Sunday Leftovers

A new working paper out from the National Bureau on Education Research “suggest that urban charter schools boost student achievement, while charter schools in other settings do not.”

NJ Spotlight looks at the impact of School Improvement Grants (SIG) on our worst public schools. The grants impose a turn-around model, instead of more draconian solutions like closure or replacement. Jersey City is looking good, adding four weeks to the school year and seeing improved student achievement. However, "in what one state board member called 'the tale of two Central High Schools,' Trenton's Central High School did not fare as well as its namesake in Newark and was dropped entirely from the program."

The Record examines efforts to improve two of Paterson's public schools through a $2 million SIG grant: "Re-staffing School 10 posed a challenge. Federal rules required SIG recipients to replace at least half the staff, with the goal of bringing in new energy and commitment. District officials said that only two Paterson teachers applied to transfer in, and nobody outside the district responded to a job posting. There wasn't much time to recruit because the state gave the district official notice it was getting the grant only in July, after many teachers had already made professional moves."

The Record's Leslie Brody has a great overview of hot-button topics to start off the school year, including " more charter schools, a wave of new superintendents and an experiment to revise teacher evaluations statewide." And John Mooney at Spotlight examines "silly season" in the world of NJ education politics, particularly the contretemps between two lobbying groups, NJEA and B4K.

New Jersey is one of the states granted a waiver by the Federal government to lower special education spending. According to Education Week, "[s]even states—Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia— have requested permission to cut spending on students with disabilities, on the basis of unforeseen declines in financial resources, exercising an option that had never been used by any state. Some have been granted their wishes," including NJ.

The Camden Board of Education has hired a private company, Camelot Schools of Pennsylvania, to help boost dismal graduation and attendance rates. (57% of Camden seniors graduate from Central High and 70% of kids show up on any given day at Woodrow Wilson.) Camelot will run alternative classes for 400 kids in grades 6-12, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Classes will staffed by traditional teachers and Teach for America corps members. The model seems to work: “In Philadelphia, Camelot's accelerated programs this year graduated 91 percent of its eligible students, according to Camelot's statistics. The alternative programs graduated all of its eligible students.” Not everyone's happy.

Speaking of Camden County, the business administrator at Winslow Public Schools, Ann Garcia, made $156K last year. In addition to her day job, says the Philly Inquirer, she was executive director of Vineland Public Charter School and BA for ECO Charter School in Camden. Total take-home: $280K.

Newark is seeing some Facebook money: $3 million will be dispersed to pay for longer school days, teacher recruitment and development, and new playgrounds. (Star-Ledger)

A New Jersey woman, who lost her husband on 9/11 in the North Tower, has been key in developing the State's curriculum, ""Learning From the Challenges of Our Times: Global Security, Terrorism, and 9/11 in the Classroom"