New Interim Education Commissioner Named for New Jersey

From the New Jersey Globe: Gov. Phil Murphy has named Kevin Dehmer to serve as interim Commissioner of Education following the departure of Lamont Repollet today. Repollet will remain in state government as an advisor for the next two weeks and will later assume his new post as president of Kean University. Murphy has not yet named a replacement. Dehmer is currently the Assistant Commissioner for Finance and the CEO of the Department of Education. Murphy praised …

Why Are Medically-Compromised Students Going Back to School in a Week? They’re Following State Guidelines.

We are not a hospital. We are not a summer camp. We are not a test for the thousands of students hoping to return to public school in September. I am extremely concerned that our governor does not seem to understand that ESY programs cannot be viewed as day camps and that they are a continuation of the school year for our students with special needs. If I accidentally infected a student and something were …

Op-Ed: New Jersey Schools Must Fully Open in September

This is a guest post by Sam Cole,a life-long resident of New Jersey.  He is the Co-Founder and a Managing Principal of Stonecutter Ventures LLC.  He is also the Chairman of the NYC Governing Board of Trustees of Success Academy Charter Schools.  The views expressed above are entirely his own and do not reflect those of NJLB. In less than two months, schools across New Jersey should be opening, but you’d never know it given the silence from …

Murphy’s School Reopening Plan Will Open Pandora’s Box, Say New Jersey Superintendents

Last week Governor Murphy and Education Commissioner Repollet gave New Jersey school districts permission to open schools on July 6th for summer programming for students with disabilities as long as they follow the guidance given for opening summer day camps. (See here for detail.) Most NJ superintendents rejected the state guidance and will keep schools closed, relying on remote instruction for Extended School Year (ESY). After all, these school leaders said, traditional school — indoors …

New Jersey Superintendents Blast State Guidance For Reopening Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities

Ten days ago the New Jersey Department of Education issued “guidance” allowing districts to reopen July 6th for in-person summer programming for students with disabilities and claiming that the rules were issued after consulting with all stakeholders. Apparently they didn’t talk to parents.  Or superintendents.  Or teachers.  To wit: Two days after the “guidance” was issued (actually, the DOE just took the rules for summer camp and slapped a new title on top), a coalition …

New Jersey Superintendents Decry the State’s “Lazy,” “Incomplete,” and “Contradictory” Guidance To Reopening Schools

The pattern was already there: New Jersey’s Department of Education, when faced complex issues, punts instead. We’ve seen this with the moribund “Charter School Act Review,” which promised clear guidance on charter school expansions and approvals; the report was never released. We’ve seen this in the DOE’s desultory attitude towards the digital divide that, three months into school closures, continues to exclude 100,000 students from accessing home instruction; Commissioner Repollet says, “we have been putting …

Betsy DeVos Leaves Low-Income Students Behind: Example, Lakewood

In 1997 Michael Kinsley wrote, “the scandal isn’t the illegal behavior–the scandal is what’s legal.” He was referring to allegations about fund-raising corruption in the Clinton Administration but he might have been writing about Lakewood Public Schools, at least under the federal oversight of Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. Why? (And why do I write about Lakewood so much?) Because this Ocean County district is an emblem of how inequity permeates New Jersey’s educational infrastructure …

With Repetition and Consistency, This Special Education Teacher Is Keeping Her Students on Track

As New Jersey enters its fourth month of school closures due to COVID-19, students on the margins are predictably suffering the most, especially those with disabilities.  The learning loss is often exacerbated if a special needs student’s family is poor. “Special education looks so different for a privileged family than it does in other places,” said Jessica Bacon, a professor of teaching and learning at Montclair State University. “I think this is going to reveal …

NJ Education Committee Chairs Ruiz and Lampitt Say State DOE Needs to Step it Up Now

Wednesday I wrote about the webinar “Learning from NJ’s Public Charter Schools during COVID-19” but I left out the opening discussion with Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Education Committees, who both provided thoughtful comments about New Jersey’s educational crisis. First let’s focus on Ruiz’s concerns about the role of the NJ Department of Education. After moderator Harry Lee, head of the NJ Public Charter School Association, asked …

Breaking News: NJEA Lawyers Demand Lakewood Schools Stop Violating State Social Distancing Orders

Last week the law firm Selikoff & Cohen sent a seven-page letter on behalf of NJEA and the union’s local Lakewood arm to Superintendent Laura Winters demanding that the district “cease and desist its blatant violation of  violation of Executive Orders 104 and 107 and the guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Education on school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The letter is cc’d to the president of the local union, the president …