Voices from the Parent Summit: Tafshier Cosby-Thomas on Charter School Wars, a Pact With Her Sisters, and Helping Parents Become Education Advocates.

Last year I interviewed Tafshier Cosby-Thomas about her educational experiences in Newark, both as a student and a parent. At the time of that interview, the New Jersey Department of Education was in the midst of its Charter School Act Review and soliciting input from lobbyists and, more importantly, parents. Tafshier was one of those parents. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a video of her addressing  the DOE and Commissioner Repollet).When I …

What Sort of Teacher Union Leader Compares Teachers to Concentration Camp Prisoners? This One.

Last week I wrote a post called“Should Gov. Murphy Take Advice From Newark Teacher Union Prez John Abeigon on Charter Schools? Depends On How You Feel About Blackface.” There I noted Abeigon’s blustery defense of his mission to value adults over schoolchildren: “Everyone and their mother in this city is an advocate for the children,“ he explains. “I’m not the parents union…I’m not the children’s union.” In case you forgot, “it’s the Newark Teachers Union.” …

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves; Or, Is Kowtowing to Union Leaders Good for State Leadership?

Let’s be clear: the vast majority of staff members at the New Jersey Department of Education are caring, competent people, focused on the best policies for this state’s 1.4 million public school children. I’ve been covering NJ education for a decade and I can’t think of a time when this wasn’t true. The difference right now is that there appears to be is an undue emphasis on politics instead of policy, as well as a …

NJ Court Rules PARCC Violates State Law So Now We Can Pretend Again That All Our Schools Are Great. Trenton Students Beg To Differ.

An article in Tuesday’s Trentonian recounts interviews with Trenton Central High School students, almost all Black,  Hispanic, and poor, who are stuck in a district where they feel unsafe and uneducated. Simultaneously, an appellate court ruled Monday that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations governing PARCC assessments “are in violation of laws passed by the Legislature.” Those particular laws say that high school diploma qualifying tests must be given in 11th grade but the …

Cerf: “This Is The Moment. The Biggest Risk as We Go To Local Control Is That Lurking In the Background Is a Real Transactional Mentality.”

Last week in The 74 I analyzed the legacy of Chris Cerf’s tenure in New Jersey, both as Commissioner of Education and, more recently, as state-appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Part of my analysis came from a conversation we had last month and I wasn’t able to work all the content into the article. So, in the interest of completeness, here are some of his answers to other questions I posed to him. Waters: …

In Newark, Every Teacher Is Sacred

Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. Does anyone else  remember that ditty “Every Sperm is Sacred” from the Monty Python movie called “The Meaning of Life”? When I’m feeling most foul about teacher tenure laws, this song becomes my earworm. And Monday was one of those days because I read Leslie Brody’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal about chronic teacher absenteeism in Newark. …

Newark Update

I have a new column up at NJ Spotlight called “The Four Factors Behind Newark’s Education Turnaround.” It starts here: New Jersey is a fragmented and complicated state, splintered into 565 municipalities and even more school districts. Newark is its microcosm, a byzantine culture of powerful ward bosses who control every aspect of governance, including its school system. Although I’ve been writing about education in New Jersey for a decade, it wasn’t until a few …

Newark Signatories Put Adults Before Kids

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, except when  treasured memories are delusional. Which pretty much describes yesterday’s op-ed in NJ Spotlight signed by State Senator Ronald Rice Sr., Newark School Board member Leah Owens, Newark Teachers Union president John Abeigon, and other Newark luminaries. In this piece the writers lament that they were “disenfranchised by the state takeover of the public school system for 22 years” and — even worse —  “boldly disrespected during the past …

What is Driving Newark Students’ Academic Growth? Answers Here, Via New Harvard Analysis

Researchers at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) are releasing a  study today called “Assessing the Impact of the Newark Education Reforms.” This report analyzes student academic growth since Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million Facebook donation in 2011, matched by another $100 million raised by U.S. Senator (then Newark mayor) Cory Booker. The researchers — Thomas J. Kane (Harvard), Douglas Staiger (Dartmouth), Beth Schueler (Harvard), Whitney Kozakowski (Harvard), and Mark Chin (Harvard) — according …

“Significant Reforms” Drive Newark Students’ Steady Academic Gains

We are very encouraged by results that show our students continue to make steady gains, especially when comparing their results to students in other cities. This data shows us that while there remains progress to be made, thousands more Newark students are reading and doing math on grade level today than just a few years ago, and that these students have a better chance at attending college and pursuing a meaningful career when they leave …