Former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, in an interview with The74, discusses the condition of the city's school before her tenure
[I]t’s important to remember that five years ago, less than 30% of the students in Newark were operating at grade level. Ineffective teachers had job security and high salaries while more impactful teachers with less seniority, were ignored or laid off as the district shrunk. Dysfunction and inefficacy was rampant as administrators abused both power and funds to dole out lucrative contracts and jobs that weren’t delivering for kids. School infrastructure was crumbling, further impacting student’s ability to learn as buildings fell apart, transportation was unreliable, and few schools even had the Internet. All of this contributed to a broken system that was not providing the best for students and families that were deeply dissatisfied with the status quo but unable to find a clear path forward to get the changes they wanted for their children
Also, don't miss Andrew Martin's drill-down on the real facts behind Newark's charter school expansion: "Any commentary on education reform in Newark must unify two seemingly contradictory truths: First, that high-performing charter schools are the overwhelming first choice of Newark parents selecting schools for their children in the city's universal enrollment system, and second, that the controversy around the plan that increased access to those schools, named One Newark, reached such a crescendo that it apparently forced Anderson’s resignation (and may even have determined the city's mayoral election)."
Star-Ledger Editor Tom Moran weighs in on the announcement this week that KIPPNJ charter schools have applied for an expansion to serve an additional 5,440 students: "Some critics say that's reason to slow down this shift [to charter schools]. But that answer is dead wrong, and would deny these kids a shot at a better life. The challenge is to reform the district so that it can cope with this change. Because for the thousands of parents pounding down charter doors, the expansion KIPP announced this week couldn't come soon enough. Their kids are growing up, and this is their shot."
Newark is not the only district evolving towards local control; so is Jersey City. Here's coverage from NJ Spotlight, the Star-Ledger, the Wall St. Journal.
Speaking of Jersey City, NJ Education Aid notes that "Jersey City only pays 19% of its public school costs, with the state picking up 75% of the tab. Can you imagine a town where the residents paid for the majority of public education PILOTing a third of its property valuation like Jersey City has? NO WAY. And that's why Jersey City's latest scheme to declare the area around City Hall to be "blighted" is so outrageous." Also see his coverage of [persistently failing] Asbury Park Public Schools, which is "tops in New Jersey in state aid, getting $55.4 million for 2350 K-12 kids, a record setting $23,567 per student!"
"The NJ School Breakfast Report found 237,000 students enrolled in free or reduced-price meal programs ate breakfast at school this year, up from 136,000 children in 2010. But the groups say hundreds of thousands of students are still going hungry each morning, hindering their education."(Star-Ledger.) Also see the Record, which reports that "one of the biggest increases was in Paterson, where student participation rose from 34 percent in 2014 to 93 percent this year, after the district switched to a 'breakfast after the bell' free-meal program."
"177 districts had 10 percent or more of their K-12 chronically absent, representing about 76,000 students who are chronically absent."
Princeton Public Schools is joining two other wealthy Mercer County districts (West Windsor/Plainsboro and Hopewell) which have set policies reducing homework.
NJ Spotlight and the Press of Atlantic City look at trends in school violence, vandalism, and bullying. Incidences are largely flat or slightly down. There's more knives than guns and more pot than alcohol. Here's the state report.