While statistics show the state has among the highest graduation rates in the country, the rate drops to 24th when students graduating by alternate means are factored in, said the Rev. Reginald Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council and an advocate of overhauling urban schools.Also at this week’s NJ School Boards Association convention, Chris Cerf announced a reorganization of regional offices of the DOE. From NJ Spotlight:
New Jersey has the nation's fourth-widest achievement gap between rich and poor students, and Christie has said repeatedly that many urban schools are failing the students who attend them and taxpayers who pay for them.
The new offices will be the first widespread shakeup of the state’s county operations in close to a decade, since a department reorganization under one of Cerf’s predecessors divided the offices into north, south and central regions. That configuration soon broke down under budget constraints and other concerns.Civility is back. Last year Acting Education Comm. Rochelle Hendricks boycotted NJEA’s annual convention and sent a widely-publicized note ascribing her absence to the union’s intransigence on merit pay and tenure reform. This year Acting Comm. Chris Cerf will head a 90-minute session on education issues. Said NJEA Spokeman Steve Wollmer to the Courier-Post, “We’re glad he’s coming.”
Trenton Public Schools’ dysfunction continues, reports the Trenton Times, as the school board has refused to approve a contract for a transportation consultant to address the district’s transportation woes. Currently some kids are getting picked up an hour late and losing instructional time. The State Fiscal Monitor will probably overturn the Board’s decision.
Comm. Cerf, reports NJ Spotlight, has assembled a team of education economists to study the effectiveness of NJ’s school funding formula, SFRA. And In the Lobby speculates that Gov. Chris Christie is looking at changes to the School Funding Reform Act, perhaps something along the lines of Sen. Doherty’s. (My two cents: highly unlikely to pass Court muster.)
One member of NJ's school funding team is Eric Hanushek, whom Andy Rotherham cites in a recent Time piece:
When Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek looked at teacher performance he found that removing even the lowest five percent of performers could boost overall student achievement substantially. There are two key takeaways from this research. First, the lowest-performing teachers have a negative effect on student performance that is disproportionate to their numbers. Second, in practice this amounts to just one or two teachers per school on average. Most workplaces have similar problems.
My twitter feed's been non-compliant (though the problem is solved). If you missed my column last week on "how much government is good for education," here it is.