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5-4-17 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--New Jersey’s Court System Continues to Drive Education Policy

Yesterday’s dismissal of the Newark ‘LIFO’ case and recent decisions continue to show how the court is a force in education in Garden State

For all the attention on the State House in driving education policy, New Jersey’s courts yesterday continued to show their long and storied influence on some of the hottest public school issues.

In the more prominent case, state Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson abruptly dismissed a closely watched lawsuit contesting the state’s infamous teacher seniority rules.

In a clear win for the teachers unions and a blow to the school-reform movement and the Christie administration, Jacobson spoke from the bench, saying the plaintiffs — a half-dozen Newark families, with the help of a national advocacy group — had not proven the “last in, first out” policy had harmed their children.

“I am not disputing the importance of teacher effectiveness in the classroom, but the complaint is completely devoid of facts,” Jacobson said in a lengthy and sternly worded opinion.


John Mooney | May 4, 2017


Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--Trump pushes school choice, making good on campaign promise

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Congress to work with him on extending school choice programs nationwide to benefit millions of students, including low-income African-American and Hispanic children.


While Trump gave no specifics on what legislation he is proposing, the statement was the clearest indication yet that he intends to follow through on his campaign promise to fund a $20 billion school choice program.


"During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice," Trump said. "Very important."

Speaking at a White House event attended by about two dozen children, including some participating in a federally funded voucher program in the nation's capital, Trump said, "Every child has the right to fulfill their potential, and, if we do our jobs, then we will never have to tell young, striving Americans to defer their dreams for another day or for another decade."

The Washington, D.C., voucher program allows low-income students to use federal funds to attend private schools. Although it is the nation's only federal-funded voucher program, some states, including Vice President Mike Pence's home state of Indiana, have funded similar programs.


MARIA DANILOVA, The Associated Press| Updated: May 3, 2017 — 4:11 PM EDT



Press of Atlantic City--Netflix series '13 Reasons Why' sparks local, national conversations about suicide

Hannah Baker’s death in “13 Reasons Why” is expected; from the get-go it’s made clear that the blue-eyed, curly-haired teen takes her own life.

But the actual apex of Hannah slitting her writs in the bathtub — hyperventilating as she digs the razor deep into her arm until she bleeds to death and is found by her parents — has elicited some mixed reviews.

Based on the young-adult novel by Jay Asher, the Netflix’s original series released in late March takes a fresh — if not brutally unflinching approach — to depicting rape and suicide.


MADISON RUSS Staff Writer| May 3, 2017


The Atlantic--The Case for the Rebel

Disruptive students may not be the easiest to have in class, but perhaps defiance should be encouraged.

It tends to be common knowledge that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude. He sat in the back of the class smirking at the teacher; he was disrespectful and disruptive; he questioned everything; and, when he was faced with the ultimatum to straighten up or drop out, he dropped out. That’s right: Albert Einstein was a dropout. And yet, he grew up to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.

One can write off Einstein’s accomplishments as an exception to the rule; they can reason that his behavior was actually a symptom of being so smart that school didn’t challenge him, which is probably somewhat true. But what if what made Einstein a change agent was his rebellious nature rather than his intelligence? After all, the world is full of brilliant people who accomplish very little compared to Einstein.


Ashley Lamb-Sinclair| May 3, 2017


Education Week--Is the High School Graduation Rate Inflated? No, Study Says

Watered-down graduation requirements, mistaken calculations, and push-outs of unsuccessful students may have falsely boosted high school graduation rates in a few states, but are not widespread enough to have inflated the national graduation rate, which is at an all-time high of 83.2 percent, according to a study released Wednesday. 

The eighth edition of the annual "Building A Grad Nation" report took on the skepticism that surrounded President Barack Obama's October announcement of the national graduation-rate milestone.

The report also includes detailed breakdowns of 2014-15 high school graduation rates, by state and student subgroup, along with a plea for states to pay better attention to low-income and minority students, students with disabilities, and students learning English, since larger shares of those groups tend not to earn their diplomas in four years. 

Statistics in the report capture the persistent disparities in graduation rates that lie just beneath the all-time, overall high of 83 percent. Here are the national 2014-15 four-year graduation rates by subgroup:


Catherine Gewertz on May 3, 2017 9:30 AM


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