Newark Naysayers, Listen Up: A KIPP Teacher Dispels Some Myths

(This is a guest post by Tommy Luna, an 8th Grade Math Teacher and Grade Level Chair at KIPP’s Rise Academy in Newark, New Jersey.  Mr. Luna is a Newark resident and started his teaching career in Elizabeth, N.J.) Let’s be real, Newark often gets a bad rap as media attention tends to focus on the negatives in our city. And most of that narrative is told from people who don’t work here or live here who …

Correction to Betsy DeVos from a Public School Teacher: Reports of Common Core’s Demise Are Grossly Exaggerated

Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in what Chalkbeat calls “some of her most expansive public remarks since taking over the department last year,” slammed the Common Core State Standards during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. The Common Core is a set of state-led course objectives created by educators under the auspices of the National Governors Association. Said DeVos, “Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too …

GETTING REAL ABOUT EDUCATION: A Conversation With Black Parents, Teachers and Students

My colleague and friend Ikhlas Saleem writes, What happens when you get Black teachers, parents and students in a room with no talking points, no filter, just honest conversation? Well, as a Black baby raised in the ’90s would say, “it got real.” We recently invited more than 40 participants to share the joys and frustrations of being Black in America’s public schools. Their conversations were moderated by a few education advocates we invited from around the …

The Votes Are In: New Jersey’s Teachers Union Really Blew It

The leaders of New Jersey’s primary teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), have egg on their faces. In a triumph of vindictiveness over intelligence, the leadership of the richest lobbying group in the state decided to spurn State Senator Steve Sweeney and back a Trump-loving, climate change-denying, xenophobic, little-known councilman named Fran Grenier. On Tuesday, Sweeney, running for re-election in New Jersey’s District 3, beat Grenier by 18 points. Why would union leaders …

“I Am a Proud Public School Teacher But I Am Ashamed of My Union Leadership at NJEA”

I am a proud public school teacher, but I am ashamed of my union leadership at the NJEA. I implore fellow public school educators and NJEA members to disregard the dishonest junk mail and see what’s really going on here. We pay a considerable amount in dues from our relatively modest salaries to fund a handful of NJEA ‘leader’ salaries in the neighborhood of $500,000 a year. Think about that. They get paid close to/more …

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: …

Charter Parent: With Adults, It’s All About Money; This Is Supposed To Be About Children

As you can see from the post below, I had an informative visit with Ms. Dreya Teel, her son Jared, and staff members from KIPP NJ’s Life Academy. That post was all about Jared, but towards the end of the day Ms. Teel, a long-time Newark resident and single mom of four boys, and Farida Mallah, Jared’s teacher, shared with me their thoughts about New Jersey charter school politics. Newark remains the epicenter of New …