Will This Pandemic Force Us To Boldly Address the Inequities in Our Schools?

I live right off Route 206, a mostly two-lane road that begins in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey, winds 130 miles north to Stokes State Forest, and ends in Dingman Township, Pennsylvania. One twelve-mile stretch of 206 connects Princeton, Lawrence Township (where I live), and Trenton, the state capitol.  As COVID-19 affects, well, everything —here, we’re currently in something close to a lockdown, with a 158% jump in confirmed cases during the last three …

Camden Councilwoman: “I Believe in the Transformation that is Taking Place in the City of my Birth,” Including Five Straight Years of Academic Improvement in Camden Schools.

This is a guest post by Felisha Reyes Morton who is a Camden Councilwoman (and first Latina to represent the 4th Ward since redistricting), co-founding member of the North Camden Little League, and former Camden School District Advisory Board Vice President. Years ago, the small city that I was born in, grew up in and went to school in was left for dead. Growing up in Camden’s Parkside neighborhood, I got to watch Diane Sawyer come …

After Seven Years of Broadly-Supported School Choice, How Are Camden Students Faring?

This is a guest post by David Osborne and Tressa Pankovits. Osbourne  leads the K-12 education work of the Progressive Policy Institute. Pankovits is associate director of PPI’s Reinventing America’s Schools Project. This first appeared in The 74. With 55 percent of its students in chartered public schools or renaissance schools — neighborhood schools operated by charter organizations — Camden, New Jersey, has implemented one of the most ambitious portfolio strategies in the nation in …

Great News for Camden Families as Camden Education Fund Steps Up!

This week Camden City welcomed a brand-new organization called the Camden Education Fund (CEF), a non-profit focused on talent, equity, engagement, and instructional quality with the end-goal of accelerating the academic progress of Camden City students who attend district, charter, and renaissance schools. CEF intends to create partnerships with experts (examples: the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning and the New Jersey Special Education Collaborative); address the lack of diverse teacher pipelines; offer grants …

How Are The Children? Sue Altman Doesn’t Care.

This week the Star-Ledger featured an interview with Sue Altman,  the head of NJ Working Families Alliance and much in the news for her performance at a New Jersey State Legislative hearing about possible abuses of a tax incentive program in Camden. Altman is enraged by these tax incentives because she hates George Norcross. She’s not the only one: NJEA/Phil Murphy don’t care for him either, and the convoluted mess that is New Jersey Democratic politics …

Attention NJ Taxpayers: Is NJEA Illegally Coordinating with Camden School Board Candidates?

This is a guest post by Michael Lilley, Founder and President of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey, which seeks to educate residents on the way NJEA “uses their tax dollars against their own interests, secures benefits for the few over the many, and blocks needed reforms.” This was originally published on SPCNJ’s website. There’s a hotly contested school board race going on in Camden.  News accounts have described it as a contest between two …

Camden Parents Celebrate Their Power as All Schools Rise.

For the very first time more than 250 families who call Camden home joined together on October 19th for what will become an annual event: the Camden Parent Power Summit. Sponsored by Parents for Great Camden Schools, the event featured leadership training, workshops, networking opportunities, a local business expo, and a “Kids Fun Day.” The point was to train parents in educational advocacy, raise their comfort level with school involvement, and celebrate the academic gains …

Lessons Learned From Camden As All Schools Rise.

Camden City Public Schools just announced that, for the fourth year in a row, students in both traditional and renaissance schools are improving their academic skills. In 2014-15, based on state standardized tests, 4.3% of students were proficient in math; last Spring 15% met or exceeded expectations. In 2014-15, 7% of students were proficient in English Language Arts (ELA); now 21% are. Question: How did this turnaround occur in what was once New Jersey’s worst …

Voices from the Parent Summit: Troy Still’s Mom Fought For His Education; Now He Fights For Camden Students.

During the first weekend in August, Project Ready hosted the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview) I chatted with many parents and I’m posting some of the interviews: See earlier ones here, here, here, and here.  In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. This interview is with Troy Still, a member of the Camden City School Board. Laura: Troy, where did you attend school in Camden? Troy: …

Voices From the Parent Summit: An Interview with Jabbar Wilkins.

During this past weekend at the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview) I chatted with many parents. During the next two weeks I’m posting some of the interviews: See the first one here. In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. Here’s Jabbar Wilkins, father of seven (three biological children and four step-children) who grew up and still lives in Camden. Laura: Jabbar, would you tell me about …