Michelle Rhee Pushes On

Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools and enemy of the tenured educator, makes nice to teachers in today’s Washington Post: I often speak of our district’s performance data with sadness and outrage. The situation for our city’s children is dire. Yet while I acknowledge the seriousness of the work we face, I want to be clear about something: I do not blame teachers for the low achievement levels. Her offer to the D.C. …

NIMBY

This past Friday New Jersey School Boards Association hosted a conference in conjunction with the Policy Research Institute for the Region at Princeton University called “The E in Thorough and Efficient: How we can insure Efficiency in Spending School Tax Dollars.” The main topic was consolidation of school districts and included a panel discussion with Ernest Reock, professor emeritus from Rutgers University, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, chairman of the education committee, Michael Ritacco, superintendent of the …

Abbott Reality Check

The State is arguing today at the Bergen County Courthouse that its new SFRA should replace the Abbott decisions as the funding mechanism that provides educational equity in New Jersey. (Here’s the Star-Ledger article today.) Seems like a good time to review some of the core issues that got us to this point. Thirty-one school districts in New Jersey were labeled Abbott districts in 1997 by the State Supreme Court as a kind of grand …

Overturning Abbott

This morning lawyers will gather in Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne’s courtroom for three weeks of testimony regarding the constitutionality of Corzine’s School Funding Reform Act (SFRA). Last year Corzine convinced the State Legislature to abandon the way we channel vast amounts of money to 31 poor urban districts – the Abbotts – in favor of giving extra money to poor kids regardless of where they live in New Jersey. The new funding formula was …

How About We Consolidate with Pennsylvania?

The concept of consolidating school districts in New Jersey seems to incite either enthusiasm or vitriol. The efficiency-obsessed policy wonks wax eloquent over potential reduction of costs and redundancy of services. The home rule aficionados bear testimony to the charm of small town governance and the State’s ineptitude to run anything, let alone public education. But we’re one of fifty states in the Union. How do other states resolve this issue? Funny you should ask. …

Sunday Leftovers

More School Cuts: With State revenues down substantially – 7% in most categories – Corzine is including mid-year cuts in his budget address on March 10th. The Star-Ledger reports that school aid will be cut by $75,000,000 and school boards are sweating as they brace themselves for atypical staff-layoffs, programming cuts, and professional development freezes. Middletown Melodrama: The Asbury Park Press reams out the Middletown Board of Education for reducing school board meetings to once …

Princeton Prefers Not To

As local school districts confront the DOE’s efficiency formulas which dictate how much we should be spending on everything from transportation to informational pamphlets, look to Princeton Regional School District as a harbinger of how elite schools will react. At their school board meeting last week (here’s a link to the online video), Superintendent Judy Wilson and Board President Alan Hegedus discussed their plans to “draw a line in the sand” if forced to reduce …

Salvaging the DOE

As the new data from the N.J. State Report Cards makes the rounds, the DOE is caught in the unenviable position of defending uneven test results from accusations of poor management. The Star-Ledger’s lede from today’s paper: Gov. Jon Corzine’s goal of raising standards in New Jersey high schools is getting off to a rocky start, with huge numbers of middle school students failing rigorous new tests designed to prepare them for the next level. …

November School Board Elections?

The Atlantic City Press makes the case for moving school board elections to November, in the context of the Senate State Government Committee’s passage of a bill Monday that permits towns to schedule non-partisan elections to coincide with Election Day: If only the educational bureaucracy felt the same enthusiasm these municipal officials do about moving school elections to November. But school boards and the teachers’ union have been stubbornly opposed for years to a bill …