Sunday Leftovers

The U.S. Department of Education has sent a letter out to every state in the union, detailing where each one is on Elementary and Secondary Education Act compliance. Here’s New Jersey’s letter and the details of our progress.

Charter Schools:

Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, the founders of the KIPP charter schools, have a piece in the Wall Street Journal offering five handy hints to President-Elect Obama on ways to improve student achievement and school accountability. Suggestions include doubling federal financing for charter schools and giving schools the authority to “assess teachers on their demonstrated impact on student learning, not whether they hold a traditional teacher certifications.”

The New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association
issued a press release touting the superior achievement of children in charter schools in meeting NCLB AYP goals, as opposed to the lower scores in district schools. Specifically,

In Newark and Camden, where 44% of all New Jersey charter school students reside, the contrast in scores is even starker. In Newark, where 13 charter schools now operate educating 10% of its public school market, 82% of the charters made AYP as compared to 33% of the district schools. In Camden, where 13% of all public school students attend seven existing charter schools, the largest market share in the state, 67% of the charters made AYP as compared to 28% of the district schools.

Here’s the link to the NJ DOE data.

And, here, the Star-Ledger argues back that, at least in Newark, comparing charter schools to non-charter public schools is unfair because the non-charters have many more special ed kids and also don’t have to deal with teacher unions.

Department of Corruption:

Robert P. Walsh, former Business Administrator and Superintendent of Delaware Valley Regional High School, admits stealing $90,000 from the school cafeteria.

An audit for Paterson Public Schools (under State control since 1991, by the way) uncovered a number of problems, including an unauthorized $4,800,000 paid in overtime for security guards, a deficit of $92,000 for food services, and records of former employees who continue to receive health benefits.

Big Picture:

In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman considers how to get the most leverage out of stimulus packages and concludes that the most beneficial plan should go beyond Roosevelt-esque bridges and highways and, instead, target education:

One of the smartest stimulus moves we could make would be to eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers, staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science — instead of subsidizing their educations and then sending them home — and offer full scholarships to needy students who want to go to a public university or community college for the next four years.

What do you think?

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