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 …

“We Were Begging For Decision-Making From the DOE”: NJ Superintendents Decry Lack of Leadership

Mike La Susa, Superintendent of School District of the Chathams in Morris County, is in a tough spot: His reopening plan still calls for in-district instruction but “if we’re faced with a continuing increase in the number of leave inquiries and potential leaves we could be in a different position a week from now, or ten days from now.”  What does LaSusa regard as a major contributing factor to the uncertainty?  “Not enough planning by …

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 …

“Flexibility” Is Fine, Gov. Murphy, But Not When It’s an Evasion of Leadership.

Dear Governor Murphy,  Today you have an op-ed in NJ Spotlight asserting that New Jersey’s education system is a “gem” and one hallmark of that brilliance is your Department of Education’s emphasis on “flexibility” and “local control”as we prepare to reopen schools. You call your cascading series of announcements –all schools must have some element of in-building instruction, all schools must have the option of starting all remote, actually only some schools have the option …

Murphy Flip-Flops on School Reopenings. Here’s the Backstory.

It’s been two years since I began covering the deterioration of the New Jersey Department of Education under the commissioner appointed by Governor Murphy, Lamont Repollet. The coverage started because a brave DOE staff member told me that he, along with 39 other longtime professionals, had been abruptly fired on a Friday morning in July 2018. Most of them worked in the Office of Comprehensive Support, a division of the DOE that serves our lowest-performing districts. Last …

School Districts Defy Murphy With Impunity While Repollet Takes Kean University All-Remote

Yesterday I wrote of an accelerating pattern of school districts defying direct mandates from Phil Murphy and the state Department of Education by choosing to go all-remote. These decisions, of course, flaut the DOE/Murphy’s rule that “districts’ reopening plans must account for resuming in-person instruction in some capacity.” The Governor and DOE’s refusal to cop to reality erodes trust in their leadership. It also throws into question their respect for the opinions of school leaders, …

School Leaders Ignore Murphy and DOE Mandates. Here’s Why That’s a Problem.

“We literally have no news on education today,” Murphy said at his latest coronavirus press briefing in Trenton. Well, school leaders across New Jersey have some news for the Governor: They are ignoring the New Jersey Department of Education’s mandate –supported by Murphy–that all schools begin the 2020-2021 school year with some element of in-building learning. Why? Because a growing consensus says this mandate is an ill-considered, medically-ignorant decision that courts disaster. Earlier today I …

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. …

Surely We Can Do Better Than DeVos When It Comes to Opening Schools

Sunday morning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went on CNN and Fox to tout her belief that all American schools must open for full-time in-person learning in September. Afterwards she was excoriated for both her ignorance and her cavalier attitude towards potential outbreaks among students, teachers, and staff.   It’s so easy to beat up on DeVos. (Heck, I do it all the time.)  But right now I’m thinking that DeVos and her boss’s idiocy are a …

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 …