Christie signed two education bills, one barring the state from withholding aid based on student participation in standardized tests and the other barring standardized tests for K-2 students (that no one gives anyway). See the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, Tapintonet, Press of Atlantic City, and The Record. Spotlight notes that Christie's approval of the bills, particularly the lifting of sanctions for opt-outs, is a sign of his slide to the right to attract GOP voters. He made NJEA happy too.
NJ Spotlight: "New Jersey is now just one of seven states, along with Washington, D.C., that is slated to give at least some version of the PARCC language arts and math in the 2015-2016 school year, according to a new state-by-state survey conducted by the Education Commission of the States, a Colorado-based policy organization."
Here's the Asbury Park Press on N.J.'s achievement gap, highlighted by the PARCC test results: "White and Asian students dramatically outperformed their peers on the state's new standardized exam that debuted last year, perpetuating the achievement gap that has long-threatened to leave minority and low-income students farther behind." Also see the Star-Ledger.
A N.J. Appeals Court denied extra money for the 16 poor, rural "Bacon Districts" (via Asbury Park Press): "A three-judge panel denied an appeal last week to bring more state money into these four Ocean County school districts, as well as 11 others across New Jersey." And, from the Courier Post,"The court noted the assessments addressed a variety of individual remedies other than additional funding. For example, they say the Lawrence district should pursue regionalization because it’s so small, the Lakewood district should reconsider its expensive courtesy busing program and the Buena Regional district should address excessive personnel costs."
Jeff Bennett, who blogs at New Jersey Education Aid, points out that the Bacon litigation was always "fundamentally misguided" (see his explanation here) and "The Education Law Center's adoption of the Bacon case is just one of many examples of how the ELC has become just another law firm - "Sciarra & Trachtenberg, LLP" and not a social justice organization."
Wow: the Bridgewater-Raritan teacher union is rejecting the local School Board's offer of a 9%+ salary increase over the next three years because the district can't afford to maintain the current 94% of teachers enrolled in Aetna's most expensive "Cadillac" healthcare plan. More coverage here and here.
Camden parents now have an easy way to choose the best public schools for their children.
Montclair's superintendent Ron Bolandi doesn't love magnet schools. And he's mad that the district lost some points on the state accountability metric because of sky-high opt-out rates on PARCC.
David Kirp in today's New York Times: "AMERICAN public schools [ed. note: American suburban schools, at least] do a good job of getting students into college, but a poor job preparing them to succeed once they’re there. While more than two-thirds of high school graduates enroll in college, nearly two-thirds of those arrive on campus unprepared for college-level rigor."