|11-22-16 Education in the News|
NJ Spotlight--Can Quarterly Payments Help Rescue NJ’s Underfunded Pension System?
Christie gets bipartisan plan that he calls ‘more fair than the previous proposals,’ but it offers no constitutional guarantee enforcing payments
After failing to find any common ground for the past several years over the best way to address New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system, state lawmakers reached a rare, bipartisan agreement yesterday, voting in favor of legislation requiring quarterly instead of yearly state pension contributions.
The measure — which legislative leaders say they are confident Gov. Chris Christie will eventually sign — would help the $73 billion pension system by breaking up the annual state pension contribution into smaller installments that the sponsors hope will be easier for the state to afford than the lump sum that administrations typically try to make at the end of each fiscal year.
Depositing the payments on a quarterly basis would also protect more of the pension contribution from end-of-the-year budget cuts and allow the pension system, which is professionally managed, to generate bigger investment returns by getting more money into the system earlier in the fiscal year.
John Reitmeyer | November 22, 2016
NJ Spotlight--Knowledge, Cash Critical in Fight Against Lead Poisoning in NJ’s Kids
Experts argue that education professionals — superintendents, teachers, nurses, and school psychologists — must learn to identify symptoms of this deadly epidemic
Lead exposure in very young children and the resulting brain damage remain devastating long-term problems in New Jersey and around the country. That’s one of the reasons experts say teachers and school nurses, as well as parents, must become better educated and work more closely with doctors and health officials to help reduce the impact on affected kids.
The state has recently stepped up efforts to prevent lead exposure from happening in the first place. Following the scandal of lead-contaminated drinking water supplies in Flint, MI, and the discovery of unsafe levels in dozens of Newark schools, the state last month announced $10 million in grants to remove lead-based paint in homes and a public relations campaign aimed at emphasizing the importance of screening children for exposure.
But to help the many thousands of children who have already been exposed or will be in the coming years, superintendents, regular and special-education teachers, nurses, and school psychologists must learn how the heavy metal affects young bodies, which of their students are affected, and how to advocate for them, according to attendees at a conference on lead exposure held at Princeton University last week.
Meir Rinde | November 22, 2016
Education Week--Few Women Run the Nation's School Districts. Why?
Nearly a decade after she was hired as the first woman to run the Council Bluffs, Iowa, school district, Mary Martha Bruckner is often one of the only women in the room.
That was the case last month when about two dozen superintendents and finance officers from Iowa's urban school systems met to set their legislative agenda for the coming year.
Surveying the room, Bruckner spotted two other women.
"It was like, 'Wow, things haven't changed much at all,' " said Bruckner, who is used to being a pioneer. In 1986, she became the first female high school principal in the Ralston, Neb., district.
Even though K-12 education is largely a female enterprise, men dominate the chief executive's office in the nation's nearly 14,000 districts, numbers that look especially bleak given that the pool of talent is deep with women. Women make up 76 percent of teachers, 52 percent of principals, and 78 percent of central-office administrators, according to federal data and the results of a recent national survey. Yet they account for less than a quarter of all superintendents, according to a survey conducted this summer by AASA, the School Superintendents Association. But that number represents improvement since 2000, when 13 percent were women.
"So many of us go into education to teach children, and there are so many other roles in the education system," says Park City, Utah, superintendent Ember Conley. "I have a responsibility to continue to encourage not only other females, but also our males who have the skills, to become superintendents."
In Utah, the number of women in superintendent's offices can be counted on one hand. Schenectady, N.Y., hasn't had a woman in charge in the district's 162-year history. Just two years ago, Richmond County, Georgia's second-largest district, hired its first female superintendent.
"It's a huge problem," said Margaret Grogan, the dean of the college of educational studies at Chapman University in Irvine, Calif.
Denisa R. Superville |November 15, 2016
Garden State Coalition of Schools