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

3-20-12 Education Issues in the News
Politickernj.com - Education advocates seek greater increase in funding; say schools still underfunded “…Lynne Strickland, the executive director of Garden State Coalition of Schools, said she was in favor of the additional school aid, but still had concerns about underfunding. Strickland also said she had concerns about charter schools, which “create a hole in school budgets.”

NJ Spotlight - Newark Super Drums Up Support for Sweeping Reforms…Critics missing as Anderson reveals final details to close, reorganize schools

Northjersey.com - Christie: 'Enough is enough' in NJEA war of words

Star Ledger - N.J. education groups call for more state money for public and private schools

Politickernj.com - Education advocates seek greater increase in funding; say schools still underfunded   “…Lynne Strickland, the executive director of Garden State Coalition of Schools, said she was in favor of the additional school aid, but still had concerns about underfunding. Strickland also said she had concerns about charter schools, which “create a hole in school budgets.”

NJ Spotlight - Newark Super Drums Up Support for Sweeping Reforms…Critics missing as Anderson reveals final details to close, reorganize schools

Northjersey.com - Christie: 'Enough is enough' in NJEA war of words

Star Ledger - N.J. education groups call for more state money for public and private schools  

 

Politickernj.com - Education advocates seek greater increase in funding; say schools still underfunded   “…Lynne Strickland, the executive director of Garden State Coalition of Schools, said she was in favor of the additional school aid, but still had concerns about underfunding. Strickland also said she had concerns about charter schools, which “create a hole in school budgets.”

 

By Ray Smith | March 19th, 2012 - 3:19pm

NEWARK – Public schools need an increase in funding and a change in the proposed school aid formula, according to education advocates testifying at the Assembly Budget Committee hearing on Monday.

Brian Volz, of the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, said that while the proposed additional $140 million in funding to schools is better than additional cuts, the money is “far short of what the school formula requires and what our children deserve.”

This year, the state has changed the way it counts enrollment, moving from a one day tally to an average daily attendance model. Officials say the change will give schools an incentive to keep students in school, while opponents say it will decrease funding for schools in poor districts.

“This would result in a significant drop in funding for districts that serve poor students whose daily attendance in school is compromised by ill health, family challenges and other issues, problems over which the district has no control,” said Sharon Krengel, the Policy and Outreach Coordinator with the Education Law Center.
Krengel urged the Legislature to “rewrite the provisions for school aid in the budget based on the educationally necessary, and legally required, costs, weights, enrollment and other parameters” in the state educational aid formula.

Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools NJ echoed Krengel’s concerns.

“We ask that you reject the funding formula changes proposed in this budget and instead put forth a budget that allocates school aid based on the current school funding formula,” she said. “That formula was adopted in a bipartisan manner, after much consideration and study.”

Lynne Strickland, the executive director of Garden State Coalition of Schools, said she was in favor of the additional school aid, but still had concerns about underfunding. Strickland also said she had concerns about charter schools, which “create a hole in school budgets.”

 

NJ Spotlight - Newark Super Drums Up Support for Sweeping Reforms…Critics missing as Anderson reveals final details to close, reorganize schools

By John Mooney, March 20, 2012 in Education|1 Comment

Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson's announcement yesterday of the final details in her plans to reorganize New Jersey's largest district was almost as much about appearance as it was about substance.

Related Links

The substance was significant: The outright closing of six school buildings; the "renewal" of eight more with new leadership, faculty and programs; and the expansion of both early childhood and high school options.

Similar to what she first proposed this winter, it would be the new superintendent's most sweeping moves yet in a district that has the attention of the Christie administration, if not the school reform movement nationwide.

But the choreography of the hour-long event at the Quitman Elementary School was notable, too, with Anderson introducing more than a dozen city leaders to voice their support for change -- from politicians to clergy to philanthropic leaders, from virtually every section of the city.

It was a far cry from the community showdown at Rutgers-Newark a month ago, where Anderson presented the first iteration of plan from a lone perch on a stage before a large audience that was far from welcoming.

Yesterday on a sunny schoolday morning, there were no catcalls or even hints of discord in the invitation-only crowd, a few of the most outspoken critics left outside to complain and the Newark Teachers Union a notable absence from the room.

Instead, it was a long train of support that had been noticeably missing from the first meeting, including three principals in the district, a half-dozen ministers, several of the largest foundations in the city, and some of the most outspoken politicians.

Mayor Cory Booker was an impassioned keynote, repeatedly citing what he called Anderson's "common sense" proposals to close or overhaul low-performing and under-enrolled schools and place the most qualified educators in the classroom.

With a nod to the challenges ahead, Booker implored the community to support the superintendent's changes.

"The success or failure of this plan is not going to be determined by the superintendent," he said. "It is going to be determined by the community and whether we stand up and not make it about her but about our children."

In a district that has been under state oversight for close to 20 years, there are plenty of challenges, from the political to the logistical. Anderson went out of her way yesterday to show her ability to adjust.

For one, the plan made some major changes from the initial blueprint proposed last month before the raucous crowd at Rutgers. One of the most contentious closings, the Miller Street School, has been taken off the table, although not ruled out for the future.

Still, that leaves six school buildings to be closed outright: Eighteenth Avenue, Burnett Street, Dayton Street, Martin Luther King, and the annexes at West Side and Barringer high schools.

The school closings are not likely to happen quietly, with Joseph Del Grosso, the Newark Teacher Union president, saying he would challenge the moves in court, if necessary. The union president said he was not invited to yesterday's event, something Anderson's staff did not dispute.

