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ARCHIVE FOR OCTOBER 2005

NJ LEGISLATURE HOLDS HEARING ON FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION (10/11/05)

On Oct. 3, the Joint Committee on Public Schools held a hearing to hear testimony on the School Construction Corporation (SCC) and the need for additional funding to complete unfinished school building projects around the state. This was a follow-up hearing an August hearing on issues pertaining to the SCC. Recent reports of financial mismanagement within the SCC have raised questions as to whether the state will be able to meet its constitutional obligation to improve facilities within the Abbott districts. Among the issues discussed at the October hearing were how to determine the order in which projects should be completed, and whether Abbott districts should be given control of their construction projects, which have been controlled by the SCC, and how this would take place.

Related Links:
Hearing Explores School Building Debacle (Star-Ledger, 10/4/2005)
New Jersey May Replenish School Building Fund (Trenton Times, 10/4/2005)
Transcript from Joint Committee on Public Schools Hearing (August 11, 2005)

GOVERNOR CODEY SIGNS QSAC LEGISLATION (10/21/05)

On September 26, Acting Governor Richard Codey signed into law S-1431, establishing the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (“QSAC”). QSAC, a system of accountability and state intervention in local school districts, was developed by the New Jersey Department of Education as an outgrowth of recommendations made by IELP in its 2002 report, Developing a Plan for Reestablishing Local Control for the State-operated School Districts. In this report, IELP made four recommendations to change the state’s approach to intervention:

1. redefine the state’s role to emphasize support of and technical assistance to districts delivered in a collaborative manner;

2. make local capacity a cornerstone of the state’s interactions with districts;

3. create a unified system of state oversight of urban districts, combining the monitoring and assessment process with a process for assuring implementation of Abbott reforms; and

4. establish a clear, specific system of standards and benchmarks by which districts will be assessed, and, in the case of districts determined to require state assistance, ensure that competent, objective periodic assessments are carried out to measure progress and that the results are promptly communicated to the district.

The QSAC statute only imperfectly incorporates these recommendations, but it is a step in the right direction. The development and implementation of regulations comes next, and IELP will be directly involved in that process. The regulatory process will be informed by an ongoing pilot project in which 20 school districts, including the three state-operated districts, are already engaged. Once the regulations are promulgated, QSAC will apply to all New Jersey school districts.

Related Links:
Developing a Plan for Reestablishing Local Control for the State-operated School Districts (May 2002)
QSAC Update (June 21, 2005)

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL CHOICE ANNOUNCES CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS (10/27/05)

The Journal of School Choice has announced a call for submissions for its inaugural issue, due out in 2006. According to its announcement, the journal will “take an unbiased, scholarly approach to the essential issues of school choice currently before many states and the United States Congress, including voucher programs, public school choice, home schooling, magnet schools, state or district-funded scholarships, tax credits or deductions for education expenses or contributions to scholarship programs, tuition assistance, comprehensive dual enrollment programs, and international baccalaureate programs.”

Co-editors are Stephen A. Rollin, EdD, professor emeritus, College of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee; and Judith S. Stein, EdD, Director, National Institute for Educational Options, Fischler School of Education and Human Services, Nova Southeastern University, North Miami Beach, Florida. Submissions will be peer-reviewed by a diverse group of academics, policymakers, and practitioners.

Related Links:
The Journal of School Choice, Haworth Press



HOUSE LEADERS ANNOUNCE EDUCATION RELIEF FOR HURRICANE AFFECTED FAMILIES AND SCHOOLS (10/27/05)

In a continuing effort to assist families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the schools that have enrolled displaced students, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), have introduced legislation that would create Family Education Reimbursement Accounts for one year. These accounts would “allow families and schools to bypass existing bureaucracies and provide direct reimbursement to schools on behalf of children displaced by the storms.”

When asked if the program is a back-door way of implementing school vouchers, the bill sponsors responded that it is not about school choice, but rather about reimbursing all of the schools that have opened their doors to students from the hurricane disaster area. Democrats have referred to the Bush administration’s response to education needs in the Gulf Coast region as too little, too late.

Related Links:
Press Release: House Leaders Unveil Education Relief for Families and Schools Impacted by Hurricanes (10/18/2005)
Hurricane Katrina Resources and Information
Democrats Response: Still Waiting: Children, Students and Schools in the Gulf Coast
(10/2005)
Democrats Response: Statement by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) (10/27/2005)


EXPLORING EDUCATION THIRD EDITION RELEASED (10/27/05)

The third edition of Exploring Education: An Introduction fo the Foundations of Education by IELP Associate Director Alan R. Sadovnik and co-authors Peter W. Cookson, Jr. (Dean of Education, Lewis and Clark College) and Susan F. Semel (Chair, Department of Secondary Education, City College of New York and Professor, CUNY Graduate Center) was published this month by Allyn and Bacon. The text on the history, sociology, politics and philosophy of education has been used in social foundations and introductory education courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels since 1994.

Related Links:
Exploring Education: An Introduction to the Foundations of Education

COURT HEARS ARGUMENT IN NEA SUIT CHALLENGING NCLB (10/31/05)

Recently, Judge Bernard A. Friedman of the U.S. District Court in Michigan heard oral argument in a suit against No Child Left Behind. The case, Pontiac v. Spellings, pits a group of school districts and education organizations from Michigan, Vermont, Texas and elsewhere against the U.S. Department of Education. The issue is whether USDOE is violating Section 9527(a) of the law, which states, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to ... mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act." Plaintiffs contend that the federal government has not provided districts with the funds needed to comply with the law’s provisions, and yet requires that they achieve compliance by 2007, causing them to need to dip into state budgets.

Judge Friedman is expected to issue a decision in November.

Related Documents:
Initial Complaint, Pontiac v. Spellings (4/20/2005)
Judge Hears Arguments on No Child Left Behind Lawsuit (Detroit Free Press) (10/19/2005)


CODEY AND NJDOE ANNOUNCE SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE, TITLE I DISTINGUISHED SCHOOLS AND BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS (10/31/05)

Last week, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey and the New Jersey Department of Education announced that 22 schools will receive 2005 Governor’s Schools of Excellence Awards for improvements made over the past two years. Five of the 22 schools are located in Abbott Districts.

The Governor’s Schools of Excellence Awards Program, now in its third year, recognizes schools that show significant promise and meet five of nine academic criteria for two consecutive years. Each winner receives a $25,000 award.

Also, today the NJDOE announced that elementary schools in Vineland, Union City and Camden have been selected as New Jersey’s 2005 Title I Distinguished Schools. The three have shown improvement in test scores, have made adequate yearly progress in standardized test scores, and are working to close the achievement gap. The principal of each school will receive a $1,000 award, which is to be used to continue the school’s academic achievements.

Additionally, the NJDOE recognized the four New Jersey winners of the Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which honors public and private schools that are either academically superior in their states or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. The New Jersey schools are located in Mt. Laurel, Madison, Tenafly and Sea Girt.

Related Documents:
NJDOE Press Release: Gov. Codey, DOE Announce Governor's Schools of Excellence Award Winners (10/24/2005)
NJDOE Press Release: DOE Announces 2005 Title I Distinguished Schools Honorees (10/31/2005)
NJDOE Press Release: Acting Commissioner Davy Congratulates New Jersey’s Four Blue Ribbon Schools (10/31/2005)


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