Preschool Opportunity?

Dr. Rich Noonan, Superintendent of Madison Public Schools, posted a letter last week complaining about the new preschool mandate that all New Jersey districts must provide full day preschools to low-income kids: Is the State of New Jersey in a position to fund such a costly new endeavor at a time when it cannot meet its present financial obligations, and when housing foreclosures and layoffs are significantly eroding our economic vitality? When concerns over New …

Is It Time to Trade Up to a Better Model?

Here’s two “must-reads” for you. Andrew Rotherham, who runs the thinktank Education Sector and blogs on Eduwonk, has a piece in US News and World Report on accountability and No Child Left Behind. As long as we’re on our merit pay/teacher accountability tear, we’ll pull out this quote: Shortly after the law now called No Child Left Behind was first passed in 1965, a frustrated senator remarked, “I want to change this bill because it …

Star-Ledger Advocates Merit Pay

The Star-Ledger gets behind merit pay for teachers in today’s editorial, arguing that the typical union denunciation — that a differentiated pay system would harm collegiality — is unpersuasive. It is not, we suspect, the fact that some teachers will get more money that makes so many in education nervous about merit pay but the prospect that all teachers will be evaluated. Yet teachers routinely administer tests and score and judge their students. Teachers must …

Aides Over Kids?

The State Assembly Education Committee is expected to release a new bill, A-420, which gives job protection to paraprofessionals employed in Title 1 districts, i.e., more than 75% of the school districts in New Jersey. Sponsored by Assemblywomen Amy Handlin and Joan Voss, the legislation, among other things, forces districts to extend employment to school and classroom aides by May 15th for the upcoming year. Typically, districts make these decisions in August and September when …

County-Wide Preschools!

New Jersey’s public schools, under a new state mandate to provide free preschool to 3, 4, and 5 year-olds from low-income families, are in a pickle. Oh, heck – let’s call it a whole deli platter. While few dispute the advantages of pre-school for poor kids (well, a few do: see here and here) administrators and schools boards worry about finding suitable space and about whether the State’s promise to fund the programs is reliable. …

Joe the Lawyer

The Press of Atlantic City has an article today about the negative reactions generated by the new graduation requirements recently issued by the DOE. At the Vocational-Technical Schools Open Forum at last month’s New Jersey School Boards Annual Convention, representatives from both vocational and academic high schools lit into the High School Redesign Steering Committee’s new set of graduation requirements, which mandates that all graduates complete biology, chemistry, algebra 1 and 2, economics, four years …

Where Would Malia and Sasha Go to School in NJ?

Eduwonkette has a great piece up called “Where Will Malia Ann and Sasha Obama go to School?” Says the author, Odds are that the Obamas will send their daughters to a private school in DC. Like most parents, they will likely want to ensure that their children get the best schooling they can. Few parents would be willing to risk sacrificing their children’s futures to make a point about the value of public schooling. We …

Change We Can Believe In

It’s mid-November, so it must be time for the NJEA Teacher Convention! A week after school board members partied in Atlantic City, 35,000 members of New Jersey’s teaching corps headed down to the boardwalk; according to the Star-Ledger’s John Mooney, there was much chatter about the impact of President-Elect Obama’s victory. Primary Gripe: Obama’s support for merit pay and charter schools. Joyce Powell, President of NJEA, said delicately, “We may have our differences of opinion …

Just Call Him Prince

In the wake of Scott Weiner’s “retirement” as CEO of the Schools Development Authority, State Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri has been tapped to head this scandal-ridden juggernaut with a budget of $12.5 billion. Kolluri will now be responsible for supervising the construction projects in the Districts-Formerly-Known-as-Abbott. (The State has been under court order to fund these 31 deeply-impoverished districts to the level of Jersey’s most affluent ones. Under the new state funding formula, which is …

Mountain-Climbing in Jersey

In a memo released Monday, Education Commissioner Lucille Davy announced that the U.S. Department of Education had approved some New Jersey slippage in our nation’s indefatigable climb toward 100% proficiency among American schoolchildren known as “No Child Left Behind” or, in some circles, as the “Lake Wobegone Effect.” You know: all our children are strong, good-looking, and above average. Over the summer the NJ DOE ramped up the definition of “proficiency” by changing the tests …