The Annual NJEA Convention, Starting Today, Is SO Old-School. What If We Did Things Differently?

Today New Jersey parents woke up to their annual smack in the face: All public schools are closed today and tomorrow, the first Thursday and Friday in November, so that NJEA can host its convention in Atlantic City. That’s on top of school closures on Monday for Veteran’s Day, making this a delightful five-day weekend. That’s on top of student conferences, which some NJ schools hold in November, closing schools for several consecutive half-days. That’s …

Camden Parents Celebrate Their Power as All Schools Rise.

For the very first time more than 250 families who call Camden home joined together on October 19th for what will become an annual event: the Camden Parent Power Summit. Sponsored by Parents for Great Camden Schools, the event featured leadership training, workshops, networking opportunities, a local business expo, and a “Kids Fun Day.” The point was to train parents in educational advocacy, raise their comfort level with school involvement, and celebrate the academic gains …

Special Education Parents, Know Your Rights! (Part 2)

Last week I published a post called “Ten Lies That Parents Of Special Needs Kids Often Hear: Know Your Rights!” and suggested that we in the special needs community share information to better advocate for our children. During the past week I’ve received many questions and comments from parents who are doing their best to navigate what can be an overwhelming thicket of regulations and red tape as they struggle to secure necessary services for …

Ten Lies That Parents Of Special Needs Kids Often Hear: Know Your Rights!

When I speak to parents of children with disabilities, I often hear reports of Child Study Teams (those responsible, along with parents, for creating Individualized Education Plans or IEP’s) who pass along false information or undermine the critical role parents have in deciding on necessary services and appropriate placements.  I hear these reports from Latinx parents — some not completely comfortable with the English language and/or concerned about their immigration status — in low-income districts …

Should the Opinions of “National Pundits” Outweigh the Opinions of Newark Residents on Charter Schools? A New Poll Reveals a Stark Difference.

“Contrary to what you may hear in the national narrative, there is a lot of public support for the historic progress Newark has made. Newark voters are still looking for more quality school options, and they broadly support public charter schools as part of the solution. We should trust the opinions of the people living in our communities and experiencing our school system every day over the opinions of national pundits.” That’s Kyle Rosenkrans, Executive …

“If the Latino Action Network Would Actually Look at My Children’s Classrooms They Would Know They’re Wrong About Segregation”: A Latina Mother Contests A Specious Lawsuit.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Ana Maria De La Roche Araque, one of the three parents interveners in the lawsuit Latino Action Network v. State of New Jersey. (For the charter schools’ response, see here; for my commentary on the lawsuit, see here, here, and here.) Ana joins two other charter school parents, along with the New Jersey Charter School Association and Beloved Community Charter School in Jersey City, in seeking …

Two Rebellions in Lakewood: Latinx Parents Fight For Their Children While the Board Contests School Quality Scores.

“The board has no interest and shows no respect for us,” Norma Morales, mother of two Lakewood schools students, said in Spanish. “I feel very disappointed for how disrespectful they are, for how they treat us.” “We want to expose the abuse of power and the irregularities happening in our schools,” Ana Benito, mother of two Lakewood schools students, said in Spanish. “They’re not doing their job, and our children don’t have teachers and are …

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: 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 …