Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Leftovers

In case you missed it, read my analysis of Newark's charter parent empowerment in The 74 and my piece on PARCC testing and college remediation in NJ Spotlight.

Trenton Public Schools' long-troubled special education system took another hit this week when a parent filed a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs alleging two students were illegally removed from out-of-district placements. From the Trentonian:
According to the complaint, special education supervisors for Trenton Public Schools were pulling children last August from out-of-district placements and placing them back in the district without holding the required IEP meeting. One student was removed from Children’s Day School and the other from Newgrange School.
The Star-Ledger has a database of every N.J. high school's SAT scores. "The average score across all high schools was 1,508 out of 2,400, a six-point drop from the year before," which may just mean that more kids are taking the tests. NJ Spotlight explains the state's new School Performance Reports, which now include PARCC data. Go here for the state database.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that "The state Department of Education has so far reviewed almost 6,000 portfolio appeals for high school seniors who have not passed one of the tests [PARCC, SAT, PSAT, Accuplacer, etc.] required for graduation this year."

A Woodbury teacher, says the Asbury Park Press, "wrote inspirational messages directly on her students’ desks Monday before they started four days of high-pressure, high-stakes Common Core-aligned tests this week, followed by three more days next week."

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The Camden School District announced another round of layoffs and personnel moves Thursday, affecting 154 teachers and support staff. The state-run district said it was laying off 22 teachers; 27 school staff, including custodians, security guards, and clerks; and 29 members of the central office staff. A spokesman for Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said the cuts were needed to help plug a projected $39 million budget gap for the 2016-17 school year."  Despite the cuts, all district schools will be staffed at a ratio of 9 students to 1 teacher and the district will hire 15 new reading specialists.

Lakewood Public Schools has a school budget gap of $12 million and originally forecast teacher lay-offs, huge class sizes, and cuts to extracurricular activities. But the fiscal picture is not so dire, reports the Asbury Park Press, because enrollment increases raised the allowable tax increase and the district was given a reprieve on paying back $1 million in debt. However, 10,000 school children will lose courtesy busing and 9 teachers will be laid off.

The State Senate leadership is ready to announce a new school funding plan that would eliminate transistional/adjustment aid for overfunded school districts like Jersey City. The "hold harmless" aid was originally intended to fade out during the first years of implementation of the 2008 School Funding Reform Act, which presumed an overly-optimistic picture of N.J.'s fiscal health. No governor since 2009 has been able to meet the requirements of SFRA.

Bloomfield, Montclair,and Glen Ridge school districts in North Jersey united in opposing charter schools proposals. Montclair and Bloomfield are jointly presenting a program that includes Michelle Fine, the author of "Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education," Mark Weber, anti-reform blogger, and Darci Cimirusti, chair of the Highland Park school board and employee of Diane Ravitch's reactionary Network for Public Education.

Some parents want recess to be mandated in public schools but Gov. Christie says it's a "stupid idea."

NJSBA reports that the State Senate passed a bill that would disallow school boards from moving November elections back to April. Currently 97% of districts have their school board candidate elections in November, which comes packaged with non-balloted school budgets that come in under the 2% tax increase cap. According to the original law, boards could try out November elections for four years and then move back to April. NJSBA opposes the bill. There is no companion bill in the Assembly.

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