NJ’s Special Education Funding: A Canary in a Coal MineJanuary 11, 2013
NJSBA Forms New Special Ed Task ForceJanuary 15, 2013
Gov. Christie barely mentioned education this week in his State of the State address, a sharp contrast to last’s year’s preoccupation with tenure reform and school choice. NJ Spotlight says, “For a governor who has made education a core priority of his tenure, Christie’s 42-minute address barely touched on the topic until the very end, and even then it was largely to list past accomplishments.” The Press of Atlantic City quotes a spokesman for the NJ Association of State Colleges and Universities: “he and K-12 education advocates said while recognition is appreciated, the real message will come with the proposed budget next month, when projected revenue shortfalls of as much as $2 billion could affect aid allocations.”
From the Star-Ledger: “An Essex County lawmaker wants to install silent panic alarms in New Jersey public schools that would immediately alert authorities to emergencies. Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a Democrat, also wants to install red lights on the exterior of school buildings. The lights would turn on when the alarm is activated. Caputo on Tuesday introduced a bill (A3691) that would institute the measures.”
NJ Spotlight looks at a growing trend: incorporating student evaluations of their teachers into teacher evaluations: “ The idea is gaining traction nationally, however, with the release this week of the final report of the massive Measures for Effective Teaching (MET) research project conducted by the Bill & Belinda Gates Foundation, which looked at a variety of ways of evaluating teachers.” In an email, Ed. Comm. Cerf said,“I am intrigued by recent research indicating that they may be valid as one element of an approach that incorporates multiple indicators,” he wrote in an email. “At the same time, I share the concerns of some educators about student surveys, so would not want to take any steps in that direction without soliciting their views and perspective.”
For more on the the Gates Foundation study, see the Star-Ledger or this Wall St. Journal piece which sums it up: “The Gates Foundation said its study found that a combination of student surveys of teacher quality, well-crafted observations of classroom teaching and test scores is the best predictor of teacher effectiveness. Mr. Kane said combining all three is the best predictor of teacher quality.”
Also in the Wall St. Journal, Lisa Fleisher reports on a report released by StudentsFirstNY, which found that “[p]oor and minority students in New York City are more likely to be taught by failing teachers than other students.” In fact, “in schools where nearly all students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a generally accepted measure of poverty—3.4% of teachers were rated unsatisfactory. By contrast, 1.3% of teachers in more affluent schools had earned the low rating. The report examined the 2011-12 school year.”
Newsflash: NJEA hates Michelle Rhee.
And the Camden branch of NJEA, CEA, is not so crazy about the Camden School Board, Gov. Christie, Comm. Cerf, and NJEA’s endorsement of the Urban Hope Act, which will allow for expansion of charter schools in Camden.
Currently, our district has only 13,000 students, down from 20,000 just a few short years ago. Charter schools, enroll about 20% of Camden students and with more charter schools and new Hope Schools coming to Camden, our district stands to lose even more students, and the funding that follows. The deterioration of Camden Public Schools is the goal of Gov. Christie and thanks to the acting-DOE Commissioner Chris Cerf, and the newly-formed New Jersey Funding Task Force, our survival as a district is at stake.
This morning’s New York Times features a profile of NYC’s gifted and talented programs. In PS 163 on the Upper West Side:
On one side are 21 fourth graders labeled gifted and talented by New York City’s school system. They are coursing through public school careers stamped accelerated.
And they are mostly white.
On the other side, sometimes sitting for reading lessons on the floor of the hallway, are those in the school’s vast majority: They are enrolled in general or special education programs.
They are mostly children of color.