Category Archives: new Jersey department of education

Commentary:In tough times, schools provide hope; Education is the key to economic recovery

BY BARBARA KESHISHIAN
Newjerseynewsroom.com

Labor Day is behind us, the beaches are nearly empty and school buses are on the road in force. It can only mean one thing: class is back in session for nearly 1.4 million public school students in New Jersey. While I’m sure many of them would have opted for just a little more summer vacation, it is time to get down to the business of learning again. And there is no better place to do that than New Jersey.

This summer brought news that New Jersey’s schools are leading the nation in closing the achievement gap. The work isn’t done, but we are making significant progress. Just a couple of weeks ago, the New Jersey Department of Education released information showing that 99.7 percent of our teachers are rated Highly Qualified according to federal guidelines, with almost no gap remaining between low-poverty and high-poverty districts. And New Jersey still has the nation’s best graduation rate, turning out students who are well prepared for both college and work.

That is the kind of good news we’ve come to expect from our public schools, but it does not happen by accident. It takes a combination of talented teachers and school employees, hard-working students, involved parents and communities committed to public education. Fortunately, New Jersey has all of those in good supply.
We will need all of that and more as we enter a particularly challenging year. Times are tough here, just as they are across the country. The economy is wearing on all of us, and I’m sure that many students feel that stress and carry some of it with them to school.

Fortunately, school remains a place of hope and possibility. Because of our state’s commitment to a thorough and efficient free public education, no child will be turned away from a public school this year because his or her parent lost a job or is struggling to make ends meet. In fact, for many children, school is also a place to get a nutritious meal or two along with an education.

Times like these remind us why public education — true public education — is so critical. It has always been the cornerstone of the American Dream, and the ladder that any child could use to rise above his or her circumstances and secure a better future.

That is why I am so proud to live in a place where that ideal still flourishes. Our current economic crisis has only highlighted the depth of New Jersey’s commitment to its students. In a year when billions of dollars were slashed from the state budget, Gov. Corzine and the Legislature protected public schools, and even increased funding. When students returned to school, they found the people and programs in place to help them succeed.

It was an act of political courage to protect schools when so many important programs and priorities were on the chopping block, and it proved that our elected leaders have a long-term vision for New Jersey. Gov. Corzine has often repeated his belief that investing in education is an investment in New Jersey’s future economic prosperity. He and the Legislature have backed that up with action.

Barbara Keshishian, a mathematics teacher in New Milford, is the elected president of 200,000 teachers, certificated staff, educational support professionals, and retired members of the New Jersey Education Association.

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Filed under affordable education, Gov. Jon Corzine, new Jersey department of education, New Jersey Newsroom, NJEA

Corzine wants to streamline creation of new charter schools

Keeping in the spirit of “back to school”, the following article published yesterday at the New Jersey Newsroom.

The number of charter schools in the state and the students that participate in the has seen significant growth 2006 and the Governor announced that As a result, he is recommending to the state Board of Education that a new process be adopted to expedite charter approvals. He said an expedited process would cut the approval process time from 18 months to about 11 months, allowing more charter schools to open within a shorter time frame:

Gov. Jon Corzine Wednesday announced significant growth in both the number of New Jersey charter schools and the number of students.

Since 2006, the number of charter schools has increased by 34 percent while student enrollment rose almost 55 percent, the governor said in Paterson.

As a result, Corzine said he is recommending to the state Board of Education that a new process be adopted to expedite charter approvals. He said an expedited process would cut the approval process time from 18 months to about 11 months, allowing more charter schools to open within a shorter time frame.

“Community Charter School in Paterson mirrors the growth that is occurring at charter school throughout the state,” Corzine said during a visit to the school. “I am proud of the work that is occurring at charter schools in New Jersey, as well as the work ongoing in many of our traditional public schools. Both our traditional public schools and our charter schools are preparing our students with the skills they will need to compete in the ever-evolving global economy and to secure a brighter economic future.”

Corzine’s action comes as a rival for the governor’s post, Republican Chris Christie campaigns that he would allow for the opening of more charter schools and provide parents a choice on where to have their children educated.

Currently, there are 68 charter schools operating in the state. Six of these will open for the first time this month. Approximately 14,496 students attended charter schools in 2006. That number is projected to increase to more than 22,000 by October.

The Community Charter School opened last September. It was founded by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation and provides education for 350 kindergarten through third grade students. This year, the school has expanded to fourth grade and will serve 450 students.

“New Jersey is fortunate to have a number of charter schools that have been providing high-quality educational programs to children for nearly a decade,” state Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy said. “New Jersey should welcome people with a track record of success who want to open additional charter schools by providing an early decision process. The proposed application procedures will recognize the effective work of proven charter school operators but still give additional time to applicants who are new to the process.”

Charter schools are public schools operated by a charter granted by the Department of Education. A charter school is open to all students on a space-available basis with preference being given to students who live nearby. All classroom teachers and professional support staff must hold appropriate state certification.


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