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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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Trenton, New Jersey 08608

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The Buzz

2-20-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Is NJ’s $1.2B School Transportation System Ripe for Savings? School districts spend more each year ferrying pupils than on school administration and capital improvements. A new report suggests big economies are possible New Jersey’s school districts spend well over $1 billion annually on student transportation. That’s more than they spend each year on things like school administration and capital improvements...'

On Deck: An Effort to Make Student Athletes Aware of Addiction Risks Studies show an elevated risk of opioid addiction for student athletes from injuries suffered in football and other high-contact sports Before starting their sports season this fall, high school athletes in New Jersey will be required to watch a video designed to raise their awareness about the dangers of becoming addicted to prescription pain medicine. And the parents of players under age 18 will have to watch it too...'

The Atlantic--The Gun Violence That’s a Bigger Threat to Kids Than School Shootings Mass killings on school grounds account for a very small percent of victims, but they capture far more public attention than other shootings...'

The Hechinger Report--Teacher shortages force districts to use online education programs When the computers are in charge, students complain ‘ain’t nobody really teaching’...'

2-19-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--PARCC Compromise Averts a Crisis for High School Seniors and Juniors But now New Jersey’s Department of Education must come up with graduation requirements for the class of 2021 and beyond Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has reached an agreement in the contentious battle over graduation requirements which would allow current seniors and juniors to earn their diploma using their PARCC scores...'

NJ Spotlight--The List: NJ Schools are Most Often Named for These Figures in History Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt: Spot the connection in the naming convention for many of New Jersey’s public schools In 2017, three new public schools financed with funds from the New Jersey Schools Development Authority opened their doors and districts broke ground for two others that will get SDA assistance. The most important considerations in new school construction include size, safety and aesthetics, as well nowadays meeting energy efficiency and environmental sustainability standards. But another key decision officials must make is what to name the new buildings...'

Pennsylvania's new mandatory threat reporting system for schools drew thousands of tips in its first month A threat reporting system now required for all Pennsylvania schools fielded more than 4,900 tips in its first month, about a third of them considered serious enough to pass along to local police and school officials. The goal of the Safe 2 Say Something program, which funnels tips to an around-the-clock call center at the attorney general's headquarters in Harrisburg, is to respond to troubling behavior, unsafe school situations and anything else tipsters deems appropriate to report...'

2-18-19 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. schools will finally teach about LGBTQ history. Here’s what kids would learn. When New Jersey schools begin teaching students about LGBTQ history, it will be easy enough to say “Walt Whitman was a great poet, who, by the way, also happened to be gay.” But that’s not the point of a new state law, and the stakes are so much higher than a token reference, historians and advocates say...'

Star Ledger--N.J. just avoided a major high school graduation crisis, but its testing mess isn’t over yet High school juniors and seniors in New Jersey who have already passed the PARCC exams or other standardized tests can breathe a sigh of relief. Sophomores and freshmen? The state will get to you later...'

Press of Atlantic City—Op-Ed: Region’s first recovery high school must blend support and academics South Jersey has more than its share of addiction and related problems in the opioid crisis, so the opening next week of its first recovery high school is good news indeed...'

Hechinger Report--TEACHER VOICE: Three classroom trends gain ground A Teacher of the Year reflects on patterns for replication I have been teaching humanities to ninth-graders at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Boston for the last 12 years. It’s the middle of my first year back in the classroom after a year away as the 2017 National Teacher of the Year. While on my journey, I observed three patterns in particular that I’d like to share: Teacher leadership, social and emotional learning, and fellowship...'

2-15-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Interactive Map: Stats Show Lack of Diversity in Front of NJ Classrooms Numerous studies have shown the benefits of a diverse teaching force, both for students of color and for all pupils...'

NJ Spotlight--1,200 Children Have Been Shot and Killed Since Parkland, 13 from NJ A news site has profiled the children who died by gunfire since the school shootings in Florida one year ago. Thirteen New Jersey children are on the list Yesterday was the first anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shootings, in which 17 teenagers and staff were shot and killed at a local high school. The tragedy precipitated a nationwide campaign by student survivors in favor of gun control...'

