Sunday Leftovers

"When I look across Camden today, for the first time in years," says George Norcross, "I find myself optimistic about what the future holds for Camden's children. For the fourth year in a row, the graduation rate in Camden has increased and is now up to 64 percent. But it's especially exciting that educational reform, thanks to new legislation, has given thousands of students the opportunity to attend Renaissance schools that have the potential to give them the world-class education they deserve."

The Star-Ledger reviews New Jersey's SAT scores, which average 1508 on the 3-part test, a smidgen lower than last year. The highest among selective-admissions magnets was Morris County's Academy For Mathematics Science And Engineering (2,247), the highest among traditional schools was Princeton High School (1,873), and the highest among charters was Newark's North Star Academy (1,536).

John Mooney interviews Senate President Steve Sweeney about his new school funding plan. Also see the Press of Atlantic City

The mother of a Paterson student with disabilities won a lawsuit against the district to get her son sent to a private special education school. From The Record: "Parents of students in special education in Paterson frequently complain that the district has failed to provide their children with requisite services. Several times in the past five years the state education department has issued reports confirmed such complaints by special education parents."

Speaking of Paterson, the district is making last-minute cuts, including two positions at each high school, due to budget constraints. Also, the "chief reform and innovations officer" resigned and will not be replaced.

Speaking of school budgets, the Star-Ledger reports that an audit of Elizabeth Public Schools revealed that a law firm over-billed the district by $1,000,000. Also, "previous presentations about the ongoing audit have shown the district paid $350,000 in health benefits to ineligible employees and significantly overpaid certain vendors. The audit also has suggested that someone altered board agendas to change payments to a corrupt lumber company."

Diane D'amico looks at the prospects of expanding free preschool in the state and interviews a pre-K principal in Vineland:  “This is the foundation for learning,” said Nancee Bleistine, principal of the center. “We have children who arrive and don’t even speak. Parental literacy is a huge issue. We are making a difference on so many different levels.” The Asbury Park Press reports on a new federal study that shows that "preschool teachers are paid less than mail order clerks, tree trimmers and pest control workers, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Childcare workers earn less than hair dressers and janitors, according to the department." Also see the Star-Ledger.

Mishegas in Montclair. Also in Pleasantville: "Clarence Alston, a former superintendent the school board attempted to hire in May, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the school board and its state monitor, asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the monitor from naming someone else as interim superintendent."

Correcting the Record: an article in Watchdog has the headline, "Thousands may not graduate in New Jersey after exit exam changes." That's not true. Thousand of N.J. students have failed to reach proficiency levels on PARCC tests, SAT's, ACT's, Accuplacer, and the military eligibility exam. Therefore, they will avail themselves of an alternative route, submitting a portfolio to demonstrate that they deserve a diploma. Let's stick to facts, folks.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!