|ABOUT US 2012|
GARDEN STATE COALITION OF SCHOOLS
Who We Are, What We Do, Why We Do It
GSCS Founders’ Mission Statement, 1992
The purpose of the Garden State Coalition of Schools (GSCS) is to promote educational practices, reasonable state regulations and state laws that further high quality education for all children. GSCS’ primary focus is on the interrelated issues of academic achievement education practices and school finance.
GSCS supports efforts towards more equitable education opportunities for all school children. Wise public policy includes a permanent commitment to both quality and equity. GSCS believes that equity should be achieved by improving education and not by diminishing quality and eliminating school programs that have led to high student achievement.
Celebrating Our 21st Year of Successful Advocacy on Behalf of All New Jersey School Children, 2012
GSCS membership represents a spread among district factor groups from DFG-B to DFG-J. In fact, 40% of GSCS members are not considered high wealth districts.
When GSCS advocates for its membership in Trenton, its Board of Trustees determines, and then pursues, the common denominator needs of all its members. This is why GSCS has focused on such issues as increasing special education aid; lobbying the Statehouse to jump up its “giveback” of aid by 20% more in the 2012 state budget; mandate relief; reasonable and doable tenure, evaluation and charter school reform. And these are just a few examples of the concerns we pursue.
GSCS is recognized as a major information source of education and related issues. Its website alone has already had more than 2M verified visits. GSCS Email-Net “Trenton Updates” are sent to a large statewide mailing list approximately 26 times a year.
A few years back GSCS helped to turn around Governor Corzine's plan to have local districts absorb more than $30M in debt service. Recently, GSCS proposed that the State Aid in Governor Christie’s State Budget for FY 2011-2012 be double and the Governor and Legislature agreed! Over $100M in state aid to all schools was then added to the Appropriations Act in late June 2012. This kind of common denominator issue is very important and yet not divisive among members. GSCS has had, and continues to have, success in getting its message of quality education for all NJ public school students across to Trenton.
Credibility and practicality, combined with ideas acknowledged by Trenton to be workable, have given GSCS its successful track record.
What does the Garden State Coalition of Schools Provide?
• A permanent commitment to improving education without diminishing quality
• Focused advocacy with expertise in school funding
• A primary focus on the inter-related issues of academic achievement, educational practices and school finance
• A broad perspective that reflects the concerns of educators, lay leadership, and communities and parents.
• A commitment to supporting school programs that have led to high student achievement
Who Belongs to GSCS?
• GSCS is a statewide organization, its members spanning New Jersey from Camden County to Bergen County.
• Once considered primarily suburban, GSCS members have expanded since 1992 and now include districts with a range of financial resources.
• Member districts represent approximately 300,000 public school children.
• Participants are a unique mix of parents, board of education members and superintendents who bring a broad perspective to GSCS initiatives.
What Makes GSCS Effective?
• GSCS is led by a highly motivated, volunteer membership and is grass roots in its decision-making.
• GSCS is tightly organized and able to gather and analyze information and make recommendations in a short time frame.
• GSCS is the only statewide educational organization that serves parents, school administrators and Board of Education members under one umbrella.
• GSCS reaches out to work with education partners throughout NJ.
• GSCS maintains a presence in Trenton and is able to mobilize its statewide membership, bringing local educators, parents, and state legislators and policymakers together quickly.
• GSCS is a leading advocate for public support of public education for all children, not just those in one socio-economic group.
• GSCS brings together state and education leaders in programs throughout the year that increase awareness and knowledge among its members and the public of the challenges facing public education in New Jersey.
How Is the Coalition Organized?
• A 24-district Board of Trustees meets approximately 10 times throughout the year.
• All member districts are encouraged to attend the Trustee Board meetings and have input into setting Coalition priorities, procedures and practices. Member district representatives include school administrators, board of education members, parents and community activists.
• GSCS has only one full-time staff person and is funded solely through member district dues.
• Member districts join through a Board of Education resolution.
What issues are currently on the GSCS radar screen?
• Reasonable education reform
• State aid for suburban districts
• Teacher evaluation
• School leadership decline
• Public school choice reform, funding, regulation
• Close monitoring of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA)
• Special education funding
• High-stakes testing / testing revisions
• Shared services, programs
• Keeping education policy issues before the public
Garden State Coalition of Schools