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 …

People Show You Who They Are, Including The Head of Student Services At The New Jersey Department of Education. New Info From Asbury Park.

“When someone shows you who they are,” said Maya Angelou, “believe them the first time.” This would have been good advice for  Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet before he hired Carolyn Marano as Assistant Commissioner of Student Services at the Department of Education. We can’t absolve him on the basis of ignorance; after all, she was his Supervisor of Special Services when he was Superintendent at Asbury Park Public Schools. But I guess he likes what …

My Worlds Converge: A Personal Story About My Son, My Sister, Disabilities, and The Contraction of Education Reform.

Tomorrow is the Ides of National Disabilities Month, but in my family we observe this designation every day.  Our fourth child, Jonah, has Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic mutation that can cause (as it does in our son’s case) a constellation of symptoms including global developmental delays and autistic-like behaviors. My sister is afflicted by both physical disabilities and psychological disorders; as the only other surviving member of our original family (none of whom died …

Lakewood Isn’t Just Cheating Its Public School Children; It’s Cheating Its Orthodox Jewish Children Too.

Lakewood Public Schools is regularly sued by current and former staff members. On Friday the Asbury Park Press published a partial list of the suits, including some settlements. There is a theme to this litigation: If a staff member is unwilling to disregard the law, is invested in educational equity, and has the guts to speak up, he or she gets the boot. The victims of this “culture of fear” are not only educators with …

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 …

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 …

Not Backpacks Full of Cash But Backpacks Full of Rights: NCSECS Takes On Special Education Equity in Charter Schools.

It’s a common complaint among those who look down their collective nose at public charter schools: they don’t serve their fair share of students with disabilities, or at least those with moderate to severe disabilities, and they counsel out kids who can’t deal with academic rigor, either back to their sending districts or to private placements at district expense. Let’s pay our respects to Mark Twain who said, “all generalizations are false, including this one.” …

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 …

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 …