Sunday Leftovers

There’s a bit of a dust-up over campaign backing for a hotly-contested school board member race in Jersey City. Two slates are contending for votes. One, “Candidates for Excellence,” is receiving money from the pro-reform group Better Education for Kids (B4K), founded by Alan Fournier, who also backed Steve Fulop’s  successful candidacy for mayor. The other slate, “Children First,” is backed by the Jersey City Education Association. (Both stories are from the Jersey Journal.)

In a related story, NJ Spotlight compares gubernatorial and legislative financial contributions of B4K with NJEA and finds that the former has spent almost nothing compared with the latter. NJEA has spend over $6 million so far.

The Star-Ledger looks at a conflation of concerns about Monclair Public Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack's proactive leadership style and accusations about assessment leaks and over-testing students. Here's more coverage from The Record.

After a survey found that more than half the students who attend Camden Public Schools feel unsafe, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard announced plans to hold town hall meetings, focus groups, and create “safe corridors” for students at arrival and dismissal times. (Philadelphia Inquirer.) For more coverage see the Courier Post.

For more information about the survey, conducted by Rutgers’ Bloustein Center for Survey Research, see NJ Spotlight. Among the highlights of the report, “half of elementary school students surveyed and a third of high-schoolers said they didn’t always feel safe in their schools. A quarter of the adults said the same.” One-third of the students wished they could attend a different school,” especially high school students, and a quarter of teachers said the kids just didn’t want to learn. Also, “[f]or all the complaints about problems at home and on the streets contributing to problems in the schools, students don’t put the blame on their parents. Overwhelming majorities of students of all ages said their parents want them to do well in school, and three-quarters said they would be punished for not doing their homework or missing school."

The Trenton Board of Education released more accurate information on rates of violence and vandalism for school year 2012-2013. According to the Trenton Times, the district counted “1,270 violent incidents, including 552 fights at schools. That compares to last October’s accounting of just 112 incidents in 2011-2012, which did not include fights.”

Lakewood School Board held a special meeting this week, reports the Asbury Park Press, to approve one agenda item: $1.7 million to pay for extra special education and transportation services. No information was forthcoming, but the district reportedly has a $4 million hole in its budget due to unforeseen increases in those areas.

The “resource-starved” Trenton Central High School makes the Huffington Post:
Last Wednesday, a powerful photo exhibit stationed in front of the New Jersey State House displayed the ugly truth hiding inside some of the state’s most dilapidated schools, many of them located in urban areas. Titled “A Blind Eye: The Immorality Of Inaction" and organized by public school advocates at the New Jersey Healthy Schools Now coalition, the exhibit took place in protest of Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, which state education advocates say has displayed a lack of commitment to the area’s most vulnerable students.