Star Ledger--N.J. principal has been on ‘Ellen’ and is getting love from Sen. Booker, all thanks to washing machines West Side High School Principal Akbar Cook doesn’t check his Twitter account much. But he took a look this week when someone made a negative comment about the washing machines he had installed at his school in Newark to deal with the bullying of kids who weren’t able to wash their school uniforms at home. Unfazed by the comment, Cook continued to read previous Twitter messages and was stunned to a see a post from Sen. Cory Booker, who praised his actions and tagged him as a Black History Month figure...'

Star Ledger--On anniversary of Parkland school shooting, Menendez urges action on gun legislation It took less than six minutes for the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to fire more than 100 rounds from his semiautomatic assault-style rifle, killing 17 students and educators and wounding 17 more. Yet one year later, high capacity magazines that make it possible to fire 30, 60, or even 100 rounds without pausing to reload remain on the shelves and for sale online. It’s well past time for that to change...'

Chalkbeat--New studies point to a big downside for schools bringing in more police It’s been a year since 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Florida high school, sparking a national conversation about gun control and a race to ratchet up school security. Florida lawmakers, for instance, passed legislation requiring every public school in the state to have an armed guard. A Trump administration commission recommended armed school personnel, among other safety measures. Already, 71 percent of U.S. public high schools have at least one law enforcement officer who carries a gun...'

2-14-19 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. needs to cough up the cash to fix its schools so our kids won’t get sick, education advocates say When you think of the word “school” what comes to mind? Overcrowding? Leaking roofs, mold and mercury exposure? Extreme temperatures, windows that don’t open? Inadequate air quality from poor ventilation? How about asbestos, lead in drinking water, or rodent infestations? Unfortunately, for many students and staff in New Jersey, these issues are a daily reality. As a result, there is increased absenteeism, illness, and poor morale...'

Press of Atlantic City--New Jersey to dramatically limit contact in high school football practices ROBBINSVILLE — The hard-hitting, rub-some-dirt-on-it culture of football is changing. New Jersey high schools are leading the way with new rules governing full contact that would be the most restrictive at any level of football...'

Chalkbeat--When Newark charter students apply to district high schools, data does not always follow

As students race to apply to some of Newark’s top high schools before Friday’s deadline, one group of applicants may be at a disadvantage — charter school students...'

Education Week--One Year After Parkland, What’s Changed? On February 14, 2018, a former student entered a Parkland, Fla., high school with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others. A year later, students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continue to search for a sense of normal...'

The Atlantic--The Next Parkland Could Happen Anywhere Schools are trying to bolster security, but they can only do so much to prevent another mass shooting...'

2-13-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Fewer NJ Kids Eating Breakfast at School Means More Hungry Children State ranks dead last in percentage of schools eligible for federal nutrition funds that actually participate in the program, according to new report The number of children eating breakfast at schools in New Jersey dropped last year for the first time this decade — a development that concerns advocates who say it means fewer low-income students are getting a meal that research shows boosts their participation in class...'

NJ Spotlight--How Are Districts Using State Pre-school Funds? Officials in two very different districts are figuring out how best to make use of their money from Trenton Expanding preschool offerings in public schools in New Jersey has been a high priority for Gov. Phil Murphy. Last month, he announced a second round of funding under the Preschool Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) program, which will benefit 2,320 children for the school year starting in September...'

Washington Post (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--Could a tax on video games help prevent school shootings? One Pa. lawmaker hopes so. Seeking funding for school safety measures to prevent shootings, a Pennsylvania state lawmaker is proposing a 10-percent sales tax on violent...'

NY Times--Girls Get Tech. They Just Need Others to Believe It. New research explores how access to technology helps put girls on par with boys. “By teaching our girls to code, we’re not just preparing them to enter the work force — we’re preparing them to lead it.” — Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to close the gender gap in technology...'

