Sunday Leftovers

Trenton Fraud: audits of Trenton Public Schools reveal that administrators inaccurately recorded costs for special education out-of-district placements and health benefit payments for teachers during the 2008-2009 school year. From The Trenton Times: “The auditors said they uncovered $3.2 million in bills from private out-of-district schools for special education students, which the district had not included in its financial records, according to their report, issued in February. They also said the district did not record $6.7 million it owed for out-of-district tuition and employee health benefits.” In other fall-out from the audit, the Trenton teachers’ union charged that the school district didn’t pay 65 retired teachers for unused sick days.

Newflash: Education Commissioner Bret Schundler supports longer school years for kids and teachers, and more authorizing agencies for charter schools.

The Star-Ledger looks at NJ’s (over?)reliance on interim school superintendents. And at troubled Willingboro Public Schools, the Burlington County Times reports, Interim Superintendent David Hespe told the school board, “"There is no accountability. The district has had six superintendents in the past five years and five business administrators.” How does superintendent tenure vs. free agency affect district leadership musical chairs? To further muddle the matter, "Assembly members Joan M. Voss, Ed.D., and Ralph R. Caputo announced Wednesday they have introduced legislation that would reinstate career tenure for school superintendents."

Bob Ingle points out that we should tamp down the celebrations surrounding the news that negotiated settlements for teacher pay increases averaged 2.03%, the lowest in 30 years. Why? Few districts took any kind of pay freeze andthe 2% average increase only includes 75 contracts because many contract discussions have stalled.

Today’s Record has a short primer on teacher tenure in NJ and a look at other states that are beginning to measure teacher effectiveness.

Paul Tough in the New York Times
urges support for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods solution, modeled after Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.

And don’t miss the Los Angeles Times series on using student academic growth to rate teacher effectiveness – which has inspired a boycott of the paper by the L.A. teachers’ union.