Sunday Leftovers

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Politifact grades Gov. Christie “mostly false” on his claim that only 23% of Newark’s 9th graders graduate in four years from high school and that we spend $100K on their education. In fact, lots of Newark’s kids graduate from high school without passing the state test, the HSPA (an 8th-grade level assessment). And if you count those kids who bypass the state standardized test, 55% graduate from high school. And we don’t pay $100K for those four years of high school: “Newark spent $22,992 per student for the 2009-2010 school year, or $91,968 for four years.” Phew.

The Wall St. Journal reviews our NCLB waiver application and notes that “[t]he New Jersey Education Association, which had long been at odds with the governor’s tone and proposals on education, said it supported much of what was in the waiver. The union, the larger of the two teachers unions in the New Jersey, met with state officials several times to develop the application. ‘We did work closely with the department to try to get this,’ union spokesman Steve Baker said.”

David Sciara of Education Law Center says that the Christie Administration has no authority to close existing schools or withhold federal Title I money, as outlined in NJ’s NCLB waiver application. And a school board president in Glen Ridge raised the sanctified issue of local control, telling NJ Spotlight, “We are moving to a situation where there is a lot of power in the hands of individuals over whom the local voters have little political control.”

The Herald News praises the NJ DOE’s waiver application: “It is also noteworthy that education policy has become refreshingly bipartisan – at least for now. Both Christie and the Obama administration are on the same page on not only tweaking No Child Left Behind, but in supporting such things as merit pay for teachers and charter schools. If only we could trap that bipartisan spirit and apply it elsewhere.”

Comm. Cerf has announced that the new teacher evaluation system will not be rolled out statewide next September but will more gradually be eased in over the next two years. See NJ Spotlight for details.

The Star-Ledger Editorial Board weighs in on the nine Wayne Hills varsity football players charged with brutal assault of two other students but, due to their coach’s interventions were allowed to continue playing because the superintendent there said he didn’t have jurisdiction. Bad press changed his mind; two weeks later the varsity players were benched. But wait, there’s more: the Record reports that the Wayne Hills School Board overturned the superintendent’s decision (he’s an interim) after a lawyer for three of the players pleaded their case. As of now, they’re all suited up.

The football coach, Chris Olsen, quipped “our boys are guilty of playing football at Wayne Hills.” He earns $128,609 as athletic director and another $15,000 to coach the team and run the weight room. At least he doesn’t have any skin in the game. (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying legislation, anyone?)

Should science and math teachers be paid more than gym teachers? Gov. Christie thinks so. Steve Wollmer, NJEA spokesman, grumped to the Star-Ledger,“What’s he got against gym teachers? The role a teacher plays at all levels is equally important, equally challenging and contributes equally to the outcome. Sound body, sound mind,” he said.

From the Princeton Patch: “The state Office of Administrative Law has ruled against the Princeton International Charter School in their lawsuit filed against the South Brunswick, Princeton, and West Windsor/Plainsboro boards of education.” PIACS had charged that the three school districts’ litigation against the opening of the Mandarin immersion school was a misuse of public funds. The schools have spent about $100,000 lobbying against PIACS.

Also, Cherry Hill Public Schools is working hard to thwart the DOE-approved opening of Regis Charter School, which would serve kids from Cherry Hill, Voorheese, Somerdale, and Lawnside.

The Record, playing catch-up, reports that “a well-connected, well-funded new group is trying to make a big splash in the politics of remaking New Jersey’s schools:” Better Education for Kids, of course.

Stokes Elementary School in Trenton has bedbugs.

Note to school board members: “NJSBA has learned that, on Monday, November 21, 2011, the New Jersey State Department of Education will begin sending letters of disqualification to local school board members and charter school trustees who have not registered for criminal history record checks as required by recent statute (P.L. 2011, c.72). The letters will inform members that they must immediately cease serving on their school boards.” Go here.

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