“New Jersey’s new standardized tests might not be popular, but they do produce more honest results than the prior exam, according to a new study by education reform groups.” (Star Ledger)
For more on N.J.’s PARCC results, see my NJ Spotlight editorial and this Star Ledger editorial.
The Record notes that NJEA continues to insist that PARCC exams are “a still-flawed testing regimen that sets up our schools, students and educators to fail,” but local superintendents are “stoic.” Wyckoff Superintendent Richard Kuder said, “These assessments should be as short and as infrequent as possible, but as long and as frequent as they need to be to get helpful, authentic feedback for students, parents and schools.”
Dianne D’Amico of the Press of Atlantic City reports on a hot issue: the state pension and health benefits reform bill, which requires teachers to make larger contributions to health insurance premiums, sunsets in June. “At issue is whether school boards will be able to maintain those payments during contract negotiations or whether the unions will have the clout to roll them back.” NJEA is advising local units to demand return to the days of low contributions while NJ School Boards Association warns members to stand tough. At last year’s NJSBA convention, Senate President Steve Sweeney said that the Legislature did its job and “now it was up to local school boards to hold the line.”
On Friday Choice Media hosted the NJ School Choice Summit in Jersey City. Keynoter Education Commissioner David Hespe told the crowd that “New Jersey hopes to expand to 50,000 charter schools seats, about a 9 percent increase from the 46,000 seats currently authorized by the state.” Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean said (for the upteenth time) that N.J. charter school law should be amended to allow multiple authorizers.
The Asbury Park Press reports that “a commission appointed by borough Mayor Pasquale Menna to review a proposal to expand the Red Bank Charter School is calling for the state to deny the request saying the school’s practices segregate children in the community.”
Ninety-nine percent of Lakewood voters rejected a $6.2 million referendum that would have paid for courtesy busing for 10,000 students, 3/4 of whom are yeshiva students at private Jewish day schools. The district is demanding more state money, which seems an unlikely scenario. (Asbury Park Press)
Jeff Bennett deconstructs Education Law Center’s new report from la-la-land that demands that the state not reduce any “Adjustment Aid”: “Overall, the ELC’s new stance is equivalent to a cry “No matter what you do, don’t make Toms River and Jersey City raise their taxes!”
Muhammed Akil of PC2E takes down the Newark anti-school choice crowd:
Newark had significant issues before public charter schools were even available. While there have been some positive movement over the years, systemic poor management and an inability to address our past has put our children at continued risk.
The solution does not rest in disparaging the desires of Newark parents, blaming the public charter schools that do more with less, or demanding more tax dollars.
This tone and approach ends up pitting one group of parents against the other and serves only as a diversionary tactic or smokescreen for the district’s true chronic failures. If we continue down this road, we set up all public school children – district, charter, and magnet – as potential casualties in what has become an unneeded ideological war.
Scapegoating one group, specifically parents who just want the best education options for their kids, does not help address the real challenges we face when we gain local control.
The New York Post says that NYC School Chancellor Carmen Farina is “watering down” state tests by eliminating time limits.”It’s a win for the teachers unions — and a loss for kids and parents.”
Politico reports that N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s primary school reform proposal — $100 million to turn struggling schools into “community schools” with wrap-around services — isn’t nearly enough money.
The ELC now is saying that it is ok with _some_ redistribution of Adjustment Aid.
Their statement says “we urge lawmakers not to cut adjustment aid from those districts currently spending below their SFRA ’adequacy budget’.”
This means that the ELC would not object if the state cut Adjustment Aid from districts that are above Adequacy.
The problem is that of the $555 million in Adjustment aid (itself an out of date figure based on formula-driven aid levels of a few years ago), only $174 million goes to districts that are above Adequacy.
The rest of Adjustment Aid goes to districts that are below Adequacy because they tax themselves below their Local Fair Shares. Toms Rive and Jersey City are prime examples of undertaxing/overaided districts that are below Adequacy. Jersey City's LFS is $335 million, but its actual tax levy is $114 million. Toms Rivers' tax levy is $132 million but its LFS is $201 million, a $69 million gap.
Of the $174 million going to above Adequacy Adjustment Aid districts, a large portion would be off limits to redistribution in the ELC's stance because many of these districts undertax too and if they lost all of their Adjustment Aid they would be below Adequacy.
For instance, even though Pemberton gets $32 million in Adjustment Aid, it is only above Adequacy by $14 million.
Again, the ELC appears to now accept SOME redistribution, but very little.