Friday, November 30, 2012

Merit Pay: "Newark's Simple Idea is a Breakthrough"


Laura McKenna at the Atlantic (hat tip: Hannah J. Waters, one of the kinder) ponders the Newark Teachers Union’s  approval of a new contract that includes merit pay, due in part to the surprisingly warm relations between Joseph Del Grosso, head of NTU (an AFT affiliate), and  the “Commander-in-Fleece,” Gov. Chris Christie. Remarks McKenna, “The N[J]EA, the other major teachers union, continues to fight these measures, which makes a state-wide plan unlikely. Yet, the AFT worked jointly with the Governor to create this plan.” She continues,
According to Jeff Henig, a professor of political science and education at Columbia's Teachers College, the merit pay program in Newark is a sign of the political weakness of teachers' unions. The AFT, which is more nimble and politically savvy than the NEA, has recognized that they must show that unions are not in the business of supporting bad teachers or opposing innovation. [Harry] Brighouse, [a professor of philosophy and education policy studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison] also noted that the AFT, more than the NEA, is responding to the increasing pressure to do things differently.
Henig said, "local teachers unions with the blessing of the AFT are softening their rigid objection to some kinds of merit pay and some incorporation of student outcomes rather than risk that this will happen without them at the table."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Do New Jerseyans Feel About Charter Schools?

The Star-Ledger has up a poll that asks readers, "Are N.J. charter schools better than public schools?" The poll is in the context of the new widely-circulated CREDO study, which found that students enrolled in New Jersey charter schools, at least in Newark, display much higher achievement than those in traditional public schools. (Results in Camden, Trenton, Jersey City, and Paterson are far more mixed.)

Here's the poll results:
Yes. we need to fix public schools and can learn from charter schools.  40.86%  (114 votes)  
 
No. The public school system works.  37.28%  (104 votes)  
 
The comparison is too broad. I need more specifics.  21.86%  (61 votes)  
One explanation for the high performance in Newark may be the dominance of KIPP schools in that city. Indeed, right now the only KIPP schools in New Jersey are in Newark: Newark Collegiate Academy, Rise Academy, SPARK Academy, TEAM Academy, and the new THRIVE Academy. (With any luck there’ll be another in Camden in 2014 because the Camden Board of Education, messily but effectively, approved the KIPP/Cooper/Norcross proposal to build new schools under the auspices of the Urban Hope Act.)  Another fine charter school in Newark, North Star Academy, is run by Uncommon Schools, which also has four other sites in New York State and Boston.

Perhaps there’s something to be said for chartering with a organization with a proven track record and lots of experience.

Hurricane Sandy's Potential Toll on School Funding

My post this week at WHYY's Newsworks is called "Hurricane Sandy's Toll on School Funding May Be a New Disaster on the Horizen." (If I was clairvoyant I might have quoted from today's front page story of the New York Times, "Post Storm Cost May Force Many from Coast Life.")
New Jersey is just coming to terms with the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy. Gov. Christie announced this week that costs for rebuilding damaged properties, infrastructure, and shore lines will come in somewhere around the neighborhood of nearly $37 billion, much of that funded, hopefully, through FEMA.

But that price tag doesn't account for the long-term sustainability of storm-ravaged towns, particularly the potential reduction in ratables, or the assessment of the value of real estate. During a conference call among Monmouth County officials, Monmouth Beach Mayor Susan Howard, according to the Star-Ledger, "expressed concern about how this loss of ratables would impact the ability of municipalities to function.' This is going to be devastating to running our town,' Howard said to the officials."

And that brings us to schools...what happens when a natural disaster threatens that tax base? While we're all eager to immediately rebuild, maybe it's wise to pause for a moment and consider Sandy's impact on three issues that potentially affect school funding, particularly in wealthier towns: the strength of local economies in the wake of the storm, changes in school enrollment, and variables affecting the available tax base to fund local school districts...

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

Woo hoo! The Camden City Board of Education (finally) approved the formation of a charter school campus under the aegis of the Urban Hope Act. The new public schools will be run by KIPP, one of the charter organizations lauded yesterday in the CREDO study of NJ's charter schools. From the Courier-Post:
A defeated proposal to create a Hope Act school campus was reconsidered and approved by the school board late Tuesday night.

