NJ Department of Education Watch: Another One Bites the Dust

Friday morning I put up a post that describes five ways that the New Jersey Department of Education is undermined by questionable hires and actions. These incidents appear to be panders to special interests by Governor Murphy and/or Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, resulting in a DOE bereft of transparency, moral integrity, and effectiveness. The majority of these actions are personnel appointments. I should have waited until Friday afternoon to publish the post because there’s now …

Something Farshtunkene* in Lakewood

When news broke last year that the FBI raided homes of 26 Lakewood ultra-Orthodox residents on charges of wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities (see here), New Jersey Comptroller Philip J. Degnan issued a statement that said participants must make “full restitution of all improperly received funds.” Unless, that is, if you’re a Lakewood Board of Education member. Or maybe just …

Oops. New Jersey DOE Leaders Just Made a Mistake.

On October 12, last Friday,  Assistant Education Commissioner Linda Eno sent a letter to all “Chief School Administrators, Charter School and Renaissance School Project Leads,” copied to Commissioner Lamont Repollet. The letter, entitled “Spring 2019 State Assessment Name, Length and Time Changes,”  describes the differences between last year’s administration of standardized tests to those that will be given this coming Spring. There’s just one problem. The information shared with school leaders is wrong. Two weeks ago …

Hot Off the Press: New Report from NCTQ Reviews Newark’s Teacher Evaluation System

When the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and the Newark Public Schools, under the superintendency of Cami Anderson, agreed in 2012 to a new contract that linked teacher pay to performance, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation.” This past summer NTU President John Abeigon, when queried by a Chalkbeat reporter about those 2012 innovatives and upcoming negotiations for a new …

Governor Phil Murphy Does Not “Eliminate PARCC Day One.” Here’s the Compromise.

The New Jersey Board of Education and Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet have reached a compromise on PARCC testing. (See here for the contentious background.) Repollet wanted, per Governor Murphy’s promise to NJEA, to reduce the number of end-of-course tests that students take in high school from six to two. (Those tests would be 10th grade English language arts and Algebra 1, which some students take in 8th or 9th grade). Advocates for educational improvement wanted …

Shavar Jeffries, Montclair Public Schools, and the ESSA Shell Game

I once heard a Montclair High School student describe how he could tell whether a class was an AP or honors course by glancing into the room: If the students inside were almost all white, it was AP or honors; if the students were mostly Black and brown it wasn’t. That’s Montclair, a plush district in Essex County that is externally diverse but internally segregated. The 6,700 students are half White, one-third Black, and one-tenth …

Gov. Murphy Promised NJEA He’d “Get Rid of PARCC Day One.” Not So Fast, Say Those Who Value Honest Representations of Student Proficiency and School Quality.

Last week New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet presented a  proposal to the State Board of Education to reduce the end-of-course (EOC) state tests administered in high school from six to two, the minimum required under federal law. To the shock of those who follows these typically pro forma sessions, the BOE tabled the proposals because it didn’t have the votes to pass them and generously spared Repollet and his boss, Gov. Phil Murphy, the …

Better Education for Kids and JerseyCAN Issue Joint Statement on Legislative Hearing Re: DOE Proposals On Lowering Standards

Context: Today members of the Legislature, led by  Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt and Senator Education Chair Teresa Ruiz (both Democrats), asked smart questions of New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet regarding his proposals to water down accountability and standards by eliminating four of the six end-of-year course tests in high schools. (Last week he diminished the link between students outcomes and teacher evaluations from 30 percent to 5 percent.) According to The Record, …

Is Betsy DeVos on the Verge of Removing Civil Rights Protections for Students of Color?

(A different version of this piece appeared earlier this month at Education Post.) Let’s just call her Betsy DeVoid. Our secretary of education earns a name-change because of her predilection for voiding laws that protect our most disenfranchised students. First it was rescissions to the civil rights regulations that protect students with disabilities. Now it’s the 2014 Obama administration’s school discipline guidance, also based on civil rights law, that requires districts to address the wide …

The NJ State Board of Education Has the Right Stuff.

“Amen,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “I think this gives us an opportunity to come up with the best plan,” Ruiz said in an interview. “I’m in favor of change all the time. We should be changing the mark. But it should be moving it up, and not staying in one place or even lowering the bar.” “These policies that were being made were based on the high-performing high …