"This is better than the original plan, but it needs work," Del Grosso said in an interview. "I'm not going to buy into any plan that closes Newark public schools. I am still of the opinion that we can fix schools that are not performing."

"Will we challenge it? If necessary, we certainly will," he said of legal action. "This is not just automatic, this is far from settled."

Yet, this is also an interesting time with the union, with contract negotiations underway and the two sides scheduled to exchange bargaining proposals today. The 5,000-member union has been without a contract for more than a year.

In side agreements, the union and district have already agreed to some of the stipulations for Anderson's plans around extended hours in the new so-called "renew schools." Also, Anderson has proposed additional bonuses for teachers to work in those schools, something that Del Grosso yesterday said he was open to.

Anderson said she was cautious but remained hopeful about her talks with the union: "We have been talking with them quite a bit, and when we do, we are much likely to get where we need to go."

When asked about the union's past resistance, Anderson said: "I am one who believes in collaborating with the union. We will do what is best for kids."

Another tricky balance will be in Anderson's plans for tightening the assignment of teachers in the new alignment of schools, opening up new positions citywide but also requiring principals to agree to the placements. This year, that system has left more than 80 teachers unassigned and instead filling in at schools in a variety of support roles, at an extra cost of $8 million.

Anderson's new plan cited that the district as a whole is overstaffed by as many as 600 teachers, a number that would vastly expand that excess pool -- and its cost. She did not shy from that yesterday, conceding there would be sacrifices.

"We have experienced a 9 percent decrease in enrollment (over three years), and we have not experienced a 9 percent decrease in the number of teachers we have hired," Anderson said yesterday.

Much of the changes will be coming in the new "renew schools" in eight buildings: 13th Avenue, Peshine Avenue, Chancellor Avenue, Camden, Sussex Avenue, Quitman Street, Newton Street and Cleveland Avenue.

In each case there will be new principals and teachers, extended hours and additional student supports, all with the stated goal of raising student achievement to 50 percent proficiency on state tests in two years and 75 percent in four years. The average now is 20 percent, Anderson said.

In the audience yesterday was an experienced hand to the challenges facing Newark's schools, former deputy superintendent Anzella Nelms. Now working with the Newark Charter School Fund, Nelms was a top administrator under former superintendent Marion Bolden, who led the district for nine years.

Nelms cheered Anderson for putting forward constructive ideas both new and previously considered by Bolden, all with political support she had not seen in her years at the district's Cedar Street headquarters.

But she said even the easy changes can face resistance in a district that has seen many years of distrust.

"It will be an uphill battle," Nelms said. "It will be an uphill battle in changing the mindset of many people in the city who think we can do the same things . . . I think they truly do care, but they also want to be included so that they truly understand."

 

Northjersey.com - Christie: 'Enough is enough' in NJEA war of words

Monday, March 19, 2012 Last Updated: Monday March 19, 2012, 4:17 Pm  The Associated Press

KEARNY — Gov. Chris Christie says it may be time to call a truce in the war of words between him and New Jersey's teachers' union.

But the call came after the governor leveled some pointed criticism at the union during a town hall event Monday.

The governor told a crowd at the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center Gym in Kearny that the New Jersey Education Association has a "political slush fund" that's spent millions on ads attacking him, money that should be used for merit pay for teachers.

When a woman who said she is a second-grade teacher asked Christie to end the name-calling and personal attacks, the governor said he would if the union would.

A union spokesman says the group has attacked Christie's policies but not him personally.

 

Star Ledger - N.J. education groups call for more state money for public and private schools

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:30 AM  By Ted Sherman/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

NEWARK — Education advocates took aim at the governor's proposed $32.1 billion state spending plan yesterday, urging the Assembly Budget Committee to direct more money to public and private schools.

While hundreds of millions in aid to public colleges and local schools was restored under Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal, many witnesses at the all-day hearing in Newark complained the assistance fell short of what is needed.

Jennifer Keys Maloney of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association said despite increases, almost 16 percent of all school districts will see further cuts. At the same time, she said, the effects of slashed funding over the last several years is still being felt.

"Schools have had to make tough choices," she told the legislative committee during the public hearing at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Maloney said districts have been forced to increase class sizes, cut classroom teachers, eliminated art, music and gifted and talented programs and cut non-instructional staff — including reading coaches. "These choices have had an irrevocable impact on the education we provide to our students," she said.

Christie’s spending plan relies on a revived state economy generating enough cash to cut income taxes.

Under the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, overall spending would increase by about $2.1 billion — or 8 percent — over the current plan the governor signed in June. It would include about $108 million more to colleges, an extra $212 million to schools and $89 million for transportation projects.

But several of those testifying before the committee said even with the additional money, the state is underfunding its obligations.

"New Jersey has a school funding formula that distributes state aid based on the needs of individual children, wherever they live," said Julia Ruben of Save Our Schools NJ. "The proposed state budget would underfund that formula for the fourth year in a row."

Ruben said the shortfall places an increased burden on local communities, and shortchanges kids.

"The districts most adversely impacted by the changes would be those with the largest concentrations of low-income and non English-speaking students," she said.

Going through the numbers on aid earmarked for the districts of each member of the budget committee, Ruben said Assemblyman Gary Schaer’s district would lost more than $10 million in money mandated by the school funding formula.

Schaer (D-Passaic), though, took issue with the accounting, noting other increases that offset some of those reductions.

The governor, in his State of the State address earlier this year, called the school funding formula — which was upheld by the state Supreme Court — a "failure" that funnels the bulk of state aid to 31 poor urban districts that are still "predominantly failing."

 


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