From the ongoing discussions between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean in the Star-Ledger:
Governor Kean: We’ve learned a very hard lesson in New Jersey, and that’s that if you put a lot of money into a failing system you simply have a more expensive failing system. Hopefully, we’ll use this money [the Zuckerberg grant] as a lever for change… The problem isn’t that we don’t have the answers; the problem is we don’t implement them. We know what to do, we just don’t do it. In my mind that’s educational child abuse.Education Law Center’s David Sciarra says he will sue (the DOE? Gov. Christie? Mark Zuckenberg of Facebook?) if Newark Mayor Cory Booker is given control of Newark’s public schools. Mayor Booker’s authority is one of the conditions of the $100 million grant.
The Wall Street Journal on the Zuckerberg grant:
Today the Newark public school system spends some $22,000 per student, or more than twice the U.S. average, and the high school graduation rate is only 50%. Adding private money to this system would be a dreadful waste. So what excites us about these new donations is not the money per se but the reform agenda to which the dollars are tethered.NJ Spotlight examines funding inequities between traditional public schools and charter public schools. Charters receive, on average, about $2,000 less per student than their counterparts and sometimes far less. For example, the Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City is “getting little more than half of the $17,000 that the district spends per pupil." Says the school’s development director, Shelley Skinner, “We’re seeing high-needs kids, and at $8,900 per student, it’s nearly impossible to serve them.”
The New York Times points out teachers at some of the best charter schools in the country, including Steve Barr’s Green Dot in Los Angeles, are members of NEA affiliates.
For an alternate universe discussion of NJ charter school expansion, see NJ Spotlight’s analysis of a wealthy community’s resistance to a Mandarin language immersion start-up in Princeton.
The Fordham Institute has a new study out – Cracks in the Ivory Tower – that surveyed policy opinions of over 700 education professors in the U.S. (Hat tip: The Quick and the Ed.) According to the survey, the vast majority of professors in schools of education favor loosening tenure laws, strengthening teacher evaluations, and making it easier to fire incompetent or ineffective teachers, even if they are tenured.
New Jersey School Boards Association has issued two new position statements. One proposes that S-2198, which allows for new charter school authorizers, be amended so that local school boards get to approve charter schools. (According to NJSBA stats, across the nation 55% of charter schools were authorized by local school districts.) The second release praises Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million grant to Newark but recommends extensive community participation, including that of students, parents, taxpayers, and the Newark Board of Education.