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 …

“You Have to Ask — What is Going on Here?’’ The Canary is Dead in Lakewood

I’ve written much about Lakewood’s practice of privileging ultra-Orthodox Jewish schoolchildren, particularly those with special needs, over the school district’s almost entirely Latino and Black enrollment. This culture of inequity extends beyond public education services.   The school district’s practice of devoting disproportional funds to non-public school students who attend the 130 or so Jewish day schools and special education private schools that accept only Jewish students is merely the canary in the coal mine, an …

“If You’re Not a White Boy, You’re Less Likely to Be Diagnosed with Autism”

The National Autism Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently submitted  a report to Congress called  “Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” You can wade through the whole thing here but the conclusions will come as no surprise to parents with children and young adults on the autism spectrum: our country’s system for providing support is inadequate, inequitable, fragmented, confusing, and in “acute need” of reform. Any parent …

Follow the Money All the Way to Lakewood; Or, Kneel to the Vaad

This just in from Matt Rooney of Save Jersey, who speculates how Governor-to-be Phil Murphy so easily secured the Democratic nomination. Says Rooney, “he bought it, Corzine-style,” but with one difference. [W]hereas Corzine did it the old fashioned way (donating HUGE sums of cash to Democrat county organizations who decide the nomination), Murphy spread the cash around through various front organizations over the course of years. Rooney is dinging Murphy here. I’m not; it’s de …

Is Our Education System Leaving Creative Children Behind?

(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.) When Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush were President and Vice President, I was a child who walked from my Catholic elementary school on Princeton’s Nassau Street to the public library on Witherspoon Street. …

Is the Lakewood Board of Education Breaking State Law?

Today the Star-Ledger reports that Barry Iann, the President of the Lakewood Board of Education, quit on Monday night. He’s giving up, he says, because there’s too much bad press and there’s not enough funding. He’s right about the district’s fiscal mess; while Lakewood is indeed under-funded, much of the liability for the annual shortfall, about $15 million per year, falls squarely on the Board because it participates in the practice of paying tuition to …

“For the First Time I Have Teachers Telling Me That Lisa is One Smart Kid”: A Parent’s Struggle with Dyslexia and Traditional Schools

(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.)   I have done much to hide myself from the outside world, because there seems to be so little compassion out there. As testimony, I chose to live in a house adjoining a forest …

Lakewood Public Schools Update

There’s no shortage of news from Lakewood: even the Wall Street Journal takes notice today. Of course, they’re late to my party; no, on second thought, late to my shivah, the Jewish ritual mourning period, typically seven days but in Lakewood an eternity. I probably cover Lakewood’s morally and fiscally bankrupt schools too often, but this Ocean County school district that enrolls almost entirely Latino and Black low-income students pushes all my education reform buttons: …

Jared’s Got Something Special and KIPP’s ‘Pathways’ Is Helping Him Show It

Eight-year-old Jared Teel-Drayton hops into the room, hands flapping, eyes darting, smile alight. He’s been painting—his class went to the art room today—and his teacher, Farida Mallah, patiently combs through a plastic drawer for a clean tee-shirt, which he dons happily. It’s his favorite one, navy blue with the word “grit” stenciled in front, usually awarded as a prize. Jared’s got something special, and it’s not just a new tee-shirt. “Can you tuck it in?” …

“I Thought They Were Creaming Off Top Students”: Camden Charter Leader on His Own Learning Curve

“Even in my seat as a charter school leader, I always say that I wish I could have done what I’m able to do here in a traditional district school.” That’s William Hayes, principal of East Camden Middle School, one of Camden’s new “renaissance” charters (this one operated by Mastery) that are distinguished by an unusually collaborative partnership with district schools. Hayes acknowledges a bit of surprise at his career trajectory.  Earlier on “I bought the …