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, …

The Value of Anger and other Afternoon Notes from #NJ Parent Summit

I’m a sucker for word derivations. Did you know that the word “anger” is derived from an old Norse word meaning “grief?” What is grief? Mike Gecan, as we embark on the afternoon session of the Leadership Track, tells the packed room (I’m sitting on the floor typing this) that the word implies loss, either of of something that was once there but no longer exists or of something that one values but never existed, something you …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: Erica Explains It All!

Meet Erica Beverett of Lumberton, New Jersey. A Head Start teacher in Trenton, Erica is attending the NJ Parent Summit this weekend for the Leadership Track, which prepares parents to engage other parents in becoming strong advocates for their children. Erica didn’t use to live in Lumberton (Burlington County). She and her two children, now fourteen and thirteen, lived in Willingboro, about fifteen minutes away. On a personal note, I used to cover Willingboro on …

It’s Time for the Third Annual NJ Parent Summit!

Today I head for Mt. Laurel, where 250 parents hailing from all over the state — Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Plainfield, Trenton, Englewood —  will convene for the weekend to sharpen their advocacy skills. Session topics include”Choice and Healthy Competition: Demanding the Schools our Children Deserve,”  “Having the Right Conversations with the Right Staff in Your Child’s School,” “Advocating for Exceptional Students,” and a host of others, all focused on empowering …

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 …

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 …

Senior Signing Day at KIPP NJ! What’s Next For These Stellar Scholars?

One of the biggest decisions a high school senior will make is where to attend college, and KIPP NJ makes that decision a very big deal.  On May 24, from 6:00-8:00 pm, the 129 KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy (NCA) seniors publicly announced for the first time where they will be attending college in the fall.  The event took place at Montclair State University.  Among the invited guests were friends and families of the students, high school faculty, the KIPP Through College …