Sunday Leftovers

Education Week released its Quality Counts  state report cards on student achievement, fiscal equity, and policies. See Press of Atlantic City and the Star LedgerNew Jersey did great on student test scores and “chance for success,” behind only Massachusetts and Maryland. But we choked , according to the Star-Ledger,  on the fact that we have “no incentives for teachers or principals working in hard-to-staff disciplines or targeted schools, no salary parity with other occupations, and no financial incentives for teachers to earn national certifications.”

Ben Dworkin on Christie’s relations with NJEA if/when he commits to a presidential campaign (NJ Spotlight):
 “Taking on the public unions, including the teachers unions, will certainly play well with Republicans in a competitive primary,” he said. “Why would he run from it? He gets more votes in doing that, than in currying favor with them.”
See NJ Spotlight for the top ten educational accomplishments of Christie’s first term.

From the Star Ledger: "New Jersey was among 30 states and the District of Columbia to increase funding for pre-K programs, which grew to $5.6 billion, according to a new report...New Jersey's total pre-K state funding topped $648 million, an increase of $15.5 million. Only Texas, at $750,124,754, was higher. New Jersey ranked ninth in total dollar increase."

This from the Courier Post:
Last month, the new superintendent for the state-run city school system announced that according to the College Board, three Camden students were considered college-ready at the end of the 2012 school year. In the same year, 11 of the city’s 67 homicide victims were high-school-aged children. Essentially, in Redd’s Camden, a child has a better chance of being murdered than being prepared for college.
The State Board of Education had a five-hour meeting with the superintendents from our four state-controlled districts (Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, and Camden).  NJ Spotlight comments,
Also interesting was that, for all the criticism coming from Gov. Chris Christie over the funding of urban districts, his own appointees to at least three of the four takeover districts weren’t afraid to hide the fact that they face brutal financial straits in the next couple of years.
Evans, the superintendent in Paterson, called it an “impending cliff.” Anderson spoke of the continuing drain in dollars being shifted to the state’s growing charter school sector.
“Intellectually it makes sense, but in practice, it makes it very difficult for the district,” Anderson said, adding it could cost her district an additional $35 million in each of the next three years.
Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson held a meeting for alumni from Weequahic, West Side, and Shabazz high schools  in a (belated) effort at outreach as closings loom. (Star Ledger)

Politifact takes on Joe Cryan’s (D-Union) claim that our state colleges “graduate less than 50 percent of their students within four years." It’s true, says the Truth-O-Meter, although the graduation rates get better over five and six years.

NJ Spotlight reviews NJ’s to online testing and a revised NJ ASK.

From the Press of Atlantic City: Lower Cape May Regional School District will hear its “death knell” if Cape May is allowed to leave and send its kids to another district. Currently “Cape May pays $6.6 million per year in taxes for 65 students, or $97,178 per pupil. Lower Township pays $8.3 million for 1,431 students, or $8,255 per pupil.”

One more Camden-related item: Andy Smarick, former deputy to NJ Commissioner Chris Cerf, reflects on a visit there and the challenges to improve education. Read the whole thing, but here's a sample:
In a state with deeply troubled urban districts—Newark, Paterson, Asbury Park—Camden’s stands apart for its calamitous results. For those of us who believe that public education’s purpose is to mitigate the influence of poverty, to help all kids succeed despite out-of-school forces, Camden’s district has for years been an affront. 
The outcomes speak for themselves: 23 of its 26 schools fell into “Priority” status—the category reserved for the state’s very lowest-performing schools. Of all the Camden students who took the SAT last year, only three—three—scored high enough to be deemed college or career ready. 
One plotline of this tragedy is that the state—actually, its judiciary and various misguided advocates—had thought it had solved Camden’s educational woes years ago. Through a series of beyond activist decisions, courts mandated exorbitant funding increases and other interventions. As a result, Camden receives about $25,000 per student, about twice the national average. This means Camden’s district is spending about $100 million for each college- or career-ready student it produces.