Education Week--Teachers Are Turning to Podcasts as an Instructional Tool Students practice reading, writing, interviewing When Kimberly Calhoun read through Baltimore City schools' new curriculum, she found an assignment that surprised her: Her kindergartners were expected to podcast...'

2-12-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Eight School Districts Sue NJ DOE Over Cuts in State Aid But Senate President Sweeney says they should have seen the writing on the blackboard, changes resolve long-standing inequities in state education aid Eight school districts are suing the state Department of Education over planned cuts in their school budgets, saying the reductions will devastate the learning environment for thousands of students. But Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) says those districts should have seen the writing on the wall...'

Star Ledger--Should N.J. students have to take some kind of test to graduate? You bet they should.    Opinion
Imagine being a high school graduate and finding out a few months before your big day that a court decision has put in jeopardy your ability to walk across the stage and receive a diploma. Yes, for four years, you followed the rules, took the assessments and exams and all of a sudden an Appellate Court, that you didn’t know existed, has decided the rules you followed weren’t the right rules...'

Washington Post--Education unions oppose calls to arm teachers FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The nation’s two largest education unions reiterated their opposition to arming teachers as a response to school shootings Monday, saying more guns on campuses will make them less safe. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association joined with Everytown for Gun Safety to oppose proposals in Florida and elsewhere to arm teachers and staff members in response to the Marjory Stoneman High School massacre, which left 17 dead. The anniversary of the mass shooting is Thursday...'

Education Week--Exploring Ways to Say So Long to Traditional Letter Grades High school junior Jadyn Sullivan tends to get stressed about schoolwork. Like many of her peers, she worries about her grades. But in her physics class, there is no traditional A-F grading scale to worry about. That's because David Frangiosa, Jadyn's teacher at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., uses standards-based grading instead...'

2-11-19 Education in the News
Star Ledger--To parents who fear Xbox more than they do measles: Smarten up    Editorial
In the 1950s, the decade before a vaccine became available, measles was the most devastating microbe known to humanity. In the U.S. alone, it was responsible for nearly 4 million infections, 48,000 hospitalizations, 1,000 cases of encephalitis, and 500 deaths each year. It should have been eradicated by now, yet the grim reality is that measles is making a comeback...'

Asbury Park Press—Career Academies: The Best Education Tax Money Can Buy? Career academies are bringing some of the region’s top talent into rigorous, competitive county vocational schools...'

Washington Post (via) Press of Atlantic City--Some unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents and trying to get shots on their own Ethan Lindenberger, frustrated by years of arguments about his mother's anti-vaccination stance, staged a quiet defection via Reddit. The Norwalk, Ohio, teenager needed advice, he said, on how to inoculate himself against infectious disease and his family's dogma. At 18, he was old enough, Lindenberger explained. He wanted to get vaccinated. But he didn't know how...'

Education Week--How to Assess Group Projects: It's About Content and Teamwork Group work is a time-tested strategy in many classrooms, but educators are starting to rethink how to evaluate these projects not just on the content students learn, but the skills they hone to work in teams as adults...'

NPR--School Shooters: What's Their Path To Violence? It's hard to empathize with someone who carries out a school shooting. The brutality of their crimes is unspeakable. Whether the shootings were at Columbine, at Sandy Hook, or in Parkland, they have traumatized students and communities across the U.S. Psychologist John Van Dreal understands that. He is the director of safety and risk management at Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Oregon, a state that has had its share of school shootings. In 2014, about 60 miles from Salem, where Van Dreal is based, a 15-year-old boy shot one student and a teacher at his high school before killing himself...'

2-8-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Stop-Gap Attempt to ‘Avoid Chaos’ as Court Action Awaited in PARCC Case A court’s recent strike-down of PARCC graduation requirements has led to widespread confusion. Lawmakers try to keep the requirements in place for current juniors and seniors...'

