An Open Letter to Gov. Phil Murphy: Which Side Are You On?

Dear Governor Murphy, I heard you just demanded that State Board of Education member Jack Fornaro resign after he inquired whether Hispanic students in Paterson were capable of passing courses in American history. I share your concerns about Fornaro’s low expectations for students of color and applaud your quick response. That’s true progressivism in action within the realm of public education. Bully for you! But I’m confused. While you proudly identify as a progressive — …

Education Law Center and NJEA Are Not Celebrating National Charter Schools Week. Here’s Why.

School choice and equity supporters are celebrating National Charter Schools Week and in New Jersey we have an extra reason to celebrate. Last week a NJ Appellate Court upheld a 2016 decision by then-Education Commissioner David Hespe to allow seven Newark charter schools to expand. Who’s not celebrating? Education Law Center, which challenged the decision, as well as NJ’s primary union NJEA, which largely funds ELC and whose former and current Executive Directors sit on …

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. What Does New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet Think of Teachers?

A week ago our Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. I wrote about this last week, noting that in response to a question from Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon, Repollet conceded that he did indeed institute a “64 Floor” at Asbury Park High School when he was superintendent there. The “64 Floor,” which I heard about from multiple current and former staff members, ensures that no student can fail …

A Lawsuit Pressed By the Anti-Charter Gang Sheds Light on the Presumptions of White Privilege

Last Thursday I published a post about the North Jersey Media Group’s hit job on New Jersey’s public charter schools. This five-part series was rife with errors and distortions. The primary actors behind the scenes of the series are former judge/now attorney Gary Stein of Pashman Stein (his son Michael Stein is a partner), Education Law Center, NJEA, and some anti-charter lobbyists, including Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker. I didn’t know it at the time but …

This Newspaper Series Says NJ Charter Schools Are a “Flawed Experiment.” That’s Wrong — And The Series Itself Proves That.

After I read North Jersey Media Group’s (NJMG) voluminous series called “Millions of Your Tax Dollars Have Disappeared Into NJ’s Flawed Charter School Experiment,” I had two reactions. On the one hand, I was angry that the paper, with its ties to anti-charter groups, would have the chutzpah to publish a hit job on school choice without revealing its agenda. On the other hand I felt sorry for reporters Jean Rimbach and Abbott Koloff who, …

In Jersey City the Teacher Union Is Bargaining On Both Sides of the Table. Last Night One Ethical Board Member Tried to Uphold District Integrity.

I was a school board member for twelve years, including nine years as president. I thought I’d seen it all, including fraught negotiations with unions. I remember one particular negotiating session that commenced at 5 pm and concluded (successfully!) at 3:30 am the following morning. I ran home, got the house in order, packed lunches, got my kids ready for school, and was back in the Central Office by 8 am to sign a Memorandum …

If Your Kid Is a Ninth or Tenth Grader, He or She May Have to Take a Test on a Course Taken Three Years Ago. Unless This Happens.

Let’s say you’re a New Jersey parent of a current 10th grader. Your child, like one-third of New Jersey students, took Algebra 1 in 8th grade and, of course, is taking 10th grade English Language Arts right now. Guess what? Next year there is a very strong likelihood that your kid is going to have to take a standardized test in Algebra 1, a course he took three years previously, as well as repeat the …

Believe It or Not, Progressive Lawmakers Support Standardized Testing in NJ! (Take That, Ron Swanson.)

True confession: I started writing a post a few days ago on the demise of an important piece of legislation, Senate Bill 3381, that would allow New Jersey high schools to use new diploma qualifying tests that are actually aligned with what kids learn in school. But then I junked the draft. Why? Because that progressive new bill was a reaction to a state appellate court ruling that New Jersey couldn’t use new high school standardized …

New Jersey Teachers’ Pension System Is Broken, Unless You Work In the Front Office. Also, Why Are Sex Offenders Receiving Pensions?

Last week I wrote about the disparities in pay between rank and file educators and those who work in the offices of NJEA, N.J.’s largest teachers union. There are two parts to today’s post: First, the disparities in annual compensation between teachers and NJEA front office employees extend to disparities in retirement security.  Second, there’s a long list of teachers and administrators who, by just about any standard, shouldn’t collect pensions at all and contribute …

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 …