Not Backpacks Full of Cash But Backpacks Full of Rights: NCSECS Takes On Special Education Equity in Charter Schools.

It’s a common complaint among those who look down their collective nose at public charter schools: they don’t serve their fair share of students with disabilities, or at least those with moderate to severe disabilities, and they counsel out kids who can’t deal with academic rigor, either back to their sending districts or to private placements at district expense. Let’s pay our respects to Mark Twain who said, “all generalizations are false, including this one.” …

Murphy Gives A Big Wet Kiss to NJEA and a Punch to the Gut for Camden Families as He Vetoes a Student-Centered Bill.

Last week Governor Phil Murphy “conditionally” vetoed a bill that would have allowed the most popular and high-achieving public schools in Camden to add seats, expanded parents’ public school options, and stabilized the universal enrollment system called Camden Enrollment. He did this at the bidding of NJEA, which celebrated by issuing a press release lauding Murphy’s dedication to “truly public schools” that are run “not for the benefit of outside corporate management companies.” Camden teacher …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “When Everyone Dresses the Same, The Focus is on Learning.”

Ubaidullah Jackson, who just turned seven years old, peers up at me with undisguised curiosity. I’m here to interview his mom, Shati Gerald, about why and how she has molded an ambitious academic track for her gifted son and so he’ll have to be satisfied with access to his mom’s smartphone and a promise for a snack at the closing brunch at the 2018 NJ Parents Summit. Shati is a social services coordinator for senior …

Not So Fast with the “We” Word, Trenton Superintendent McDowell. You’re Leaving Out the Parents.

“We in Trenton are adamantly opposed to charter school expansion,” Trenton Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Wednesday at a community meeting on the subject. “We are united in that statement.” Um, no, Dr. McDowell. I don’t know whom you are referring to when you say “We in Trenton” but it’s definitely not the Trenton parents I spoke to at last weekend’s NJ Parent Summit, where 250 parents, mostly single moms of color, mostly from Abbott …

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, …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “There’s Proof That Charter Schools Work So Why Would You Stop?”

Jamila Jendayi-Scott, who attended Paterson Public Schools during the state takeover (from 1991 to this past May) and whose son attends the Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, is a firm believer in school choice. Her views stem not from politics but from personal experience. Her own experience within the traditional public system was just fine, by the way. Her Paterson school was not a part of the “paradigm program” that formed a portion of …

It’s Saturday Morning at the NJ Parent Summit and Future Leaders Are In School.

I’ve attended the NJ Parent Summit for two of its three years. (Last year the Summit coincided with my daughter’s wedding.) This year, for the first time, Summit organizers have initiated a “Leadership Track” which goes to the heart of one of the Summit’s goals: to help NJ parents become advocacy leaders in their communities and, in turn, train other parents as advocates. So on this Saturday morning I’m in a jam-packed conference room at …

This School Year Let’s Treat Our Teachers Like Celebrities.

This is a guest post by Ryan Hill, the founder and chief executive officer of KIPP New Jersey (formerly TEAM Schools), a network of public charter schools in Newark and Camden, New Jersey. KIPP New Jersey is part of the nationally recognized “Knowledge Is Power Program” network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. This first ran at Education Post. My father was …

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 …

Camden Families Beg To Differ With NJEA and Education Law Center: Pass That Bill!

Alert! Alert! A new bill in the New Jersey Legislature intends to infest Camden’s traditional school system with a malignancy disguised as a minor legislative tweak. This new bill, an adjustment to the 2012 Urban Hope Act, threatens to decimate the district by siphoning resources from real public schools in order to dramatically expand the reach of fake public schools, also known as “renaissance” schools, which are run by craven privatizers. In addition, the bill …