More Wasser Shenanigans

The Asbury Park Press reports that public enmity has not cooled towards Freehold Regional High School District’s Superintendent, James Wasser. Already vilified for three-card-monte-ing his way to a salary bonus by submitting paperwork alleging completion of a doctorate from a diploma mill, he’s now getting blasted for tooling out to California for a national conference and for using a district-owned SUV. The April school board elections in Freehold should be, uh, interesting.

Bad Forecast for Schools

The Star-Ledger’s Paul Mulshine, official curmudgeon and prognosticator, takes on Corzine’s reluctance to cap property taxes and predicts that school districts will see big State aid reductions with local taxpayers picking up the balance: I’ll grant the governor is a better numbers man than I am. But I can’t see how he can balance next year’s budget without cutting billions in aid to school boards and municipalities. And I also can’t see how he can …

Somerset Hills/Bedminster Merger?

In a lukewarm try at consolidation, Somerset Hills (2,100 kids K-12) and Bedminster (600 kids, K-8) are looking once again at regionalization. The two Somerset County districts have done feasibility studies before, most recently in 2003, and there were no obvious economies of scale. But, given the mandates from the DOE, they are giving it another go. What are the odds? In the last 23 years, reports the Star-Ledger, there have been three consolidations among …

Home Depot Time

With a toss of a wrench into New Jersey’s school district budgets, Commissioner Lucille Davy sent a letter to all superintendents on Friday recommending that everyone start cutting. According to today’s Press of Atlantic City, Davy wrote, Given the uncertainty of the magnitude and impact of a prolonged national recession on our state’s fiscal situation, I am recommending that you take the same steps that we have taken in the department. She goes on to …

Dancing Lemons

School Watch, the policy arm of the Excellent Education for Everyone think tank, has issued a fulminating report on the dismal state of the Newark Public Schools called “Money for Nothing: We Owe Our Children Better.” Here’s your grains of salt: E3 is pro-charter schools and anti-teacher union, and the report itself edges occasionally into overwrought territory. Nonetheless, it spotlights some worthwhile information. Here’s a couple of facts: Newark Public Schools is the biggest district, …

Unscrupulous Superintendents

What’s with New Jersey? Are felonious educational administrators a regular feature of newspapers in every state? The Star Ledger reports today that Raymond Hyman, superintendent in Essex Fells, has been arraigned on charges that he stole $22,000 in tuition-reimbursement funds. Unlike the scandal in Freehold, where James Wasser and associates scammed the Board into paying for bonuses based on advanced degrees from a diploma-mill, Hyman was apparently pursuing a legitimate Ph.D. from Columbia University. However, …

Trendspotting Merit Pay and Charter Schools

Today’s Wall St Journal features a letter from Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, and Al Sharpton, erstwhile flamethrower, reminding President-Elect Obama that “the fierce urgency of now cannot be allowed to dissipate into the sleepy status quo of tomorrow.” Catchy. What does it mean? Mainly three things: first, we should stay with NCLB and its commitment to closing the achievement gap between white and minority students by expanding parental …

Sunday Leftovers

The U.S. Department of Education has sent a letter out to every state in the union, detailing where each one is on Elementary and Secondary Education Act compliance. Here’s New Jersey’s letter and the details of our progress. Charter Schools: Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, the founders of the KIPP charter schools, have a piece in the Wall Street Journal offering five handy hints to President-Elect Obama on ways to improve student achievement and school …

Maybe We Should Try the Macarena

North Jersey’s editorial, “Is Merging School Districts A Good Idea?” follows what seems to be a kabuki dance of talking points: 1) It’s probably cheaper, with some exceptions, and will lower property taxes for most homeowners. 2) New Jersey’s many aficionados of local governance cringe at the thought of State control of education: Any consolidation plans would have to be approved by voters, possibly a tough sell in a state that values “home rule” — …

Puncture the Preschool Balloon

The Asbury Park Press editorializes today that the State should reverse its mandate for public preschools for poor children (who don’t live in Abbott districts, where they already have free preschool). The Berkeley School District is planning on meeting with Education Commissioner Lucille Davy on Monday to push their case that such a mandate is unaffordable, especially in light of recent cuts in State aid, and that the DOE and Corzine should back off. The …