Governor, The Hiring Scandal at the School Development Authority Is A Feature, Not A Bug.

Various news outlets are reporting on a second scandal (the first was Al Alvarez) at the School Development Authority, the agency that manages about $11 billion for school construction, primarily in Abbott districts. A Murphy political ally, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, was hired to run the agency last August and immediately fired 26 staff members, many of whom had served for years under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. She then hired 33 new staffers, some at atypically …

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 …

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 …

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 …

NJ DOE Watch: You Thought It Was Bad in Student Services? Check Out the Assessment Division’s Dysfunction.

Earlier this month I wondered whether the decay within the New Jersey Department of Education’s Division of Student Services (hostile work environment, retaliatory actions, talks of a class action suit) is an anomaly or emblematic of systemic dysfunction. I was hoping for the former; after all, one troubled department beats system-wide woes. But it appears to be the latter. At the very least, the dysfunction that pervades Student Services is also present in the DOE …

What the Heck Is Going on at the DOE’s Special Education Division? Or, Some (Verified) Leaks from the Inside.

Ever since I published this post (and this follow-up) recapping layoffs of 40 people from the New Jersey Department of Education, a process a manager there described  as callous” and “sloppily done,”  I occasionally receive information from former and current employees who report on dysfunction, disarray, and deteriorating morale. I read their comments gratefully (if sadly) but don’t considering posting unless I can verify with a second reliable source. After all, these are people’s lives. …

NJ Department of Education Watch: Another One Bites the Dust

Friday morning I put up a post that describes five ways that the New Jersey Department of Education is undermined by questionable hires and actions. These incidents appear to be panders to special interests by Governor Murphy and/or Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, resulting in a DOE bereft of transparency, moral integrity, and effectiveness. The majority of these actions are personnel appointments. I should have waited until Friday afternoon to publish the post because there’s now …