Sunday Leftovers

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, on the nature of teaching in The Wall Street Journal: "Successful teaching is nothing magic. It's nothing elusive. It's about talent and leadership and accountability."

NJEA publishes talking points against the 2.5% property tax cap.

School districts get creative amidst budget crunches: the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Glassboro Public Schools wants to charge for remedial summer schools (North Bergen Public Schools is already doing so, according to Senator Nick Sacco, the bill sponsor, who moonlights as North Bergen's Assistant Superintendent [huh?]) and Marlboro Public Schools wants to sell ad space on its school website, according to the Asbury Park Press. The Courier Post looks at area districts that may share athletic directors.

More on special education: The Trenton Times editorializes on the need to get a handle on out-of-district costs, using as an example Montgomery Public Schools, which "spends $22 million on general education programs for 5,000 students and $8 million on special education programs in the district and private schools for 540 students." The Star-Ledger prognosticates that Gov. Christie will never allow an cap exemption for special education costs and urges districts to expand in-district offerings. The editorial adds, controversially, "The burden of proof must be placed back on parents, if they’re the ones challenging a placement, to demonstrate their children require services that can’t be provided in-district." And NJ Spotlight looks at the need for a cap exemption for extraordinary special education costs.

Gov. Christie’s “Privatization Task Force,” chaired by Dick Zimmer released its report on Friday, which includes recommendations for increased privatization of publicly-funded preschools and offering vouchers for special education students to go to private schools. In The Record, David Sciarra of the Education Law Center says the former would be an “educational disaster.”

New Jersey Spotlight looks at the results of QSAC, the Quality Single Accountability Continuum, which ascertains school district compliance with the vast regulations emitted by the State DOE. This year 73% of districts tested were labeled “high performing.” That stellar list did not include Millburn, one of the State’s best districts. It’s not compliant enough.

The Courier Post offers a 6-page analysis of what it’s like to be a teacher in NJ these days.

Lakewood Public Schools' audit found, according to the Star-Ledger, that "the district spent $2.5 million more on salaries than what was budgeted, and $1.2 million in health benefits were under-reported in 2007, according to the report. The audit highlighted $3,900 spent to send an empty bus to Washington to shuttle teachers -- after already dropping $5,000 to give them round-trip train tickets."

Relations have chilled between NEA leaders and the Obama Administration, reports the New York Times. At NEA's national convention this week, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told the assembled thousand, “Today our members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment I have ever experienced."