District and Charter Leaders Find Common Ground in Bucking DOE/Murphy Mandate For In-Person Instruction

It only took a pandemic for officers at the New Jersey Education Association to reach consensus with leaders of NJ’s charter school sector: Requiring some element of in-person learning starting on September 8th is unrealistic and dangerous for students and staff members. This common ground (also see here) is in direct opposition to the Department of Education guidance jointly issued by Governor Phil Murphy and then-Commissioner Lamont Repollet called “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery …

If NJ Teachers Take Early Retirement to Avoid Contracting COVID, What Will That Do To NJ’s Budget?

Here’s a scenario you might not have considered: If New Jersey schools do reopen for in-school instruction this year, some unknown number of traditional district staff members may choose to retire from fear of COVID-19 contagion. Those who have worked for ten years are “vested” in the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), NJ’s teacher pensions system; they can take “early retirement” and get a small pension. Those who have worked for 30 years and turn …

You Thought NJ21United Is About Safe School Reopenings? Think Again.

Last week I wrote a post about a new group called NJ21United that, from all appearances, seems to be soley focused on protesting the reopening of New Jersey’s schools and spreading the #OnlyWhenIt’sSafe hashtag. However, when you dig just below the surface you discover that this “grassroots” group also echoes NJEA talking points like getting rid of state assessments and placing a moratorium on all charter school expansion. I wasn’t able to trace the roots …

Pressure Builds on Murphy To Keep Schools Closed and Go All-Remote

Governor Phil Murphy is trying to juggle the academic needs of schoolchildren, valid health concerns of teachers, and a sudden uptick of Covid-19 cases as we approach the first day of school. You’ve got to admire his gumption but, truth be told, he’s been badly served by his NJ Department of Education (okay, he and NJEA chose Lamont Repollet as Commissioner) in two ways that directly affect how students will learn and parents will maneuver …

My Childhood Home Was Not Safe. Like Me, Some Children Need Brick-and-Mortar Schools Right Now.

Dirk Tillotson is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Great Schools Choices, which supports community-based charter school development and increasing access for underserved families. He has worked for over 20 years supporting mostly charter community schools in Oakland, New Orleans and New York City, The most terrifying and dangerous experiences I had as a child were at home.  I am not alone.  My mother battled demons, and heard voices, including those telling her to …

Newark’s Newest Charter School Leader Is Well Equipped to Manage School Reopenings Amidst a Pandemic

“The key is a great team of committed professionals — even in the midst of a pandemic, even in the midst of uncertainty— so that our scholars thrive and succeed.” That’s Dr. Christy Oliver-Hawley, the new Head of Schools for Newark’s University Heights Charter School (UHCS) as she takes over three schools with 926 pre-K-8th grade students in the Central Ward. Her recent appointment is a culmination of both UHCS’s national search for a leader …

Inzelbuch’s Letter to Union Leaders Says Lakewood Isn’t Risking Covid Contagion With Full-Time In-Person Schools

Below is a letter, dated yesterday, from Lakewood attorney Michael Inzelbuch to the leaders of the Lakewood Education Association, Kimberlee Shaw and Tracy Paolantonio. Lakewood Public Schools, Inzelbuch informs the union officers, “is committed to provide full-time in person education for the 2020-2021 school year” and asks for a meeting to discuss a mandatory COVID testing plan for staff members. For context, Lakewood, distinguishing itself from other New Jersey school districts, held in-person Extended School Year programs …

Is Hoboken Superintendent Guilt-Tripping Parents During COVID To Salvage State Aid?

Hoboken Superintendent Christine Johnson just sent out an email to all Hoboken public school parents (full copy below) regarding the district’s reopening plans. Unlike many New Jersey districts offering hybrid plans –a blend of in-person and remote instruction (barring this proposed Assembly bill)—Hoboken students must choose between entirely in-school instruction and entirely remote instruction. And this is serious: parents have to sign a “Declaration of Intent” by August 7th. Superintendent Johnson seems really worried that …

Latest News on New Jersey’s (Rapidly Changing) School Reopening Plans.

It’s not a secret how all this should work. When anticipating prolonged school closures, states need to set clear expectations for the quality of learning models and ensure that all students are equipped with the technology necessary to access online instruction. New Jersey, particularly at the level of the State Department of Education, has failed in every way. And now, a month before school reopenings, a soon-to-be-proposed Assembly bill —that may best protect students and …

“A Legacy Shattered”: Parents of Jersey City Charter School Protest Board’s Removal of Principal

This is a press release written by parents from The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS) after a virtual school board meeting where the 150 parents participating were told that Principal Marta Bergamini will not return. Jersey City, NJ – Last night parents and staff of The Ethical Community Charter School attended the monthly Board of Trustees meeting with hope of news on the return of Principal Marta Bergamaini. After waiting three weeks for an update, …