Murphy Gives His Budget Address and Ignores Our School Funding Inequities. Well, What Do You Want From an Administration That Gives a $95K Job at the DOE to a Minor League Baseball Coach?

Today Gov. Phil Murphy gave his 2019 budget address. He’s proposing, as part of this 38.6 billion spending plan, an additional $351 million as the first step in his campaign promise to “fully fund” New Jersey’s school funding formula known as the 2008 School Funding Reform Act.  SFRA is one in a series of funding formulas that attempts to comply with the 30-year-old Abbott v. Burke rulings. Those rulings accurately identified gross inequities between per …

Just How Good Is Your Local School District? You Won’t Find Out By Browsing Ratings Sites. Spotlight on Princeton, Montclair, and Newark.

Over the weekend the Star-Ledger published a list of high schools with “surprisingly low scores” on school quality. Unlike the algorithms used by sites like the U.S. News and World Report ratings, which are limited to overall averages on tests like the SAT, New Jersey, like many other states, evaluates schools in a more granular manner (per federal education law), using a combination of student growth on standardized tests, graduation rates, and chronic absenteeism, the latter an indication …

New Jersey Teachers’ Pension System Is Broken, Unless You Work In the Front Office. Also, Why Are Sex Offenders Receiving Pensions?

Last week I wrote about the disparities in pay between rank and file educators and those who work in the offices of NJEA, N.J.’s largest teachers union. There are two parts to today’s post: First, the disparities in annual compensation between teachers and NJEA front office employees extend to disparities in retirement security.  Second, there’s a long list of teachers and administrators who, by just about any standard, shouldn’t collect pensions at all and contribute …

In Ninety Minutes a NJ Legislative Committee Will Vote On Whether It Values Educational Equity For Children

At 1:00 today, the the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will consider Bill 3381, sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz, who is Chair of the Senate Education Committee. This bill “revises provisions of law concerning graduation proficiency test and eliminates requirement that graduation proficiency test be administered in eleventh grade.” The reason for the bill’s urgency — it’s a last-minute addition to today’s legislative schedule — is that yesterday the State Appellate Court, which …

Earlier this week The 74 published a column I wrote called “These 2 Teachers Wanted to Quit Their Union — but NJ Law Wouldn’t Let Them. Now, Following the Supreme Court’s Janus Verdict, They’ve Decided to Sue.” For that piece I interviewed Susan G. Fischer (Sue) who, with her colleague Jeanette Speck, has filed a class-action suit in federal court against Gov. Phil Murphy, NJEA, and the Township of Ocean Education Association. In that suit, they …

Do Gov. Murphy and Ed. Comm. Repollet Have What it Takes to Put Education Over Politics?

“We parents filled that room last night and our voices were heard on why we LOVE our Public Charter schools!” That’s Paterson parent Ashley Lauren describing the vibrant atmosphere at the NJ Department of Education’s first of five stops on its Charter School Program Outreach 2018 Calendar. With almost no notice (the dates for focus groups were announced on Thursday, October 11th and the Paterson meeting was the following Tuesday) and at a parent-unfriendly time …

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 …

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 …

Not Backpacks Full of Cash But Backpacks Full of Rights: NCSECS Takes On Special Education Equity in Charter Schools.

It’s a common complaint among those who look down their collective nose at public charter schools: they don’t serve their fair share of students with disabilities, or at least those with moderate to severe disabilities, and they counsel out kids who can’t deal with academic rigor, either back to their sending districts or to private placements at district expense. Let’s pay our respects to Mark Twain who said, “all generalizations are false, including this one.” …

Does the State Have the Courage To Take Over Lakewood Public Schools?

Jonathan Shutman,Ed.D., is a retired school principal and administrator who has worked in the Marlboro, North Brunswick, and Montclair public school districts. He is presently a part-time support ESL and math teacher for CNA and LPN students at the Monmouth County Vocational School District. He is the author of  “Disability Abuse in Educational Settings.” The recent news reported by Stacey Barchenger, “Lakewood School Board Lawyer’s $600,000 Contract Breaks Rules” reports the additional $29,000 in family health …