The proposal was initially voted down in September by a 4-4 vote, with one abstention...

The Hope Act allows for the construction of up to four schools in Camden, Newark and Trenton. Only Camden has considered the Hope Act, in part due to pressure applied by the state Department of Education. After failing quality measures, the district was told to move forward with the proposal to approve Hope Act schools.

For background and context, see my commentary here for WHYY Newsworks.

CREDO Study: Newark Charters Rule

Everyone’s talking about the new CREDO study, just released yesterday.  The highly-regarded Stanford study looks at the performance of charter schools in New Jersey. Here’s the lede from the Huffington Post:
Students in New Jersey charter schools perform better on average than those same students would in traditional public schools, according to a highly anticipated Stanford University study released Tuesday. The study, which looked at the state's performance relative to charter schools nationally, found that while New Jersey charters tended to have more promising outcomes, Newark's schools are responsible for the bulk of the gains. 
"The real story here is how Newark’s middle-school charters are lifting otherwise low-achievement youths," said Bruce Fuller, a University of California, Berkeley education professor who was not involved in the study. "Once you go outside of Newark and into elementary schools, the results are quite disappointing."
For local news coverage, see NJ Spotlight, Star-Ledger, and the Courier-Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. On the editorial side, check out Bruce Baker, who attributes Newark charter school success to statistical weaknesses in CREDO’s  analyses plus Newark’s duplicitous “creaming” schemes that funnel “non-disabled, non-poor, fluent English speaking females” into “the city’s highest flying charters.”

NJEA Spokesman Steve Baker echoed Baker's criticisms in the Inquirer:
 "It's good news any time students are doing well." But he added that though the CREDO study matched charter school student characteristics with those of comparable regular public school children, the schools they attend have different student makeups and that might influence student performance."You have to be very careful about thinking about this as an apples-to-apples comparison," he said.
CREDO director Margaret Raymond responded that the charters and the schools they come from have similar demographics in many respects.
For counterpoint, read Andy Smarick, former Deputy Commissioner of the DOE, who writes in Fordham’s Flypaper blog,
For every year a Newark student is in a charter, she advances seven and a half months in reading and a full year in math compared to her traditional public school peers.
That is astounding. 
Charter opponents will find these results impossible to dismiss. The methodology is rigorous, and much of the anti-charter world has pointed to previous studies by this organization to discredit charters. They’ll be hard-pressed here to fault the message or the messenger. 
The reason I find these results so exciting and so gratifying is because they show what is possible when the right charter strategies are employed. When I worked for the New Jersey Department of Education, we were careful to allow only the best, most-prepared schools to open. We enabled the very best charters to grow (like the KIPP TEAM and North Star campuses in Newark). And we were willing to close those that weren’t living up their responsibilities.
For this, state education commissioner Chris Cerf, Governor Chris Christie, and the great staff at NJDOE deserve enormous credit. They have built practices and a mindset that will ensure these superb results only get better in the years to come.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

McCullough on Teaching Training: Don't Major in Education!

David McCullough, author of Truman and John Adams and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, was interviewed by Morley Safer on Sixty Minutes recently.  During a discussion regarding Americans’ “historical illiteracy,” McCullough opined on teacher training:
Well we need to revamp, seriously revamp, the teaching of the teachers. I don’t feel that any professional teacher should major in education. They should major in a subject, know something. The best teachers are those who have a gift and the energy and enthusiasm to convey their love for science or history or Shakespeare or whatever it is. “Show them what you love” is the old adage. And we’ve all had them, where they can change your life. They can electrify the morning when you come into the classroom.

CREDO Releases Charter School Reports

CREDO, the Stanford-based Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, is releasing its first study of student outcomes in New Jersey charter schools. From the press release:
The CREDO at Stanford University New Jersey analysis found that 30 percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their traditional school counterparts in reading, while 11 percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains. In math, 40 percent of the charter schools studied outperform their counterparts and 13 percent perform worse. In comparison, CREDO’s 2009 national study of charter schools in 16 states found at that time that 17 percent of the charter schools had exceeded their district school counterparts’ growth .
A significant finding came from the results of the urban charter schools in the state. Students enrolled in urban charter schools in New Jersey learn significantly more in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers. In fact, charter students in Newark gain an additional seven and a half months in reading per year and nine months per year in math compared to their traditional public school counterparts. Students enrolled in suburban charter schools also learn significantly more in both math and reading compared to their peers in traditional public schools; however, students in rural charter schools learn significantly less than their district school peers in both reading and math.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Smarick: Consider Elimination of Newark Public School District


Andy Smarick, NJ’s very recent Deputy Commissioner of Education, has a piece up in the Daily News today about Newark’s new teacher contract, which notably includes a merit pay provision that will offer 3%-5% raises to teachers who demonstrate excellence in the classroom. (Coverage here.)

