New Jersey Schools Failed the Remote Learning Test in March. Here Are 3 Ways to Get September Right.

For the last two years I’ve been reporting on the disarray at the New Jersey Department of Education. Suddenly I’m not the only one. In a series running this week at Advance Media, Adam Clark describes a “system-wide breakdown last spring that failed the state’s most vulnerable children” due to a “lack of decisive action or funding” as well as the “low bar” set by the DOE. Six months after the pandemic closed schools, Clark …

Senator Ruiz Reams Out NJ DOE for Lying and Lack of Leadership

A few notes from last Thursday’s State Senate Budget Committee hearing, with Interim Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer in the hot seat, poor soul. When Dehmer boasted that New Jersey public schools, for the second year in a row, were rated #1 by EdWeek (which rates schools primarily by how much the state spends per pupil), Senator Teresa Ruiz, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, shot back: New Jersey may be ‘number one’ which …

Why Hasn’t Murphy Replaced the DOE Commissioner?

I’m surely not the first to wonder why Governor Phil Murphy has yet to nominate a Commissioner for the Department of Education. Lamont Repollet left in mid-July — Murphy knew he was leaving in May — to take over the presidency at Kean University. Here we are, four months after Repollet gave notice, with an interim commissioner whose competency is in finance. What’s up with that, especially during this wildly atypical summer as schools scramble to …

Murphy’s Staunchest Allies Abandon Ship As School Reopening Plans Crater

It’s a failure at the state level. It is simply inadequate for the state to issue guidance and say, ‘You’re on your own to figure this out.’ That’s a quote from last week’s New York Times story on how New Jersey’s school reopening plans are “falling apart.” Sure, you read this on NJLB all the time (see here, here, here, here) but take note that the speaker quoted is David Sciarra, executive director of the …

Education Law Center: DIGITAL DIVIDE A VIOLATION OF STUDENTS’ CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Education Law Center, which litigated the Abbott v. Burke cases, issued this statement late yesterday, informing Gov. Murphy and the State Legislature that New Jersey students’ lack of internet access and one-on-one devices necessary to access remote learning (one in five students, at last count) is a violation of their constitutional right to a “thorough and efficient” education. August 27, 2020 The State of New Jersey’s continuing failure to eliminate the digital divide for an …

15 Million Children Are #LoggedOut Due To Lack of Internet Access. Here’s How You Can Help.

Today education activists and organizations across the country are joining together for a National Day of Action to demand #InternetForAll. Why? School is starting up around the country but kids are stuck at home, and 15 million of them are #LoggedOut because they don’t have a decent internet connection. In six cities (see here), activists will be demanding #InternetForAll. Want to get involved? Go to this page for a digital toolkit and check out this site. (Or you …

School Reopening Plans Backlogged at DOE While School Leaders Lament Lack of Leadership

I’ve had a lot of superintendents, a lot of principals from my area reach out lamenting kind of the lack of guidance they have received from the Department of Education. My office tried facilitating even conference calls with the DOE and our superintendents and we never even received a response back from DOE to help schedule some of these things. Per Carly Sitrin today at Politico (behind a paywall), that’s Assemblymember Holly Schepisi speaking at …

What Can Districts Learn From Top Public Charters on Remote Instruction? Highlights From a New Report.

Yesterday I posted a letter (read it here) from the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association to the Democratic National Committee. The 65 signatories express grave disappointment at the DNC’s anti-charter  stance, which the signatories call “especially egregious” in light of powerful support from Black and Latino parents. Today the Fordham Institute published a report called “Schooling Covid-19: Lessons from Leading Charter networks from Their Transition to Remote Learning.” Here, Gregg Vanourek examines the successful …

“Flexibility” Is Fine, Gov. Murphy, But Not When It’s an Evasion of Leadership.

Dear Governor Murphy,  Today you have an op-ed in NJ Spotlight asserting that New Jersey’s education system is a “gem” and one hallmark of that brilliance is your Department of Education’s emphasis on “flexibility” and “local control”as we prepare to reopen schools. You call your cascading series of announcements –all schools must have some element of in-building instruction, all schools must have the option of starting all remote, actually only some schools have the option …

“Now I Have Hope,” Says Homeless Mom, After Project Ready Provides Wifi and Laptops.

At brightbeam we talk a lot about the digital divide, a major obstacle to equitably delivering home instruction during this pandemic. New Jersey is no exception, with 230,000 schoolchildren lacking either laptop and/or internet. This week the divide got close-up and personal for me when I had the opportunity to speak to Jacqueline Vargas, a student herself and the mother of two children, ages 13 and 8.. She and her children live in Apostles’ House, which …