I Nearly Broke My Back But My Kid’s In A Program

Dear readers, my writing is sparse this week and here’s why: On Tuesday morning, for the first time in six months since programs for adults with disabilities shut down due to Covid-19, our son Jonah had access to a structured activity run by a program in a different county: 90 minutes a day on Zoom. He was a nervous wreck on Monday but Tuesday he was thoroughly engaged (doesn’t hurt that his best friend is …

“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 …

Pressure Builds on Murphy To Keep Schools Closed and Go All-Remote

Governor Phil Murphy is trying to juggle the academic needs of schoolchildren, valid health concerns of teachers, and a sudden uptick of Covid-19 cases as we approach the first day of school. You’ve got to admire his gumption but, truth be told, he’s been badly served by his NJ Department of Education (okay, he and NJEA chose Lamont Repollet as Commissioner) in two ways that directly affect how students will learn and parents will maneuver …

Inzelbuch’s Letter to Union Leaders Says Lakewood Isn’t Risking Covid Contagion With Full-Time In-Person Schools

Below is a letter, dated yesterday, from Lakewood attorney Michael Inzelbuch to the leaders of the Lakewood Education Association, Kimberlee Shaw and Tracy Paolantonio. Lakewood Public Schools, Inzelbuch informs the union officers, “is committed to provide full-time in person education for the 2020-2021 school year” and asks for a meeting to discuss a mandatory COVID testing plan for staff members. For context, Lakewood, distinguishing itself from other New Jersey school districts, held in-person Extended School Year programs …

100,000 Students in New Jersey Are Cut Off From Remote Instruction: Murphy and Repollet Say “Let Them Eat Cake.”

In mid-March President Trump told a group of governors they were on their own in searching for respirators to help those stricken with the coronavirus. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself. This reminds me of the 90,000-100,000 New Jersey students — disproportionately low-income and of color—who …

Sources Reveal the Story Behind NJ’s Inequitable Online Learning

Joicki Floyd is an English teacher at Newark’s Weequahic High School which, like the rest of New Jersey, is relying on remote instruction during coronavirus school closures. Last week she called every one of her 94 students to find out why so few were participating. Of the students she was able to track down, Floyd found, according to Chalkbeat,  that at least 10 “still did not have laptops or reliable internet at home nearly a …

Four Reasons Why Public Schools Won’t Return to “Normal” Anytime Soon

Yogi Berra proclaimed (perhaps apocryphally), “predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” I have no crystal ball but, whenever this pandemic subsides, I think we’re a long way out from returning to “normal” schooling. Why? Here are four reasons. Human Behavior:  My  husband is an avid sports fan. I’m not but tried to be supportive when he contemplated a summer without his season ticket to the Trenton Thunder, our local AA team. I said, “maybe …

New Jersey Is In The Slow Lane On the Highway To Online Instruction. Just Don’t Tell That to the DOE.

These are hard times. We’ve all had to make changes in the way we live, learn, and work. It’s no surprise that state education bureaucracies are struggling to, one extent or another, in implementing effective online instruction for students. But you wouldn’t know that from New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. In this interview with John Mooney of NJ Spotlight he addresses the “character of our workforce,” saying, “I salute you, because you have been …

Is COVID-19 Teaching Us Anything at All Outside of Washing Our Hands?

This is a post by my friend and colleague Zachary Wright, a national finalist for the United States Department of Education’s School Ambassador Fellowship. Zach is an assistant professor of practice at Relay Graduate School of Education serving Philadelphia and Camden. Prior to that, he was the 12th-grade world literature and AP literature teacher at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus, teaching the school’s first eight graduating classes. We’re about three weeks into our new Covid-19 realities.  …

During Covid-19, Are Charter Schools Leading the Way?

On Monday I looked at the stark disparities in the quality of online instruction offered to children during the COVID-19 school closures, comparing Princeton Regional Public Schools with Trenton City Public Schools. This is one data point, although representative of New Jersey’s two separate and unequal school systems, an exemplary one for the wealthy (disproportionately white and Asian) students and an inferior one for the poor (disproportionately black and brown) students. These inequities are exacerbated …