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4-5-11 Education Issues in the News
Njspotlight.com - Fine Print: School Red Tape Review “Lynne Strickland, a long-time [advocate] for suburban districts, served on the 2004 mandate review commission and concedes not much came of it. "We are cautiously optimistic this time," she said.”

Mycentraljersey.com - Gov. Chris Christie to appoint education task force to study N.J. regulation of schools

Star Ledger - N.J. treasurer lists range of cuts if Supreme Court rules against Christie in schools funding case

Politickernj.com State Street Wire - Christie wants Opportunity Scholarship Act passed

Njspotlight.com - Fine Print: School Red Tape Review

Will the new Education Transformation Task Force mean the end of QSAC and its dreaded 570-item checklist? …” Lynne Strickland, a long-time lobbyist for suburban districts, served on the 2004 mandate review commission and concedes not much came of it. "We are cautiously optimistic this time," she said.”

 

 

By John Mooney, April 5 in Education

 

 

Summary: Gov. Chris Christie yesterday signed Executive Order #58 creating the Education Transformation Task Force, charged with reviewing state regulations and other mandates on public schools and recommending changes.

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What it means: Such scouring of the rules and regulations placed on schools are nothing new. Various commissions and task forces have been charged over the years with freeing up schools from burdensome mandates. The last one was in 2004. But why this one may be different is the reason many measures are taking on a new sheen these days: the economic crisis has forced hard choices.

A few examples to consider: Front and center in this review will be the state’s four-year-old monitoring system for schools, awkwardly dubbed the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC). It includes more than 500 items to be reviewed in a district’s operations, governance, procedures and finances, and it has never been much popular with districts.

Cerf’s heard the complaints: "The process in which it was implemented involves a great deal paper shuffling, and superintendents I have spoken to all say, ‘Judge us on how well our students are doing, and whether we’re fiscal stewards of taxpayer money,' " said Chris Cerf, the acting education commissioner. "But boy, a 570-item checklist? They say, 'Hold us accountable but give us the means to make our own decisions.' "

He’s right: The formation of the task force immediately won praise from the state’s school boards association and its superintendents association, the latter no best friend of the governor’s lately. The school board association’s spokesman wrote: "While monitoring is necessary, there has been some concern over frequency and the burden of the process for high-performing districts. In terms of the accountability regulations, everyone wants accountability, but some aspects of these regulations represent true micro-management."

Every mandate has a reason: The tricky part of any red tape review is that there was some reason such requirements were enacted in the first place. One of districts’ biggest complaints is new accountability regulations enacted in 2008 around fiscal efficiency, all at a time when new caps were being placed on school spending and taxes. Sound familiar? And maybe the two biggest mandates are those around student testing and special education, neither unlikely to be much watered down and both with federal requirements as well.

Deja vu all over again: Lynne Strickland, a long-time lobbyist for suburban districts, served on the 2004 mandate review commission and concedes not much came of it. "We are cautiously optimistic this time," she said.

What’s next: The seven members of the task force -- drawn from teachers, administrators and others -- need to be appointed. Christie has asked the group to finish its initial report and recommendations by August 15 and continue work through the end of the year.

 

 

Mycentraljersey.com - Gov. Chris Christie to appoint education task force to study N.J. regulation of schools

9:11 PM, Apr. 4, 2011  |  

MICHAEL SYMONS
STATEHOUSE BUREAU

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that he will appoint a task force to recommend ways to reduce state rules governing public education and said more of those decisions should be controlled locally.

Christie said task force members can study all state regulations and laws affecting public schools "that they deem to be unnecessary, inefficient or overly prescriptive," but specifically wants them to review the state monitoring system, which requires schools to file reports on more than 300 performance indicators.

"What I want to have happen here is to return more of the power back to school districts and less from the central office in Trenton, so that we can encourage folks to innovate and to change and to bring some real structure at the local level. Let them decide. They're the ones who know their school districts best," Christie said.

"We've gotten into a pattern over the course of time with increasing money coming from Trenton over the last 20 to 25 years of increasing regulation coming from Trenton. And I don't think that's the best way for us to go at transforming education," Christie said.

One rule that is off the table, however, is one the Christie administration adopted in February limiting the salaries of school superintendents.

"I've looked at that one already, and I've made my decision on that," he said.

