7-18-17 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Lead in Water Remains Pervasive Problem in New Jersey Schools

More than half the school districts in Bergen County have lead — a dangerous neurotoxin — in faucets and other fixtures

The state’s top infrastructure priority ought to be getting the lead out of drinking water in schools, a problem exemplified by half the school districts in one county showing some lead levels in outlets, an environmental group said yesterday.

In a survey of school districts in Bergen County, 55 percent of the districts found lead in their faucets and other fixtures, according to Environment New Jersey.


Tom Johnson | July 18, 2017


NJ Spotlight--Christie’s Charter Legacy: A Clear Record of Growth

In the eight years the governor has headed up state government, charter school enrollment has more than doubled

When Gov. Chris Christie leaves office in six months, one of his clear legacies will be the growth of charter schools in New Jersey, with school enrollment more than doubling in his eight years in office.

Yesterday, his administration finished the job, announcing the final approval of five more schools to open this fall. That brings to 89 the number of charters that will be open when Christie steps down in January.

That number isn’t that big an increase from the 70 in place in 2010 at the start of Christie’s tenure, a number that jumped to over 90 in his first year. But his administration ultimately closed nearly 20 charter schools as well.


 John Mooney | July 18, 2017


The Record—Editorial: Lottery-pension deal good for Jersey

Pension funding and the solvency of New Jersey’s public pension system has been a crushing taxpayer burden and our state’s greatest fiscal challenge.  After decades of rosy assumptions and underfunding, the state system had run up an estimated unfunded liability of $49 billion, constraining New Jersey’s budget and viewed by Wall Street rating agencies and bondholders as a fiscal albatross on the State’s finances. 

Fortunately, the Legislature recently passed a unique proposal announced by Governor Christie in February, to dedicate Lottery revenues to the State pension or Retirement System, an innovative and responsible action that immediately reduces the system’s unfunded liability and elevates its Funded Ratio while reducing the General Fund obligation to the system. 


Ford M. Scudder Published 4:33 p.m. ET July 17, 2017 | Updated 4:33 p.m. ET July 17, 2017


The Atlantic--Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country's Schools

Are public schools generally meeting Americans’ expectations? Or are they teetering on the brink of failure?

Each year, parents responding to the Phi Delta Kappan poll report high levels of satisfaction with their kids’ education. Asked to assign letter grades to their children’s schools, the vast majority of parents—generally around 70 percent—issue As and Bs. If those ratings were compiled the way a student’s grade point average is calculated, the public schools would collectively get a B.


When asked to rate the nation’s schools, however, respondents are far less sanguine. Reflecting on public schools in general, a similar share of respondents—roughly 70 percent—confer a C or D. Again calculated as a GPA, America’s schools get a C or C-.

So which is it? Are public schools generally meeting Americans’ expectations? Or are they teetering on the brink of failure?

This may seem like an academic exercise. After all, school quality is what it is, regardless of perception. But, as it turns out, this gap in perceptions is a matter of tremendous importance.


Jack Schneider| Jul 17, 2017


Education Week--K-12 Funding Entangled in States' Budget Drama

K-12 school spending this year got caught up in budget standoffs that, in some states, led to brief government shutdowns. And the drama isn't over yet.

Though most state legislatures now have wrapped up business for the year, several this summer still are trying to design new revenue models, K-12 funding formulas, and—in the case of Kansas and Washington—awaiting court approval to assure their new school spending plans are constitutional.

Meanwhile, the fiscal pressures continue. Unlike the economy at large, state revenue, for a variety of reasons, has not fully recovered from the recession. More people are shopping online, which has especially hurt state sales-tax receipts, and while the national unemployment rate is at historic lows, workers' income has not rebounded as strongly as after previous recessions.

Because of decreased sales and income tax receipts, the vast majority of states missed revenue projections for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Legislators over the past few months have been enmeshed in hostile debates over how to distribute shrinking pots of money to their schools.


Daarel Burnette II| July 14, 2017