|3-15-17 Education in the News|
NJ Spotlight--Push to Expand Public Preschool Likely to Be Part of Budget Battle
Advocates recognize money is tight but argue now’s the time to roll out public pre-K to 100 low-income communities
As the state Legislature’s budget deliberations start up again this week, one topic that is sure to get a lot of attention — including on the airwaves — is whether New Jersey is to ready and willing to expand access to public preschool anytime soon.
It’s become a perennial point of debate, as advocates have sought to extend the universal preschool that is now offered in 35 low-income communities, largely driven by the state Supreme Court’s Abbott v. Burke rulings.
It has been especially heightened under Gov. Chris Christie, who has maintained funding for the existing preschool in his first seven years in office but has yet to provide additional funds to expand it.
John Mooney | March 15, 2017
NJ Spotlight--Cops, Firefighters Could Pull Pensions from NJ Public-Employee System
Striking out on their own could give these public employees more control over how assets are managed, better protection from pension-system reforms
While New Jersey’s public-employee pension system was recently ranked the worst-funded state retirement plan in the country, the individual fund for police officers and firefighters is not in such rough shape, a fact that often gets overlooked in the ongoing debate about pension reform.
In fact, at 70 percent funded, the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System of New Jersey is much closer to the standard of being 80 percent funded than the overall pension system, which is only 56.5 percent funded, according to the latest official actuarial reports.
John Reitmeyer | March 15, 2017
Washington Post (via northjersey.com)-- Dumping devices into classrooms won’t improve education
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently issued a plea for greater student access to high-tech tools.
“The persistent lack of access to world-class educational resources and technology in far too many communities is at the heart of this issue,” Duncan wrote on the Brown Center Chalkboard, a blog of the Brookings Institution. “This inequality breeds more than just subpar test scores. It snowballs to create economic immobility, stranding people without the training necessary to earn well-paying jobs.”
This sort of pie-in-the-sky belief that simply getting more computers in kids’ hands and more app-development elective courses in schools will make the future bright is an oversimplification of a complex issue.
Esther J. Cepeda, The Washington Post 12:07 a.m. ET March 15, 2017
Education Week--A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback
Critics call method simplistic; backers tout transparency
As states overhaul their accountability systems under the new federal K-12 law, officials in some are pushing to replace or revamp A-F grading for schools, which supporters tout as an easy way to convey to the public how schools stack up.
In recent years, at least 18 states have adopted some version of a system that relies mostly on standardized-test scores and graduation rates to generate letter-grade report cards, similar to the ones students receive throughout the school year. Legislation is pending in a handful of states to join that group.
But in some states that already have them, A-F systems have received fierce backlash from local superintendents and school board members. They complain that the letter grades oversimplify student success or shortfalls, increase pressure to pay attention to tests, ignore school quality factors other than test scores, and demoralize teachers and parents.
By Daarel Burnette II| March 7, 2017
Garden State Coalition of Schools