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Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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11-15-13 Establishing Full Day Kindergarten and School Innovation Fund bills move out of Senate Education Committee
New Jersey Newsroom - N.J. Looks into Implementing Full-Day Kindergarten Statewide… “…The task force would be comprised of: the Commissioner of Education; one member appointed by the Senate President; one member appointed by the Assembly Speaker; one member each appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including three superintendents of schools, two elementary school principals, two kindergarten teachers, and one member recommended by each of the following groups: the New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools; and three members of the public with expertise related to the work of the task force, one which must be a parent.”

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers take baby steps toward statewide full-day kindergarten

NJ Spotlight - Senate Panel Lends Support to ‘Innovation Fund’ for NJ Schools…$5 million program would provide grants to encourage innovative approaches to education

New Jersey Newsroom - N.J. Looks into Implementing Full-Day Kindergarten Statewide… “…The task force would be comprised of: the Commissioner of Education; one member appointed by the Senate President; one member appointed by the Assembly Speaker; one member each appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including three superintendents of schools, two elementary school principals, two kindergarten teachers, and one member recommended by each of the following groups: the New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools; and three members of the public with expertise related to the work of the task force, one which must be a parent.”

Thursday, 14 November 2013 21:58

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz that would create a task force to study issues related to full-day kindergarten, including the feasibility of implementing full-day programs in schools statewide, was approved today by the committee.

“We know that early education is critically important to preparing children for success. A quality full-day kindergarten program provides students with extraordinary benefits, including stronger academic skills, improved socialization and a better educational foundation as they begin their schooling,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This task force will examine all of the factors related to implementing full-day kindergarten and recommend how best to move our state toward providing a day-long program for all students in the state.”

Currently, students in the state’s 31 highest poverty districts attend full-day kindergarten. The implementation of the program stems from the requirement of the Abbott v. Burke school funding decision that all children in the districts receive a high-quality education. The full-day kindergarten program, however, does not extend to all of the state’s school districts.

The bill (S-2763) would create a 21-member task force to study and evaluate issues associated with the implementation of full-day kindergarten statewide. The panel would review existing research, studies, and data concerning full-day kindergarten, including studies that examine the long-term academic impact and the social and emotional impact of full-day kindergarten. Further, the task force would study implementation issues, including staffing needs, facility space, and class size; funding needed for full-day kindergarten, including sources of funding; and the feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten in school districts Statewide. The task force would also examine curriculum comparisons between full-day kindergarten and half-day kindergarten and opinions and recommendations of parents and elementary school teachers regarding full-day kindergarten.

The task force would be comprised of: the Commissioner of Education; one member appointed by the Senate President; one member appointed by the Assembly Speaker; one member each appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader; and 16 members appointed by the Governor, including three superintendents of schools, two elementary school principals, two kindergarten teachers, and one member recommended by each of the following groups: the New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the Garden State Coalition of Schools; and three members of the public with expertise related to the work of the task force, one which must be a parent.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers take baby steps toward statewide full-day kindergarten

By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter  updated November 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday took the first step in studying the feasibility and cost of requiring full-day kindergarten in all districts in the state.

The Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create a 21-member task force to study the issue. The committee would examine the potential for long-term academic success and the emotional impact of full day programs as well as the potential costs of staffing and facilities.

Currently, the state’s 31 high poverty districts are the only ones that require students to attend full-day programs.

“We know that early education is critically important to preparing children for success. A quality full-day kindergarten program provides students with extraordinary benefits, including stronger academic skills, improved socialization and a better educational foundation as they begin their schooling,” said Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chairwoman of the committee and the bill’s sponsor. “This task force will examine all of the factors related to implementing full-day kindergarten and recommend how best to move our state toward providing a day-long program for all students in the state.”

The bill requires the task force include the state’s Commissioner of Education, one member appointed by the Senate and the Assembly, and 16 members appointed by the governor. Those members would include superintendents, principals and kindergarten teachers.

 

NJ Spotlight - Senate Panel Lends Support to ‘Innovation Fund’ for NJ Schools…$5 million program would provide grants to encourage innovative approaches to education

 

John Mooney | November 15, 2013

 

A proposal to revive the Christie administration’s plans for a state “Innovation Fund” for schools won a boost from a Senate committee yesterday, but not without questions about whether it was the best way to spend the money -- a relatively small sum.

The Senate Education Committee was back to business yesterday with a half-dozen bills on its agenda, including the proposal for a $5 million Innovation Fund to provide grants for certain experimental programs in schools.

Sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the committee’s chairman, the bill is similar to a program that was proposed by Gov. Chris Christie in his state budget last spring but eventually removed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Ruiz said she saw the new program as an opportunity to help launch programs including extended class schedules, technology innovations, and other improvements that otherwise would not see funding.

She said it could be a New Jersey version of the federal Race to the Top competition, which has provided financial incentives for a range of new school reforms across the country, many involving new testing and teacher quality measures.

“I see this could be a mini-Race to the Top at the state level,” Ruiz said. “It’s really to hear from inside the classroom, to hear from what we are echoing all the time that teachers know how to do it best and often come up with creative ways.

“How do we support that and scale that up, I know that’s where my heart lies,” Ruiz said.

But while Ruiz repeatedly called her bill just a start and “a first draft,” there were concerns raised by some that the money might be better spent elsewhere.

While the Christie administration boasts it has provided the highest state aid levels in history, it has nonetheless failed to fully fund the state’s current school-finance law by as much as $5 billion since 2010, according to critics.

And the federal Race to the Top program has hardly won universal praise in New Jersey or elsewhere, with some decrying the teacher-evaluation and testing changes it has brought.

Several organizers with Save of Schools, the grassroots advocacy group, testified yesterday that schools are struggling just to maintain their programs, thanks to funding cuts and budget caps.

Lisa Winter of Basking Ridge, an organizer for the group, said her local schools cut enrichment programs and all world language instruction in elementary schools. She cited other districts charging fees for participation in sports and even for taking Advanced Placement classes.

“Schools are having a hard time funding the basics right now,” said Winter. “How about funding the basics before we go onto these innovations?”

Added Susan Caldwell, a SOS organizer from Spring Lake: “If there is $5 million available, it should be put to more important uses.”

Nonetheless, the bill appears to have the backing of key groups, including the state’s dominant teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, which testified briefly on its behalf.

The committee eventually voted overwhelming to advance the bill, with only state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) abstaining.

The bill also appears to have gone through a couple of iterations already, with new amendments added yesterday that would address one or another concern.

For example, the bill includes two explicit exceptions: that the money could not be used for performance bonuses or merit pay for teachers, and that the money also could not go to programs that provided entirely online or virtual instruction. The latter exception was revised in the latest version, from the original proposal that would have barred grants for programs that employ any online instruction at all.

The Senate bill does not appear to have an Assembly companion bill as of yet, according to state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), the Assembly education committee’s chairman. And Diegnan said he did not see it being fast-tracked in the coming lame-duck session of the Legislature.

Diegnan said his committee does not meet again until just before Thanksgiving and then likely once again in December. He said one of his priorities is to hold a hearing on the costs of private special-education schools, a hot topic after revelations of exorbitant spending at some of the schools.

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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