What Can Districts Learn From Top Public Charters on Remote Instruction? Highlights From a New Report.

Yesterday I posted a letter (read it here) from the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association to the Democratic National Committee. The 65 signatories express grave disappointment at the DNC’s anti-charter  stance, which the signatories call “especially egregious” in light of powerful support from Black and Latino parents. Today the Fordham Institute published a report called “Schooling Covid-19: Lessons from Leading Charter networks from Their Transition to Remote Learning.” Here, Gregg Vanourek examines the successful …

NJ High School Student Explains How “Distance Learning Is A Bust.”

Carina Pizarro is a high school student in Bridgewater. Her essay appears in InsiderNJ’s publication, “The Covid-19 Crisis: An InsiderNJ History.“ Distance learning was one of the hardest things I had to go through in my life. In the beginning before the pandemic I had just made the lacrosse team after weeks of hard work. I had good grades and everything was great. It was a Friday and our English teacher said to us that …

Newark Charters Pledge to Exceed Health and Academic Standards During COVID

Today thirteen public charter schools in Newark signed the “COVID-19 Compact” that represents a commitment to common standards for the new school year. These standards promise Newark’s charter school families that schools will reopen responsibly, ensure high safety standards for students and staff, maintain the high-quality instruction both in buildings and at home, and support children’s social-emotional learning needs.  The Compact was created by all school leaders with support from the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. …

Surely We Can Do Better Than DeVos When It Comes to Opening Schools

Sunday morning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went on CNN and Fox to tout her belief that all American schools must open for full-time in-person learning in September. Afterwards she was excoriated for both her ignorance and her cavalier attitude towards potential outbreaks among students, teachers, and staff.   It’s so easy to beat up on DeVos. (Heck, I do it all the time.)  But right now I’m thinking that DeVos and her boss’s idiocy are a …

“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 …

My Son’s School Is My Partner As We Work Together on His Emotional Health

This is a guest post by Alison Seanor, a parent of a first grade student at Elysian Charter School in Hoboken, New Jersey. Every morning I log into a Zoom and see dozens of smiling, six-year old faces beaming back at me.  My son isn’t one of them. He’s the one hiding under the coffee table at my feet.  Transitioning to remote learning has not been easy for my son, Nicholas. My normally calm and …

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 …

Five Tips From a Teacher About Talking To Kids About Coronavirus Fears

This is a guest post by Dana Kaplan who has her MA in Early Childhood Education with an additional certification in Gifted Education. She recently launched her personal business, Developing Empathetic Education with Dana (D.E.E.D.), where she consults with schools and parents on the critical needs for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as well as gifted and talented and “all things school related.” This first appeared on brightbeam’s New York School Talk. As much as …

Voices From the Parent Summit: Shayvonne Anderson Overcomes Personal Tragedy and Explains How Newark Got Beyond The “Charter vs. Traditional” School Mindset.

Shayvonne Anderson,  a lifelong Newark resident and mother of ten children, was elected this year to the Newark School Board as part of the Unity Slate. I interviewed her during the New Jersey Parent Summit (see here for an overview).  For other interviews with attendees, here are Ruthven Haneef Auguste and Jabbar Wilkins. In some cases I’ve added links and editorial comments to add context. Laura: Shayvonne, will you tell me a little about yourself …