Over the past year, the NJ Department of Education has initiated major changes in accountability and oversight requirements for districts, schools and educators. Commissioner Cerf has described these changes as a “fundamental shift” in Department operations. They involve repeal or revision of hundreds of existing regulations and modification or replacement of dozens of state statutes. Most of these changes were recommended in the Governor’s Education Transformation Task Force Final Report released last September.
The Task Force was charged with coming up with recommendations that would eliminate some of the “red tape” that districts function under. The 239-page report contains 428 proposed regulatory changes and 46 statutory changes. Some of the recommendations make practical sense, while others will significantly alter successful and much needed education programs.
OC/OS is working with parent groups, professional associations and other education stakeholders to respond to these proposals and advocate for the excellence and equity all NJ’s schoolchildren need. This advocacy is especially important at a time when the Administration is proposing more budget cuts, new standardized tests, aggressive interventions and school closings in many districts, and a reduced focused on equity and transparency.
The following are just some of the Task Force Report recommendations that raise significant concerns:
- Passing a voucher bill in NJ (Opportunity Scholarship Act)
- No longer requiring school districts to submit plans for bilingual education
- No longer requiring intensive early literacy programs for students in preschool through third grade
- No longer permitting parents of special education students the right to request the participation of pertinent school staff in special education identification meetings
- No longer requiring that districts draw up and submit district equity plans for NJ Department of Education Review
- Permitting larger class sizes for preschool and no longer requiring school districts to serve 90% of the universe of eligible preschoolers
- Eliminating the 100-hour requirement for teacher professional development