What Can Districts Learn From Top Public Charters on Remote Instruction? Highlights From a New Report.

Yesterday I posted a letter (read it here) from the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association to the Democratic National Committee. The 65 signatories express grave disappointment at the DNC’s anti-charter  stance, which the signatories call “especially egregious” in light of powerful support from Black and Latino parents. Today the Fordham Institute published a report called “Schooling Covid-19: Lessons from Leading Charter networks from Their Transition to Remote Learning.” Here, Gregg Vanourek examines the successful …

Lakewood Parents on In-School Instruction: “We’re Only Here As Props!”

Lakewood Public Schools has carefully orchestrated its plan to open schools for full-day in-person instruction on September 4th. Yet efforts to control perception and press only go so far, and at Lakewood’s school board meeting last week, things went a bit sideways. Every day media outlets receive a flurry of emails from Lakewood school board attorney Michael Inzelbuch: my inbox today included bus schedules, a letter from the New Jersey Department of Education approving the …

NJ Charter School Staff Call Out DNC For “Egregious” Attacks on Schools Favored By Black and Latino Families

Ten days ago the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association, on behalf of 65 signatories, sent a letter to the Democratic Platform Committee expressing their “deep disapppointment” with the Committee’s language on education because it is “harmful to charter schools, and the students and families we are honored to serve. They write, Mr. Biden should be careful not to turn his back on the Black, Brown and working-class families in New Jersey who support him, …

Murphy Is Losing Key Allies As He Fumbles School Reopening Plans.

It’s a domino effect: Despite Gov. Murphy’s resistance to lengthy periods of online instruction, district after district — 150 at last count—is ignoring him and his “circus-like atmosphere” and going all-remote. At this point, the Governor, widely hailed for his leadership in flattening the curve of coronavirus infection, is looking less like a figure of authority and more like feckless NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, widely panned for a reopening plan that Gov. Andrew Cuomo …

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Steps In It. Or, What Education and Policing Reform Have in Common.

This past weekend Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow Queens native and upcoming Democratic superstar, had this to say about the New York City Police Department’s endorsement of Donald Trump: Question for Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez: If you see potential problems with police unions endorsing candidates, do you have the same problem with teacher unions endorsing candidates? I’m guessing the answer is “no,” even though the union leadership of the police and teaching profession shares the same aversion …

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Must Rise: Thoughts on Last Night’s Convention.

True confession: I didn’t watch the Democratic virtual convention last night. Currently I’m maintaining my mental health by mainlining “The West Wing,” sort of like Tom Hanks clinging to his volleyball while castaway for four years on a deserted island. But I did read media coverage this morning and listened to Bruce Springsteen’s anthem “The Rising,” first composed after the 9-11 attack in 2001 and repurposed for the convention. The video of the song that …

“Flexibility” Is Fine, Gov. Murphy, But Not When It’s an Evasion of Leadership.

Dear Governor Murphy,  Today you have an op-ed in NJ Spotlight asserting that New Jersey’s education system is a “gem” and one hallmark of that brilliance is your Department of Education’s emphasis on “flexibility” and “local control”as we prepare to reopen schools. You call your cascading series of announcements –all schools must have some element of in-building instruction, all schools must have the option of starting all remote, actually only some schools have the option …

New Jersey Superintendents Enraged By Murphy’s “Abdication of Responsibility”

In my experience, school superintendents are gracious and diplomatic when faced with hardships, whether dealt unexpected cuts in state aid, new regulations, or community uproars. Oh, they may vent in private but their public remarks are even-handed, focused on solutions and compromises. And they hardly ever ding a politician. Judging by Twitter, they’ve reached their breaking point as Gov. Phil Murphy –seemingly by the day—changes rules for reopening schools. First every student had to have …

“Now I Have Hope,” Says Homeless Mom, After Project Ready Provides Wifi and Laptops.

At brightbeam we talk a lot about the digital divide, a major obstacle to equitably delivering home instruction during this pandemic. New Jersey is no exception, with 230,000 schoolchildren lacking either laptop and/or internet. This week the divide got close-up and personal for me when I had the opportunity to speak to Jacqueline Vargas, a student herself and the mother of two children, ages 13 and 8.. She and her children live in Apostles’ House, which …

Newark Charters Pledge to Exceed Health and Academic Standards During COVID

Today thirteen public charter schools in Newark signed the “COVID-19 Compact” that represents a commitment to common standards for the new school year. These standards promise Newark’s charter school families that schools will reopen responsibly, ensure high safety standards for students and staff, maintain the high-quality instruction both in buildings and at home, and support children’s social-emotional learning needs.  The Compact was created by all school leaders with support from the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. …