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 …

Welcome to Montclair, Where “Progressivism” Turns Into the “Epitome of Black Oppression”

I know this will be controversial but I don’t  have a problem if a teacher is found to be racist, as long as it doesn’t interrupt instruction.* I feel comfortable around black people because I grew up on a dairy farm where my family employed four black families. Who’s that? Why, it’s Nathan Parker,  the superintendent of the “progressive” suburban school district of Montclair, New Jersey where the average price for a home is $662,000 and …

If Phil Murphy Were Really “Progressive,” He’d Chuck the Marketing Ploys and Focus on Children.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice. That’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous 1963 letter from the Birmingham jail. Fifty-seven years later I think that Dr. King would have changed the phrase “white moderate” to “white progressive.” …

Two Rebellions in Lakewood: Latinx Parents Fight For Their Children While the Board Contests School Quality Scores.

“The board has no interest and shows no respect for us,” Norma Morales, mother of two Lakewood schools students, said in Spanish. “I feel very disappointed for how disrespectful they are, for how they treat us.” “We want to expose the abuse of power and the irregularities happening in our schools,” Ana Benito, mother of two Lakewood schools students, said in Spanish. “They’re not doing their job, and our children don’t have teachers and are …

Hannukah Gelt or Coal in Your Stocking? Checking in on Lakewood.

Stacey Barchenger of the Asbury Park Press is indefatigable in her investigations into the shenanigans in Lakewood Public Schools. Example: last week she reported that the district, which operates as a funding stream for 130+ private religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish day schools, used $1.6 million in federal money intended for secular material to buy religious textbooks. This is a violation of New Jersey state law and federal law. Welcome to Lakewood. From the APP story: The …

Confessions of a Jersey-Born White Teacher in an Urban School

(This is a guest post by Jennifer Rich, an assistant professor in the College of Education at Rowan University, and the director of research and education for the Rowan Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. It first appeared in the Hechinger Report.) My first year of teaching, I did almost everything wrong. They tell you to be yourself. Here was my first mistake: I didn’t want to be myself. I wanted to be Michelle Pfeiffer. …

Rumor Mill in Lakewood Heating Up in Advance of Tonight’s Board Meeting

The rumor mill in Lakewood is abuzz as the Board of Education gets ready for tonight’s meeting. If anyone can suggest some factual information, please use the comment section. Inquiring minds want to know. Rumor #1: Is Board Attorney Michael Inzelbuch really resigning? Someone seems to think so. Rumor #2: How displeased is the Lakewood community with the state’s “loan” of $28 million and the Board’s agreement to start paying it back in a year, …

“This Is Not the ‘Fairer’ New Jersey Promised by Gov. Murphy”

This is a letter from Robert Beers, Superintendent of  Manville Public Schools (Somerset County) that first appeared in Central Jersey.  Another budget planning cycle has come and gone for New Jersey school districts as the May 15 submission deadline has passed. This task continues to be a herculean effort as Manville Borough remains one of the most underfunded school districts in the entire state of New Jersey. The Manville 2018-19 budget was completed in the …

Six Ways in Which Lakewood is “Special”; Or, What Happens When Local Control Runs Wild

I’ve been thinking about local control lately and the ways in which it contributes, both locally and nationally, to public education inequities. New Jersey, of course, is local control run wild —  late Assemblyman Alan Karcher called us an exemplar of  “multiple municipal madness” —  with our 590 school districts and 565 municipalities. Every attempt to even out disparities in funding and affordable housing fails miserably because no amount of money — think of Asbury …

Princeton Palace: This is What’s Wrong with Local Control

When my husband Dennis and I were getting ready to move from upstate New York to a new home within a reasonable commuting distance to his office in Manhattan, we zeroed in on Mercer County in Central Jersey. After all, you can get to Penn Station in an hour on an express NJ Transit train, we’d be reasonably close to my family, and housing prices were more affordable than, say, Westchester or Connecticut. Of course, …