School Choice is Improving Prospects for Newark Schoolchildren But It’s Not Doing Much for Weber/Baker’s Analytical Acumen

In Wednesday’s NJ Spotlight, Mark Weber takes aim at two recent editorials, mine and Michele Mason’s, which cover different aspects of recent public school improvements in Newark, N.J.’s largest school district. Weber also uses the editorial to hype a new report he wrote with Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker (his dissertation advisor), published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) called “School District Reform in Newark and Impact of the Newark Education Reforms. The NEPC report by Weber/Baker, …

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 …

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 …

The Soprano State, Muhammed Akil, and PC2E: A Jersey Story

Here’s part of Friday’s press release from the Newark-based organization Parent Coalition for Excellent Schools, or PC2E: Today the Parent Coalition for Excellent Education (PC2E) announced Founder and Executive Director Muhammed Akil is resigning from the organization to pursue other professional opportunities effective Friday, November 10, 2017…“One of the main objectives of PC2E’s Action Fund was to give the charter school sector a strong political voice in Newark,” said Mr. Akil. “The formation and success …

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 …

Here’s What Matt Barnum Gets Wrong About Education Reform in Newark

Maybe it’s because I’m at the New Jersey Charter School Association annual conference and last evening heard Norm Atkins, founder of Uncommon Schools, remark that during Newark’s most recent open enrollment cycle half of all Newark kindergarten parents ranked Uncommon as their first choice and listened to his partner Jamey Verrilli describe school choice as a quest for educational justice. Maybe because I just spent the lunch hour listening to charter school teachers eagerly compare notes on …

This Mother Feels “Blessed” To Have Her Children in a N.J. Charter School: a New Report Tells Us Why

Last week wrote about the New Jersey Charter School Association’s new analysis, “20 Years of New Jersey Charter Schools: A State of the Sector Report,” from the perspective of the struggles of Paterson’s traditional school sector. That quick overview is just a tease of the wealth of data available from NJCSA, which begins its annual convention this morning. (I’m on my way!) I urge readers to check out the full report, which “demonstrates that, overall, New …

Fact Check for Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver

Last week AFT President Randi Weingarten hosted teachers from Newark, Perth Amboy, North Bergen, and Garfield for a meet-and-greet with gubernatorial shoo-ins Phil Murphy and his lieutenant governor running partner Sheila Oliver, reports Tapinto.  The purpose of the meeting was to give teachers opportunities to “share ideas for improving education and to voice their concerns regarding the current state of public education.” Great. Except for this: our future state leaders need a little educating themselves. …

Anyone Have Some Dragonglass?

Superintendents aren’t going to advocate for eliminating their jobs. School business administrators aren’t going to advocate for eliminating their jobs. School boards are not going to want to just get rid of their power. That’s Newton Township Mayor Wayne Levante acknowledging that his proposal to consolidate Sussex County’s 25 school districts has as much chance of gaining support as Brienne of Tarth slipping into Melania Trump’s stilettos. Those 25 districts, by the way, have a total …

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 …