Murphy Gives His Budget Address and Ignores Our School Funding Inequities. Well, What Do You Want From an Administration That Gives a $95K Job at the DOE to a Minor League Baseball Coach?

Today Gov. Phil Murphy gave his 2019 budget address. He’s proposing, as part of this 38.6 billion spending plan, an additional $351 million as the first step in his campaign promise to “fully fund” New Jersey’s school funding formula known as the 2008 School Funding Reform Act.  SFRA is one in a series of funding formulas that attempts to comply with the 30-year-old Abbott v. Burke rulings. Those rulings accurately identified gross inequities between per …

New Community Advocacy Group Project Ready, Hosts “1,000 Newarkers Vote By Mail” Luncheon

I go to education-related events all the time but I’ve rarely been as inspired as I was Saturday in Newark. There, Shennell McCloud’s new community organization, Project Ready NJ, hosted a celebration of its successful first initiative: to get 1,000 Newarkers, mostly women of color, to register to vote by mail. Why? Because Shennell and her enthusiastic team believe voting is a critical issue of access and equity, as well as a key part of …

Nepotism Springs Eternal in the Murphy Administration. Now Would Someone Please Pay Attention to the Department of Education?

Yesterday I wrote that the nepotism and subsequent dysfunction within certain state departments (looking at you, Department of Education) is not a bug but a feature of the Murphy Administration. Now comes confirmation via USA Today, reprinted in the Star-Ledger, that Lizette Delgado-Polanco, the new CEO of the School Development Authority which manages facility maintenance and construction in Abbott districts, “fired dozens of qualified veteran state employees and replaced them with union pals and family …

As Newark Changes, We Can’t Leave Our Children Behind

This is a guest post by A. Robert Gregory, Superintendent/CEO of the Marion P. Thomas Charter School network and fromer Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. He’s part of the annual Future Chiefs leadership program by Chiefs for Change, a national nonprofit organization.  I remember it like yesterday, driving up Springfield Avenue from Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark with my grandmother, Juanita Gregory, more than 30 years ago. She was a first-generation Newarker who loved and …

Governor, The Hiring Scandal at the School Development Authority Is A Feature, Not A Bug.

Various news outlets are reporting on a second scandal (the first was Al Alvarez) at the School Development Authority, the agency that manages about $11 billion for school construction, primarily in Abbott districts. A Murphy political ally, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, was hired to run the agency last August and immediately fired 26 staff members, many of whom had served for years under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. She then hired 33 new staffers, some at atypically …

Just How Good Is Your Local School District? You Won’t Find Out By Browsing Ratings Sites. Spotlight on Princeton, Montclair, and Newark.

Over the weekend the Star-Ledger published a list of high schools with “surprisingly low scores” on school quality. Unlike the algorithms used by sites like the U.S. News and World Report ratings, which are limited to overall averages on tests like the SAT, New Jersey, like many other states, evaluates schools in a more granular manner (per federal education law), using a combination of student growth on standardized tests, graduation rates, and chronic absenteeism, the latter an indication …

Believe It or Not, Progressive Lawmakers Support Standardized Testing in NJ! (Take That, Ron Swanson.)

True confession: I started writing a post a few days ago on the demise of an important piece of legislation, Senate Bill 3381, that would allow New Jersey high schools to use new diploma qualifying tests that are actually aligned with what kids learn in school. But then I junked the draft. Why? Because that progressive new bill was a reaction to a state appellate court ruling that New Jersey couldn’t use new high school standardized …

New Jersey Teachers’ Pension System Is Broken, Unless You Work In the Front Office. Also, Why Are Sex Offenders Receiving Pensions?

Last week I wrote about the disparities in pay between rank and file educators and those who work in the offices of NJEA, N.J.’s largest teachers union. There are two parts to today’s post: First, the disparities in annual compensation between teachers and NJEA front office employees extend to disparities in retirement security.  Second, there’s a long list of teachers and administrators who, by just about any standard, shouldn’t collect pensions at all and contribute …

Why Should You Care That Murphy’s Department of Education Is In Shambles?

When my younger daughter was in eighth grade, she and her classmates had to give a short speech about themselves. The topic she chose was “Everyone In My Family Is a Nerd Except Me.” Dad was a “genome nerd,” her older brother a “history nerd,” her older sister an “environmental science nerd,” and I was a “piano nerd.” As my sweet girl, protestations aside, blossomed into her own nerdiness (bio-geo-chemistry, if you must know), I …

A Peek Into NJEA’s Finances: Teachers and School Staff May Not Like What They See.

I often insist on the distinction between those who work with children —  teachers, instructional aides, nurses, Child Study Team members, et. al.  — and  New Jersey Education Association staff members who lobby in Trenton.   In this era of Janus when public sector workers can choose to not join unions (a right excessively circumscribed in NJ), it’s worthwhile to check out the finances of those Trenton lobbyists. Information is power when teachers have a choice, right?  Anyone …