How the New Jersey Department of Education Went From Technology Leader to Technology Laggard

On Monday I wrote about Paterson Public Schools’ poor implementation of home instruction during this pandemic, hindered largely by the lack of one-on-one devices for students as well as teachers’ unfamiliarity with technology. This scenario isn’t limited to Paterson: Here’s Trenton’s form of remote learning, which is less a strategy than an abdication of responsibility. The consequences for students in these districts, already high-risk, will be enormous. Chris Minnich, head of NWEA, predicts that “students …

We Can’t Use This Crisis To Abandon Our Most Complex Learners: Creative Solutions Abound

This post was written by Lindsay Jones ( President and CEO of National Center for Learning Disabilities), Erin Mote ( Executive Director of InnovateEDU), Lauren Morando Rhim ( Executive Director and Co-Founder of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools), and Eric Tucker (  Executive Director of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools). It was first published at Fordham’s Flypaper. COVID-19 has delivered countless challenges for essential workers, from nurses and doctors risking their lives due …

This New Jersey District Isn’t Even Getting The Bare Essentials To Its Students

This is the first section of a two-part post. Today I’m looking at Paterson Public Schools and its sluggish response to students’ needs for home instruction during the coronavirus. The second section (up tomorrow or Wednesday) will look at how Paterson is, in some ways, a proxy for other NJ districts’ failures and how some of  its struggles can be traced back to the state Department of Education (not just the Murphy Administration) and even the …

Teacher Tells Hamilton Students, “Die A Long, Painful Death”

My central Jersey town has a Facebook page and members have been complaining that groups of teenagers are taking advantage of school closures by playing pick-up games on the high school football field. Turns out this is an activity that extends beyond Lawrence, with one key difference: In neighboring Hamilton, a math teacher at Steinert High School, Nicole Griggs, saw a group of students playing football in a park and, according to the Trentonian, shouted …

Sources Reveal the Story Behind NJ’s Inequitable Online Learning

Joicki Floyd is an English teacher at Newark’s Weequahic High School which, like the rest of New Jersey, is relying on remote instruction during coronavirus school closures. Last week she called every one of her 94 students to find out why so few were participating. Of the students she was able to track down, Floyd found, according to Chalkbeat,  that at least 10 “still did not have laptops or reliable internet at home nearly a …

The NJEA and Its Allies Are the Main Funders of Sean Spiller’s Mayoral Campaign

This is a guest post by Michael Lilley, Founder and President of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey, which seeks to educate residents on the way NJEA “uses their tax dollars against their own interests, secures benefits for the few over the many, and blocks needed reforms.” This was originally published on SPCNJ’s website. As detailed in SPCNJ’s previous report, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Vice President Sean Spiller is the most famous graduate of …

Four Reasons Why Public Schools Won’t Return to “Normal” Anytime Soon

Yogi Berra proclaimed (perhaps apocryphally), “predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” I have no crystal ball but, whenever this pandemic subsides, I think we’re a long way out from returning to “normal” schooling. Why? Here are four reasons. Human Behavior:  My  husband is an avid sports fan. I’m not but tried to be supportive when he contemplated a summer without his season ticket to the Trenton Thunder, our local AA team. I said, “maybe …

NJEA’S Palace Intrigue: A New Report Shines Light on The Mayoral Candidacy of Sean Spiller.

Three weeks ago a reader asked me an intriguing question: Is Sean Spiller, candidate for Mayor of Montclair and NJEA Vice President, actually running for the “Montclair Ideal” (as his campaign literature claims) or for the “NJEA ideal”? If Spiller wins the mayoral election, he would not only be Chair of the Montclair Board of School Estimates (which approves the district’s budget) but he would also appoint the members of the Montclair Board of Education. …

A Tale of Two Cities: Remote Instruction in Princeton and Trenton

We’re about 5 weeks into our coronavirus lock-down in New Jersey, about a month since much of America has embarked on a national experiment of remote instruction that likely will continue for the duration of the school year.  In New Jersey this means 555 school districts are independently creating remote learning plans, coming up with laptop distribution strategies, figuring out meal delivery for low-income kids, and setting expectations for students. On the face of it, …

Disability Advocates Fear Betsy DeVos Will Roll Back Students’ Educational Rights

In January 2017, during Betsy DeVos’s Senate confirmation hearing for her nomination by Donald Trump as U.S. Education Secretary, Senator Tim Kaine asked her a question about the rights of students with disabilities. She replied, “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states.” When Senator Maggie Hassan, who has a son with cerebral palsy, asked DeVos directly whether she understood that the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is federal law …