Smarick writes,
Today, this district has everything it could ask for: a reform-oriented teachers contract, a new state law on tenure and evaluation, funding twice the national average, the $100 million Mark Zuckerberg donation, partnerships with leading nonprofit organizations, freedom from a politically motivated school board, a tough local superintendent, a reform-friendly mayor, the nation’s best state superintendent and an incomparably bold governor. 
So we should happily call this the beginning of a new era. But we must also declare an end to the excuses. If the district can’t generate better results here and now, it never will. The governor should say so — and then put the district on the clock.
What happens if Newark doesn’t generate better outcomes for its students within a reasonable timeframe? Smarick’s solution: dissolve the traditional district and replace schools with charters.  As he points out, 17% of Newark’s 40,000 kids are already educated in charter schools, the district is under state control, and, according to NJ’s charter school laws, the Commissioner is the sole authorizer of new charters. The entity known as Newark Public School District is "expendable." If it doesn't improve, "eliminate it."

(Smarick makes a more nuanced case in his new book, “The Urban School System of the Future: Applying the Principles and Lessons of Chartering," which advocates a portfolio of private and public choices for students in failing urban school districts within a framework of regulatory oversight. Also notable: he has little use for school "turnarounds," an important component of NJ's No Child Left Behind waiver.)

Still, his Daily News editorial sort of nails it: given the “numerous arrows now in Newark’s quiver,” what happens if outcomes stay the same or improve only marginally? Can one argue, then, that even substantial investments in a traditional system amount to tinkering around the edges? Do we need to start from scratch?

Jersey City Parent Responds to Union Prez's Veto of Grant and Diane Ravitch's Enconium

Earlier this month Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco refused to sign off on the district’s $40 million Race to the Top application (see coverage here) and wrote a letter to JCEA members explaining that he vetoed the grant because “not one cent is dedicated to negotiation of a new contract. Diane Ravitch then blogged about Mr. Greco’s decision, noting his “courage, insight, wisdom, and conviction.”

A reader who calls herself Jersey Mom, a parent of a Jersey City public school student, responded to Dr. Ravitch and also posted her rebuttal on NJLB’s comment section. (See here.) In addition to pointing out various factual errors in Dr. Ravitch’s blog, she also references Jersey City Superintendent Marcia Lyle’s recent presentation, “Mind the Gap,” which details some of the district’s challenges:
  • While there are areas of significant progress, as indicated by 11th grade LAL scores and gains almost across the board in math, there are still large numbers of students who are not performing at or above proficiency across all grades.
  • LAL scores in grades 6 and 7 fell in almost every subgroup.
  • More than 74% of our Special Education students in grades 3 – 8 are not proficient.
  • LEP proficiency levels are low, with over 80% of LEP students not proficient in grades 4 – 7.
  • The district continues to lag the state across every grade in both LAL and math, though overall, across grades 3 – 8, it has been closing the gap in both LAL and math.
Says Jersey Mom,
Yes, there are some great teachers. There are also teachers who hightail it out of their buildings every day at 2:30, when class ends. The word among parents is that the contract stipulates they can’t stay past three. Some seem to take that quite seriously. In any event, a six-hour day is a short day in a district where 70 percent of children are so poor they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Many of these children could benefit from an extended day, especially because the after-care program consists of …. nothing. No structure. Nothing. Teachers who work after care make $40 an hour. I wouldn’t begrudge them a penny of that money, if our children had anything to show for it. They don’t.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Leftovers

In case you missed them: here’s my piece this week in NJ Spotlight, which examines new research on the educational impact of moving students from poor and low-achieving districts to wealthier and higher-achieving ones. Also, here’s this week’s post at WHYY on rethinking school consolidation in the context of Superstorm Sandy.

