School Leaders Ignore Murphy and DOE Mandates. Here’s Why That’s a Problem.

“We literally have no news on education today,” Murphy said at his latest coronavirus press briefing in Trenton. Well, school leaders across New Jersey have some news for the Governor: They are ignoring the New Jersey Department of Education’s mandate –supported by Murphy–that all schools begin the 2020-2021 school year with some element of in-building learning. Why? Because a growing consensus says this mandate is an ill-considered, medically-ignorant decision that courts disaster. Earlier today I …

Lakewood Teachers Have 67 Questions For Lakewood Officials Determined to Reopen Schools Full-Time In-Person

The Lakewood Education Association, which represents all Lakewood teachers, paraprofessionals, and other staff, is hitting back against the district’s/attorney Michael Inzelbuch’s insistence on reopening schools full-time in-person. Last weekend Inzelbuch sent this letter to the union leaders. The union’s response? Sixty-seven questions, reproduced below. More generally, Dawn Hiltner, spokesperson for the Lakewood Education Association, told 101.5, Let’s say we get everybody back and then in three weeks we wind up having to shut everything down …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

For New NJ Teacher Union Group, Politics Trumps Safe School Reopenings

I’m all for safety. As the mom of four young adults (and the mother-in-law of two more), I worry about any of them contracting COVID-19, not to mention my husband, myself, and all our loved ones. While I’m desperate (really, you have no idea) for the day when our youngest can return to his day program, we’re stoically resigned to the reality that this won’t happen any time soon. This has nothing to do with …

If the Marlins Can’t Control COVID, How Can Schools? Murphy’s “Clarification” Explained

My baseball-fanatic husband just told me that the Yankees-Phillies game tonight was cancelled because 14 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus right after playing the Phillies this past weekend.  I assume that Major League Baseball has endless funds at their disposal to keep players safe. Teams widened dugouts, practiced social distancing in locker rooms, tested players daily, and wore masks when they weren’t in the field.  Yet baseball season may be over. …