NJ Spotlight--Lawmakers Seeking More Diversity Among NJ’s Public School Teachers Tackling thorny issue in a state where minorities are 56 percent of student enrollments, while just 16 percent of teachers are non-white In a state where public-school teachers are predominantly white and do not come close to reflecting the diversity of their students, lawmakers began a conversation Thursday to hear what state officials and colleges are already doing and what else can be done to correct the imbalance...'

Star Ledger--Terrified of school shootings, N.J. now wants prison guards to protect kids First there were the school lockdown drills, followed by the buzzer systems and fortified entrances. Now comes the next step in the escalating hardening of schools: ex-prisons guards and retired Fish and Wildlife officers patrolling the campus with their guns...'

NY Times--Cleaner Classrooms and Rising Scores: With Tighter Oversight, Head Start Shows Gains JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When federal officials inspected this city’s Head Start program five years ago, they found moldy classrooms, exposed wires, leaking sewage, a sagging roof and trash-strewn playgrounds littered with safety hazards. A teacher had jerked a student so hard she dislocated the girl’s shoulder...'

Education Week--How to Differentiate Instruction (Without Losing Your Mind) Instructional expert and esteemed blogger Larry Ferlazzo wants you to know: Differentiation isn't as hard as you might think...'

2-7-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Lawmakers Move to End Religious Exemption for Mandatory Vaccinations Amended bill, which must still pass Assembly and Senate, would only let children skip immunizations based on medical reasons. Opponents say it erodes personal rights The New Jersey Assembly passed a measure late last week removing the religious exemption as a reason parents can refrain from having their children vaccinated...'

Star Ledger--Every public school in New Jersey will soon have silent alarms in response to Parkland school shooting Thanks to a swipe of Gov. Phil Murphy’s pen Wednesday, New Jersey’s 2,500 public schools will soon be required to have silent panic alarms used to help protect students during emergencies like an active shooter...'

The Record--How will LGBT history be taught in NJ schools? The state will likely offer guidance, but districts will have some leeway in how they fulfill a new requirement for curriculum...'

NY Times--Schools in England Introduce a New Subject: Mindfulness LONDON — Students in England already learn about mathematics, science and history, but hundreds of schools are preparing to expand the traditional curriculum with a new subject: mindfulness...'

Education Week--Performance Assessment: 4 Best Practices Let's get this out of the way first: Performance assessment—the idea of measuring what students can do, not merely what they know—is not a new idea in K-12 education...'

The Atlantic--Active-Shooter Drills Are Tragically Misguided There’s scant evidence that they’re effective. They can, however, be psychologically damaging—and they reflect a dismaying view of childhood...'

2-6-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Why Don’t Kids Go to School? Students Have Their Say Lawmakers go straight to the source to hear about the obstacles that keep some kids from attending classes Legislators looking to tackle the issue of chronic absenteeism in the state’s schools held a hearing yesterday and this time, they went straight to the source: students...'

Star Ledger--These are the 50 best New Jersey public high schools for sports in 2019, report says The 2019 Niche best school rankings are out and once again high schools from New Jersey checked in with some of the top-rated sports programs in the nation. Schools from Passaic, Bergen, Burlington and Ocean counties are well represented in the rankings, and a new school has move into the No. 1 spot...'

Chalkbeat--Five things we’ve learned from a decade of research on school closures The Oakland school board has a problem: too many schools and too few students. To stay afloat, the district plans to close as many as two dozen schools over the next five years. That decision has not gone over well with the teachers and students affected. “I know you think that [it] is a low-quality school, but they produce high-quality students,” one teacher said at the emotional meeting when the board announced the first closure. Similar scenes have played out across the country. In some cities, the rapid growth of charter schools mean students are spread too thinly across too many district buildings, prompting closures. In other places, a declining number of school-age students is the culprit. And elsewhere, policymakers have been motivated to close schools by a desire to improve academic performance...'

