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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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Trenton, New Jersey 08608


2-20-17 Education in the News

Star Ledger--11 things to know about drugs, bullying and violence in N.J. schools

New Jersey last week released its annual report on school bullying, violence and vandalism as well as incidents involving weapons, drugs or alcohol in schools.

The data is self-reported by school districts and doesn't capture every single case of school bullying or violence, let alone those that aren't reported by students themselves.

However, it provides a broad picture of the state of New Jersey schools in the 2015-16 school year. Here are 11 things parents should know from the report.

Overall, more problems were reported in 2015-16

Even with a decline in reported bullying, New Jersey schools documented a total of 19,181 incidents involving bullying, violence, vandalism, weapons, or drugs/alcohol, the five topics covered in the report. That's a 5 percent increase from the prior year. 


By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| Updated February 20, 2017

Press of Atlantic City--Keeping schools safe in an era of heightened anxiety

When a young child brought a knife on a school bus in Hamilton Township earlier this month, Superintendent Frank Vogel posted a letter on the district website and sent robo-calls and emails to parents.

After knives were brought to a dance at the Jordan Road School in Somers Point, interim Superintendent Thomas Baruffi and the school board got some criticism for not keeping parents better informed. In response, the district held a forum for parents at the school this month to talk about concerns and how the district could better respond.

Schools remain among the safest places for children. But neighborhood and societal anxieties are leaking into the classroom, and school officials are discussing how to best respond.

 “We have to recognize that we don’t know as much as we think we do,” Baruffi told parents in announcing the district would start random checks of lockers and desks. “I don’t like the idea of random searches, but right now we think it’s necessary.”

The 2015-16 state Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools report, released last week, shows that after dropping to a low of 3,035 in 2013-14, the number of fights reported in schools rose in the past two years. It jumped from 3,133 in 2014-15 to 3,660 last school year.

More than 1,000 weapons were confiscated in schools in 2015-16, about the same as the year before. Knives or some other cutting tool, such as a box cutter or razor blade, made up 70 percent of the weapons. Just two handguns were reported, though 99 air guns or BB guns were found.


DIANE D’AMICO Staff Writer| February 20, 2017


NY Times--Rough First Week Gives Betsy DeVos a Glimpse of the Fight Ahead

President Trump and Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, spoke last week during a parent-teacher conference listening session at the White House. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

By the end of her first full week as the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos had already sparred with a middle school and a former schools chancellor in Washington, accused some of the school’s teachers of passively awaiting instruction and said she would be pleased if the department she currently runs did not exist in the future. She encountered an immediate display of the type of fierce resistance she will face as she tries to set new policies for the Education Department.

On Sunday, she received a somewhat warmer welcome from the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, who said in a radio interview that she was ready to work with Ms. DeVos. Even as she urged Ms. DeVos not to cut funding for the city’s public schools, Ms. Fariña said that despite their ideological differences, the two could make sure that children are properly educated. “I work with everyone,” Ms. Fariña said. “I will have conversations with anyone and everyone to ensure that the work we’re doing here is being celebrated and recognized, and we’ll see what time will bring.”

She said in the Townhall interview that she planned to focus on rolling out the Every Student Succeeds Act, a policy signed into law by President Barack Obama, while also pushing for controversial school choice policies like voucher programs.




Education Week--What Tests Does Each State Require?

In 2016-17, states’ testing systems have begun to settle down after several years of transition sparked by the Common Core State Standards. By now, most states have chosen not to use the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments, which were designed to reflect the common core. Under pressure to cut back on testing time, many opted for other, shorter tests, or chose to use the SAT or ACT in high school instead. Get more highlights from the survey in "State Solidarity Still Eroding on Common-Core Tests."


Catherine Gewertz| February 16, 2017

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