Author Archive: Mother Crusader

FIX IT! Because This IS NOT How We Do Things In Highland Park. Here, We RESIST!

Promoted by Rosi. Who would ever think that progressive Highland Park would turn into a Ground Zero for ed “reform” or union-busting? This week, on short notice, more than 300 people turned up when they saw the Highland Park School Board take a sudden wrong turn. One of them was Darcie Cimarusti = Mother Crusader. She stood up to speak. Read the speech below the fold. Now consider that 15 days ago, Darcie was elected to the school board she addresses in her speech …

Cross-posted with Mother Crusader.

I’ve honestly never seen anything like what happened Monday night in my home town of Highland Park, New Jersey.

Scores of Highland Park residents and union supporters came out Monday night to the auditorium at Bartle Elementary to protest layoffs of nine staff members at Highland Park’s schools, including two top union officials.

The school board and administration were literally surrounded by critics: So many people showed up that they had to take out a partition in the wall, doubling the size of the room and letting the overflow crowd tickle into the nosebleeds. (emphasis mine)

Highland Park school board meeting crowdYup, that’s right. The Board, at the recommendation of our brand new Superintendent, approved a Reduction in Force (RIF) of nine district employees on November 4th, 2013. The RIF included the President and Vice-President of the Highland Park Education Association, and came after contract negotiations reached an impasse.  (Note: A tenth employee was RIFed on October 7th, 2013 but this position is often not added to the nine RIFed on 11/4)

National School Choice Group Finds Voucher Allies In New Brunswick; Looking For Spot On Board Of Ed

Earlier, I inadvertently published this under my own byline for a few minutes, while I was trying to help Mother Crusader with formatting and code. My bad. It’s all her work. This is about today’s New Brunswick school election. Promoted by Rosi

I’m staying off this bandwagon…

Back in March Diane Ravitch posted about Rutgers student activist Stephanie Rivera’s candidacy for the New Brunswick school board, and asked readers to donate to her campaign. Diane reposted Stephanie’s request for help, which talked a lot about the “political machine” in New Brunswick and how for the last 20 years the board has been appointed by the mayor.

Election Day is April 16, and there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. We’ll be going up against the political establishment of New Brunswick, which until now has been appointing the Board of Education and depriving New Brunswick youth and the community of the justice and quality education they deserve. For the past 20 YEARS, board members have been appointed by the same guy: New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. And unbelievably, this is the first year in New Brunswick’s HISTORY that the Board of Education is ELECTED.

New Brunswick is right across the Raritan river from me, and I know Stephanie, but I stayed out of it and did not endorse her campaign, even after Save Our Schools NJ’s Julia Sass Rubin jumped in and endorsed Stephanie, too.

Why?

First, because my husband teaches in New Brunswick, so I generally try not to get involved in things there. And second, because I didn’t know her running mates.

But now I do, and MAN am I glad I stayed out of this one (well, until now obviously…).  Stephanie is great, and she has done some amazing things, and I am sure she will go on to be a fine educator and advocate, but her slate is a hot mess and she needs to dump these people.

Immediately.

The Charter Circus is Back in Town

Christie and McDuffieWhat does this picture of laying on of hand on Governor Christie have to do with education in New Jersey? Read on. Great research, and great work by parent Mother Crusader.

Promoted by Rosi


Cross-posted at Mother Crusader



New Jersey’s last round of charter applications was a stealth affair. With no suburban applications, and no big controversies, nobody paid much attention. Well, except me, of course …

But mark my words, this round will be different.

The Courier Post has already picked up on the most obvious potentially controversial application:

A former Washington Township mayor who went to prison for federal crimes is among 38 applicants seeking to run a charter school in South Jersey.

Jerry Luongo is seeking approval for Creative Visions Charter School, which would initially serve about 140 students in grades 9 through 12.

…..

Luongo, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, served on Washington Township’s school board. The retired Vineland High School music teacher and principal was Washington Township’s mayor from 1989 to 2000 and a state Assemblyman from 1998 to 2000.

He admitted in 2001 that he diverted $36,000 in campaign funds and charitable donations to his personal bank account, then served almost a year in a federal prison for mail fraud and income tax evasion.

Paterson Collegiate Charter School Approved. What Now?

promoted by Rosi

 Yesterday Education Commissioner Cerf approved two new charters for New Jersey. Both will be located in Paterson, where as Jersey Jazzman has reported, some serious reformyness seems to be underway.

One of the applications approved, Paterson Collegiate Charter School, is founded by Boston native Steven Wilson who is also the president and founder of a Charter Management Organization (CMO) called Ascend, based in Brooklyn. Ascend licenses their educational materials from Sabis Educational Systems, which originated in Beirut, Lebanon and conducts US operations out of Eden Prairie, MN.

 Clearly, this school will have deep roots in Paterson.

Silent Protest Against Cerf’s Charter Regulations At State Board Of Education Meeting

promoted by Rosi

Parents from across the state staged a silent protest this morning at the State Board of Education meeting, where Commissioner Cerf’s proposed charter regulations will most likely be adopted.  

There was significant backlash to the first draft of the regulations, including 40 speakers at a Board of Ed meeting last summer, a Save Our Schools NJ petition to the Board which has more than 5,500 signatures, and push back from the Education Law Center.  In response, language that would have allowed virtual charter schools to pull students statewide, despite the fact that New Jersey’s charter school law is silent on virtual charters, was removed from the regulations.

Silent Protest Against Cerf’s Charter Regulations At State Board Of Education Meeting

Parents from across the state staged a silent protest this morning at the State Board of Education meeting, where Commissioner Cerf’s proposed charter regulations will most likely be adopted.  

There was significant backlash to the first draft of the regulations, including 40 speakers at a Board of Ed meeting last summer, a Save Our Schools NJ petition to the Board which has more than 5,500 signatures, and push back from the Education Law Center.  In response, language that would have allowed virtual charter schools to pull students statewide, despite the fact that New Jersey’s charter school law is silent on virtual charters, was removed from the regulations.

Commissioner Cerf has moved ahead however with regulatory changes that would greatly impact districts state wide.  The Education Law Center recently renewed their objections to the regulations:

ELC’s comments, submitted on November 1, 2012, challenge NJDOE’s attempt to expand the charter school program without legislative authorization, in direct violation of the Legislature’s requirement that any expansion, modification, or termination of the program should not be undertaken without legislative approval.

Of particular concern is the NJDOE proposal to allow charter schools, once approved, to set up satellite campuses without obtaining separate charter approval, and to broadly amend their charters, even in ways that change the school’s prior approved mission.

The satellite campus proposal would apply only to charter schools in districts with “priority” schools under the NCLB waiver obtained by the State, or within former Abbott districts. ELC notes that NJDOE has not yet adopted regulations governing “priority” schools, and the Abbott designation was eliminated by the Legislature in 2008.  

Yet another power grab by the Commissioner of Education, for which he lacks legal authority or popular support.  

And despite the headlines about the CREDO study, what the research really showed was that there were NO GAINS in four out of five districts that, according to the Commissioner’s regulations, would be subject to satellite campuses and a corresponding loss of local control.  

The folks from CREDO will be at today’s Board of Ed meeting to talk about the report, as will Cerf.  I certainly hope some of the board members have done their homework and will look beyond the headlines and press releases that purposefully bury the fact that charters are not showing better results than traditional public schools in Trenton, Camden, Jersey City or Paterson, that kids in suburban charters are only showing modest gains, and kids in rural charters are losing significant ground.  

If the largest study on New Jersey charters to date shows such limited results, who exactly is benefitting from the expansion of charters in New Jersey?  

Sure doesn’t seem to be the kids.