Sunday Leftovers

The Times of Trenton profiles Morris Plains School District, which is participating in the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. This program allows children to cross district boundaries to attend other neighboring public schools, if their neighbors are willing.  From the article: "'It’s a tremendous way to improve local programs and generate revenue,' said Morris Plains Superintendent Ernest Palestis, who said the district hopes to enroll 36 choice students in 2013, which could bring in $450,000 a year. “'It’s very difficult for a school in an environment that’s (budget) capped. Choice gives us a welcome revenue source.'”

The Asbury Park Press reports that legal bills for the Freehold Regional High School District are now up to $247,446 as the Board attempts to wrest tenure away from Manalapan High School Principal Jeff Simon. Simon allegedly misused funds and compromised student safety.

Leslie Brody has a great piece in The Record on the Chicago teachers’ strike and the implications for New Jersey.
The Joint Committee for the Public Schools held a special session to study online education, reports NJ Spotlight, and reacted skeptically, citing concerns about socialization, funding, teacher training, and cheating. Also see Spotlight for analysis of the new teacher evaluation pilot.

The Courier Post applauds NJ's anti-bullying bill, but says the State should fund it adequately: "For most school districts, the state aid allotted for implementation of the program isn’t nearly enough to cover the costs of doing it right. With few exceptions, the aid is a pittance. But the costs, which a school boards association survey said ranged from $64 to $70,000, are relatively modest given the return on the investment. Many school districts have found low-impact ways of shifting resources to anti-bullying measures."

Steven Fulop, Jersey City Councilman and mayor-hopeful, writes in this op-ed in  the Star-Ledger that he’s feeling hopeful about the troubled school system because of “alliances that haven’t been seen anywhere else in the state”: “The teachers’ union partnered with reform-minded voting blocks to elect, with record numbers, an almost entirely new board of education that the governor has felt comfortable to work with on urban education issues. The dynamics have not always been perfect, but we can certainly say that parents, teachers and the governor have played crucial and productive roles in changing the course of the city’s educational system.”

Here’s a provocative piece in the Wall St. Journal by Joseph Epstein about the Chicago strike, which includes this analysis: “Nobody likes to mention it, but grammar and high-school teaching took a terrific hit from feminism. So many of the superior grammar and high-school teachers of the past were women—women, to be sure, who had little else open to them in the way of occupational choice. Now, with feminism having led the way, women are free to join the wider workforce and try to avoid becoming second-rate lawyers, otiose psychotherapists and real-estate salesmen. Ah, the old choreography of progress: one step forward, two steps back.”

New Jersey School Boards Association has a thorough overview of the new report from the Christie Administration's Education Transformation Task Force. Education Law Center says that the recommendations in the report eliminate critical safeguards for NJ's students.

The Fordham Foundation issued a report called “Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education,” an object of considerable interest in the education community. Here’s one of the “bottom lines” cited in the report: “School districts across the country spend and staff at markedly different levels to serve students with special needs—a level of variation that is nearly twice as large as that of general education staffing. Furthermore, the variation is not explained by differences in student demographics or total per-pupil spending.” Also see this piece in the Wall St. Journal.

Today's New York Times Magazine is devoted to education.