NJ’s Field of Dreams

A piece in the Gloucester County Times surveys three districts in regard to the newly rigorous high school requirements: Washington, which boasts a 97% graduation rate with 91.1% of kids planning to attend 2 or more years of college; Clayton, with a 86.5% graduation rate and 80.6% of kids planning to attend 2 or more years of college; and Paulson, with an 84.4 graduation rater and 79.1% of kids planning to attend 2 or more …

Teacher Quality vs. Class Size

Jay Matthews of the Washington Post argues that we need better teachers, not smaller class size: For most schools, getting class-size averages to less than 20 students won’t happen unless somebody strikes oil in the playground. Teaching 30 or more kids challenges even the best instructors, but people like Esquith and his disciples have made it work. They say they prefer a larger class to sending students off to the listless buck-passing that infects many …

Does “J” stand for Janus?

The Abbott districts are not the only group fighting against the State’s School Funding Reform Act, which would replace special funding to 31 pre-designated poor urban districts with a different formula that injects cash on a per-pupil basis across the State. In a classic example of politics making strange bedfellows, a group called Dollar$ and Sense, which represents the richest districts in Bergen County, filed an Amicus Brief arguing that SFRA interferes with their right …

A Modest Preschool Proposal

Yesterday’s New Jersey section of the New York Times features an article by John Mooney regarding public preschools, with his focus on the uncertainty surrounding the DOE’s mandate that districts provide free full-day preschool programs to low-income 3 and 4-year-olds. Says Mooney, For 86 middle- and working-class districts — from Hackensack to Carteret to Cape May City — that will mean universal programs available for all their children. Four hundred other districts will have to …

Abbott v. SFRA

NorthJersey reports on the pending close of the School Funding Reform Act hearings in Superior Court. Underway for the last three weeks, Judge Peter Doyne is getting ready to rule on whether Corzine is correct in claiming that the SFRA fairly distributes funds to NJ’s poorest school districts and, thus, can replace the Abbott decisions as an equity mechanism. The article quotes an advocate for maintaining the Abbott formula, which delivers lots of extra aid …

Sunday Leftovers

Consolidation Anxiety Disorder (C.A.D.): The Executive County Superintendent of Monmouth County, Carole Knopp Morris, seems well ahead of the curve. While ECS’s have til March 2010 to present consolidation proposals to the DOE, Morris is already recommending 12 different feasibility studies. Here, courtesy of the Asbury Park Press, are the various consolidations under consideration. Reaction has been predictable. Here’s a selection: “We have to look at that, because there’s a lot of people that could …

James Watson on Dumb Science Teachers and Corrupt Unions

James Watson, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, lets loose on the poor quality of science teachers in the latest issue of Scientific American: But Watson said he believes there is a larger hole in the U.S. educational system that is sapping our lead in science. “Part of the problem is too many of our teachers are dumb,” he said, balking that “Teachers’ unions are corrupt.” He said that the relatively low pay educators receive has prompted smart …

One of Those Jersey Lake Wobegons

CentralJersey reports that teachers in Montgomery Township are lobbying the local school board to bring in a budget at the 4% allowed by cap. Why? Apparently town residents came to the last board meeting to plead for tax relief, but the teachers are concerned that not stretching to cap will limit their compensation. Montgomery Township Education Association President Chris Crow justified going to cap by explaining that, the association’s teachers are willing to work hard, …

Ravitch on Obama and Charters

Diane Ravitch, Education historian, Research Professor of Education at New York University, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford and the Brookings Institute, offers her view of Obama’s support for charter schools (courtesy of Politico): President Obama’s enthusiasm for charter schools is baffling. Doesn’t he realize that they are a deregulation strategy much beloved by Republicans? Deregulation works brilliantly for some schools as it does for some firms. But it produces many losers too. …