Sunday Leftovers

Teachers at a charter school in Englewood, the Palisades Charter School, have voted to join the American Federation of Teachers, reports The Record, after officials extended the school day. NJEA spokesman Steve Baker applauded the move because unionization will prevent “tremendous burnout.” Shelley Skinner of the NJ Charter Schools Association, remarked that , “[w]hen you start being into heavy-duty labor agreements it can hold you back from being able to have flexibility."

Speaking of charters, Mastery Charter Schools is moving to Camden, says NJ Spotlight. Currently operating in Philadelphia with seven schools, Mastery has a solid reputation, “with its focus on accountability and assessment that has helped lift its test scores soundly above those of other Philadelphia public schools.”

And don’t miss NJ Spotlight’s update on the Abbott rulings. Education Law Center is arguing that Gov. Christie’s last-minute school aid cuts violated the School Funding Reform Act, while the Administration argues that the cuts were necessary due to “extraordinary financial circumstances.” Amicus briefs have been filed by NJEA, NAACP, and special education advocates.

Everyone’s talking about Michael Ritacco, Superintendent of Toms River public schools, who was indicted on Thursday for taking between $1 million and $2 million in bribes from the district's insurance broker between 2002 and April 2010, including Rolex watches worth $56K (one for him and one for his girlfriend, whom he employed in-district), a Florida apartment, various home applicances, etc.See Asbury Park Press for full coverage.

Here's Ritacco's contract, which includes a salary of $237K, a car, 25 vacation days, 15 sick days, and 5 personal days. School Board Vice President Edward Gearity says, “I believe he is the best Toms River has ever had, and he's been wonderful to the district," Gearity said. "I have no doubts about him period."

EdWeek has a great update on the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s “collisions of vision and value.” And Chester Finn and Mike Petrelli at The Thomas Fordham Institute have a paper out called "Now What? Imperatives and Options for Common Core Implementation and Governance."

Slate examines the surprisingly low-tech approach to education in high-performing countries. On the other hand, school days and years are much longer. Most importantly, “school systems in Singapore, Finland, and Korea recruit 100 percent of their teachers from the top one-third of their academic cohort, according to a 2010 McKinsey & Co. report, 'Closing the Talent Gap.' 'In the United States, about 23 percent of new teachers—and only 14 percent in high-poverty schools—come from the top one-third. "It is a remarkably large difference in approach, and in results,' the report concludes."

Amnesty International asks that readers consider attending a panel on “The State of Poverty and Human Rights” on Nov. 2nd from 6:30-8:30 at Rutgers-Newark Paul Robeson Campus Center in Newark. For more info contact Alejandro Salagado at