2-5-19 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Divided Reactions to Supreme Court Ruling on PARCC and What It Means for Students Path to graduation still uncertain for about 170,000 high school seniors and juniors, but ‘business as usual’ for many school officials who continue to implement PARCC as a graduation requirement School officials, advocates, parents and legislators are divided on how the state should react to the recent state Supreme Court decision that throws out the use of PARCC testing as a graduation requirement. Because of the ruling, current New Jersey high school students have no clear guidance on what will be necessary to obtain a diploma. And it’s unclear that whatever remedy is chosen, it will be soon enough to fairly determine the future of about 170,000 current high school seniors and juniors...'

Asbury Park Press—Op-Ed: Involve Parents in LGBTQ Curriculum: Bergmann It is essential that school boards, which have the responsibility for approving the LGBT curriculum, engage community members in developing it...'

Education Week--Social-Emotional Learning Data May Identify Problems, But Can Schools Fix Them? In one district, seeing survey data about school climate and students' self-perception of social and emotional strengths motivated educators to change their practices, a new report concludes. And that was true even though the survey results weren't used for high-stakes purposes, like teacher evaluations...'

The Hechinger Report--Switching sides in the teacher wars In Rhode Island, Deborah Gist was an education reformer pushing school accountability. Then she came to Oklahoma, where the biggest challenge is getting schools the basics...'

2-4-19 Education in the News
The Record--NJ Seniors “In Limbo” Over PARCC Testing for Graduation What will happen to thousands of students who are getting ready to graduate, now that court says testing requirements were illegal?...'

NY Times--Meet the Guardian of Grammar Who Wants to Help You Be a Better Writer Benjamin Dreyer sees language the way an epicure sees food. And he finds sloppiness everywhere he looks. With his finely tuned editing ear, Benjamin Dreyer often encounters things so personally horrifying that they register as a kind of torture, the way you might feel if you were an epicure and saw someone standing over the sink, slurping mayonnaise directly from the jar...'

Chalkbeat--Cory Booker has been an ed reform favorite. That could be a problem for his 2020 campaign. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is running for president — and bringing a lengthy record on education with him...'

The Atlatnic--Rural Communities Struggle to Adapt to Life Without Football Declining participation has led some high schools to cancel their football seasons, and players aren't the only ones feeling the loss...'

NPR--Poor Students More Likely To Play Football, Despite Brain Injury Concerns Fears of brain injuries has deterred many parents and their children from choosing to play football. After years of publicity about how dangerous football can be, football enrollment has declined 6.6 percent in the past decade, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. Those who still play the sport are increasingly low-income students...'

The HechingerReport--TEACHER VOICE: Is the cost of student-teaching worth it? 'The financial downside was crushing' I sat at my computer in the summer of 2013 pondering whether I’d be able to begin my student-teaching. I wondered whether spending four years learning to teach was worth the time and money, and whether my dreams of leading a classroom would ever come to pass...'

2-1-19 Education in the News
NY Times--New York Joins Movement to Abandon Use of Student Tests in Teacher Evaluations Four years ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed through a plan to put New York at the forefront of a national movement to reshape American public education: He vowed that half of a teacher’s rating would be determined by student results on standardized exams...'

Education Week--Charter Debates Could Be Coming to State Legislatures State policy debate now at 'granular level' While funding, teacher pay and shortages, and school safety are prime K-12 issues in the state legislative sessions that get underway this month, charter schools are also likely to be hot topics on lawmakers' agendas...'

The Hechinger Report--How do schools train for a workplace that doesn’t exist yet? A reader asks: Not knowing what tasks will be automated or what future jobs will look like, how should schools prepare students now? We’ve all heard the dire predictions about the coming robot apocalypse. Automation threatens 47 percent of jobs. As many as 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs by 2030. Middle-class families will be hit the hardest...'

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The Special Education Task Force Report was released  in November 2015. GSCS, a Task Force member,  looks forward to discussion on this important topic under the Murphy administration.  See below for a link to the report.

Final Report of NJ Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608