Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Leftovers

ICYMI, here's my Spotlight column, which offers some suggestions on how we can move past the Age of Abbott and fairly fund schools. Check out the  comments section, which has some great information.

As students begin this year's PARCC tests, shortened by ninety minutes and to one testing window, the assistant superintendent in Hillsborough told parents that scores will be back much more quickly, "by the end of June or early July...so that districts can use them to adapt and apply resources."

Bridgewater-Raritan Public Schools (a Somerset County suburb where almost all students are white and Asian and only 8% of kids qualify for free/reduced lunch) joyously celebrated a student's perfect score on his A.P. Physics C Electricity and Magnetism standardized exam. Yet the School Board there passed a resolution condemning PARCC standardized testing and demanding that results not be used for student and  teacher evaluations.

Meanwhile, NJEA's anti-PARCC PAC called NJ Kids and Families is distributing  1,000 lawn signs that say “Our Family Refuses PARCC.”  NJ Spotlight reports,
“While New Jersey Kids and Families can speak for educators, the focus of the group is to support parents in their organizing efforts,” read an article posted the NJEA.
At the same time, Save Our Schools NJ has continued its grassroots campaign against state testing as a whole. And while it explicitly says it doesn’t support families oping out, it’s certainly not doing much to discourage the protests.
“We oppose high-stakes standardized tests because they are destructive to equity and to high-quality public education,” read a statement from SOS-NJ emailed yesterday. “Many of our organizers and members are refusing the tests for their children."
The Star-Ledger lists "5 Ways PARCC Will be Different this Year," including shorter for kids and faster turn-around for adults.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says that it could cost more than a billion dollars -- in other words more than one year's school budget -- to replace crumbling pipes and infrastructure.  Education Law Center says that the State must cover the costs of lead abatement because Newark is an Abbott district represented by ELC  and all facilities work in Abbott districts must be managed by SDA, the School Development Authority.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Sens. Ronald Rice and Teresa Ruiz (both D-Essex) proposed a bill that all school districts in N.J. would immediately be tested for lead in the water and twice a year thereafter.

D.O.E. Commissioner David Hespe has approved a new kind of lottery for Red Bank Charter School that will favor economically-disadvantaged students.  "That means students who qualify for public housing or free or reduced lunch will have their names placed in the lottery three times instead of twice — increasing their odds of getting into the school."

Double-Dipping at the DOE: NJ Spotlight reports on the DOE's practice of hiring retired top educators as "temporary employees" who then receive salaries plus pensions. Example:
[Ron] Karsen has collected nearly $1 million from public coffers since July 2011. That was the month he retired as a Newark school principal and was hired into a NJ Department of Education program to help underperforming schools. 
In 2015, NJDOE paid Karsen $138,300 as executive director of a Regional Achievement Center in Paterson. He also received a $97,916 a year state pension – thanks to a lucrative loophole in the law. His annual total was $236,216.
From The Record: "A conservative Christian legal-aid group that defended a Kentucky clerk when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses last year is now threatening legal action against the Pascack Valley Regional High School District as it considers a policy that officials say would protect the rights of transgender students."

From the Press of Atlantic City:"Recent college graduates in New Jersey think colleges should do more to tie academic and practical learning, according a new Stockton University poll.
The poll found that 30 percent of graduates believe the most important outcome of going to college is to get a better job."