In Ninety Minutes a NJ Legislative Committee Will Vote On Whether It Values Educational Equity For Children

At 1:00 today, the the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will consider Bill 3381, sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz, who is Chair of the Senate Education Committee. This bill “revises provisions of law concerning graduation proficiency test and eliminates requirement that graduation proficiency test be administered in eleventh grade.” The reason for the bill’s urgency — it’s a last-minute addition to today’s legislative schedule — is that yesterday the State Appellate Court, which …

“Without Braven, I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am Now.” A Partnership with Rutgers Helps First-Gen College Students “Achieve the American Dream.”

Here’s some warm news after the cold snap: Braven, a non-profit founded in 2013 with a mission to empower first-generation college students, particularly those of low-income and color, just issued a press release regarding its Newark program, which started in 2015: Braven-Newark today announced that Fellows who graduate from their university-embedded program at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) are outpacing their peers by 30 percentage points in strong economic opportunity attainment: six months after college graduation, 76 …

Why Young Men in Newark Make Me Infinitely Hopeful for the Future of Our City

This is a guest post by Antwann Brown who is in his second year working at KIPP NJ Rise Academy where he serves as the Assistant Dean of Students for 5th and 6thgrade. Before joining KIPP New Jersey, he worked at the Children’s Defense Fund where he focused on building language arts and literacy skills to underprivileged youth in Columbia, South Carolina. Brown has spent his life living in Irvington, NJ and is a graduate of …

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 …

We Need To Talk About Race When We Talk About New Jersey Charter Schools.

I’ve been thinking about race this weekend, probably because NJ Advance Media just came out with The Force Report, which describes this state’s broken criminal justice system. According to the journalists, who worked for 16 months to complete this project, in New Jersey Black people are more than three times as likely as white people to face police use of force, which includes “compliance holds,” “takedowns,” using “open hand strikes or closed punches,” “leg strikes,” …

Is Betsy DeVos on the Verge of Removing Civil Rights Protections for Students of Color?

(A different version of this piece appeared earlier this month at Education Post.) Let’s just call her Betsy DeVoid. Our secretary of education earns a name-change because of her predilection for voiding laws that protect our most disenfranchised students. First it was rescissions to the civil rights regulations that protect students with disabilities. Now it’s the 2014 Obama administration’s school discipline guidance, also based on civil rights law, that requires districts to address the wide …

Confessions of a Jersey-Born White Teacher in an Urban School

(This is a guest post by Jennifer Rich, an assistant professor in the College of Education at Rowan University, and the director of research and education for the Rowan Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. It first appeared in the Hechinger Report.) My first year of teaching, I did almost everything wrong. They tell you to be yourself. Here was my first mistake: I didn’t want to be myself. I wanted to be Michelle Pfeiffer. …

New Jersey Has One of the Lowest Rates of Inclusion of Special Education Students in America. A New Report Explains What We’re Doing Wrong.

A new report called “An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education” by the nonprofit group Innovate Public Schools (IPS) doesn’t mince words: students with disabilities are segregated into classrooms with low expectations, “regardless of how moderate their disability may be.” Families and advocates are often “dismissed and ignored.”Special needs children, especially those of color, are systematically relegated to lower tracks, regardless of cognitive potential, all in violation of the basic tenet of federal law that children …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “When Everyone Dresses the Same, The Focus is on Learning.”

Ubaidullah Jackson, who just turned seven years old, peers up at me with undisguised curiosity. I’m here to interview his mom, Shati Gerald, about why and how she has molded an ambitious academic track for her gifted son and so he’ll have to be satisfied with access to his mom’s smartphone and a promise for a snack at the closing brunch at the 2018 NJ Parents Summit. Shati is a social services coordinator for senior …

During KIPP’s “Summer Jump,” Kids with Disabilities Learn With Typical Kids. How Does This Work?

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicolina Abruzzese, Assistant Principal of Special Education at KIPP Bold Academy, a charter middle school in Newark that is part of the KIPP New Jersey charter school network. This is Nicolina’s fourth year with KIPPNJ and tenth year in education. She has worked as a Special Education coordinator, department chair and coach of special education teachers and  paraprofessionals, co-chair of the Child Study Team, and as a special education teacher in her …