Tomorrow is the deadline for families to enroll in the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program for the 2012-2013 school year.

Israel Teitlebaum’s anti-union rant in the Star-Ledger, draped in flag and religion, probably won’t do much for either those who favor expansion of school choice or those who remain opposed.

Jersey Journal: “'The Jersey City school district needs to lower its high dropout rate, increase the academic achievement of black and Latino students, and better prepare students for college,' Superintendent Marcia V. Lyles said last night… 'There are pervasive inequities throughout the district,' she said, adding there has been “'slow and steady' progress on standardized testing."

Lakewood Update from the Asbury Park Press:” For more than a decade, the school district has been in a fiscal, political, educational and cultural crisis, with a budget that costs taxpayers more than $100 million a year.” And an audit just revealed that “[m]illions paid to a special education vendor with little documentation. Shoe boxes full of papers that are supposed to represent expenditures, although little substantiation can be found.” The vendor is Catapult Learning, which billed $20.9 million to Lakewood Schools for one year of special ed services.


NJ Spotlight reviews its recent panel discussion on NJ’s new teacher and principal evaluation pilot. “The conversation ranged from how pilot districts now testing the system – both urban and suburban – are progressing, to indications from [Senator Teresa] Ruiz that she might consider some flexibility for all districts facing tight deadlines.”

Hamilton Township’s mayor, John Bencivengo, resigned after an FBI investigation revealed that he accepted bribes from an insurance broker. Some  members of the Hamilton School Board are also implicated for accepting illegal campaign contributions, the school Business Administrator is on leave until further notice.  See Trentonian and Trenton Times.
 



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jersey City Union Prez Gets it Wrong on Race To The Top

Ron Greco, President of the Jersey City, is featured in a story in today’s NJ Spotlight on the latest district-specific round of the federal education grant initiative Race To The Top. This time there’s $400 million available. Three-hundred seventy districts applied from around the country, 21 from New Jersey.

Jersey City Public Schools intended to be one of the hopefuls with a bid for $40 million, but the union there refused to sign off, a new requirement for RTTT applicants.  Mr. Greco then issued an open letter to his members, which closes with the salute “In solidarity” and a little picture of Diane Ravitch.

Mr. Greco’s objections are many: not enough time to vet the application; Bret Schundler’s rocky connection with RTTT (Schundler is a former JC mayor and charter school advocate, not to mention ex-NJ Ed. Comm.); intentions to implement  a form of merit pay and a  longer school year; hiring new administrator. Then there’s this:
The budget in the grant has the $40 million down to the penny. Not one cent is dedicated to negotiation of a new contract. Not one single cent. The grant would be our new contract. It has spelled out the extended day, extended week and extended year. These are negotiable items.
Of course, plenty of cents are “dedicated to negotiation of a new contract.” It’s just that this the grant money would be distributed based on classroom effectiveness. And the RTTT application cannot overrule union contracts, nor preclude union-district agreements for salary increases.

For example, when RTTT was state-based, New Jersey submitted a successful application that incorporated the provisions laid out in the Opportunity Scholarship Act and a rewrite of charter school laws. It also included the elimination of seniority-based lay-offs. But these items were not automatically enacted. That would take an act of legislation, which never happened. Applications are not legally binding. They’re visionary, not contractual.

So Jersey City lost a chance for up to $40 million in extra funds based on the union president’s flawed understanding of RTTT applications. That’s too bad for JC’s kids ((and, for a little context regarding their needs, check out this presentation from JC Superintendent Marcia Lyles).  It’s too bad for the union constituents as well, who might have benefited from opportunities to increase compensation from sources other than negotiated salary increases.

Quote of the Day

From an interview with Mike Petrelli, author of "The Diverse Schools Dilemma:"
Almost sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, many poor and minority children still attend segregated schools. How crippling is such isolation? In particular, what’s the evidence that poor kids perform better in integrated schools? 
It’s just as crippling as it was sixty years ago. Some recent research from Caroline Hoxby, Rick Hanushek, and others shows that racially isolated classrooms are really bad for minority kids, especially African-American males. No one knows why for sure, but “separate but equal” is still a major problem. That said, some of the schools garnering the best results for poor and minority kids are racially isolated, such as many “no excuses” charter schools. So it’s not impossible to make racially and socioeconomically isolated schools work, but we’d be better off if we didn’t have to.

