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 …

November Elections

The Express-Times has a piece on Senate Bill S-1861, which would move school board elections to November and eliminate public voting on budgets that come in below the 4% cap. The bill has passed the Assembly, the Senate Education Committee (though by a hair: 5-4), and is due to come before the full Senate this Spring. Fear-mongers rattle the empty threat that a change to November elections would “politicize” the process by injecting “partisan politics” …

Wouldn’t a Prius Be Greener?

Here’s an editorial today from the Star-Ledger trumpeting the benefits of regionalization. On the inefficiencies endemic to locally-controlled school districts: Regionalization is a good recipe for some school districts, too. But there again it faces hurdles. They’re wringing their hands in Sea Isle City about the possible cost-cutting closure of a one-story school, which serves 78 students. When the chalk dust clears, here’s all you need to know: The annual cost per student is $36,000. …

Tie-Dyed Trenton

The Trenton Times has published an op-ed by the Vice President of the Trenton School Board, Alexander Brown. It’s both a primer on the history of the Abbott decisions and a condemnation of Corzine’s new School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), which removes the “Abbott” label from State finances on the (true) grounds that many of our poorest kids reside outside of those 31 Abbotts. Tooting a dusty horn, Brown says, The urban school districts are …

Slouching Towards Cape May?

The Philadephia Daily News has a piece today describing a consolidation threat in the Cape May County school district of Wildwood City. Apparently the mayor of Wildwood, Ernest Troiano Jr., has written a letter to the local school board “suggesting” that the district close Wildwood High to lower taxes. He has, of course, no authority over the district and says himself that he doesn’t know if the closure would be cheaper than tuition payments to …

Princeton v. State Smack-Down

We don’t want Princeton to be just adequate — we don’t want to revert to a mean that incorporates everyone in the state. We want to have local control. Alan HegedusPresident, Board of Education, Princeton Regional School District The Princeton Board of Education meeting last month, as recounted in a weekly Mercer County paper, is a harbinger of the inevitable revolt of wealthy districts against the DOE’s recent initiatives to standardize the curriculum and finances …

Reinventing the Abbotts

Here’s a must-read from Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, published in the New York Times this week. Money quote: Local control of schooling — which means local financing of schools — is an injustice, masked as a virtue, so deeply ingrained in the American mind that no politician in either party dare challenge it. But America’s obsession with local finance, which made perfect sense in the 19th century, is …