Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Leftovers

N.J. School Boards Association reports that the Delegate Assembly voted in favor of a proposal "for the state to continue to provide alternatives to the current statewide assessment when determining eligibility for high school graduation. New Jersey’s assessment is the PARCC test. The new NJSBA policy does not seek a change in the state assessment, but rather calls for additional measures to be available to determine eligibility for graduation."

In an article about a visit by Gov. Christie to a charter school the Star-Ledger notes, "critics say charter schools drain funding and resources from regular public schools." That's true, but the drainage happens whenever parents change schools. When, for example, parents exercise school choice by moving to a better district their new home district drains funding and resources from the district they left. When parents choose to transfer their children from a "regular" school to a charter school -- perhaps because they can't afford to move to a better district -- the charter drains money and resources from the the school district. The same thing happens when parents are lucky enough to live near a magnet school. And when many children move,  either to a different district or to the charter school sector, the original district of residence may have to downsize. Why is this so difficult? (Sorry. I'm being obtuse. It's difficult because a drop in enrollment necessitates down-sizing of both teachers and facilities.  The "critics" that Christie refers to don't note that the demand for teachers doesn't change -- the same number of kids still have to be taught by certified teachers -- but teacher unions  are drained of mandated dues unless the teachers choose to unionize.)

NJ Spotlight looks back on the Zuckerberg Facebook grant to Newark:
Ryan Hill, founder and CEO of KIPP-New Jersey, Newark’s largest charter network:
“I think the big-picture conclusion is that if you’re an African-American kid in Newark today, you have a two to three times better chance of being in a high-performing school than you did prior to the FNF grant, and that is pretty enormous progress. As our analysis shows, this improvement is all due to the growth of high-performing charter schools, which was facilitated in part by the matching funds that FNF brought in. So I think the impact has been pretty big, and very positive. That said, there’s clearly still a lot of work to do.”
Crazy times in Montclair. See here and here.

South Orange-Maplewood School District is experiencing a [Trump-inspired?] string of allegedly racist and anti-Semitic social media posts," according to the Star-Ledger, and the "district [is] zeroing in on cultural sensitivity, diversity, and the internet."

The Washington Post released its list of the 50 most challenging high schools, reports the Union News Daily, Elizabeth High School was rate #1 in N.J. and the district is justifiably proud. One little known fact: Elizabeth High School is actually a magnet school that is part of the larger district; all accepted students must take AP and Honor's classes, two years of Latin, 3 years of another language, 4 years of math and science, and maintain a "B" average.

Speaking of Elizabeth, "the city school board has voted to contract with a public relations consultant to the tune of up to $50,000, generating concern from political opponents and parents who say the no-bid agreement looks like a political quid pro quo. The board will call in Pat Politano of Strategic Message Management — who previously did consulting for mayor-backed board members' political campaigns — to handle public affairs for the district on an at-need basis." (Star-Ledger)

When I was a kid in NYC public schools, Girls and Boys High School was already struggling. On Friday Chalkbeat reported that
Long-struggling Boys and Girls High School was in such dire straits by 2014 that the city took a highly unusual gamble: It paid a successful principal a big bonus to take on the floundering school without making him give up his old job.
A year and a half later, it’s become clear that the deal has cost the city — and students at both schools.
The principal, Michael Wiltshire, has rejected the city’s school turnaround program but continues to earn praise from top education officials even though many say the unusual arrangement has gone off the rails.


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