Separate and Unequal in JerseySeptember 25, 2009
“Utopian Goals” and Special EducationSeptember 29, 2009
This Week’s Race To The Top Rumors:
1) There will be only one round of submissions for funding reform, instead of the original two. (Tom Vander Ark.)
2) While those in the know originally estimated winning applications to be limited to 6 or 8 states, the Gates Foundation’s financial assistance of $250K during the onerous application process to 15 states will substantially increase the pool of winners. Gates’ favorites are Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas (though no one expects Texas to win.) (Eduflack.)
3) The Gates Foundation is going to offer help to the other 35 states who didn’t get the first round of $250K checks if they meet 8 criteria, including whether states have signed onto the NGA-CCSSO common standards effort, whether they have alternative routes to teacher certification, and whether they have no firewall barring the use of student achievement data in teacher evaluations. (Edweek.)
What Happens When A Small K-8 District Negotiates Against NJEA:
Long Hill Township in Morris County just settled a contract with their teachers’ union. Salary increases will be 4.3%, 4.3%, and 4% over the next three years. Teachers will make no contribution to their health insurance premiums. Superintendent Rene Rovtar explains and The Record editorializes,
“We’re really negotiating against the NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) and the entire state,” Rovtar said. One K-8 school district against the most powerful public union in the state is hardly a fair fight.
The problem is that under current rules, any deadlock in negotiations winds its way to state mediation and fact-finding. The result likely will be that teachers get what is the average increase in the county, which is about 4.5 percent.
What is needed is for the rules to change so that mediators and fact finders can take general economic conditions under consideration. A nearly double-digit unemployment rate should impact teacher contracts. As of now, it doesn’t, and that is a problem the state Legislature and the gubernatorial candidates should address
Out of Room in Jersey City:
Jersey City, an Abbott district required to provide full-day preschool to all 3 and 4 year olds, is out of space. So over a hundred youngsters are on a waiting list despite the fact that Jersey City received $56 million for services and, notes David Sciarra of the Education Law Center, “the children are legally entitled to attend the program.
DOE Approves 8 New Charter Schools:
The 8 winners, out of 27 applications, are Hoboken Dual Language Charter School in Hoboken, Trillium Charter School in Hunterdon County, the Academy for Urban Leadership Charter School in Perth Amboy, Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick, Charter High School for Environmental and Civics Studies in Teaneck, Barack Obama Green Charter School in Plainfield, Visions Academy Charter High School in Newark, and Newark Legacy Charter School in Newark.