New Jersey Governance in the Middle of a Pandemic: Run By and For NJEA

The NJEA’s investments are paying off.   New Jersey’s most powerful special interest has had a great recent run with Governor Murphy. As is well known, the NJEA was “all-in” for Phil Murphy when he ran for governor and strongly boosted his candidacy.  Since Murphy’s election, the NJEA and its public-sector union allies have pumped at least $5.5 million into New Direction New Jersey (NDNJ), the dark-money Super PAC that runs media campaigns boosting the …

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 Proposes Bill To Compensate For Murphy’s Underfunding of Schools

Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz introduced a budget resolution to increase school funding by $311 million, the resolution would fund the school funding formula and maintain the annual increases, which began in FY2019. Ruiz says Murphy’s school funding proposal fails to fund districts appropriately, given the myriad extra costs associated with running schools during a pandemic. “We made a commitment with the passage of S.2 to fully fund school districts within seven years. The …

The Road to Reopening Is Filled With Potholes, Says NJ School Boards Association

One week ago the New Jersey School Boards Association published a report called “Choosing The Best ‘Road Back’ for Our Children.” Here, NJSBA explains the need for “critical state and federal support for public education during the pandemic” and describes “the obstacles and challenges school districts have faced in developing reopening plans and many of the strategies they have implemented.” Question: Why would NJSBA publish this? Answer: While Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer says NJ is …

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 …

Education Highlights From Gov. Murphy’s Budget Address

This morning Governor Phil Murphy delivered his budget address from the 50-yard line at Rutgers’ SHI Stadium in Piscataway. His proposal calls for annual state spending of $32.4 billion from October to June 2021, not as much as a cut from last year’s $38.7 billion budget as it appears: this is a nine-month budget instead a twelve-month one. Four billion would come from a loan, which would leave New Jersey with a $2.2 billion surplus …

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 …

Murphy Is Losing Key Allies As He Fumbles School Reopening Plans.

It’s a domino effect: Despite Gov. Murphy’s resistance to lengthy periods of online instruction, district after district — 150 at last count—is ignoring him and his “circus-like atmosphere” and going all-remote. At this point, the Governor, widely hailed for his leadership in flattening the curve of coronavirus infection, is looking less like a figure of authority and more like feckless NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, widely panned for a reopening plan that Gov. Andrew Cuomo …