Sunday Leftovers

The School Development Authority, the agency in charge of school construction, has denied the $8 million in funding necessary to make urgent repairs to Trenton Central High School. The reason for the denial, reports the Trenton Times, is that the State is "not confident" that the “district has demonstrated that it has the experience, resources and expertise necessary to complete and manage this time-sensitive project without unduly impacting educational services.” (Is it me or does everyone jump from here to Hoboken?)

Lots of talk about Christie’s State of the State proposal for extending the school day and year. (See here for my take.) The Star-Ledger interviews some parents. And from the Press of Atlantic City:
The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey is concerned that Gov. Chris Christie calls for extending school days and years without mandating a collaborative planning process that has helped make these programs successful," union President Donna M. Chiera said in a statement. She said any plan must begin with an evaluation of what is already working or lacking in a school district, including after-school and summer programs.
"How can we expect a different result if a district simply extends a program that is not highly effective?" Chiera asked.
NJ Spotlight reviews last-minute bills in Trenton, including one that bars school boards from awarding bonuses to superintendents based on decreasing out-of-district placements for special education students.

Dept. of There’ll Always be A Lakewood: Asbury Park Press reports that the school board there passed a resolution to hold a referendum on school construction in March for a tab of up to $145 million, which is more than their annual budget. “We are broke,” board member Zechariah Greenspan said, citing the district’s financial woes.”

The Jersey City Board of Education approved a resolution to “develop the necessary transition plans” to take full control of the city’s public schools by the fall.

Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard tells NJ Spotlight that the board and community are reviewing applicants for new charter operators under the auspices of the Urban Hope Act.  Some of the big names are interested, including Mastery charter school network in Philadelphia, Uncommon Schools organization of Newark and New York City, and the SEEDS Schools from Washington, D.C., a residential school network.

Carl Golden (Asbury Park Press) prognosticates on Christie’s education agenda for his second term:
Christie will continue to pursue a public education reform agenda, urging among other steps that the revisions in the teacher tenure system enacted in his first term be extended to eliminate seniority as the guiding factor in layoffs. He has not been reluctant to engage the New Jersey Education Association over this issue and will do so again.
It’s likely that the charter school process will be strengthened and possibly expanded, but securing legislative approval of a school voucher system remains highly problematic.
Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman are sponsoring a bill called Stop Forced Public School Closures Act, in response to Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s necessary plan to shutter unnecessary buildings. (Star-Ledger)

In today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman says Pres. Obama should ask this question during his State of the Union Address:
Are we falling behind as a country in education not just because we fail to recruit the smartest college students to become teachers or reform-resistant teachers’ unions, but because of our culture today: too many parents and too many kids just don’t take education seriously enough and don’t want to put in the work needed today to really excel? 
This week  Al Jazeera America begins a weeklong series on problems in American education and I'm interviewed by Soledad O’Brien in the story tomorrow night. Check out the promo!