Sunday Leftovers

How are  New Jersey's newly-rigorous teacher evaluations working? In Clifton, reports The Record, 97% of teachers were rated either "effective" or "highly effective" this year. This extraordinary performance matches the state average during the pilot last year. "This type of evaluation" -- tied to student performance on standardized tests --  explained the district's curriculum director,"pertains to less than 20 percent of teachers and accounts for 10 percent of the evaluation overall." (That's the part that the opt-out lobby doesn't want you to know.)

"A former vice principal at Eastside High School [Paterson] says he became the target of retaliation after he allegedly refused to help the principal manipulate the school’s scores on standardized tests, according to a lawsuit filed recently." The alleged incident happened in 2011, several years before N.J. implemented PARCC testing.

Frank Argote-Freyre, a longtime Freehold Borough resident and director of the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, writes in the Star-Ledger that Ed. Comm. David Hespe should get a "F" in civil rights for failing to respond to a state judge's ruling that Freehold students, largely Hispanic and poor, are being deprived of adequate schooling due to overcrowding and inequitable funding, about half of what richer nearby districts spend per pupil. Argote-Freyre writes,"[Hespe's] treatment of the Freehold Borough schools violates the basic principles set forth in the landmark school desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education." For more on this, see my coverage here and NPR's here.

Speaking of funding, the Asbury Park Press reports that "Low-income schools in New Jersey are set to receive $11 million in federal funds designed to provide supports and resources aimed at boosting student achievement. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker announced last week that New Jersey schools that demonstrated the most need will receive nearly $11.1 million in School Improvement grants."

In a Jersey Herald article on Christie's "fairness formula," Julia Sass Rubin inaccurately claims that N.J.'s Abbott districts "are among the highest performing in the country" among high-poverty districts. Paul Tractenberg, who founded the Educational Law Center in 1973 and "was instrumental in bringing forth the Abbott v. Burke state Supreme Court case," begs to differ: " the real victims [of the 2008 funding formula that Rubin et. al. lobby for] were the other, non-Abbott poor districts and the mid-wealth districts." Also see Jeff Bennett on how N.J. districts either equally poor -- or poorer -- than Abbots outperform the outdated list of 31 districts, despite far less money available per pupil..

The Courier-Post looks at how technology has changed the culture of an elementary school in Haddonfield,where students -- digital natives -- are actually teaching teachers.

The NJ Senate hasn't yet voted on whether or not to put a referendum on November's ballot to increase pension payments, but NJEA is lobbying voters already, even as NJ's troubled Transportation Trust Fund is tangling up the politics. NJ Spotlight:
The New Jersey Education Association has also determined it has no reason to hold back a public push to rally support for the amendment even though it has yet to win final passage in the Senate. The union has already launched a website and social-media campaign based on the slogan #VoteNJPension, and an ad featuring retired teachers calling for funding of the pension system has also been airing on television. “Our members expect the Senate to vote to pass the resolution on August 1,” NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said yesterday. “They have been communicating that very clearly to their senators.” He noted, “We expect that many of our members will be in Trenton that day to watch that vote be taken.”