Sunday Leftovers

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D.O.E. Loosens up Teacher Certification Process:

The Press of Atlantic City reports
that the D.O.E. is proposing new rules that would loosen requirements for teachers coming in from other states. If, for example, a certified teacher from outside New Jersey had three years of good standing, they could get certified here without taking the praxis test required for certification.

How about if they are former teachers from Massachusetts, where WRPI reported on Tuesday that nearly three-quarters of the people who took the state elementary school teacher’s licensing exam this year failed the new math section?

Reports WRPI,

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester was not surprised by the results. He told the Boston Globe that these results indicate many students are not receiving an adequate math education.

Okay, so we share our teacher quality problems (not that there aren’t great and gifted teachers in N.J.) with other states. And we’re all for looking beyond the traditional paths to tenure, especially in hard-to-fill positions like high school math and science. But elementary school level math? Really?

How About Some Journalism Courses?:

The New Jersey Newsroom, our new media outlet staffed by ex-Star Ledger reporters, published a press release from the Education Law Center disguised as hard-hitting journalism. Here’s the press release. Here’s the New Jersey Newsroom “article.” Come on, guys. We need you out there. You’re too new to get lazy.

Autism Bill Passes Assembly:

The State Legislature approved a bill on Thursday that would mandate insurance coverage for “medically necessary treatment” for autism spectrum disorders. The bill now goes to the Senate, where hordes of school board members will prostrate themselves as they plead for passage.

Why? Because right now school districts pick up much of the tab for the expanding percentage of kids diagnosed with everything that now falls under the umbrella disorder. And much of the treatment involves lots of expensive one-on-one therapy, like Applied Behavioral Analysis, for as much as 40 hours per week. What’s the difference between “medically necessary” and “developmentally necessary?” Are fads like chelation therapy, which removes metals from blood, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, where the child is put in a highly-pressurized oxygen tube, medically necessary? Some doctors and parents believe that autism is caused by allergies. Is it medically necessary for a school building to be gluten or cassein free?

It’s absurd that many health insurers don’t cover basic necessary treatment like speech, occupational, and physical therapy for children with developmental disabilities. And children and their families stricken by such diagnoses need full coverage. We need to be wary, however, of the “autism industry” that has sprung up in the wake of a disability that now is estimated to handicap 1 in 150 kids. (For a sobering view, see today’s New York Times op-ed by the brother of a 42-year-old man afflicted by the disorder.)

NJEA, Do You Hear the Clarion Call?:

The New York Times reports on a number of New York communities where teachers are agreeing to wage freezes and reductions in order to forestall lay-offs and program cuts that would hurt students.

Howell Township: “About that Pension Deferral…”:

Howell School District, according to the Asbury Park Press, was all ready to accept their Town Council’s one million dollar reduction of their failed budget. One tiny problem: the School Board assumed that the million included the deferred pension contribution of $487,000 due to the State’s failure to make their payment, and the Town Council thought that the $487K was on top of the million. Oops.

An Ex-School Board Member slams NJSBA:

And maybe has a wee bit of a savior complex (Trenton Times op-ed here).

Dysfunctional School Board of the Week Award:

Goes to Hopewell Township in Mercer County where a a board member, Armelle Daniels, resigned and then offered some public pearls of wisdom. Reports CentralJersey,

Among other things, Ms. Daniels said she hoped members “will recuse themselves from situations in which they have clear conflicts of interest, rather than letting personal agendas guide actions and decisions,” and “will accept accountability and responsibility for difficult decisions, rather than pursuing disruptive paths of blame and finger-pointing.”

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