A Tale of Two Cities: Remote Instruction in Princeton and Trenton

We’re about 5 weeks into our coronavirus lock-down in New Jersey, about a month since much of America has embarked on a national experiment of remote instruction that likely will continue for the duration of the school year.  In New Jersey this means 555 school districts are independently creating remote learning plans, coming up with laptop distribution strategies, figuring out meal delivery for low-income kids, and setting expectations for students. On the face of it, …

Will This Pandemic Force Us To Boldly Address the Inequities in Our Schools?

I live right off Route 206, a mostly two-lane road that begins in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey, winds 130 miles north to Stokes State Forest, and ends in Dingman Township, Pennsylvania. One twelve-mile stretch of 206 connects Princeton, Lawrence Township (where I live), and Trenton, the state capitol.  As COVID-19 affects, well, everything —here, we’re currently in something close to a lockdown, with a 158% jump in confirmed cases during the last three …

Top Democratic Candidates’ Disrespect for Parents of Color Has Me Wondering If I Fit Into This Party Anymore.

Politico reports today that Elizabeth Warren’s support among Democratic and left-leaning Independent primary voters “plunged 50 percent over the past month, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.”  The article speculates her “plummet” may be due to her “Medicare for All” plan, but, in a fit of wishful thinking — educational equity advocates should have such sway! — I wonder if Warren’s loss of support is at least partially due to last Friday’s news that …

Who Needs Algebra II? A New Report Reveals Disconnect Between Test-Haters and What New Jersey Students Need To Live Here.

Less than two weeks ago a local paper reported that Trenton public schools students feel unsafe and uneducated.  At about the same time an appellate court ruled that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations governing PARCC assessments “are in violation of laws passed by the Legislature,” setting those Trenton students up for even lower standards for academic growth. (Here’s my post on that.) Now, in another flash of happenstance, Konrad Mugglestone and Michael Dannenberg have published …

NJ Court Rules PARCC Violates State Law So Now We Can Pretend Again That All Our Schools Are Great. Trenton Students Beg To Differ.

An article in Tuesday’s Trentonian recounts interviews with Trenton Central High School students, almost all Black,  Hispanic, and poor, who are stuck in a district where they feel unsafe and uneducated. Simultaneously, an appellate court ruled Monday that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations governing PARCC assessments “are in violation of laws passed by the Legislature.” Those particular laws say that high school diploma qualifying tests must be given in 11th grade but the …

Not So Fast with the “We” Word, Trenton Superintendent McDowell. You’re Leaving Out the Parents.

“We in Trenton are adamantly opposed to charter school expansion,” Trenton Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Wednesday at a community meeting on the subject. “We are united in that statement.” Um, no, Dr. McDowell. I don’t know whom you are referring to when you say “We in Trenton” but it’s definitely not the Trenton parents I spoke to at last weekend’s NJ Parent Summit, where 250 parents, mostly single moms of color, mostly from Abbott …

Getting the Facts Straight on New Jersey Charter Schools: This Is No Time For a “Pause” On High-Quality Charter Growth

Donna Siminski is Director of Policy and Advocacy for the New Jersey Charter School Association with a focus on the policy issues impacting the the state’s charter schools. Donna works with members, charter families, and charter school professionals to advocate for high-quality charter schools and the children they serve. Governor Murphy and Acting Commissioner Repollet are interested in New Jersey’s charter school facts and reviewing the current law & regulations. As this analysis proceeds, the …

Sometimes Timing is Everything: A New Program from Walton Family Foundation Offers Help For Charter Schools

The State of New Jersey is building a new school for Trenton Central High students and staff at the cost of  $117 million because Trenton is an Abbott district and state funds cover all costs of construction and renovation. Less than one mile away on Chambers Street, the International Academy of Trenton Charter School (IAT), as I wrote last week, is on the verge of closure. One reason that the Department of Education is rescinding …

How Deep Does Charter School Animus Run in Trenton? Ask the Head of the Trenton Teachers Union.

State unions are typically united. When the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) speaks, it speaks for all of its local bargaining units. But a recent series of events that revolves around a charter school in Trenton has disrupted that unanimity. The charter school that has fomented this atypical public display of discord is the International Academy of Trenton Charter School (IAT), now in its fourth year of operation with 700 students, grades K-5. After a …

Princeton Palace: This is What’s Wrong with Local Control

When my husband Dennis and I were getting ready to move from upstate New York to a new home within a reasonable commuting distance to his office in Manhattan, we zeroed in on Mercer County in Central Jersey. After all, you can get to Penn Station in an hour on an express NJ Transit train, we’d be reasonably close to my family, and housing prices were more affordable than, say, Westchester or Connecticut. Of course, …