|5-31-16 Education in the News|
NJ Spotlight--Pushing to Protect the Educational Opportunity Fund from State Budget Cuts
The EOF has helped thousands of low-income students across NJ make it into and through college
A group of lawmakers that includes key leaders from both parties is making it a priority to protect -- and possibly even increase -- funding for the state’s Educational Opportunity Fund.
What makes this effort noteworthy is that it comes in the wake of an unexpected revenue shortfall that is forcing legislators to consider making spending cuts to other worthy programs as they get ready to approve a new budget by the end of June.
The Educational Opportunity Fund provides both personal support and financial aid to thousands of low-income students entering college throughout New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie will have the final say, but those who are pushing to boost aid for EOF have good reason for hope. When a new budget came together last year, Christie agreed to keep in place an increase in EOF funding that was inserted by lawmakers even as he trimmed more than $1 billion from other programs at the last minute.
John Reitmeyer | May 31, 2016
Star Ledger--Bill would require child abuse checks for teachers, school bus drivers in N.J.
TRENTON — State lawmakers are mulling whether public school teachers, bus drivers and camp counselors in New Jersey should be subject to more stringent background checks to determine whether they've ever abused a child.
Currently, such employees undergo criminal background checks. But according to the bill's sponsors, CARI checks turn up any instances where the state Department of Children and Families has substantiated a claim of child abuse under the "preponderance of evidence" standard.
"How many teachers, camp counselors, bus drivers and school employees are child abusers? Under current New Jersey law, we simply do not know," said state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), one of the sponsors, in a statement.
S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | May 30, 2016 at 7:40 AM, updated May 30, 2016 at 8:08 AM
The Record--Scope of lead risk a serious lesson for North Jersey school districts
As results come in from water testing at schools across North Jersey, communities are finding that lead contamination, long associated with cities and low-income areas, is not just an urban problem.
From affluent northern towns to middle-class suburbs to downtown Paterson, findings show lead is streaming out of water spouts in many local schools, and everyone from local officials to the governor is focusing new attention on the long-neglected problem.
The most acute lead problems have come from old, deteriorating housing, often found in cities, when babies and children are exposed to and consume peeling lead paint. But experts say lead from any source is a risk. Still, the risk from water is hard to measure because lead levels can vary from day to day and hour to hour, and because sometimes the health consequences are serious and other times they are so slight that they’re tough or impossible to detect.
By HANNAN ADELY|The Record| May 31, 2016
Star Ledger--Christie, NJEA prepare for fight over charter school regulations
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are locked in battle once again — this time over Christie's proposal to change state regulations to benefit charter schools.
In a speech Thursday at the New Jersey Charter School's Conference in Atlantic City, Christie said teachers unions are stealing from children and taxpayers while charter schools are doing "God's work."
"Their philosophy is that every one of their jobs, every one of their perks is more important than changing the system that they know is failing," Christie said of teachers unions.
Charter schools, where teachers are not unionized and last-in-first-out policies do not apply, are more focused on students, Christie told a crowd of hundreds of charter school teacher and administrators.
"Your mission is to put those children first and have all of the other enumerations come second," Christie said. "That's God's work."
The governor had promised to aggressively pursue regulatory relief for charter schools.
The NJEA, the state's largest teachers union, said Christie's criticisms reflect an unpopular governor who has nothing to offer.
"This is Gov. Christie back to his playbook," NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said. "When he has nothing meaningful to say, he resorts to attacks."
Christie on Thursday unveiled a proposal he said will give charter schools more flexibility in hiring staff and better access to high quality buildings. One aspect of Christie's plan would give charter schools the opportunity to develop and propose their own standards for teacher certification.
The changes are needed to help charter schools to expand to serve long waiting lists of students trying to escape from failing school districts, Christie said.
Christie's proposal will need approval from the state Board of Education, and he warned the ballroom full of charter school supporters that they should expect a fight from charter school opponents.
"This is a fight. Don't ever think for a moment that it's not," Christie said. "I will not give up for a second. I will not give in for a second."
The NJEA dismissed Christie's proposal as increasing charter school expansion while decreasing charter school accountability.
"As long as he remains in office, we will fight every day to prevent him from doing even more damage to our public schools," NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said. "We will fight to ensure that charter schools are held to the same high standards expected of every other public school in New Jersey.
Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com |, May 27, 2016 at 7:25 AM, updated May 27, 2016 at 8:43 AM
Garden State Coalition of Schools