Sunday Leftovers

The N.J. Department of Education, to no one's surprise, confirmed that the state will not make any substantive changes in the Common Core,, despite the disavowal by Christie. See NJ Spotlight, Star Ledger (also here), the Asbury Park Press, and CentralJersey,

The Courier Post Editorial Board says that the D.O.E.'s timeline for revamping the Common Core "will tell you all you need to know about whether this represents a legitimate reconsideration of Common Core, or if it's little more than a politically motivated sham to stick a new label on the same standards so they're more palatable to conservatives resentful of the federal government's role in establishing Common Core." (Need we say more?)

The Record considers the newest draft of ESEA and quotes federal officials who explain that the proposed bills "lack the accountability needed to make sure struggling students get the help and investments they need, especially in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. The officials released a report showing that wide gaps still exist across states, despite improvements in graduation rates and achievement gaps.
 “We have to make sure every state develops a structure to identify and help the lowest-performing schools,” Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a phone call with reporters.
The gaps in New Jersey are especially wide:  "44 percentage points in math and 45 percentage points in reading, according to the report."

NJ Spotlight looks at the State Board of Education meeting where Chris Cerf was confirmed as the new superintendent of Newark and the district's budget was discussed in the context of deficits (about $50 million) and pending lay-offs. For more Cerf coverage see the Asbury Park Press and this background analysis from Spotlight.

Here's the latest bad news on N.J.'s fiscal (in)solvency from John Reitmeyer: “High deficits and debt obligations in the forms of unfunded pensions and healthcare benefits continue to drive each state  [N.J., N.Y., Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut] into fiscal peril,” the study said. “Each holds tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities -- constituting a significant risk to taxpayers in both the short and the long term.”

The Press of Atlantic City looks at how seniority rules can affect school budgets: "Southern Regional School District physical education teacher Darcy Kolodziej is entitled to more than $137,000 in back pay because 30 days of her unpaid maternity leave were not counted toward her seniority when she lost her job in 2007 due to a reduction in force, or RIF."

The Record looks at how two Bergen County school districts are preparing for changes in next year's PARCC exams and, also, the impact of the Common Core on high school English classes: "On the last day of English teacher Sara Belgiovine's class, her students sat at desks arranged in a square. They reviewed the sense of media literacy they had gained in class, exploring everything from how colors are used by advertisers and marketers to the approach used by Ernest Hemingway in his inscrutable short story 'Hills Like White Elephants.'"

ICYMI: Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard and Mayor Dana Redd have a great editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's a sample, but read the whole thing:
When we think of "Black Lives Matter" - the catchphrase that has followed this class of graduates during their time in high school - we, of course, think of the tragedies involving Trayvon Martin and the other African American males. 
But we also think of Rasool and the dozens of other African American male students who graduated last month in Camden and across the country. If that phrase is going to persist - and we think it is an unfortunately necessary reminder - then Black Lives Matter should conjure a broader understanding of African American males, a more multifaceted portrayal than the one presented on cable news whenever a tragedy takes place. After all, tragedies affect us, but they do not define us.