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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …