Voices From the NJ Parent Summit: Nicole Harris Says Parents Have The Right To Choose the Best Schools in Their Community — and That Choice May Be Different for Each Child.

During the first weekend in August, Project Ready hosted the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview). I chatted with many parents and this is the last of the posted interviews: See earlier ones here, here, here, here, and here.  In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. This interview is with Nicole Harris, a mother of three who runs an afterschool program for 1,000 New Jersey students. Laura: Can you tell me a bit about …

Voices from the Parent Summit: Troy Still’s Mom Fought For His Education; Now He Fights For Camden Students.

During the first weekend in August, Project Ready hosted the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview) I chatted with many parents and I’m posting some of the interviews: See earlier ones here, here, here, and here.  In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. This interview is with Troy Still, a member of the Camden City School Board. Laura: Troy, where did you attend school in Camden? Troy: …

Voices from the Parent Summit: Tafshier Cosby-Thomas on Charter School Wars, a Pact With Her Sisters, and Helping Parents Become Education Advocates.

Last year I interviewed Tafshier Cosby-Thomas about her educational experiences in Newark, both as a student and a parent. At the time of that interview, the New Jersey Department of Education was in the midst of its Charter School Act Review and soliciting input from lobbyists and, more importantly, parents. Tafshier was one of those parents. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a video of her addressing  the DOE and Commissioner Repollet).When I …

Voices From the Parent Summit: An Interview with Jabbar Wilkins.

During this past weekend at the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview) I chatted with many parents. During the next two weeks I’m posting some of the interviews: See the first one here. In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. Here’s Jabbar Wilkins, father of seven (three biological children and four step-children) who grew up and still lives in Camden. Laura: Jabbar, would you tell me about …

Repollet Rumor Expansion, Plus Commentary on a New DOE Appointment.

I stand corrected. Yesterday, in reporting on a rumor about the departure of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, I noted that “17 out of 55 leadership positions are marked ‘vacant’ on the DOE organization chart.” A few hours after I published that post the State Board of Education, reports NJ Spotlight, approved six candidates for those leadership positions, leaving only 11 out of 55 seats that “had been long-vacant under [Repollet].” Sometimes timing is everything, not …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “When Everyone Dresses the Same, The Focus is on Learning.”

Ubaidullah Jackson, who just turned seven years old, peers up at me with undisguised curiosity. I’m here to interview his mom, Shati Gerald, about why and how she has molded an ambitious academic track for her gifted son and so he’ll have to be satisfied with access to his mom’s smartphone and a promise for a snack at the closing brunch at the 2018 NJ Parents Summit. Shati is a social services coordinator for senior …

Not So Fast with the “We” Word, Trenton Superintendent McDowell. You’re Leaving Out the Parents.

“We in Trenton are adamantly opposed to charter school expansion,” Trenton Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Wednesday at a community meeting on the subject. “We are united in that statement.” Um, no, Dr. McDowell. I don’t know whom you are referring to when you say “We in Trenton” but it’s definitely not the Trenton parents I spoke to at last weekend’s NJ Parent Summit, where 250 parents, mostly single moms of color, mostly from Abbott …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “As the Only Black Person in My Class, I Lost a Sense of Self.”

This is a love story. Twelve years ago, Shiana Torres was a student at Essex County Community College. She had grown up in Summit, a mostly white town where she often felt alienated. “I excelled academically,” she recalled, “so I was always the only Black person in my class. You lose a sense of self.” Suddenly she noticed a young man in a restaurant on Springfield Avenue in front of a Chinese restaurant and, well, …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “There’s Proof That Charter Schools Work So Why Would You Stop?”

Jamila Jendayi-Scott, who attended Paterson Public Schools during the state takeover (from 1991 to this past May) and whose son attends the Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, is a firm believer in school choice. Her views stem not from politics but from personal experience. Her own experience within the traditional public system was just fine, by the way. Her Paterson school was not a part of the “paradigm program” that formed a portion of …

The Value of Anger and other Afternoon Notes from #NJ Parent Summit

I’m a sucker for word derivations. Did you know that the word “anger” is derived from an old Norse word meaning “grief?” What is grief? Mike Gecan, as we embark on the afternoon session of the Leadership Track, tells the packed room (I’m sitting on the floor typing this) that the word implies loss, either of of something that was once there but no longer exists or of something that one values but never existed, something you …