Sunday Leftovers

This week NJEA proposed that the acquisition of tenure be extended from three years to four years. Here's coverage from Star-Ledger, The Record, and The Press of Atlantic City.

The Courier Post picks out a few highlights of the NJSBA convention – where NJEA announced its proposal -- including comments by Rev. Reginald Jackson and a speech by Ed. Comm. Chris Cerf:
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.
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.
Also at this week’s NJ School Boards Association convention, Chris Cerf announced a reorganization of regional offices of the DOE. From NJ Spotlight:
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.”

The Record looks at the impact of the new legislation handed down from Trenton that requires every school district to implement the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying law. In a case of reality colliding with political footwork, districts are barred from spending money on preparation, training of all personnel, and implementation. But, of course, the well-intentioned law costs money. A school board member from Butler noted, "The legislature believes in its ignorance that the HIB mandates won't cost anything," Sokoloff said. "The law is clearly ambiguous."

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.