The Road to Reopening Is Filled With Potholes, Says NJ School Boards Association

One week ago the New Jersey School Boards Association published a report called “Choosing The Best ‘Road Back’ for Our Children.” Here, NJSBA explains the need for “critical state and federal support for public education during the pandemic” and describes “the obstacles and challenges school districts have faced in developing reopening plans and many of the strategies they have implemented.” Question: Why would NJSBA publish this? Answer: While Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer says NJ is …

Why Hasn’t Murphy Replaced the DOE Commissioner?

I’m surely not the first to wonder why Governor Phil Murphy has yet to nominate a Commissioner for the Department of Education. Lamont Repollet left in mid-July — Murphy knew he was leaving in May — to take over the presidency at Kean University. Here we are, four months after Repollet gave notice, with an interim commissioner whose competency is in finance. What’s up with that, especially during this wildly atypical summer as schools scramble to …

“We Were Begging For Decision-Making From the DOE”: NJ Superintendents Decry Lack of Leadership

Mike La Susa, Superintendent of School District of the Chathams in Morris County, is in a tough spot: His reopening plan still calls for in-district instruction but “if we’re faced with a continuing increase in the number of leave inquiries and potential leaves we could be in a different position a week from now, or ten days from now.”  What does LaSusa regard as a major contributing factor to the uncertainty?  “Not enough planning by …

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 …

Newark’s Newest Charter School Leader Is Well Equipped to Manage School Reopenings Amidst a Pandemic

“The key is a great team of committed professionals — even in the midst of a pandemic, even in the midst of uncertainty— so that our scholars thrive and succeed.” That’s Dr. Christy Oliver-Hawley, the new Head of Schools for Newark’s University Heights Charter School (UHCS) as she takes over three schools with 926 pre-K-8th grade students in the Central Ward. Her recent appointment is a culmination of both UHCS’s national search for a leader …

“A Legacy Shattered”: Parents of Jersey City Charter School Protest Board’s Removal of Principal

This is a press release written by parents from The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS) after a virtual school board meeting where the 150 parents participating were told that Principal Marta Bergamini will not return. Jersey City, NJ – Last night parents and staff of The Ethical Community Charter School attended the monthly Board of Trustees meeting with hope of news on the return of Principal Marta Bergamaini. After waiting three weeks for an update, …

New Jersey Superintendents Blast State Guidance For Reopening Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities

Ten days ago the New Jersey Department of Education issued “guidance” allowing districts to reopen July 6th for in-person summer programming for students with disabilities and claiming that the rules were issued after consulting with all stakeholders. Apparently they didn’t talk to parents.  Or superintendents.  Or teachers.  To wit: Two days after the “guidance” was issued (actually, the DOE just took the rules for summer camp and slapped a new title on top), a coalition …

“I Thought They Were Creaming Off Top Students”: Camden Charter Leader on His Own Learning Curve

“Even in my seat as a charter school leader, I always say that I wish I could have done what I’m able to do here in a traditional district school.” That’s William Hayes, principal of East Camden Middle School, one of Camden’s new “renaissance” charters (this one operated by Mastery) that are distinguished by an unusually collaborative partnership with district schools. Hayes acknowledges a bit of surprise at his career trajectory.  Earlier on “I bought the …