State Test Scores Reveal Some Gains, Widening Achievement Gap

Budget cuts cost New Jersey school districts $1 billion, with some of the poorest districts paying the biggest price

By John Mooney

The annual release of New Jersey school test scores can be maddening in its mixed messages.

On the one hand, the 2010-2011 scores released yesterday rose slightly or at least held steady overall in a majority of grades, a good thing for what have been tough times.…

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Christie Calls for Restructuring of Research Universities

Governor plans to create N.J. Health Sciences University in Newark, merge Rutgers-Camden into Rowan University

By Mark J. Magyar

Governor Christie yesterday outlined a sweeping overhaul of higher education that would create a New Jersey Health Sciences University in Newark to replace UMDNJ, place Newark’s University Hospital under nonprofit management, and fold Rutgers-Camden and its law school into Rowan University to give South Jersey its own research university.…

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Finger-Pointing Precedes Teacher Contract Talks in Newark

With negotiations resuming, union, superintendent at odds over plans for troubled schools

By John Mooney

The last time negotiators for the state-run Newark Public Schools met with the district’s teachers union, the $100 million Facebook gift was not yet national headlines and Superintendent Cami Anderson was still an administrator in New York City schools.

And it didn’t go well, either, ending with contract talks at an impasse ever since.…

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Can Trenton Find Funding for Higher Education Facilities?

Christie and new Senate committee agree that college infrastructure gets failing grade
By John Mooney

The physical condition and capacity of many of New Jersey’s public colleges and universities has long been a sore spot for the state. Its last general obligation bond on the schools’ behalf was in 1988 for $350 million.

“That’s a long time ago, and a lot of buildings are crumbling since,” said former Gov.…

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Driving the Teacher Quality Component for Education Reform

Assistant State Commissioner Peter Shulman brings experience and expertise to his latest post
By John Mooney

The man in charge of New Jersey’s latest effort to improve teacher quality easily uses terms like “human capital continuum,” “skill sets,” and “gap analysis.”

Peter Shulman, the new assistant state commissioner and chief talent officer, is a very much a systems guy.…

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Fast-Tracked and Rewritten Bill Could Put Some Public Schools Under Private Management

The Urban Hope Act could bring new public schools — with some for-profit management — to some of Jersey’s poorest districts

By John Mooney

First proposed by Gov. Chris Christie and since taken up by South Jersey Democrats, a plan that would open up select public schools to nonprofit or even some limited for-profit management appears poised for passage in the final days of the legislature’s lame duck session.…

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Newark’s First Foray into Teacher Evaluation Pilot, with Teachers Front and Center

[…] Newark is one of 11 districts in the state piloting a controversial plan led by Gov. Chris Christie that would more closely tie teacher evaluation — and potentially tenure — to student achievement.

And while plenty of controversy remains, several in the group last night said they appreciated at least being included in the process, no small thing in a state-operated district that has not always held such trust between teachers and administration.…

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Slow Down the School Reform Factory

Mechanistically linking test scores to teacher evaluations means trouble not accountability
By Gordon MacInnes

Reformers look on education as something like an assembly line: the requisite machinery and bins of gleaming parts are all in place. If the products that come off the line don’t sell, it must be the welders who are to blame.

Under this mechanistic view, no one stops to consider blindingly obvious design flaws.…

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Two Decades On, Opportunity Scholarship Act Remains Moving Target

Advocates and opponents struggle to shape final bill and get it in front of entire legislature
By John Mooney

Yesterday, it was a rally in opposition to the proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act, although the sparse crowd in the Jersey City school auditorium made it more a polite gathering than a protest.

Today, advocates of the controversial tuition tax credit bill boast they will have 2,000 people on the Statehouse steps.…

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Charter Schools Sue State, Claiming They’ve Been Shortchanged

Latest development only adds to the tensions between charters and the districts that host them
By John Mooney, November 30 in Education
A group of Jersey City charter schools have sued the Christie administration to correct what they say has been a stark underfunding of their schools, throwing a twist into the ongoing debate over how New Jersey’s charters are paid for.…

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State Readies New School Report Cards

Details are few, but new system favors rankings and like-to-like comparisons

Get ready to see how every local public school in New Jersey stacks up, at least according to the state.

The Christie administration will unveil this week a plan for new school report cards that will rate every public school in New Jersey both statewide and against their peers on overall achievement, gaps in achievement, and specific academic targets.…

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New Jersey 2011: Post-Election Review

Pre-election polls showed a virtual dead heat in both the 2nd and 38th Districts. Whelan and Sen. Robert Gordon (D-38) both won by larger-than-expected margins after their campaigns did a better job of pulling out their vote.

“Money matters, but nothing beats boots on the ground,” said Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, adding the labor movement had 11,000 volunteers knocking on 140,000 doors on Tuesday.…

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