“Simple, Equitable, Joyful, and Accessible:” Best Remote Instruction Practices From NJ Charter School Leaders

On May 19th the New Jersey Public Charter School Association held a webinar called “Learning from NJ’s Public Charter Schools during COVID-19.” Interest among the 360 attendees was intense as local leaders shared best academic practices as well as strategies for managing everything from meal distribution to digital access to family trauma. Given the uneven quality of home instruction offered by NJ’s 555 traditional districts — in general, wealthy districts’ programming is far superior to …

Asbury Park Residents Decry School District’s High Spending and “Top-Heavy Administration.”

On Wednesday night the Asbury Park Board of Education held its monthly public meeting. Sort of. While other districts are finding creative ways to include residents in public meetings while maintaining social-distancing — people in my district, for example, can choose among GoogleMeet, live-streaming, and phoning into a conference line — these options were too cumbersome for Asbury Park. Instead, there was only a listen-only telephone number and an opportunity to email questions.  And this …

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 …

A Tale of Two Cities: Remote Instruction in Princeton and Trenton

We’re about 5 weeks into our coronavirus lock-down in New Jersey, about a month since much of America has embarked on a national experiment of remote instruction that likely will continue for the duration of the school year.  In New Jersey this means 555 school districts are independently creating remote learning plans, coming up with laptop distribution strategies, figuring out meal delivery for low-income kids, and setting expectations for students. On the face of it, …

Facing “Unprecedented Uncertainty,” Governors Ask DeVos For Promised Emergency Education Aid

On March 27th, two weeks ago last Friday, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to help industries getting slammed by COVID-19. Part of the money —$30 billion—is subtitled the “Education Stabilization Fund” (ESF) and earmarked for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Of that $30 billion, $13.5 billion will be distributed to states and territories, which will then parcel it out to …

New Jersey’s School Funding Formula Unfairly Privileges Some Not-So-Poor “Abbott” Districts.

This is a guest post by @stateaidguy who blogs at New Jersey Education Aid, where this piece was first published in slightly different form. Over the last 35 years, New Jersey’s 31 Abbott districts — which, by order of a series of State Supreme Court rulings, receive high levels of funding — have become increasingly disparate. If New Jersey’s school funding formula (SFRA) was anchored in reality, many of these districts would no longer be …

Is Phil Murphy Spending Too Much Time in the Italian Sun? How Else To Explain His Veto?

Maybe Phil Murphy needs to vacation in cooler climes in order to make fair decisions on school funding for New Jersey residents, already taxed to the teeth. Yet he deserves a degree of sympathy: Just how much cognitive dissonance is generated by positioning oneself as a man of the common people while sending your kids to elite boarding schools and vacationing at your 23-room mansion in Italy? Because I don’t know how else to explain …

On Charters, a New Report Shows That White Democrats Are Getting It Wrong. (Listen Up, Bernie/Liz/Joe!)

Judging by the harsh turn that some politicians have taken against charter schools, voters might well imagine that the data look darker than they did when President Barack Obama championed them. That is simply not the case: studies still affirm that charters provide a substantial academic benefit for low-income students of color, benefit children who remain in traditional public schools, and provide the taxpayer with a far greater return on investment. Whatever is driving the …

Four Corrections to a Context And Fact-Free Article Called “The Democrats’ School Choice Problem.”

On New Year’s Eve The Nation published an analysis by Jennifer Berkshire called “The Democrats’ School Choice Problem.” Her piece is instructive because it illustrates a strategy commonly employed by those who regard themselves as warriors against craven privatizing shysters intent on expanding charter schools and/or voucher programs. This is how it works: Ignore context. Ignore math. Ignore inconvenient facts. And hustle together a specious argument that plays to those who —perhaps responding to the …

Education Law Center’s New Lawsuit For Abbott District Construction Is Based On A Reality That Is 40 Years Old.

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Bennett, who blogs at New Jersey Education Aid. It originally appeared in ROI. Nearly 40 years ago, in February 1981, the Education Law Center launched on behalf of poor, urban districts statewide what would become the most educationally and budgetarily consequential lawsuits in New Jersey history: Abbott v. Burke. Although former Education Commissioner Fred G. Burke is long departed, and the close identification of “poor” with “urban” has ceased to …