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9-16-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--The Public School Funding Battle: No Holds Barred

Christie wants to scrap Abbott v. Burke; Sweeney wants a commission to make sure that funding decisions are fair

The hotly debated topic of school funding in New Jersey may have just hit the boiling point, as two opposing approaches to how the state funds its public schools came into sharper focus yesterday.

For starters, Gov. Chris Christie — a longtime antagonist of the state’s public teacher unions — called on the Supreme Court to reopen a landmark education ruling that helped poor communities get more school funding. He also asked that the court give the Department of Education control over laws and bargaining agreements that protect tenured teachers.

Later in the day, Christie’s primary legislative antagonist, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, pushed through a resolution to create a school-funding commission to look at the issue of “fairness” that would keep the existing system but would even out the funding that has changed due to fluctuations in income and population. This commission does not require Christie’s permission or participation.


Chase Brush | September 16, 2016


Star Ledger--Christie: 'My patience has run out' with N.J.'s urban 'failure factories'

BAYVILLE — Just hours after he announced that he'd was petitioning the state Supreme Court to scrap key provisions of the monumental school funding case Abbott v. Burke, Gov. Chris Christie drew sharp criticism from a retired special education teacher at a town hall meeting to promote his move.

The governor had opened the town hall in Bayville with a warning.

"Today, my patience has run out," Christie admonished the crowd, adding that he was not longer content to be "a bystander in this."

Just hours earlier, the governor had directed the state attorney general to seek permission for his newly-installed education commissioner to bypass state laws and collective bargaining agreements that protect veteran teachers in those districts that fell under the landmark 1985 Abbott ruling.

The Abbott decision found New Jersey's school funding law unconstitutional as applied to children in 28 "poorer urban" school districts, and was later expanded to 31.


Claude Brodesser-Akner | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| on September 15, 2016 at 6:26 PM, updated September 16, 2016 at 7:17 AM


Star Ledger--‘Unprecedented’ hand-foot-and-mouth disease outbreak reaches fourth school district

The first outbreak seemingly came out of nowhere in late August: Fifteen football players from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey had come down with coxsackievirus, also known as hand-foot-and-mouth disease, forcing the cancellation of the team’s final scrimmage.

Thirteen days later, a similar eruption of HFMD struck 16 miles away at Pequannock High School, postponing the football team’s season-opener.

And now this week comes news of the the latest developments: More sudden outbreaks of HFMD among soccer players at Kinnelon High and Hunterdon Central High, schools located 55 miles apart in different counties. The discoveries bring the total of HFMD cases to four schools in four communities in less than three weeks.


By Matthew Stanmyre | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|on September 15, 2016 7:00 PM


The Record--Christie asks court to revisit landmark school funding case

Governor Christie asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to overhaul the landmark school funding ruling that has steered the bulk of education aid to 31 of the poorest districts over three decades, in what he called a “historic legal action.”

Christie said he wants the high court to reconsider the Abbott v. Burke ruling because the districts continue to fall behind in academic performance and graduation rates despite getting nearly $100 billion in aid since 1985. At the same time, he has asked the court to allow state education officials to waive teacher contract rules that he claims have been the real impediment to progress in these districts.

“It would be criminal to allow this situation to continue,” Christie said.

With his legal filings, Christie is ratcheting up the debate that has underlain his tenure, as he has sought to exert more authority over public school teachers and roll back the state’s school funding formula in a move he said will lessen the tax burden for suburban homeowners. Christie’s school funding fight comes with one year left in his term, as he tries to cement his legacy as a governor with a strong impact on education reform.

New Jersey’s school funding rulings have been a target for politicians over the years, particularly Republicans like Christie, who blame the court for decisions they say have driven up property taxes in the suburbs and failed to improve schools. Christie is separately proposing to scrap the entire system of school funding in New Jersey and allot the same amount to each urban and suburban district, $6,599 per student.

The state’s largest teachers union blasted Christie’s move Thursday as a “political ploy” and an attack on public education.

“Christie wants to gut the best public schools in the nation to advance a partisan agenda that puts politicians ahead of children,” said Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association. “He wants to strip funding from New Jersey’s most economically challenged communities to give tax breaks to his wealthy neighbors.”



Education Week-- Analysis Projects Growing National Shortfall of Teachers

Already faced with worrisome hiring gaps, the country is on the precipice of a dramatically widening shortfall of teachers, a new analysis warns.

In a package of reports released Wednesday, the Learning Policy Institute, a California-based think tank led by Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, digs into federal data sets to gauge the state of teacher supply and demand, and what it means for school staffing and diversity in the near future.

The trend lines are far from encouraging, according to the group, though not all education experts are convinced of an impending widespread national shortage.

During the 2015-16 school year, there was a national shortage of about 60,000 teachers, the LPI estimates. The shortage was most pronounced in special education, with 48 states and the District of Columbia reporting a shortage in that field to the U.S. Department of Education.


By Madeline Will| September 14, 2016

Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608