Why Should You Care That Murphy’s Department of Education Is In Shambles?

When my younger daughter was in eighth grade, she and her classmates had to give a short speech about themselves. The topic she chose was “Everyone In My Family Is a Nerd Except Me.” Dad was a “genome nerd,” her older brother a “history nerd,” her older sister an “environmental science nerd,” and I was a “piano nerd.” As my sweet girl, protestations aside, blossomed into her own nerdiness (bio-geo-chemistry, if you must know), I …

NJ DOE Watch: DOE Commissioner Repollet Cancelled All School Audits and The Feds Don’t Like It. Will Gov. Murphy Take Action?

You have to give him this: Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet didn’t waste any time.  Governor Phil Murphy appointed him on January 29, 2018. Ten days Repollet had his assistant send an email to the Assistant Director of Student Services and the Director of the Office of Fiscal Accountability & Compliance, cc’d to two Assistant Commissioners and a secretary in the Fiscal Accountability office. Here’s the email with names redacted: Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2018 12:29 …

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves; Or, Is Kowtowing to Union Leaders Good for State Leadership?

Let’s be clear: the vast majority of staff members at the New Jersey Department of Education are caring, competent people, focused on the best policies for this state’s 1.4 million public school children. I’ve been covering NJ education for a decade and I can’t think of a time when this wasn’t true. The difference right now is that there appears to be is an undue emphasis on politics instead of policy, as well as a …

NJ DOE Watch: Disruption and Damage Within the Division of Student Services (with One Bright Spot)

Newsflash: insiders tell me that there has been no improvement within New Jersey’s floundering Department of Education. In an accidental metaphor, the pages of the DOE website that are supposed to list of bios of executives and descriptions of DOE offices continue to say “Under Construction.” After listening to and reading reports from brave professionals distraught over deterioration, a more apt description would be “Under Decay.” And, from what I can tell, the problems are …

Murphy Administration Grants Renewals To Five High-Performing Urban Charter Schools

This is a press release from the New Jersey Charter School Association, a statewide association representing the state’s charter sector. Last week, the New Jersey Department of Education granted five high-performing charter schools authorization to serve students for another five-year charter term. All five charter schools serve students in urban districts with strong demand for more public charter school seats. Charter schools that attain a Tier 1 designation (the highest for a NJ charter school) for three …

NJ Court Rules PARCC Violates State Law So Now We Can Pretend Again That All Our Schools Are Great. Trenton Students Beg To Differ.

An article in Tuesday’s Trentonian recounts interviews with Trenton Central High School students, almost all Black,  Hispanic, and poor, who are stuck in a district where they feel unsafe and uneducated. Simultaneously, an appellate court ruled Monday that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations governing PARCC assessments “are in violation of laws passed by the Legislature.” Those particular laws say that high school diploma qualifying tests must be given in 11th grade but the …

NJ DOE Watch: Says One Staffer, “This is Like Trump’s White House.”

This is another in an ongoing series of blog posts about the alarming deterioration of leadership at the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE). The problems are so bad that each week I’m approached by insiders who provide startling evidence of the systemic degradation of hiring practices, oversight, standards, equity, and transparency. I’ll continue to confirm these reports to the best of my ability and keep readers in the loop. For the full series, click …

Lakewood Isn’t Just Cheating Its Public School Children; It’s Cheating Its Orthodox Jewish Children Too.

Lakewood Public Schools is regularly sued by current and former staff members. On Friday the Asbury Park Press published a partial list of the suits, including some settlements. There is a theme to this litigation: If a staff member is unwilling to disregard the law, is invested in educational equity, and has the guts to speak up, he or she gets the boot. The victims of this “culture of fear” are not only educators with …

Has the NJ Department of Education Misallocated Federal Funds Intended for Low-Income Students?

Earlier this week school districts in New Jersey received this email from the Department of Education: Dear Colleague: You are receiving this message because this email account was recently used to sign up for an upcoming Technical Assistance( TA) session regarding  discretionary grant opportunities using, Title 1 Part A Funds. This email is to inform you that the TA session has been cancelled. The New Jersey  Department of Education (NJDOE) under the direction and guidance …

You Want An Authentic Charter School Review? New Jersey Has One Now! Parents Brave the Cold To Speak Truth to Comm. Repollet

Yesterday I stood outside State Department of Education in Trenton and watched dozens of parents deliver 2,000 postcards, carefully stacked in boxes, each pleading with DOE Commissioner Lamont Repollet to end the charter school moratorium. One by one, on frigid Riverside Plaza, parents approached the microphone and voiced support for public school choice in New Jersey. “Parents are standing strong, and we have a clear message for our leaders: we love our public charter schools …