Sunday Leftovers

On Monday Bob Braun compared the responsiveness of NJ’s two teacher unions to changing views of America's educational needs:
For whatever good the NJEA does for its members — and that’s why it exists, to protect its members — it has been painfully and self-destructively slow in recognizing the need to change. 
Unlike [Randi] Weingarten’s AFT.
The Star-Ledger profiles two new blended online schools in Newark: "Students have been using computers to learn for years, but Merit Prep, and Newark Prep, a new charter high school, are unique in that students will primarily learn math, language arts, social studies and other subjects online. They will spend only half the school day working with one of seven instructors in small groups to sharpen their knowledge of the class material."

Also in the Star-Ledger, an "A" student from Newark’s Camden Middle School enrolls in one of Newark’s new high schools and discovers that “his middle school teachers were so busy breaking up fights among students that there was little time left for instruction. Now, he and roughly two dozen classmates must repeat some freshman year coursework at Bard — one of four new high schools opened last year in Newark — because they were not ready for the rigors of high school.”

“In a surprise move,” reports the Jersey Journal, “a split Jersey City Board of Education last night failed to approve a nearly four-year contract that would have made Marcia V. Lyles the [Jersey City] school district’s new superintendent." After the 4-4 vote, "the crowd of about two dozen erupted into cheers when the voting was completed, with one woman screaming, 'Thank you, Jesus!'”

The Camden School Board heard presentations from three groups proposing to create new Urban Hope Act charter schools, reports the Courier-Post. “Legal and procedural questions” have been raised by the Education Law Center.

The Christie Administration named six new executive directors for NJ’s new Regional Achievement Centers, charged with turning around our worst schools. (NJ Spotlight)

In today’s New York Times, columnist Frank Bruni considers issues raised by the new movie “Won’t Back Down,” which looks at American public education in the context of parent trigger laws. Bruni says that "a constructive dialogue with teacher unions is essential,
[b]ut so is real flexibility from unions, along with their genuine, full-throated awareness that parents are too frustrated, kids too important and public resources too finite for any reflexive, defensive attachments to the old ways of doing things. 
“Our very best teachers ought to be treated much, much better than they are today,” said Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform. “But in order to get there, we need to be able to say out loud that some teachers are better than others.”