The Star-Ledger reports that “[t]he New Jersey Education Association’s spending on lobbying dropped 96 percent, from $11.3 million to $409,000 — accounting for more than half of a sharp drop in lobbying statewide, according to an analysis released today by the Election Law Enforcement Commission.”
John Schoonejongen at the Asbury Park Press analyzes the steep drop: “The union to which no one said ‘no’ suddenly found itself not only not sweeping the table whenever an issue came up that concerned it, but also getting backed into a corner and slapped like a schoolyard snitch.”
There’s lots of local coverage on this week’s release of the NJ DOE’s teacher tenure evaluations, specifically the percentage of the evaluation driven by student test scores. Here’s the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, The Record, and Asbury Park Press.
The Record Editorial Board opines,
The union has a point [with its resistance to the use of test scores to measure teacher proficiency], but the guidelines, which are subject to six public hearings around the state over the next few weeks, take that view into consideration. State tests aren’t even an issue for some teachers who work in subjects that are not tested. For teachers whose students take state tests, the guidelines say that 35 percent of their evaluations would be based on test results. In all cases, 15 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on student achievement goals set by principals and teachers.
Educators may have legitimate differences with standardized tests, but they’re still valuable in tracking student achievement in comparison with their peers. Student performance definitely should be part of an evaluation model for teachers.
Interdistrict Update: Pennsville School District will apply to the state to become part of the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. From the Star-Ledger: “’This is a great opportunity to bring significant funding and quality students to Pennsville for the express purpose of improving educational opportunities for our students,’ Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mike Brodzik said.” Tewksbury Township Superintendent James Gamble attributes the districts $257,900 increase in school aid [in the proposed 2014 budget] to the Choice Program. “Gamble anticipated receiving $240,000 to $250,000 in Choice aid, and said that it is “blended into the overall program.” It will also help pay for spending $100,000 on additional security — interior locks and security scan cards.”
Speaking of the budget, NJ Spotlight highlights a little-noticed feature: “while aid is largely staying flat, more than a few districts are taking sizable hits in their required debt-service payments to the state, in many cases eliminating any bump in aid — and then some.According to data provided by the state yesterday, nearly 500 districts will see double-digit percentage increases in assessments paid to the Schools Development Authority for debt service on construction grants for projects launched in the last several years.”
SDA payments, huh? Newsflash: Trenton Central High School is falling down: “School board members, students and teachers spoke about walls that cascaded water during storms, ceilings that showered tiles on students’ heads, warped floors and plumbing problems that union grievance chairwoman and computer teacher Janice Williams said used to send urine dripping into her basement computer lab.” (Star-Ledger)
Lawrence Feinsod, Exec. Dir. of New Jersey School Boards Association, reports that “the number of school districts in New Jersey that hold April school elections has dwindled to 41, as 33 more communities opted to move their elections to November starting in 2013.” In total 501 school districts will hold elections in November this year.
NJ Spotlight and The Record review projected changes in student testing due to implementation of PARCC, the national coalition that is developing new subject-specific assessments tied to the Common Core.
Edgewater Public Schools, according to the Record, “became the latest district to oppose Gov. Christie’s superintendent salary caps on Feb. 28, passing a resolution to protest pay based on district enrollment numbers rather than other, more traditional, factors.” Its current superintendent receives $147.9K for the 770-student district, well above the $125K cap for a district of that size.