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 …

Follow the Money: A Guest Post from a Lakewood Resident

Once again the Lakewood Public Schools has been bailed out of their financial hole. This has become a rite of spring. The school-age population in Lakewood is around 35,000, of which only 6,000 children are public school students. Lakewood Schools have demographics like no other school district in New Jersey. The school district spends over 15 million dollars on courtesy busing for the 120 nonpublic ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in the Township. Additionally, special education costs for …

“Culture of Fear” in Lakewood Cheats Children of Color

The New Jersey Department of Education announced last week that it will give Lakewood Public Schools an “advance” of $8.5 million in state aid money (presumably from next year’s payments) to help bridge a $15 million budget gap. Superintendent Laura Winters told the Asbury Park Press that “it isn’t enough.” She’s right. It will take a lot more than $8.5 million — indeed, a lot more than $15 million — to adequately educate 6,000 low-income …

Lakewood Public Schools is Actually a Funding Stream for a Jewish Special Education School

Lakewood Public Schools just asked the state for a “loan” of 10 million dollars to partially bail it out of a $15 million hole in its 2017-2018 budget. This gift from the State would follow last year’s gift of $6 million yet still leave the district $5 million short.  Superintendent Laura Winters, who reportedly won’t be renewed by the Board, told the public that without the extra money she would be forced to lay off …