Sunday Leftovers

"Cami Anderson, the superintendent of schools in Newark, has proposed another round of sensible and bold reforms. And she is facing the predictable shrieks of protest from the defenders of the status quo. 
Know this: If she were not raising hell in a district that has failed its children so dramatically for so long, she would not be doing her job. She was not hired to play it safe." (Today's Star-Ledger.)
"Seventy percent of New Jersey’s school districts and charter schools have volunteered to give the test associated with the new statewide curriculum standards a trial run, the Department of Education said Tuesday," according to the Star Ledger. Also see NJ Spotlight and the Record.

Big news: the School Development Authority, which is supposed to fund and facilitate school construction, has a new boss, Charles McKenna, who replaces Marc Larkins. McKenna was formerly Christie’s chief counsel. NJ Spotlight quotes Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer)”: “Hope springs eternal.” Her district  “includes Trenton Central High School, a deteriorating building that has become a focal point of the criticism.” In related news, the Star Ledger reports today that the state will invest $100 million in Newark public school infrastructure.
For more on the physical condition of NJ's urban schools see NJ Spotlight's discussion of a July 2013 state report report called  “Educational Facilities Needs Assessment” (EFNA) which "cites an 'enormous need' for repairs and expansion of facilities in the 30 school districts covered by the Abbott v. Burke court rulings that ordered more than $8 billion in school upgrades more than a decade ago." Education Law Center obtained the report through an Open Public Records Request.

From the Record: "New Jersey won $44 million Thursday in a federal grant competition aimed at lifting the quality of child care programs and their staffs. One of six states to share $280 million in the latest round of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top contest, New Jersey plans to create training academies for center employees and develop a Consumer Reports-style rating system to help parents shop around online."

The State Assembly passed a bill that would set up a committee to study the costs and benefits of mandating full-day kindergarten.(The Record, Assembly press release.)

Kathryn Blackshear, president of the Camden School Board, and Paymon Rouhanifard, Superintendent, rally for hope and support in the Courier Post.

The Press of Atlantic City examines the problem of illegally-enrolled students in South Jersey school districts: “Student residency seems simple enough: Children attend school in the town where they live. But complicated family dynamics, homelessness and clever cheaters can make proving actual residency a lengthy, time-consuming process for school districts.” Not to mention families striving for academic success who are restricted to failing districts because they can’t afford to move elsewhere.

There’s an anti-Common Core movie coming out in mid-February called “Building the Machine.” Here’s the trailer. Heavy contributions from conservative home schooling parents, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute.

Speaking of the Common Core, in the course of researching something else I came across this from NEA Today, published in October:
Are many teachers anxious about the Common Core? Absolutely. Are some die-hard critics? No doubt. But there is no massive groundswell of opposition to the Common Core among NEA members. An NEA poll conducted in July by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that 75 percent of its members—teachers and education support professionals —supported the standards outright or supported “with reservations.” Whether it’s tighter content focus or opportunities for deeper critical thinking, the majority of teachers see the new standards as something to get excited about. Another poll released by the American Federation of Teachers revealed similar levels of enthusiasm, again indicating some educator anxiety, but confirming that AFT member support of the Common Core is strong.