Breaking News: Six Rumors From NJ Education Department Include Extended School Closures, Lack of Guidance, and Mandatory Furloughs.

Jeez, you leave for one week and all hell breaks loose. Just kidding. Or not. Last night I came home from a week away with my husband and all our kids to a host of rumors from the New Jersey Department of Education and Governor Murphy’s Office. I am printing the ones that have been confirmed by two independent sources who will, of course, remain anonymous. As always, I can’t do this work without the …

New Interim Education Commissioner Named for New Jersey

From the New Jersey Globe: Gov. Phil Murphy has named Kevin Dehmer to serve as interim Commissioner of Education following the departure of Lamont Repollet today. Repollet will remain in state government as an advisor for the next two weeks and will later assume his new post as president of Kean University. Murphy has not yet named a replacement. Dehmer is currently the Assistant Commissioner for Finance and the CEO of the Department of Education. Murphy praised …

Camden Public Schools Get a Reopening Lift from Camden Education Fund

As New Jersey schools make plans to reopen in September, Camden is getting some extra help from the Camden Education Fund through its Open Doors/Safe Classrooms grant program.  All Camden public school networks, including district, charter, and renaissance schools, will be eligible for up to $100,000 to support efforts to safely reopen.  CEF Executive Director Naeha Dean explains, “schools can use the funds to cover additional needs across a wide variety of areas, including operations, academic …

Why Are Medically-Compromised Students Going Back to School in a Week? They’re Following State Guidelines.

We are not a hospital. We are not a summer camp. We are not a test for the thousands of students hoping to return to public school in September. I am extremely concerned that our governor does not seem to understand that ESY programs cannot be viewed as day camps and that they are a continuation of the school year for our students with special needs. If I accidentally infected a student and something were …

Donald Trump and Diane Ravitch Are Anti-Testing Soulmates

In these times of high anxiety it’s a boost to one’s spirits to discover a bit of serendipity. That moment came to me when, after reading about Trump’s Tulsa rally, I realized that he has a kindred spirit in none other than Diane Ravitch, foe of accountability, parent autonomy, and activists who are sick and tired of waiting for failed government institutions to equitably educate marginalized students.  Hold your fire! Let me explain. In Tulsa, …

Dear New Jersey Teachers: You’re Getting a Raw Deal From NJEA and NEA.

Mike Lilley of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey has a new report out, “New Jersey Teachers’ Dues: Why Are They the Highest in the Nation and What Are They Paying For?” Here, he analyzes NJ teachers’ “raw deal”: Doing the math, NJ Education Association (NJEA), the state union, keeps a higher percentage of teacher dues than any other state teacher union in the nation, depriving local branches — “those with the most direct connection …

Murphy’s School Reopening Plan Will Open Pandora’s Box, Say New Jersey Superintendents

Last week Governor Murphy and Education Commissioner Repollet gave New Jersey school districts permission to open schools on July 6th for summer programming for students with disabilities as long as they follow the guidance given for opening summer day camps. (See here for detail.) Most NJ superintendents rejected the state guidance and will keep schools closed, relying on remote instruction for Extended School Year (ESY). After all, these school leaders said, traditional school — indoors …

7 Ways Teachers Can Use Zoom to Connect with Students Right Now

This is a guest post by Mark Joseph, a sixth-grade math teacher at KIPP Rise Academy in Newark, where he has taught for eleven years. For Mark’s other posts, see here, here, here, and here. No one knows for sure whether this fall we will resume regular school, remote learning, or some mix of the two. While this piece began as seven ways teachers could use Zoom to connect with their students in September, the more I thought about …

New Jersey Superintendents Decry the State’s “Lazy,” “Incomplete,” and “Contradictory” Guidance To Reopening Schools

The pattern was already there: New Jersey’s Department of Education, when faced complex issues, punts instead. We’ve seen this with the moribund “Charter School Act Review,” which promised clear guidance on charter school expansions and approvals; the report was never released. We’ve seen this in the DOE’s desultory attitude towards the digital divide that, three months into school closures, continues to exclude 100,000 students from accessing home instruction; Commissioner Repollet says, “we have been putting …

Betsy DeVos Leaves Low-Income Students Behind: Example, Lakewood

In 1997 Michael Kinsley wrote, “the scandal isn’t the illegal behavior–the scandal is what’s legal.” He was referring to allegations about fund-raising corruption in the Clinton Administration but he might have been writing about Lakewood Public Schools, at least under the federal oversight of Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. Why? (And why do I write about Lakewood so much?) Because this Ocean County district is an emblem of how inequity permeates New Jersey’s educational infrastructure …