Do Charter Schools Under-Enroll Special Needs Kids?

 A common complaint about charter schools is that they tend to enroll fewer kids with disabilities than traditional public schools. A new study out on New York State’s charter schools, conducted by Center for Reinventing Public Education (commissioned by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers), comes to these conclusions:
•    At the middle and high school levels, the average enrollment figures are actually higher in charter schools than in district-run schools and the distribution and range are almost indistinguishable.
•    A marked difference in special education student enrollments, however, does appear when charter elementary schools are compared with their district-run counterparts.
•    While some authorizers oversee schools with special needs enrollments that “closely track those of nearby district-run schools, other authorizers oversee groups of schools that don’t mirror” the special education enrollments of their district-run neighbors.
The authors also ask this "troubling" question: "are charter schools under-enrolling or under-identifying students with special needs, or are district-run schools over-identifying them?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Location, Location, Location: The Real Determinant for School Success"

My column today at NJ Spotlight considers new research that "tests the hypothesis, set out in the Abbott rulings, that students who live and go to richly funded schools in very poor cities can replicate the academic growth of children in wealthier districts." From the column:
By and large, that’s how New Jersey serves its neediest students, a choice codified in the State Supreme Court’s Abbott rulings. For decades we’ve pumped cash and other resources into Abbott districts like Camden and ascribed chronic failures to the “poverty is destiny” paradigm.

Anyway, it’s a lot easier to write a check than confront the consequences of segregating poor kids into ghettoized school districts. Abbott is a soporific, allowing New Jersey to sustain the illusion that it can meet the constitutionally mandated equal access to public education without ruffling our home rule plumage.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"By far, this is the most gratifying day of my governorship."

That's NJ Gov. Chris Christie quoted in today's NJ Spotlight piece on the Newark teachers' contract, just approved by a slim majority of the Newark Teachers Union. Most notably, the contract includes a merit pay provision that will offer 3%-5% raises to teachers who demonstrate excellence in the classroom. The raises are financed by a $50 million grant from Facebook (although a large chunk of the money will go towards retroactive pay to Newark's teachers who have been paid under their old contract for two years).

As Spotlight points out, Gov. Christie's elated reaction to the incorporation of a merit pay clause into a NJ public school contract is as much a celebration as a recalibration of expectations. Passage of the "voucher bill" (the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which would offer poor kids corporate-sponsored scholarships to private or parochial schools)? Not likely, despite its omnipresence on the Christie administration education reform wish-list. Rewriting of charter school laws? Also a long shot, given the active hostility of suburbanites towards charter school expansion in functional school districts. Elimination of seniority-based lay-offs? Close but yet so far. While Sen. Teresa Ruiz's tenure reform bill x-ed out LIFO, a last-minute compromise with teacher unions reinstated that practice into the legislation.

(Of course, the Ruiz bill still streamlines retraction of lifetime job security and makes tenure conditional on continued classroom effectiveness. Full implementation is slated for school year 2103-2014, but there's still tons of kinks to work out. These include getting NJ's 591 individual districts up to speed with professional development so that administrators can properly evaluate staff members on a portfolio of benchmarks, upgrading  district data systems in order to link student growth to individual teachers, transitioning a system of Student Growth Percentiles orchestrated by the NJ DOE. Add your own pet kinks.)

Worth noting, also, is that Newark's teacher union, NTU, is a branch of Randi Weingarten's AFT, and Weingarten has actively urged NTU to take the plunge. Every other public district in NJ is part of NJEA, whose leadership remains opposed to the merit pay clause that NTU members approved. Here's NJEA Spokesman Steve Wollmer: “I don’t think that contract would get the approval of most of the locals that NJEA represents — or any of them, for that matter.