Christie has not appointed the seven members of the Education Transformation Task Force. They will include at least one teacher, one principal, one school business administrator and one superintendent.

"All of these individuals are going to have practical experience," he said.

The task force's initial report will be due Aug. 15. It then will accept feedback about the report from the public, education organizations and the State Board of Education before adopting a final report by year's end.

 Michael Symons: 609-984-4336; msymons@njpressmedia.com

 

Star Ledger - N.J. treasurer lists range of cuts if Supreme Court rules against Christie in schools funding case

Published: Monday, April 04, 2011, 8:20 PM Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 5:39 AM

By Salvador Rizzo/Statehouse Bureau The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — New Jersey could face wide-ranging budget cuts targeting Medicaid, pre-schools and hospitals if the state Supreme Court rules more money must be set aside for school districts, State treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told lawmakers today.

Testifying before the Senate budget committee, Sidamon-Eristoff said the Christie administration hasn’t decided how it will obtain up to $1.6 billion in extra funds if the high court rules against them in the Abbott v. Burke case.

Chris Christie and local school teacher clash at Raritan town hall meeting The public question portion of a town hall meeting held by Gov. Chris Christie got off to a contentious start when a local teacher complained that Christie’s administration had crippled school districts with budget cuts and lambasted teachers. Marie Corfield, an art teacher at Robert Hunter elementary school in Flemington, dismissed the governor’s claim that he had not targeted teachers — eliciting a biting response from Christie. (Video by Nyier Abdou/The Star-Ledger) Watch video

But if the governor asked him to find the money, he said, it would come from cuts in "obvious areas": Medicaid, property tax relief, municipal aid, higher education, hospitals, the pre-school program and the PAAD prescription drug program.

"We’ve got frankly a lot of areas where we have collectively made an investment over time that are going to have to be on the table," he said. "Everyone in New Jersey should know they’re part of the conversation."

Democrats said they were alarmed at the prospect of rolling back those programs. They pressed their case for a "millionaire’s tax" on the state’s highest earners, which they say would generate $600 million to help cover school costs.

The treasurer flatly ruled out that proposal, calling it "a self-destructive tax increase that will obliterate our competitive position."

"We’re going to have to find whatever resources we need within our current revenue base," he said. "This governor will not support tax increases, period."

Over the course of three hours, legislators from both parties grilled Sidamon-Eristoff about Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $29.4 billion budget, and the hearing became contentious when Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono asked about tax-incentive legislation aimed at spurring job growth proposed by Democrats. Sidamon-Eristoff likened the Democrats’ approach to "a cruise ship all-you-can-eat buffet" and said Christie would not sign their bills.

"I was shocked at the level of disrespect that this treasurer showed the committee," said Buono (D-Middlesex). "The elephant in the room is the school funding formula. Their so-called plan is basically everything but the millionaires’ tax. They would cut preschool and Medicaid — their solutions cover everything but the 0.5 percent of the highest wage earners in the state."

The treasurer emphasized the key to stabilizing the budget was bringing Medicaid spending under control and overhauling the state’s pension and benefits system for public workers, as Christie has called for repeatedly. The administration will make a $506 million payment to the pension system by 2012 even if reforms are not enacted this year, the treasurer disclosed.

Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the committee chair, said he was "a little disappointed" with the lack of a contingency plan to fund Abbott schools.

"This is a budget that is clearly impacting the middle class and the poor," he said. "This budget does not go far enough in providing property tax relief to the citizens of New Jersey."

In a report released last month, Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne said the state’s cutbacks to school funding last year violated the mandate to provide a "thorough and efficient" education. The Supreme Court has until mid-April to schedule oral arguments and collect briefs in the case.

© 2011 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

 

Politickernj.com State Street Wire - Christie wants Opportunity Scholarship Act passed

By Bill Mooney | April 4th, 2011 - 3:14pm

Gov. Chris Christie Monday called for passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act in New Jersey after a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier in the day lent credence to the stance that such programs are constitutional.

During a press conference, Christie was asked about a decision involving Arizona that came down 5-4 Monday in favor of private school scholarships.

“It seems to me that ends any discussion about whether OSA is constitutional,” he said. “It looks to me as if the court has resolved that question.”

He urged the Democratic-controlled Legislature to post the proposal  for a vote.

The Court decided  that ordinary taxpayers cannot challenge government programs that use tax breaks to direct money to religious activities.

 


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