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 …

A Peek Into NJEA’s Finances: Teachers and School Staff May Not Like What They See.

I often insist on the distinction between those who work with children —  teachers, instructional aides, nurses, Child Study Team members, et. al.  — and  New Jersey Education Association staff members who lobby in Trenton.   In this era of Janus when public sector workers can choose to not join unions (a right excessively circumscribed in NJ), it’s worthwhile to check out the finances of those Trenton lobbyists. Information is power when teachers have a choice, right?  Anyone …

As N.J. Governor, Legislature & Teachers Union Wrangle Over PARCC, the Fate of 170,000 High School Seniors Hangs in the Balance

Check out my new column in The 74. It starts here: Phil Murphy won his New Jersey governorship in 2017 by promising progressive action on items as varied as a $15 minimum wage, raising taxes on millionaires, increasing gun control, and fully funding schools and teacher pensions. Another of those promises, as he vowed during his keynote at the 2016 New Jersey Education Association convention, was to “scrap PARCC day one.” Now this anti-Chris Christie …

Just How Deeply is Murphy’s Agenda Influenced by NJEA? Here’s a Clue.

I’ve often wondered to what degree Gov. Phil Murphy’s agenda is driven by the wonts of NJEA, New Jersey’s primary teacher union. After all, his election platform practically replicates NJEA’s wish list: fully fund pensions, fully fund the state school funding formula, stop charter school expansion, eliminate the link between teacher evaluations and student outcomes, eliminate PARCC tests. And so it should come as little surprise that his deputy Chief of Staff is actually a …

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 …

How My Husband and I Were Privileged Over Other Parents Who Seek Public School Choice

I am a mom of a son with multiple disabilities. This means that, by definition, I am a school choice supporter. Nobody bothered me and my husband when we pursued school choice. Nobody tried to disparage our reputations or vilify us. Nobody tried to stop us from making choices; in fact, they supported us. Yet groups like NJEA, Education Law Center, and Save our Schools-NJ disparage low-income families and racial minorities who want what we …

Four Unforced Errors Committed by Gov. Murphy (All Hail NJEA!) and Some Remedial Suggestions

The New Jersey Globe recently published its annual “Year in Review,” a listing of Garden State political winners and losers, as well as a set of inside-baseball narratives that capture the gestalt within the Statehouse. What does the Globe highlight as the “political story of the year?” The “hostility” between “Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney,” which is “unfathomable” because “they are both Democrats…The battle…has Democrats on the brink of a civil war.” …