Certainly, Gov. Christie is right to celebrate the Newark contract. But it's a fringe development, and consistent with his Administration's  lowering of expectations.  Relatively tiny NTU's willingness to explore ways to increase the professionalism of its teaching staff and reward great teachers  is an aberration, not an indication of a NJ trend. The stakes on its success, then, are really high. If Newark can make it work, then NJEA's members just might start wondering if merit pay is a road worth traveling.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Leftovers

NJ School Boards Association reports that almost 500 school districts held November elections for the first time, “a move that save money and increased voter turnout.” Frank Belluscio, NJSBA spokesman,  told the Star Ledger that “1,800 non-partisan candidates sought 1,450 seats.” Also see coverage from the Press of Atlantic City.

NJ Spotlight covers the cheating scandal at the highly-regarded Robert Treat Academy, one of Newark's top charter schools. (A traditional public school in Elizabeth was also charged by the DOE with test-tampering.) And in today’s Star-Ledger, Tom Moran reflects on further damage to the reputation of Steve Adubato Sr, the founder of Robert Treat. 
He [Adubato] treats politics like a knife fight. Early this year, for example, he demanded that Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson give him $500,000 of the money donated by Facebook so he could establish a training center for principals, according to reliable sources.
When Anderson refused, he threatened her by saying he would cause trouble in the next school board election. And he did just that. By telling his army to stand down, he opened the path for her opponents to win control of the school committee.
Speaking of Newark, many papers reported on the historic merit pay contract, approved this week by union membership. From the Record's Editorial Board:
Some teachers may not like the competitiveness of vying for bonus money. Welcome to the real world. Bonuses are for workers who are doing better than their peers. All employees are expected to do their jobs well. That is why they receive paychecks. The very concept of a bonus is to reward individuals who do better. It is no different than the students teachers educate vying for competitive scholarships to prestigious universities and colleges. The very best are rewarded more.

Public teachers, as a whole, do a great job with little recognition. We understand the fears many have that they have become political fodder for the Christie administration and for budget reformers. The Newark contract is a good case study for New Jersey. If the process results in the best teachers receiving more money and the good teachers still receiving a fair wage, it should be duplicated in district after district.
NJ Spotlight adds that although Mark Zuckerberg contributed $50 million to the contract,
"$31 million of the total -- close to two-thirds -- would go to the far less glamorous retroactive pay for teachers to cover two years in which the 4,000 members of the Newark Teachers Union went without a new contract."


PolitickerNJ’s top four “winners” this week are all associated with the new contract:  Sen. Teresa Ruiz, Gov. Christie, Ed. Comm. Cerf, and Mark Zuckerberg. And Tyson Eberhardt of Flypaper speculates,
 Hot on the heels of union-backed (and consequently tempered) tenure reforms at the state level, it’s tempting to buy into a narrative of incremental progress enabled by collaboration with Jersey’s powerful teacher unions. Given the price tag in Newark and the concessions tenure reform required in Trenton, however, changes along those lines may take decades to materialize.
No, we’ll need to wait for the real significance of the Newark deal to emerge: If merit pay can drive real improvement in one of the state’s lower-performing districts, it will become politically untenable for unions to resist compensation reform in districts statewide. If not, the contract may prove to be just another expensive false start.
PolitickerNJ wonders how Gov. Christie and Mayor Booker’s close association regarding the new contract and other matters – “Educational Excellence for Everyone (E3) joins them at the hip to about 100 donors” – will affect the Mayor’s ability to separate himself from the Governor in the context of a gubernatorial battle in 2013.

Gov. Christie, according to the Asbury Park Press, joked that if he could find common ground with Randi Weingarten (head of the AFT),  “then Democratic President Barack Obama should be able to get along with Republicans in Washington.”

NJEA officials disparage the Newark contract (Newark teachers are part of AFT); NJEA Spokesman Steve Wollmer tells the Star-Ledger Editorial Board that NJEA member would never have passed a contract stained by merit pay. The Board wonders:
Don’t be so sure. Teachers in Newark just embraced progressive reform. Teachers in other districts might embrace it, too, if the sclerotic NJEA leadership would give them a chance.
Thee contract provides bonuses to the best teachers while freezing the pay of those who are repeatedly ineffective. With this vote, teachers in Newark have embraced the idea that they should be treated as professionals, willing to be held responsible for results, as in the rest of the working world.
NJSBA has established a system to match up donors to districts decimated by Hurricane Sandy.

This week's New Yorker has a profile of Diane Ravitch by film critic David Denby. Andy Rotherham's response is well worth checking out.