Your Taxes At Work in Lakewood: Trick or Treat?

I’ve been neglecting Lakewood and so decided to pop over to the district website and check the most recent School Board meeting agenda. The date said October 31st at 6:30, which I thought was odd: That’s prime Halloween trick-or-treating time. Why would a Board schedule a public meeting — the only opportunity for parents and community members to address their representatives — for a time slot that guarantees almost all public school parents have prior commitments? …

New Report From the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools: How Does Enrollment of Students with Disabilities Vary Between the Sectors?

The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS), a non-profit started in 2013 to address the challenges associated of providing high-quality access and supports to students with disabilities enrolled in charters, has a new report that went live this morning. “Key Trends in Special Education in Charter Schools: A Secondary Analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection” examines the last five years for trends on enrollment, discipline, inclusion, and placement with a particular focus …

Spare Me The Tulips: Fragile X Syndrome, A New Drug Trial, and A Few Reflections

It’s hard work being a parent. In a family like mine that values intellectual pursuits, I think it’s that much harder when your child has cognitive deficits. I confess that even now, 24 years after my son’s birth and 22 years after his diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome, I still, on occasion, find myself indulging in fantasies that my son is magically rendered neuro-typical like his three siblings.  I know that’s not very “woke” of …

For Teachers Looking For An Alternative to Traditional Education Associations, Here’s a Real Find.

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Parlett Butcher, New Jersey’s Regional Membership Director of the Association of American Educators. Liz was born and raised in Atlantic County, where she lives with her husband and four children, two of whom have special needs. Where appropriate I’ve added links.  Laura: Liz, I confess that I don’t know much about the Association of American Educators (AAE). Can you fill me in? Liz: Of course. AAE …

How Do Low Expectations Work For Asbury Park’s Special Needs Kids? Legislators and State Board Members Pay Heed.

On Tuesday I commented on the New Jersey Department of Education’s proposal to the State Board of Education to lower standards for high school graduation. Instead of focusing on what NJ parents really need — clear information about school quality and student progress towards independent adulthood (70% of NJ community college students have to take remedial courses on content they should have mastered in high school)  — the DOE, with the backing of Gov. Murphy/NJEA …

Ten Lies That Parents Of Special Needs Kids Often Hear: Know Your Rights!

When I speak to parents of children with disabilities, I often hear reports of Child Study Teams (those responsible, along with parents, for creating Individualized Education Plans or IEP’s) who pass along false information or undermine the critical role parents have in deciding on necessary services and appropriate placements.  I hear these reports from Latinx parents — some not completely comfortable with the English language and/or concerned about their immigration status — in low-income districts …

What’s At the Heart of Lakewood’s Problems? The Answer Is Bigger Than Cash.

On Tuesday, right after I put up this post, Lakewood Public Schools’ attorney Michael Inzelbuch filed an emergency motion to stop implementation of the budget produced by the Legislature (which Governor Murphy hasn’t signed yet).  You can see the full complaint at the bottom of this Lakewood Scoop article. An addendum notes that, in addition to the Legislature eliminating Lakewood’s $45 million in additional aid (unavailable to other underfunded districts), the Legislature’s proposed budget also …

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 …

New Newark Report: Improvements in Academic Growth for Children in Both District and Charter Schools But There’s More Work To Do.

The New Jersey Children’s Foundation (NJCF) just issued an analysis called “A New Baseline: Progress in Newark’s District and Charter Schools from 2006 to 2018,” written by Jesse Margolis and Eli Groves of MarGrady Research. This inaugural project for NJCF fits neatly into its vision: providing clear, practical information so that all people — parents, students, teachers, school leaders — can have access to accurate facts about student growth and school quality. The data is …

“If We Can’t Look In the Mirror and Think We’re Doing the Right Thing, Then We Need To Change What We’re Doing.”

Today’s New York Times has a story about a two-year-old named Skylar Jones born in 2014 with a “common and treatable” heart defect. She was a “normal, active” toddler but when she started having symptoms, her parents, as directed by Skylar’s pediatric cardiac surgeon, took her to nearby North Carolina Children’s Hospital (UNC). Their daughter needed a low-risk surgery, which went fine, although the operation took longer than predicted. Her parents were told “she should …