Home About GSCS What's New Issues School Funding Coming Up
Quick Links
Meeting Schedule
NJ Legislature
Governor's Office
NJ Department of Education
State Board of Education
GSCS Testimonies
GSCS Data & Charts
Contact Us

Email: gscschools@gmail.com
Phone: 609-394-2828 (office)
             732-618-5755 (cell)

Mailing Address:
Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
160 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Newsletters and More
Sign Up
Search
Twitter

10-20-11 Race to the Top & Charters in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Applies for $60 Million Race to the Top Grant...Funding would go in part to a statewide system for evaluating early childhood education centers

New Jersey Newsroom - Jasey wants close scrutiny of N.J. charter schools

Star Ledger - N.J. considering 42 new charter schools

NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Applies for $60 Million Race to the Top Grant...Funding would go in part to a statewide system for evaluating early childhood education centers

 

New Jersey Newsroom - Jasey wants close scrutiny of N.J. charter schools

 

Star Ledger - N.J. considering 42 new charter schools

 

 

 

NJ Spotlight - New Jersey Applies for $60 Million Race to the Top Grant...Funding would go in part to a statewide system for evaluating early childhood education centers

By John Mooney, October 20 in Education|Post a Comment

Under a plan being proposed to the federal government, New Jersey would evaluate and grade every registered early childhood center and preschool serving low-income students in the state.

The proposal is part of the Christie administration's application, announced yesterday, for up to $60 million in federal funding under the federal Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge. The rating system has been piloted in three cities.

The grant proposal also includes statewide assessments for kindergarteners, increased programs for training early childhood educators, and better coordination between different state agencies in charge of early childhood care.

Thirty-one states currently have a rating system for early childhood programs, typically on a 1-to-5 scale. The lowest grade is for programs that minimally meet registration or licensing requirements

“If we are awarded this grant, it would help take a giant step forward in building quality early childhood programs in this state,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director for the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which assisted in the ratings part of the application.

The New Jersey program, as proposed in the grant, would rate state-funded programs -- including those in public schools -- on six criteria: program and learning environment, family engagement, health and safety, professional development, personnel, and business practices.

“The expansion of this pilot will not only offer data and support to existing programs to help them constantly improve, but will serve as a ‘consumer report’ for parents to assist them in making informed decisions for their children,” read the state’s application.

The application said the expanded ratings system would ultimately reach 75,000 low-income children. The state now funds two years of full-day preschool for about 45,000 low-income students, largely through programs ordered under the Abbott v. Burke in 31 cities. Another 15,000 are served through federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start.

The federal money would help train and pay for evaluation teams and provide support and incentives to preschools and centers.

“There has been a growing interest in doing this in New Jersey, but never has the funding been available,” said Zalkind. “And if you want to move forward, it needs the money.”

This federal grant program is an extension of the more famous Race to the Top challenge launched by President Obama last year. It is aimed at improving assessments, facilitating school turnarounds, and boosting teacher quality in grades K-12.

New Jersey narrowly lost out on a grant of up to $400 million, in part due to a technical error that led to the firing of Gov. Chris Christie’s first education commissioner, Bret Schundler. The state plans to apply to the third round of the K-12 program, which this time out would only provide up to $28 million.

The early childhood program, in contrast, has states competing for more than $500 million. New Jersey would be eligible for up to $60 million over four years.

The area getting the most attention has been the program’s requirements for improved assessments to ensure what it calls kindergarten readiness.

The state’s application said it would extend a student assessment program that it has tested in two districts – Orange and Red Bank – which observes kids' behaviors and skills in their first two months of school. It said the system would go statewide by 2013.

The program evaluates language and literacy development, math skills, and social development, as well as learning skills, like self-direction and initiative.

 

New Jersey Newsroom - Jasey wants close scrutiny of N.J. charter schools

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 16:18

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D- Essex) expressed concern Wednesday over the number of applicants—42—seeking approval from the state Department of Education to open charter schools. She noted that three weeks ago, the DOE approved four of the 55 charter schools that applied.

Jasey, an education advocate in the Legislature, said she believes the growing number of existing charter schools underscores the need for several measures she is sponsoring would address what she sees as a disconnect that currently exists between public schools and charter schools in New Jersey.

“Charter schools have an important role to play in the education of our state’s children, but more clarification and accountability are necessary,” Jasey said. “Safeguards need to be implemented to insure the lottery for admission is fair, that a school’s student make-up reflects the demographics of the community and that objective data is readily available to track continued enrollment of students throughout the school year."

Gov. Chris Christie is a strong advocate of charter schools as an alternative for students, especially in underachieving school districts.

“It is absolutely imperative that the application process be rigorous and that we review what charters are accomplishing in comparison to traditional public schools,” the Assemblywoman said. “We need to support effective charter schools, close those that are failing and promote collaboration between charters and traditional publics.”

Jasey said she questions the DOE’s assertion that it has the capacity to provide proper oversight of charter schools, and for that reason sponsored an Assembly-approved bill allowing up to three public universities to serve as authorizers.

Jasey is also a sponsor of legislation requiring local voter approval of new charter schools. The measure has passed the Assembly and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

Star Ledger - N.J. considering 42 new charter schools

Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 9:43 PM

Sen. Teresa Ruiz, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, plans to introduce a new charter school bill in the coming months that would boost accountability for the publicly funded, independently run schools and expand the number of state entities that can authorize the schools to operate.

TRENTON — The state Department of Education is considering 42 applications for new charter schools — more than a quarter of which are on at least their second attempt at winning approval for the privately run, publicly funded schools.

The latest round of proposals, received this week, comes less than a month after the state approved four charter applications. There are now 80 charter schools operating in New Jersey. Twenty-five others have been given the go-ahead to open next year.

Included in the batch of applications is a proposed military school in West New York; a Mandarin immersion school serving South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange; two virtual or online schools; and several focusing on the "fundamentals" of education.

The number of applications prompted concerns from at least one legislator that there may be too many charter schools in the works.

"Charter schools have an important role to play in the education of our state’s children, but more clarification and accountability are necessary," said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, (D-Essex), who also expressed concern about the Education Department’s ability to provide proper oversight. "It is absolutely imperative that the application process be rigorous and that we review what charters are accomplishing in comparison to traditional public schools."

Among the repeat applications are several charters that faced fierce opposition in their suburban districts previously: Tikun Olam, a Hebrew-immersion high school that would serve Middlesex County, and Hua Mei Charter School, a Mandarin-immersion school in suburban Essex County.

Hua Mei made changes to its application — raising staff salaries, increasing class size slightly and reducing the number of districts to be served — school organizers said. Tikun Olam’s founder did not respond to a request for comment.

In Montclair, the Quest Academy Charter School filed an application — for the fifth time — to serve as an alternative to the large district high school.

Founder Tracey Williams said the organizers added new blood to the board and hope their application for a high school with smaller class sizes and project-based learning will be approved this time. She said her proposal has gotten the "runaround" in the past.

"I can see people thinking, ‘Why are they going back for more?’ But what are you supposed to do when you believe in something?" she said.

Jasey is one of several legislators who have proposed charter legislation She sponsored bills requiring local voter approval for the schools and allowing up to three public universities to authorize them — in addition to the state.

Education Department spokesman Justin Barra said the state has taken steps "to strengthen our accountability system" and noted Gov. Chris Christie proposed having multiple charter school authorizers.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828