The NJ report that all NJ Educators & Administrators should read

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Christie wanted to task force assembled to look at that state’s various education laws and see if some could be addressed (or just eliminated) I’ll admit it – -I thought Education Transformation Task Force Initial Report (available at http://www.state.nj.us/education/reform/ETTFFinalReport.pdf ) was going to be very slanted.  After reading thoroughly, I thought there were some great recommendations and some I disagree with. Here’s what I took away from the report: 

  • The report tore up the QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) and NCLB for about half of the report, calling both extremely time consuming, meticulous, and a bug waste of time with nothing really coming out of either except a fancy check list and pats on the back for dedicating so much time so said checklist. 
  • Makes a recommendation that if you need QSAC, do it with no checklist (I don’t really know how that would happen, since 99% of QSAC IS a checklist!)
  • Eliminates the 100 hours of Professional Development for teachers and makes the argument that PLC’s can replacement actual workshops (I somewhat agree with this — PLC’s should account for much more, but a PLC can’t and won’t replace an excellent workshop.)
  • Makes several recommendations to eliminate several rules on the books based on the recent 2% cap that was implemented (In NJ, you’re budget does not have to get voted on if you if you raise your budget by 2%) – so a variety of rules on the books, ranging from record keeping to the 1 Custodian for every 17,500 sq. ft. rule.
  • Switch to electronic record keeping and not having to keep paper copies of student records for 100 years.
  • Eliminate the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) because it’s objective does is not ‘one size fits all’.
  • Cut the “program of studies” of school Nurses from 9 areas to 2 so more in the workforce can apply.
  • Add the phrase “and other relevant data” after “state assessments” when determining student achievement.  I’m a huge fan of this – every educator with common sense knows that state assessments are not the end all, be all..
  • Allow School Administrators to the number of classroom Aides are needed, not state code.  I like this, but cane see where abuse may come into play….
  • Lets Districts choose the buses they purchase and allow them to buy what’s best for them, not just based on enrollment.
  • Change requirements for school  business administrators (BA’s) so they can get their permanent certification easier by allowing them to work in private / charter / handicap school instead of just a public school.
  • Cut or ‘relax’ the space requirement for Pre-K.
  • Instead of having mandatory home instruction offered after 10 consecutive days of school absence, offer other opportunities to learn, like an online program or “Creative use of technology” as the report put it.
  • Eliminate the requirement of Commissioner & BOE approval to just Commissioner approval.  Not a fan of this; it allows whatever political appointee is there to call shots that can be politically charged.
  • Reduce the water safety requirements for those schools that have pools.  I thought the list was kind of ridiculous!

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