Murphy Flip-Flops on School Reopenings. Here’s the Backstory.

It’s been two years since I began covering the deterioration of the New Jersey Department of Education under the commissioner appointed by Governor Murphy, Lamont Repollet. The coverage started because a brave DOE staff member told me that he, along with 39 other longtime professionals, had been abruptly fired on a Friday morning in July 2018. Most of them worked in the Office of Comprehensive Support, a division of the DOE that serves our lowest-performing districts. Last …

There’s A Catch For Districts Planning on Going All-Remote

According to a source who spoke to Advance Media, New Jersey’s nearly 600 school districts will not be able to simply chose to go all-remote, the source said. Instead, the districts will need to show the state Department of Education the reasons why they can’t offer in-person classes and what they are doing to solve those problems. “Districts are expected to continue to work with the DOE towards getting to the point where they can …

School Districts Defy Murphy With Impunity While Repollet Takes Kean University All-Remote

Yesterday I wrote of an accelerating pattern of school districts defying direct mandates from Phil Murphy and the state Department of Education by choosing to go all-remote. These decisions, of course, flaut the DOE/Murphy’s rule that “districts’ reopening plans must account for resuming in-person instruction in some capacity.” The Governor and DOE’s refusal to cop to reality erodes trust in their leadership. It also throws into question their respect for the opinions of school leaders, …

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 …