Breaking News: Carolyn Marano is “Retiring” From the DOE.

This morning at a New Jersey Department of Education Division meeting Assistant Commissioner of Student Services Carolyn Marano announced that she is retiring on August 1st. This is good news for New Jersey parents of students with disabilities (and their parents), as well as others who fall within the Students Services purview. For those of you playing catch-up, Marano was Director of Special Education in Vernon Township where staffers filed grievances against her for harassment. …

People’s Prep Celebrates! Founder Jess Rooney Explains Her Work With Students Who Enter Years Behind Grade Level.

Last week I interviewed Jess Rooney, founder of People’s Prep, the only charter school in Newark without a “feeder,” i.e., an elementary and/or middle school that prepares students for rigorous high school academics. The reason for this interview is People’s Prep’s first celebration honoring the Class of 2019 and their families. But these honorees aren’t high school seniors: They’re college graduates. That’s because People’s Prep’s mission is to give students the tools to graduate from …

Meet Jamir, A Seven-Year-Old Asbury Park District Student Who’s Been Home for Six Months.

Jamir is seven years old, bright and smart and handsome.  He is enrolled in the Asbury Park District and is classified as eligible for special education services because of a diagnosis of ADHD but hasn’t attended school for six months. That’s because the district, according to Jamir’s grandmother, has “kicked him out” and failed to provide an appropriate alternative program for him. This is wrong in so many ways yet sadly unsurprising for a district …

Here’s A Leaked Memo From the NJ DOE’s Assistant Commissioner When She Directed Special Education in Asbury Park.

The memo below is from the New Jersey Department of Education’s Assistant Commissioner of Student Services, Carolyn Marano. It was written while she was Director of Special Education at Asbury Park Public Schools. In both positions she was hired by Lamont Repollet, first in his position as Superintendent of Asbury Park and then as NJ’s Education Commissioner. It all points to a disturbing pattern of leadership that undermines the academic trajectory of children with disabilities. This …

How My Husband and I Were Privileged Over Other Parents Who Seek Public School Choice

I am a mom of a son with multiple disabilities. This means that, by definition, I am a school choice supporter. Nobody bothered me and my husband when we pursued school choice. Nobody tried to disparage our reputations or vilify us. Nobody tried to stop us from making choices; in fact, they supported us. Yet groups like NJEA, Education Law Center, and Save our Schools-NJ disparage low-income families and racial minorities who want what we …

NJ DOE Watch: Disruption and Damage Within the Division of Student Services (with One Bright Spot)

Newsflash: insiders tell me that there has been no improvement within New Jersey’s floundering Department of Education. In an accidental metaphor, the pages of the DOE website that are supposed to list of bios of executives and descriptions of DOE offices continue to say “Under Construction.” After listening to and reading reports from brave professionals distraught over deterioration, a more apt description would be “Under Decay.” And, from what I can tell, the problems are …

For Parents Advocating For a Child with Disabilities, Here’s the Golden Rule: If You Don’t Ask for It, You Won’t Get It!

I have a new piece out in New Jersey Family Magazine on advocating for your child with special needs. It starts here: My husband and I welcomed our son into the world with the calm conviction of experienced parents. Jonah was our fourth child, and we were pros at child rearing, fluent in the language of raising kids. Feeding schedule? Check. Separation anxiety? Check. Toilet training? Check. Education? Check. But Jonah isn’t typical. When he …

Improving Special Education is a Priority for Newark Charters

Mark Rynone is Executive Director of the NJ Special Education Collaborative. Since its inception in 2013, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools has provided support to charter schools in Newark. The focus of our work has been to improve the capacity of charter schools across the city to ensure that they are equipped to provide high quality supports and services to students with a wide range of learning differences. In 2016, we …

Five Ways That New Jersey’s Education System Is Being Undermined

Sue me. I was an English major. When I think about the state of the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education, a host of literary allusions sweeps over me: Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for power; Dionysus gifting Midas with the golden touch, thus cursing him with starvation; Macbeth’s moral compass eclipsed by blind ambition. Okay.  I’m being melodramatic. Yet let us look at five ways in which the Governor’s tendency to pander …

As A White, Privileged, Mom of a Child with Disabilities, I Want To Scream and Cry and Throw Things.

This post is by Liz Winslow, a school choice warrior and mom of three children, two of whom have special needs. Her work has previously appeared on NJLB here,  here. and here. Her post that describes Aaron’s issues is here. I want to share a few thoughts on this New Yorker piece on Georgia’s “separate and unequal special education system,” beyond the fact that I wanted to scream and cry and throw things when I read it. First, this quote …