Derrell Bradford of E3 comments to the Wall St. Journal on Cerf’s nomination: “In New Jersey, there are 611 wars going on right now, essentially one in each school district. The leader of the state department of education is going to have to manage every one of those battles financially and ideologically, and that is way more complex than what they had to do in New York.”
Tenure Update: NJ Director of Democrats for Education Reform Kathleen Nugent tells the Journal, “School districts shouldn’t need to have the modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes to make sure our kids are being taught by the best teachers we can give them. The fact that most district leaders are forced to pretend the problem doesn’t exist is a sure sign the [tenure] system is broken.”
The Star-Ledger looks at both the history and abuses of teacher tenure, including the case of Curtis Robinson, a teacher for children with disabilities in Paterson, who “hurled classroom chairs, punched a boy in the chest for failing to do homework, and shoved another kid against the blackboard until he cried.” The district successfully brought tenure charges against Robinson, but it took four years of legal proceedings, more than $100,000 in legal costs, $120,000 to pay a substitute teacher, and $283,864 to pay off Robinson.
The Star-Ledger Editorial Board urges the end of “lifetime tenure:” No matter how much money is pumped into schools, real progress isn’t likely until we turn the focus to the quality of teaching. The record on this is clear: Students who get two or three strong teachers in a row improve their performance despite their backgrounds, while those stuck with a series of weak teachers may never recover.”
NJ Spotlight examines the “troubled and troubling” history of tenure in NJ.
Everyone’s talking about the parent trigger bill in California, which allows 51% parents to vote to close a school down or convert it to a charter if the school is judged to have failed its students for three consecutive years. Here’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Washington Post:
In California, like in many other states, our public education system is not based on merit or holding the adults in whose care we have placed our children accountable. Some students get a good education, but others do not, and report after report reaches the same conclusion: No matter how much money we throw at the problem, unless the school is fundamentally fixed, we will not get the results in student performance we all deserve.
Here in Jersey Sen. Joseph Kyrillos is proposing a similar bill.
Richard F. Keevey analyzes NJ’s budget woes in New Jersey Newsroom, including school aid:
the Supreme Court has ruled the State has a constitutional obligation to fund schools at certain levels, especially for the poorest districts. Given the existing formulae it is estimated that $13.5 billion is needed by the year 2015 — almost 40 percent greater than now raised from the income tax. In the current year, the Governor put a ‘halt’ to school aid increases, and most likely this ‘spending pause’ will continue. The underlying school formulas, and other requirements/mandates, need to be re-examined so requirements can be matched with revenues.
Wayne Public Schools, according to the Record, wants the DOE to approve a new superintendent’s contract (the district is about to start on its third interim super), but the DOE won’t do it without the candidate’s name and the Board President says he needs to protect confidentiality. Is the DOE so leaky?
Charter school trustees’ least favorite activity: required training from NJ School Boards Association. (NJ Spotlight)
Nepotism Are Us, at least in Hamilton Township. According to the Trenton Times, the school superintendent’s daughter is a vice principal, the purchasing administrator is the son of the director of student services, and the business administrator is the nephew of the former mayor.
Disgraced Toms River superintendent Tom Ritacco pleaded not guilty to additional federal charges of fraud, bribery and conspiracy. Earlier in the year he was charged with accepting bribes of up to $2 million, plus mail and wire fraud. (Asbury Park Press)
Willingboro Public Schools just appointed a new superintendent, its seventh in the last five years. The Burlington County Times says, oddly, that “terms of his contract are still being negotiated.”
Here’s the sequel to “NJ Teachers Go Wild,” called “Happy Holidays from the Teachers Unions