The Buzz

8-16-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--With Vo-Techs Turning away Students, Lawmakers Consider Bond Issue Referendum is likely a year off, but manufacturers are already saying they have more job openings than skilled workers, adding urgency to the initiative Demand for vocational-technical training is on the rise across the state, but there’s not enough space available now in existing school facilities to meet the demand. So lawmakers are considering going before voters to ask for approval of a new state bond issue to help cover the cost of expanding the state’s network of 21 county vo-tech high schools...'

Star Ledger--What N.J. school aid reductions could mean for credit ratings TRENTON -- The $31 million reduction in state aid to a group of New Jersey school districts will likely have limited credit impact, but districts aren't entirely safe from being hit with a downgrade, according to a major rating agency. S&P Global Ratings said in a report Monday it does not expect the state aid changes to have a major effect on credit because most districts should be able to cover their losses with reserves. Districts also have the chance to apply for emergency aid from the state, the report noted...'

The Record--School superintendents' salaries could jump to over $220K with cap lift A bonus incentive to keep school superintendents in state during salary cap restrictions set by Gov. Chris Christie five years ago will not be nixed even though the salary cap was lifted in May. Now those bonuses can increase superintendents' salaries to over $220,000...'

Education Week--A Focus on Career and Technical Education As they attract a new wave of attention and support in schools across the country, career and technical education programs grapple with new challenges: How should they maintain program quality and weed out career paths that lead students to dead-end jobs? As high-flying programs become popular and more academically rigorous, how can educators ensure that they remain demographically diverse? And how can schools do a better job of getting the word out to all students about all of these new college and career options?...'

8-15-17 Education in the News
Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)-- Poll: Support for charters drops markedly over past year WASHINGTON (AP) - Expanding charter schools around the country is losing support among Americans, even as President Donald Trump and his administration continue to push for school choice, according to a survey released Tuesday...'

Education Week--Are Student-Privacy Laws Getting in the Way of Education Research? Education research can be a high-wire act between districts and researchers, balancing the need for straightforward access to data—and frank conversations about study results—with protection of student and teacher privacy. If Louisiana’s two-year-old privacy law is anything to go on, that balancing act may get a lot trickier for researchers as states move to protect student data. That’s according to researchers speaking at a symposium at the National Center for Education Statistics annual meeting in Washington recently...'

8-14-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--State Board Issues Guidelines for Social and Emotional Education … … and NJ Spotlight speaks with Rutgers’ Maurice Elias, international leader in emotional intelligence, school success, and character development Any school would probably say it supports a child’s social and emotional learning, but it’s difficult to define what exactly that means and what exactly it entails...'

Star Ledger--Q&A with former schools chief about Christie's legacy on charters Chris Cerf is the superintendent of schools in Newark, where charter schools now educate 1 in 3 students, which is by far the largest segment of any district in the state besides Camden.

But unlike many superintendents, Cerf is not opposed to charter schools – as long as they are good schools – and argues that poor, minority kids are the big winners...'

Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--DeVos undeterred by critics even as agenda remains stalled WASHINGTON (AP) - Among the paintings and photographs that decorate Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' sunlit, spacious office is the framed roll call from her Senate confirmation. It's a stark reminder of the bruising process that spurred angry protests, some ridicule and required the vice president's tie-breaking "yes" vote. Six months on the job, DeVos is no less divisive...'

New York Times-- A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry Few middle schoolers are as clued in to their mathematical strengths and weakness as Moheeb Kaied. Now a seventh grader at Brooklyn’s Middle School 442, he can easily rattle off his computational profile. “Let’s see,” he said one morning this spring. “I can find the area and perimeter of a polygon. I can solve mathematical and real-world problems using a coordinate plane. I still need to get better at dividing multiple-digit numbers, which means I should probably practice that more.” Moheeb is part of a new program that is challenging the way teachers and students think about academic accomplishments, and his school is one of hundreds that have done away with traditional letter grades inside their classrooms...'

8-11-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--The Essence of ESSA: the Good, the Bad, the Meh A wonk-free assessment of the Every Student Succeeds Act and how it can refocus discussions about New Jersey schools onto more accurate rankings of quality and achievement..'

Star Ledger--N.J.'s 'ambitious' new goals for public schools get federal approval TRENTON -- New Jersey has gained federal approval for its new long-term plan for public schools, including the expectation that at least 80 percent of students should pass standardized tests in reading and math by 2030, the state announced Wednesday...'

The Record--Report: Passaic teachers among state's highest paid New Jersey employed 116,351 full-time classroom teachers during the 2016-17 school year, but according to the state Department of Education, about 15 percent of the 1,000 highest-paid teachers hail from the city of Passaic school district...'

Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--School choice program raises questions about accountability LAS VEGAS (AP) - More than a third of U.S. states have created school voucher programs that bypass thorny constitutional and political issues by turning them over to nonprofits that rely primarily on businesses to fund them. But the programs are raising questions about transparency and accountability at a time when supporters are urging that they be expanded into a federal program...'

8-10-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--New Jersey One of Few States to Win Approval of Fed Education Plan Garden State’s accountability and monitoring plans center on supporting specific student groups, moving beyond testing to gauge school performance New Jersey this week became one of the first states to win federal approval of its latest accountability and monitoring plans — with districts next required to submit their own extensive plans for following the law by the start of the school year...'

Star Ledger--8 questions as Newark school takeover end nears, 8 answers from Mayor Baraka NEWARK -- The state could vote as early as next month to finally return control of Newark public schools to the locally-elected school board. "It's a long time coming," Mayor Ras Baraka told NJ Advance Media. "At the end of the day, this was supposed to be for five years and turned out to be 20 years."...'

Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--AP Interview: DeVos says she didn't decry racism enough WASHINGTON (AP) - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday distanced herself from her comment earlier this year about the nation's historically black colleges and universities being pioneers of school choice, saying that in the past "there were no choices" for African-Americans in higher education...'

8-9-17 Education in the News
Jersey Journal--Students tour shark-tracking research ship Weehawken students spent their Saturday learning first-hand how sharks are tagged and tracked in the tri-state area. A group of 30 students, teachers, and parents toured Ocearch, the at-sea laboratory best known around the state as the team responsible for tagging Mary Lee, the great white shark the frequents the East Coast...'

Star Ledger--Why is Lakewood spending $32M to send kids to private school? LAKEWOOD — Attorney Michael Inzelbuch walked into court in Atlantic City a few weeks ago with the family of his latest client. She was a little girl from an Orthodox Jewish family preparing to begin pre-K in Lakewood's public school system. Her evaluation said she had a long list of challenges – Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and physical problems, including a limp. Lakewood's experts said the school district could educate her in the district's Early Childhood Center, located in a series of trailers. But Inzelbuch argued the public school couldn't accommodate the girl's disabilities. In the end, the judge agreed. Lakewood taxpayers will foot a higher bill to pay for the girl's private school tuition at one of the specialized schools in town run by members of the Orthodox Jewish community...'

Associated Press (Via Philadelphia Inquirer)-- More students coming to US for high school, but growth slows A new report says the number of international students coming to the U.S. for high school is leveling off after years of rapid growth. The report released Wednesday by the Institute of International Education says the number grew by just 1 percent between 2015 and 2016 after growing by 8 percent in 2013...'

Education Week--Five Big Things at Stake for Educators in GOP's Quest for Tax Reform With the collapse of the Republicans' effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the next big-ticket item on the GOP's agenda is reforming the federal tax code. So how could tax reform impact educators? Late last month, congressional and Trump administration Republicans released a general set of principles that are guiding the tax reform effort, including the push to ensure the plan reduces tax rates "as much as possible." (Congress last passed comprehensive tax reform in 1986.) We highlighted five items of particular interest for those working in schools below...'

8-8-17 Education in the News
Education Week--Is a New English-Proficiency Test Too Hard? Educators and Experts Debate. Roughly 2 million students took ACCESS 2.0 exams this past school year, encountering new standards that aim to raise the bar for English-language proficiency. In many of the 35 states that belong to the WIDA consortium—and use ACCESS 2.0, the common test it designed to assess students’ language proficiency—scores plummeted under the more demanding requirements. For school systems large and small, educating more English-learners than they planned for has meant potential budgeting, scheduling, and staffing crises...'
8-7-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--NJEA PAC Announces Its Picks for 2017 Legislative Races While typically true blue, Democratic-leaning union makes some GOP exceptions, and withholds endorsement for Sweeney and Ruiz Its influence both symbolic and real, the New Jersey Education Association’s PAC this weekend finalized the last of the powerful union’s political endorsements for the November legislative races — with some notable picks and some notable omissions...'

Star Ledger--108 N.J. districts can compete for pre-K expansion money TRENTON -- Parents in more than 100 New Jersey school districts could have a second chance to get their children into a public pre-K program this year or see their current half-day program expanded to a full day. However, the expanded classes might not start until October in some districts, according to the state Department of Education...'

Washington Post-- Like it or not, Betsy DeVos has made a mark in six months as education secretary It is tempting to conclude that after six months as education secretary, Betsy DeVos hasn’t accomplished all that much. Congress has not been kind to her legislative agenda, and Republicans have joined with Democrats in criticizing her proposed budget cuts. She faces protests at many public appearances, which is why she receives special protection from the U.S. Marshals Service, at an average cost so far this year of $1 million a month. Her department, like many others in the Trump administration, has yet to fill a long list of empty jobs...'

