Newark Hot Mess: Charter School Expansion and Jersey Politics Collide!March 7, 2014
Are NJ Teacher Pensions Really “Dead?”March 10, 2014
“The New Jersey Education Association finished 2013 with its biggest tab yet for lobbying and political spending – in fact, the amount far exceeded spending by any other individual lobbying organization in the state. The teachers union, representing nearly 200,000 teachers and school staff statewide, spent more than $3 million on lobbying efforts last year, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.” NJEA’s Super Pac spent another $17.5 million.(NJ Spotlight) for a grand total of $20 million.
NJEA’s Wendell Steinhauer “warned” the NJ DOE on Wednesday, “Take a stand in favor of doing evaluation the right way, before it collapses under its own weight because we insisted on doing it the fast way.”
“Chris Cerf’s parting shot, addressed to NJ school superintendents, combats NJEA’s increasingly assertive campaign against new standardized testing, teaching evaluations, and, protestations aside, the Common Core State Standards.” (Wall St. Journal) Also see Andy Rotherham.
John Burizchelli (D-3) is sponsoring a bill that would require NJ’s new teacher evaluations to incorporate grades for parents. Here’s the South Jersey Editorial Board’s diplomatic critique: “We have some concerns, since Burzichelli suggests he sponsored the bill at the behest of the New Jersey Education Association. The teachers’ union cooperated in making the new tenure rules; now it may be trying to weaken the law.”
KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy, the first Urban Hope charter school for Camden (whereby local district and charter school operators collaborate on school choice) had its groundbreaking this week. See the Philadelphia Inquirer and Courier Post.
The Record: “New Jersey officials have told two charter schools that their charters are being revoked and they will be closed at the end of the academic year. Another 10 schools are having their charters renewed for five years, though four of them are on probation and must create plans to address deficiencies.”
OT but relevant: “After a months-long cold war over Newark Mayor Luis Quintana’s hiring practices and his approach to city budgeting, state officials today raised the specter of a takeover of the city’s finances.” (Star Ledger)
Drs. Douglas Larkin and Joseph O. Oluwole of Montclair State have published a policy brief that finds that TEACHNJ, NJ’s new tenure and teacher evaluation law, will add 35% more time to administrators’ classroom evaluations of teachers. Also, “[t]here is clear evidence that a greater burden is placed on districts with high faculty-to-administrator ratios by the TEACHNJ observation regulations. There is a weak correlation between per-pupil expenditures and faculty-to-administrator ratios.”
The Press of Atlantic City reviews the recent release of school districts’ grades on compliance with the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying law.
Wonderful profile of Quitman St. Renew School in Newark
Morgan Polikoff of USC considers the risks and benefits of delaying student assessments linked to the Common Core and, then, to teacher assessments: “Given all of these concerns, in the forced choice between teacher evaluation and high-quality, common standards, common standards should win. Policymakers shouldn’t be afraid of the high-stakes moratorium for teacher-accountability purposes. In fact, they should embrace it. Delaying questionable teacher-evaluation policies for a couple years won’t cause massive disruption. Indeed, it will give folks the opportunity to reevaluate and improve these systems. Keeping the evaluations and risking the Common Core, on the other hand, would certainly disrupt the great efforts educators have been making to rise to meet the new standards.”