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Today NJER-TV presents the second of a two-part video series where NJ Education Report Editor Laura Waters interviews JerseyCAN Executive Director Paula White. In the first video, we explored how polarized, political education environments can get in the way of student learning. In this second video White drills down on how education decision-makers must eschew fads and focus on “teaching the way students learn.”
White’s history makes her particularly well-suited for her new leadership role. As the first African-American chief of JerseyCAN, she brings years of diverse experiences in various educational arenas: a public school teacher, the founder of a Newark charter school, Chief Turnaround Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education (where she was responsible for monitoring and supporting academic progress for students in the state’s 200 lowest-performing schools), and as Executive Director of Educators for Excellence, where she oversaw the support of 14,000 public school teachers.
In this video, White discusses her vision for JerseyCAN, which has served as what Waters calls a “surrogate DOE” and White calls a “watchdog” since the onset of the pandemic. The non-profit will “raise the conversation” about foundational aspects of teaching and learning, with a focus on literacy and recovery from COVID losses. We don’t have the luxury for “experimentation” of “feel-good decisions,” says White. New Jersey public schools’ focus must be on interventions that work (like high-dosage tutoring), making sure teachers are “eminently qualified” while diversifying the teacher pipeline, and creating an ecosystem that supports great public schools, regardless of governance.
There’s no time for mistakes, counsels White. With achievement gaps expanding to achievement gulfs, we must get that right. JerseyCAN is there to keep the conversation flowing among all stakeholders so that all our children get what they need to thrive.
Here’s the video.