, standardized tests were given to adults from all walks of life to prove themselves worthy of certain jobs that they would otherwise not be able to access. These original tests …

Is Integration Your Silver Bullet? Time to Get Real.

Last week I wrote a post about a report on N.J.’s segregated schools by Professor Gary Orfield et. al. which I found vacuous and flawed, particularly its conclusion that charter schools increase segregation because they cluster in districts that serve children of color. I noted that  “the reasons why more Black families are enthusiastic about charter school culture is beyond the scope of my blog post.” (Also, I’m not Black and, therefore, not an authentic …