From the Press of Atlantic City and Asbury Park Press: the State Attorney General announced that Cape May Technical School District, one of NJ’s county vo-tech/magnet schools, can no longer screen applicants out because of disabilities.
John Mooney looks at some last-minute education bills in the Legislature, including ones on dyslexia and amendments to the Urban Hope Act. (Also see the Philadelphia Inquirer on the latter.)
The Philadelphia Inquirer compares new teacher evaluation systems in PA and NJ.
The Lakewood School Board intends to move forward with a $100 million referendum to build two new public schools, one to replace an old school and another to house in-district special ed kids and preschoolers who are currently educated in trailers, reports the Asbury Park Press. (Odds of the referendum's passage seem low; the vast majority of families send their kids to Jewish day schools. )
From the Star-Ledger's "Auditor" re: the diminishing power of Assembly Speaker and senatorial hopeful Sheila Oliver”
The Auditor gasped Thursday when a resolution authored by Oliver — one she even spoke for on the floor — struggled for three grueling minutes on the board to collect the 41 votes needed to pass. (It finished with 42.)
The resolution (AR191) urged the state treasurer and secretary of higher education to hold off on issuing bond money to Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood and the Princeton Theological Seminary until a court determines if it’s legal.
But the resolution hit opposition, not just from every Republican, but from within Oliver’s own caucus. Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) — who has been making calls to gauge support for his own potential run at the speakership — spoke out against it in caucus.
"Several districts in the state have large orthodox Jewish populations. And could those populations feel that singling out (Beth Medrash Govhova) is a problem?" Schaer, an orthodox Jew, told The Auditor. "The answer is most likely yes."
It’s unusual for legislation to struggle for votes by the time it reaches the Assembly floor. For that to happen to a nonbinding, symbolic resolution backed by the house’s leader is almost unheard of.
The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board urges lawmakers to reconsider the cap on superintendent salaries because it's actually costing more money: superintendents are retiring early to avoid caps; then they collect their pensions while working as interim superintendents in other districts.
The salary cap for superintendents was not a solution to the state’s fiscal troubles. It should be re-examined and, perhaps, readjusted. But over the long haul, the best way of ensuring that school districts are being run efficiently, by the best-qualified superintendents, is by consolidating the dozens of districts in New Jersey that are far too small to warrant their own highly paid chief executives and administrative staffs.The Record wonders whether Gov. Christie might soften his opposition to same-sex marriage, or at least privately give permission to moderate Republicans to back a Democratically-sponsored motion to override his veto. (Yeah, yeah, off-topic.)
Matt Yglesias at Slate considers some positive new NAEP long-term trend data:
I'm genuinely uncertain as to where the state of the conventional wisdom is at this point. Do people think that dastartardly education reformers with their drill-and-kill teach-to-the-test approach are ruining public education, or do they think that dastardly teachers unions with their stuck-in-the-mud opposition to reform are responsible for ruining public education? Either way, the actual trend in American student achievement has been positive. It is difficult to establish any specific causal inferences from that, but it seems like evidence that things are improving overall. Maybe schools are changing for the better. Or maybe non-school factors are changing for the better. But either way, contrary to a certain kind of gloom-and-doom prognosticating about America the underlying trends are positive notwithstanding a horrible recession and other problems.