Notes From New Jersey: Contemplating COVID-19 and Lakewood.

Here in New Jersey, the second hardest-hit state in the country after New York, we’re scrambling to control the coronavirus. Currently we have 25,590 confirmed cases, with many symptomatic people untested and a 160,000 test backlog at Quest Labs. There have been almost 550 deaths and we’re at least two weeks away from hitting the projected peak. About a quarter of all nursing homes are infected. Newark, East Orange, Orange, and Irvinington are on a …

Education Law Center Nails Problems with the DOE’s Emergency Changes For Special Education Students.

Tomorrow morning the New Jersey State Board of Education will hold its first-ever Skype public meeting due to COVID-19. The first item on the Board’s agenda will be a proposal by Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet that allows schools, during this State of Emergency, to provide services to students with disabilities on virtual platforms. Education Law Center will be there to quibble. And everyone’s right. Quick backstory: When districts abruptly closed, some shut down all remote …

Some Schools Are Rising to the Challenge. Guess Which Ones Aren’t?

I wrote last week about Princeton Regional Public Schools’ high expectations for students during this pandemic in comparison to the low expectations for students who attend nearby Trenton Public Schools. If these school closures were (as originally predicted by our commander-in-chief) a short hiatus from traditional brick-and-mortar classroom instruction, we’d call it an inconvenience. But for students who attend districts like Trenton, both within and without New Jersey, lengthy school closures due to COVID-19 are …

During Covid-19, Are Charter Schools Leading the Way?

On Monday I looked at the stark disparities in the quality of online instruction offered to children during the COVID-19 school closures, comparing Princeton Regional Public Schools with Trenton City Public Schools. This is one data point, although representative of New Jersey’s two separate and unequal school systems, an exemplary one for the wealthy (disproportionately white and Asian) students and an inferior one for the poor (disproportionately black and brown) students. These inequities are exacerbated …

Will This Pandemic Force Us To Boldly Address the Inequities in Our Schools?

I live right off Route 206, a mostly two-lane road that begins in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey, winds 130 miles north to Stokes State Forest, and ends in Dingman Township, Pennsylvania. One twelve-mile stretch of 206 connects Princeton, Lawrence Township (where I live), and Trenton, the state capitol.  As COVID-19 affects, well, everything —here, we’re currently in something close to a lockdown, with a 158% jump in confirmed cases during the last three …

NJ’s Head of Special Education on Home Instruction for Students with Disabilities: “I’m Not Trying To Sugarcoat This in Any Way.”

If you’re a parent of a child with disabilities, you might have panicked when you read this yesterday: As part of [U.S.] Congress’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has proposed to include a provision in the pending stimulus bill that would give the Secretary of Education authority to approve state waiver requests for any statutory and/or regulatory requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for 1 year and extensions …

Schools Must Stop Using Students With Disabilities as An Excuse to Do Nothing

My husband and I have four children. Our three oldest are what we in the special needs community call “neuro-typical” and our youngest has multiple disabilities. Let’s pretend that they are all school-age—our whole family thrust into COVID-19 school-closure chaos—and we are informed that because our district can’t comply fully with our disabled child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), our three other kids will have no support or instruction from their teachers for weeks or months. …

As New Jersey Schools Struggle to Go Virtual, Here’s What We Can Learn From New Egypt High School.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across New Jersey, “long term school closures are inevitable,” said Governor Phil Murphy on Friday. All across the country school districts are scrambling to replace traditional educational models of education—the teacher standing before students imparting knowledge—with, well, something else. New Jersey Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet said, in reference to this transition, “We are pretty much creating a new educational system.” But at New Egypt High School, which I visited before the …

With Kids at Home, Parents Are Overwhelmed. Here Are Resources That Can Help.

This is a guest post by my friend and colleague Erika Sanzi. Erika is a former educator and elected school committee member and the chief editor of Project Forever Free, where this piece first appeared. I wish my kids loved to read. But they don’t. They don’t even like it very much. And this may present a challenge as we move forward into a pandemic that will likely have our kids out of school for …