Sunday Leftovers

The Patch has created a database of teachers’ salaries throughout New Jersey. Topping the list is Northern Valley Regional High School in Bergen County, where the average teacher salary is $90,228. Bergen, in fact, has the top 20 districts in terms of teacher pay. The lowest average is in  Milltown (Middlesex County), where the average teacher makes $45,076.

New Jersey School Boards Association reports that "Voters in seven of the 501 school districts holding elections across the state yesterday also faced ballot questions related to their schools. Four of those questions –including three related to additional school spending –were defeated, while three won voter approval."

NJ Spotlight has the best coverage of the annual NJEA Convention, reporting record turn-outs in large part because of teachers’ concerns about the new data-driven teacher evaluations.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews NJ’s just-released NAEP scores and remarks that “New Jersey, like most states, is rethinking its public schools.”

From Asbury Park Press: “Ousted Superintendent Janine Caffrey will not be returning to the school district after she was denied emergency relief by an administrative law judge Thursday.”

Jersey City School Board update: “There was a near sweep in this year’s Jersey City school board race, with three of the four candidates backed by Mayor Steve Fulop edging out their competitors, according to preliminary results from county election officials.” (Jersey Journal)

NJ DOE's  ill-considered decision to cap the number of students in the  Interdistrict Public School Choice Program is resulting in messes like this (Philadelphia Inquirer):
Last month, the Sterling School District in Camden County closed on a former YMCA building assessed at $5.4 million. The building, Superintendent Jack McCulley said, was purchased to become a center for the school's growing specialized programs, which draw a large number of "school-choice" students - from sending districts whose schooling is subsidized by the state.
But the day McCulley signed the settlement contract on the building he got a letter from the state notifying him that school-choice funding was being capped for the 2014-15 school year. Of the 420 seats he requested, Sterling would get only 42.
"People we hired, people we're anticipating employing, everybody will be gone - laid off; the school we just purchased . . . we'd have to turn around and sell if we can't continue with growth expected to fill the building," McCulley said.

Some of those children who were to attend Sterling's programs will be suctioned back to Camden Public Schools, perhaps the worst district in the country.

How is NJ doing with its new teacher tenure law? According to NJ Spotlight, “The first year of New Jersey’s new tenure law has so far resulted in a much quicker process for deciding discipline charges against teachers, while established case law has still largely determined the outcomes.”

The Star Ledger reports that "The Education Law Center is seeking lawyers from the private sector to volunteer to represent children with disabilities whose parents or guardians cannot afford to hire an attorney.”
Cheon Park, who ran preschool programs in NYC for children with disabilities, has been charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. According to the NY Times, Park misused $1.5 million in public funds over two years. He ”spared no expense on his company’s centers, which included a lavish three-story building in Flushing, Queens, that had marble floors, red carpets and a chandelier, according to The Times’s investigation. In one case, according to the complaint, Mr. Park received kickback payments of $30,000 from someone the company agreed to pay $120,000 during the 2009-10 school year. In another case, it contends, Mr. Park asked for a kickback of $3,500 a month in cash from another person who was paid by the company between 2005 and 2008.” 

In today's New York Times Ross Douthat has some advice for Gov. Christie "just in case you do have some faint, slight, extremely modest interest in parlaying your landslide re-election into a presidential bid."