Tafshier Cosby-Thomas: “Parents are Making Choices for Their Children. Why Would Anyone Get in the Way of That?”

Last week I had the opportunity to interview long-time Newark resident Tafshier Cosby-Thomas on her experiences with the city’s public schools: traditional, magnet, and charter. While Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, under instructions from Governor Phil Murphy, takes a “pause” on authorizing charter expansion in order to conduct his “review,” let’s pierce the smog of special interests and politicking around this hot-button issue and actually talk to parents whose children’s educational trajectory rides on decisions made …

Just Picture These Scholars Tomorrow! KIPP Joins with District Schools To Celebrate Future Heroes

Yesterday KIPP Seek Academy students enjoyed a Halloween parade with children from two district schools, George Washington Carver Elementary and Bruce Street School. But this was not your typical Halloween celebration! Instead of ghosts and goblins, 1,100 children dressed in costumes that represented their hopes and dreams for the future. According to KIPP, spectators caught a glimpse of “our future police officers, doctors, teachers and even Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Astronaut Mae Jemison.” After the …

NJ Department of Education Watch: Another One Bites the Dust

Friday morning I put up a post that describes five ways that the New Jersey Department of Education is undermined by questionable hires and actions. These incidents appear to be panders to special interests by Governor Murphy and/or Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, resulting in a DOE bereft of transparency, moral integrity, and effectiveness. The majority of these actions are personnel appointments. I should have waited until Friday afternoon to publish the post because there’s now …

Five Ways That New Jersey’s Education System Is Being Undermined

Sue me. I was an English major. When I think about the state of the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education, a host of literary allusions sweeps over me: Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for power; Dionysus gifting Midas with the golden touch, thus cursing him with starvation; Macbeth’s moral compass eclipsed by blind ambition. Okay.  I’m being melodramatic. Yet let us look at five ways in which the Governor’s tendency to pander …

Do Gov. Murphy and Ed. Comm. Repollet Have What it Takes to Put Education Over Politics?

“We parents filled that room last night and our voices were heard on why we LOVE our Public Charter schools!” That’s Paterson parent Ashley Lauren describing the vibrant atmosphere at the NJ Department of Education’s first of five stops on its Charter School Program Outreach 2018 Calendar. With almost no notice (the dates for focus groups were announced on Thursday, October 11th and the Paterson meeting was the following Tuesday) and at a parent-unfriendly time …

Something Farshtunkene* in Lakewood

When news broke last year that the FBI raided homes of 26 Lakewood ultra-Orthodox residents on charges of wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities (see here), New Jersey Comptroller Philip J. Degnan issued a statement that said participants must make “full restitution of all improperly received funds.” Unless, that is, if you’re a Lakewood Board of Education member. Or maybe just …

Oops. New Jersey DOE Leaders Just Made a Mistake.

On October 12, last Friday,  Assistant Education Commissioner Linda Eno sent a letter to all “Chief School Administrators, Charter School and Renaissance School Project Leads,” copied to Commissioner Lamont Repollet. The letter, entitled “Spring 2019 State Assessment Name, Length and Time Changes,”  describes the differences between last year’s administration of standardized tests to those that will be given this coming Spring. There’s just one problem. The information shared with school leaders is wrong. Two weeks ago …

The NJ DOE Says It’s Asking for Input on Charter Schools But Is the Verdict in Already?

When I examine the NJ Department of Education’s spanking-new webpage called “Charter School Program Act Review — Outreach 2018” I keep thinking of a scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland when the Knave of Hearts is on trial for stealing tarts baked by the Queen: “Let the jury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. “No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first–verdict afterward.” “Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice …

Charter School Review Must Address Funding Bias Against Charter Schools

This is a press release from the New Jersey Charter School Association. Those interested in the state’s “comprehensive review” of NJ charter schools can submit written feedback and attend meetings. For information about how you can contribute, click here. (And do it soon! The DOE has established a very short window for accepting comments.)  For my own concerns about the Murphy Administration’s oversight of the charter sector, see my column today in NJ Spotlight. Charter …

Hot Off the Press: New Report from NCTQ Reviews Newark’s Teacher Evaluation System

When the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and the Newark Public Schools, under the superintendency of Cami Anderson, agreed in 2012 to a new contract that linked teacher pay to performance, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation.” This past summer NTU President John Abeigon, when queried by a Chalkbeat reporter about those 2012 innovatives and upcoming negotiations for a new …