Newark Mayor Ras Baraka wrote a letter on Dec. 17th to New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe requesting a moratorium on charter school expansion. The next day the Newark City Council wrote its own letter to Comm. Hespe that declares, “parents in Newark should have the option of sending their children to the school of their choice” and “we can not deny our children the option of high quality public charter schools.” Mayor Baraka said that school choice supporters were trying to deliberately divide parents. Matthew Frankel of Parents Coalition for Excellent Education said, “here it is, the end of the year, we’ve just reached 105 homicides and what he’s focused on is creating a moratorium against charter schools. That to me is the issue.” The Star-Ledger has the story here.
Also from the Star-Ledger: “The state Assembly Education Committee on Thursday approved a bill (A4779) from Democratic lawmakers that declares an ‘educational state of emergency’ in districts where 75 percent of schools have more than 65 percent of students scoring below proficient in language arts. The bill would require the state to give those districts a yet-to-be-determined amount of supplemental funding to expand the school day by 2 1/2 hours for grades K-3.” No one has costed out the proposed bill yet and it’s unclear where that extra money would come from.
The Courier Post notes that since the State’s appointment of Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, “success is catching throughout Camden, historically one of the state’s worst-performing school districts…The graduation rate rose from 49 to 64 percent, and its dropout rate decreased from 20 to 15 percent since 2012, the school district reported.” The students celebrated in the article graduated from the district’s traditional schools.
The NJ Senate passed a bill requiring a minimum of 20 minutes of recess in grades K-5. See NJ Spotlight and A.P..
New Jersey’s public school system got a “B” from Education Week’s Quality Counts annual report. New York State got a “B-“.
2009 N.J. Teacher of the Year Jeanne Muzi explains why students will benefit from PARCC assessments.
The Record touts “a public alternative to a private education” in Bergen County: just pay tuition to go to Mountain Lakes Public Schools. High school is only $15,700 per year.
Freehold Borough’s schools are badly overcrowded but voters keep rejecting referenda for new facilities. NJ Spotlight reports that “administrative law judge Susan Scarola in her fact-finding on the case sided with the district and recommended that Hespe order more than $32.9 million in bonds to address what she called a ‘constitutional deprivation’ for the district’s children.”
David Kirp in today’s New York Times extols Union City’s slow and steady approach to “fixing failing schools” and also praises Newark Superintendent Chris Cerf:
Since the appointment in 2015 of Christopher Cerf, formerly New Jersey’s education commissioner, as Newark’s superintendent, more attention is being paid to the positive side of the school district ledger. While charters remain controversial in Newark, Mr. Cerf emphasizes helping the public schools achieve similar results. “Charters are succeeding,” he told me, “because they have substantially more discretion. We need to level the playing field.”