Pressure Builds on Murphy To Keep Schools Closed and Go All-Remote

Governor Phil Murphy is trying to juggle the academic needs of schoolchildren, valid health concerns of teachers, and a sudden uptick of Covid-19 cases as we approach the first day of school. You’ve got to admire his gumption but, truth be told, he’s been badly served by his NJ Department of Education (okay, he and NJEA chose Lamont Repollet as Commissioner) in two ways that directly affect how students will learn and parents will maneuver …

Latest News on New Jersey’s (Rapidly Changing) School Reopening Plans.

It’s not a secret how all this should work. When anticipating prolonged school closures, states need to set clear expectations for the quality of learning models and ensure that all students are equipped with the technology necessary to access online instruction. New Jersey, particularly at the level of the State Department of Education, has failed in every way. And now, a month before school reopenings, a soon-to-be-proposed Assembly bill —that may best protect students and …

If the Marlins Can’t Control COVID, How Can Schools? Murphy’s “Clarification” Explained

My baseball-fanatic husband just told me that the Yankees-Phillies game tonight was cancelled because 14 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus right after playing the Phillies this past weekend.  I assume that Major League Baseball has endless funds at their disposal to keep players safe. Teams widened dugouts, practiced social distancing in locker rooms, tested players daily, and wore masks when they weren’t in the field.  Yet baseball season may be over. …

In Asbury Park, A Call for the State Fiscal Monitor to Resign

Last night the Asbury Park Board of Education held its monthly meeting –with a bit of a twist. Since mid-March all meetings have been held remotely: For the required public participation, people email in comments that are read at the appropriate time by an administrator and anyone can dial in to listen. But this time the Board decided, COVID-19 be damned, to meet in-person. Why? Because since meetings have been held remotely, community participation has …

With Repollet Gone, Murphy Fesses Up to the Vastness of NJ’s Digital Divide

When Lamont Repollet was New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education and schools closed in mid-March, he told districts to “get creative” about closing the digital divide and fund their own technology. He claimed that “only” 89,000 students (out of 1.4 million K-12 enrollment) lacked either a one-on-one device like a laptop or iPad, and/or access to broadband internet Gov. Phil Murphy uttered not a peep. Yet at last Murphy is coming clean about the real numbers. …

Breaking News: Six Rumors From NJ Education Department Include Extended School Closures, Lack of Guidance, and Mandatory Furloughs.

Jeez, you leave for one week and all hell breaks loose. Just kidding. Or not. Last night I came home from a week away with my husband and all our kids to a host of rumors from the New Jersey Department of Education and Governor Murphy’s Office. I am printing the ones that have been confirmed by two independent sources who will, of course, remain anonymous. As always, I can’t do this work without the …

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King: What Does Repollet’s Departure Mean for New Jersey’s Education Department?

Last night the Board of Trustees of Kean University, one of New Jersey’s public colleges, voted to install current Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet as its new president. This was not a surprise: I first reported on rumors within the DOE of Repollet’s Kean ambitions in June 2019. The more interesting questions are 1) Who are the likely prospects to replace Repollet and 2) Why is he taking the job at Kean? When Repollet …

How the New Jersey Department of Education Went From Technology Leader to Technology Laggard

On Monday I wrote about Paterson Public Schools’ poor implementation of home instruction during this pandemic, hindered largely by the lack of one-on-one devices for students as well as teachers’ unfamiliarity with technology. This scenario isn’t limited to Paterson: Here’s Trenton’s form of remote learning, which is less a strategy than an abdication of responsibility. The consequences for students in these districts, already high-risk, will be enormous. Chris Minnich, head of NWEA, predicts that “students …

Asbury Park Spends $42K per Student and Still Can’t Get the Job Done: Highlights from the Recent State Audit.

Once again it’s time to take a look at Asbury Park Public School District, which spends more per pupil ($42,382 total a year) than almost any other district and is the former post of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. This past November the New Jersey State Legislature’s Office of the State Auditor completed an analysis of the district’s functioning that spans from July 2016 (when Repollet was still superintendent) to December 2018. The auditor, Stephen M. …

How Do Low Expectations Work For Asbury Park’s Special Needs Kids? Legislators and State Board Members Pay Heed.

On Tuesday I commented on the New Jersey Department of Education’s proposal to the State Board of Education to lower standards for high school graduation. Instead of focusing on what NJ parents really need — clear information about school quality and student progress towards independent adulthood (70% of NJ community college students have to take remedial courses on content they should have mastered in high school)  — the DOE, with the backing of Gov. Murphy/NJEA …