Tafshier Cosby-Thomas: “Parents are Making Choices for Their Children. Why Would Anyone Get in the Way of That?”

Last week I had the opportunity to interview long-time Newark resident Tafshier Cosby-Thomas on her experiences with the city’s public schools: traditional, magnet, and charter. While Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, under instructions from Governor Phil Murphy, takes a “pause” on authorizing charter expansion in order to conduct his “review,” let’s pierce the smog of special interests and politicking around this hot-button issue and actually talk to parents whose children’s educational trajectory rides on decisions made …

Just Picture These Scholars Tomorrow! KIPP Joins with District Schools To Celebrate Future Heroes

Yesterday KIPP Seek Academy students enjoyed a Halloween parade with children from two district schools, George Washington Carver Elementary and Bruce Street School. But this was not your typical Halloween celebration! Instead of ghosts and goblins, 1,100 children dressed in costumes that represented their hopes and dreams for the future. According to KIPP, spectators caught a glimpse of “our future police officers, doctors, teachers and even Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Astronaut Mae Jemison.” After the …

Improving Special Education is a Priority for Newark Charters

Mark Rynone is Executive Director of the NJ Special Education Collaborative. Since its inception in 2013, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools has provided support to charter schools in Newark. The focus of our work has been to improve the capacity of charter schools across the city to ensure that they are equipped to provide high quality supports and services to students with a wide range of learning differences. In 2016, we …

Newark Charters Make Great Progress and Eliminate the Achievement Gap!

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. On Friday, the New Jersey Department of Education released PARCC results for the 2017-18 school year. For the first time, Newark charter students in grades 3-8 …

Hot Off the Press: New Report from NCTQ Reviews Newark’s Teacher Evaluation System

When the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and the Newark Public Schools, under the superintendency of Cami Anderson, agreed in 2012 to a new contract that linked teacher pay to performance, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation.” This past summer NTU President John Abeigon, when queried by a Chalkbeat reporter about those 2012 innovatives and upcoming negotiations for a new …

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, …

I Didn’t Want to Go to KIPP But Now I’m in College and I Totally Get It.

Julien Broomfield is a senior at Howard University pursuing a degree in English with a minor in sociology. She aspires to be an elementary school English teacher at KIPP after graduating from Howard in the fall of 2018. Julien’s piece was first published at Education Post. It’s 5:45 a.m. on a Monday in mid-August. The year is 2006 and my mom is rapping on my bedroom door. “Julien! Time to get up Ju, you have …

Cerf: “This Is The Moment. The Biggest Risk as We Go To Local Control Is That Lurking In the Background Is a Real Transactional Mentality.”

Last week in The 74 I analyzed the legacy of Chris Cerf’s tenure in New Jersey, both as Commissioner of Education and, more recently, as state-appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Part of my analysis came from a conversation we had last month and I wasn’t able to work all the content into the article. So, in the interest of completeness, here are some of his answers to other questions I posed to him. Waters: …

Mark Weber, Bruce Baker, and Thomas Jefferson

Mark Weber, who blogs at Jersey Jazzman, has lately been focused on a study he wrote with his Rutgers professor Bruce Baker that tries to undermine a Harvard analysis of the impact of education reform in Newark. (Here are links to my views of the Harvard study and the Weber/Baker study.)  Quick recap: The Harvard professors show that, post-reforms,  Newark schools are providing better results for students, especially in English Language Arts (ELA); students’ year-to-year …

In Newark, Every Teacher Is Sacred

Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. Does anyone else  remember that ditty “Every Sperm is Sacred” from the Monty Python movie called “The Meaning of Life”? When I’m feeling most foul about teacher tenure laws, this song becomes my earworm. And Monday was one of those days because I read Leslie Brody’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal about chronic teacher absenteeism in Newark. …