NJEA’s “Spider Web of Political Power”: A New Report Examines NJEA’s Ring Through Murphy’s Nose

Last Friday Mike Lilley of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey published a lengthy report called “A Spider Web of Political Power and Influence: How A Vast Network of Allies Helps the NJEA Dominate New Jersey Politics.” Don’t be put off by the length: While 87 pages, the last 57 are indices and other documentary material and it’s worth reading in its entirety. For me, Lilley’s carefully sourced analysis validates a topic I’ve covered …

Dear Gov. Murphy/Comm. Repollet/NJEA: Look at This School and Tell Us Again Why You Want to Water Down High School Testing.

Last week I wrote about the dilemma facing the New Jersey State Board of Education: To accept a low-ball standardized testing proposal from accountability-averse Commissioner Lamont Repollet (ELA 10, Algebra 1, and Geometry, all taken in 11th grade) or gamble on the Legislature passing a bill that would permit the state to test high school students when they finish a course. (See here for more background.) In a 12-1 vote the Board played it safe …

How Do Low Expectations Work For Asbury Park’s Special Needs Kids? Legislators and State Board Members Pay Heed.

On Tuesday I commented on the New Jersey Department of Education’s proposal to the State Board of Education to lower standards for high school graduation. Instead of focusing on what NJ parents really need — clear information about school quality and student progress towards independent adulthood (70% of NJ community college students have to take remedial courses on content they should have mastered in high school)  — the DOE, with the backing of Gov. Murphy/NJEA …

State Board of Education Caves to Murphy and Repollet’s Regressive Demands: Can the Assembly Save Our Kids?

Yesterday the State Board of Education (with the exception of bold Vice President Andy Mulvihill) folded to pressure and voted 12-1 to eliminate the 10th grade standardized assessments that offer guidance to families, teachers, and schools on students’ academic strengths and weaknesses. Think of this as a domino effect: NJEA leaders own Governor Murphy, who accepted an early endorsement in exchange for a promise to eliminate PARCC “Day 1.” Murphy owns Lamont Repollet (who, to …

Murphy Manages To Deliver What Nobody Wants.

Governor Phil Murphy loves to talk about how he’s moving New Jersey forward but in the world of K-12 education he’s intent on moving us back ten years. Remember the days of the High School Proficiency Assessments (HSPA), those basic skills tests that former Education Commissioner Lucille Davy, who served under Jon Corzine, deemed “8th grade level”? The assessments so easy to pass that our graduation rate was sky-high and first-year college students, deceived by …

“It’s Good To Be The King!” A (Sort of Fake) Interview with Lamont Repollet Where I Get To Ask the Questions.

Last week NJ Spotlight’s John Mooney  interviewed Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet on NJTV. (Here’s his write-up, which includes a link to the full video.) I confess to a bit of jealousy: With all the turmoil roiling around the Commissioner and the Department of Education, I have a few questions myself.  And so, as a sort of wish-fulfillment exercise, I decided to ask my own questions here which include requests for elaboration on some of Repollet’s …

It’s Incredible! Since PARCC, New Jersey Students Are Getting More Art and Music Than Ever Before!

Governor Phil Murphy was in a great mood at Paramus High School — “I can tap-dance a little,” he said, “and now I tap-dance for a living” — as he celebrated New Jersey’s status as “the only state with universal access in schools to art programs.” In fact, participation among New Jersey students, he boasted, has jumped from “65 percent in 2006 to 81 percent.” What? I thought new course content standards paired with aligned …

Dear Dr. Repollet (and Gov. Murphy and NJEA): School Spending Is NOT a Proxy for Educational Equity.

Subject: A message from Dr. Repollet September 6, 2019 Dear Fellow NJDOE Employees, The start of a new school year is always a joyous occasion, but this year in particular we have a great reason to celebrate: New Jersey schools rank number one in the nation, thanks in part to our commitment to funding education and to our push for educational equity for all students. This is the first paragraph of an email Commissioner Lamont …

New Jersey Students Are #1! Too Bad Murphy/NJEA/Repollet Are Working On a Regression Plan. Bonus: Internal DOE Email.

Education Week’s Research Center  just issued the final portion of its 2019 Quality Counts annual report, which rates each state’s education system. Guess what? New Jersey rocked it, for the first time beating Massachusetts, long-heralded for its high-achieving schools, and achieving #1 status as the top-performing school system in the nation. Two points jump out at me, one on our upswing in student proficiency in math and reading and the other on school spending and …

PARCC Part 2: Why, For the First Time in Five Years, Did Student Growth Stall?

Yesterday I reacted to the news, revealed during Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting, that student achievement, as measured by standardized tests, flat-lined after four consecutive years of growth. I also discussed Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet’s proposal — already in progress despite Board members’ admonitions to Repollet last Spring to not lower standards — to, well, lower standards by creating easier tests in fewer grades. I noted that I didn’t have the data on achievement …