The Atlantic--The Drawback of Schools Near State Lines A recent study says student achievement could be suffering from policies that limit the pool of educators on both sides of the border. Want a leg up in school? Don’t attend one near a state border. That’s the surprising finding of a new study published in the Economics of Education Review. The likely culprit: certification and pension rules that discourage teachers from moving between states, limiting the labor pool on each side of the border...'

8-4-17 Education in the News
Star Ledger-- Merger means N.J. has one less school district and $2.8M debt was 'forgiven' PITTSGROVE TWP. -- There's now one less school district in the State of New Jersey. Effective at midnight July 31, the Elmer School District and its board of education ceased to exist after it was absorbed by neighboring Pittsgrove Township. "This means that we will be able to serve the two populations in a much more cost-effective way," Pittsgrove Township Superintendent of Schools Henry Bermann said Wednesday...'

Education Week-- Tax Breaks for Big-Box Stores Can Drain Money From Schools Paying attention to how much nearby corporate retailers pay in property taxes may not be a priority for most school district leaders, but some policymakers think that could change soon. Across the country, retailers—in particular big-box stores—are pushing back on how local governments assess the value of their properties with the goal of lowering their tax bills...'

8-3-17 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Getting to Know You: Meet the New State Board of Education With different leadership in place and six new members, the board is as close to a full house as it has been for some time The State Board of Education just went through a significant facelift, overturning its leadership and adding six new members appointed by Gov. Chris Christie...'

NJ Spotlight--Administration Alerts Districts About Qualifying for $25M in New Pre-K Funds Department of Education says money is meant for 100+ districts with high concentrations of poor families With little time before the start of the next school year, the Christie administration has moved quickly to alert New Jersey school districts about the eligibility and rules for $25 million in new preschool money added at the last minute to the state’s fiscal 2018 budget...'

NJ Spotlight--NJ’s Top Court Rules Pay Increases May Stay in Effect After Contracts Expire State Supreme Court hands limited victory to public worker unions, saying contracts can specify annual increases continue to be paid beyond the term of the contract...'

Star Ledger--Ranking the 50 most influential people in New Jersey high school sports When we launched our ranking of the most influential people in New Jersey high school sports last summer, we figured the top spots would be secure from year to year. After all, the top high school coaches and most influential administrators often stay in the same job for their entire careers...'

Star Ledger--N.J. education chief deems Newark schools ready for local control NEWARK -- The state Education Commissioner has signaled to the Newark school district it's finally ready to take full control of its schools. The move is a pivotal step toward giving the Newark School Advisory Board the power to hire and fire its own schools chief...'

8-2-17 Education in the News
Washington Post--Justice Department plans new project to sue universities over affirmative action policies Justice Department officials are planning a new project to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies they determine discriminate against white applicants, according to a U.S. government official...'

Education Week--COPPA and Schools: The (Other) Federal Student Privacy Law, Explained When it comes to federal protections for students’ sensitive personal information, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, tends to get most of the attention. But schools also need to be familiar with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, commonly known as COPPA. In a nutshell, COPPA requires operators of commercial websites, online services, and mobile apps to notify parents and obtain their consent before collecting any personal information on children under the age of 13. The aim is to give parents more control over what information is collected from their children online...'

8-1-17 Education in the News
Route 40 (via NJ Spotlight)-- Shrinking School Districts in NJ a Sign of Millennial Shift? Out-migration and a move toward urban areas account for changing enrollment numbers in many New Jersey school districts More than half of New Jersey’s school districts have shrunk in the last six years, mirroring wider population moves toward urban areas — and also reflecting net migration from the state...'

Star Ledger--Jersey's public schools ranked near the top in the nation New Jersey's public schools have been ranked second-best in the nation, based on a study by WalletHub that looked at criteria including test scores, student-teacher ratios and graduate rates. Only Massachusetts, with an overall total score of 78.16, was ahead of the Garden State, whose schools earned a score of 66.92 on WalletHub's ranking...'

The Atlantic--The Field Where Men Still Call the Shots The lack of female coaches in youth sports can make lasting impressions on boys and girls...'

Education Week--In Response to Federal Feedback, N.J. Seeks Testing Waiver From ESSA New Jersey has asked U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos for a waiver from the way the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to test its middle school students, joining Florida and Kentucky in their intention to ask for waivers under the new federal K-12 law. The Garden State wants to test its middle school students in the mathematics course in which they are enrolled, rather than with the state tests created for each student's grade...'

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The Special Education Task Force Report was released  in November 2015. GSCS, a Task Force member,  is looking forward to discussion on this important topic.  See below for links to the report.

RELATED LINKS

FINAL REPORT OF THE NEW JERSEY TASK FORCE ON IMPROVING SPECIAL EDUCATION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS

LETTER TO LEGISLATURE, GOV. CHRISTIE AND STATE OFFICIALS