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Old 03-29-2010, 06:40 AM
 
1,931 posts, read 3,418,358 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerseyG View Post
How would cutting funding to inner-city school districts cause criminal activity to rise and possibly affect you?

You can send the "potential criminals" to a broke-down school/non aesthetically pleasing school or a $180 million dollar brand new school: all it does it put lipstick on that proverbial pig. It doesn't guarantee a change in mindsets, living conditions, parental attitudes, what happens at home, in the neighborhood, etc.

First day at the $180M brand new New Brunswick High School (which was built so far out of NB the cost to bus students increased as well) there were approx. 5+ fights on all the different floors of the school - first week, about a total of 25. State of the art Abbot district/tax-payer owned school and so what? Nothing changed.

I am well aware of the problems that a lot of the "Abbots face. I cant turn my head and just give up on the "problem". Maybe you can and thats good for you. I cant and cant see just throwing my hands up and saying a certain bunch of people are a lost cause. You point out the problems in "those" town but what about the success stories? Have you looked into them? How do you not know that the services provided by abbot money didnt shape the careers of good kids? The problem is very complex and I understand your solutions, but I just dont agree. No big deal.
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Savannah GA/Lk Hopatcong NJ
13,410 posts, read 28,766,162 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bababua View Post
I am well aware of the problems that a lot of the "Abbots face. I cant turn my head and just give up on the "problem". Maybe you can and thats good for you. I cant and cant see just throwing my hands up and saying a certain bunch of people are a lost cause. You point out the problems in "those" town but what about the success stories? Have you looked into them? How do you not know that the services provided by abbot money didnt shape the careers of good kids? The problem is very complex and I understand your solutions, but I just dont agree. No big deal.
Unfortunately for the first bold it's the bare ugly truth, especially at the high school level.

As for the second bolded part that seems to be the exception not the rule and kudos to the exceptions that rise above it all
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Central, NJ
2,731 posts, read 6,125,958 times
Reputation: 4110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piney_power View Post
As it's always interesting to see what is said about New Jersey teachers on this forum (I’ve lurked but not registered/posted for a long time), I thought I would offer my own personal perspective. As they say, "Where you stand depends upon where you sit." Well, last night I sat consoling my wife who, while its not official just yet, is going to be laid off from her job as a teacher at the end of the year. This is not a thread meant to vilify Chris Christie or to criticize the union because, quite frankly, I find fault with both of them. My wife's district's funding was cut to the point that they will need to eliminate non-tenured staff in order to make up the gap after cutting other non-personnel related expenditures. I understand what the Governor is faced with and what he is trying to do, etc... I also understand that the offer was made to all locals of the union to contribute 1.5% of salary toward health benefits, and to agree to a one year wage freeze, which her local is not supporting. Due to these two factors, she and the other non-tenured staff are going to lose their jobs. Teachers and their union take an awful lot of flack on this board and I suppose some will line up in the "it's the union's fault" camp-others will line up in the "it's Christie's fault" camp. I see it both ways.

I fault Governor Christie not for cutting the district aid in the first place, but rather for cutting it knowing full well that the youngest, freshest, and in many cases, enthusiastic teachers would be let go. I would think that there must be a way to cut budgets a little more precisely by challenging the status quo with regard to the way that school districts are run. Specifically, I heard a report on the news this morning that over 700 district officials statewide make more than the Commissioner of Education! The Commissioner's salary is something like $154K per year. The fact that there was never a salary cap for Superintendents and the like put in place years ago is insane! By state law no Commissioner can make more than the Governor-so why should Superintendents!? No public employee should make more than the highest ranking public employee in the state! I don't know for certain, but I highly doubt that any federal government official makes more than the President. In any event, if the Governor were to explain to the public that schools need to be held accountable for their administrative costs, he would likely win the support of the general public and union members alike. What we have now are tenured and non-tenured staff pitted against each other, and the general public pitted against all teachers.

Now, though I don't agree with the union's position of no contribution to health benefits and no wage freeze, I do see their motivation. They are afraid that if they make any concession at all that it will send them (and their members) down a slippery slope to lower pay, lower benefits, etc... It's no secret that most members of the general public in New Jersey have an extremely low opinion of teachers. Most people simply view teachers as overpaid babysitters that they send their children to for six hours a day, who loaf all summer and whine about how underpaid they are. If teacher pay were put to referendum tomorrow teachers would be making minimum wage. I'm in no position to change anyone's mind, I know how much my wife loves her job, how hard she works, and how much she cares about her students and that's good enough for me. It would just be nice for people to understand where the union is coming from now that they're backed into a corner. If I could send a message to the union and the Governor right now I'd say tell school districts to cut/cap the administrative spending, tell the union to starting paying into health benefits and agree to a temporary wage freeze, and let's re-evaluate this whole mess in a year-would that be so hard?

I close with addressing the fact that most folks don't think that teachers live in "the real world." Trust me, the world is very real for us-my wife will receive her last check June 30th and though she will commit all of her energy to finding a new job, what district could possibly be in a position to hire anyone right now? She is also looking for private sector jobs but let's be realistic, that's not exactly looking rosy right now either. I'm lucky in the sense that I'm a federal civillian employee at Fort Dix and my employment is not in jeopardy, but my salary is not near enough for us to live on, and she is not covered under my health benefits because after we got married we decided it was simply too expensive to add her and she didn't really need them anyway. Now we are faced with what to once she loses her benefits this summer-even if I wanted to add her I can't because "open enrollment" isn't until December. That's besides the fact that with her on unemployment and me having to pay for both of our health coverage we'll be on shaky financial ground anyway. We were actually thinking of trying to apply for part time jobs with a company that offers part timers health benefits (there are some out there) in the hopes that with both of us working part time we could almost replace her salary and get health coverage for her at the same time. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to emphasize the fact that we do actually know what folks in the private sector are going through. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts on this.
I'm sorry you're in this position and hope you find a way to come through this. While I've been spared this time around I was laid off after 9/11 and there certainly weren't any Financial Services positions open so I know what a nightmare it is.

I think you're post is fantastic. There are so many extremes, especially on an issue like this, that it's nice to hear from people who see things a little more in the middle. My husband is in a union (not a teacher) but he would much prefer not to be. Protecting the slugs is just too much a part of what the union does and no, it doesn't seem fair that the good employees go simply because they were last in. My husband's union also fought vehemently against contributing to health care (there isn't even a copay for visits!!!) but they did forfeit raises to keep that. Everyone should give something.

I would hope that the majority of people really don't have that view of teachers. I don't believe they should be making minimum wage. But it seems to me that the excellent benefits were what you got in exchange for a lower salary than you would make in the private sector. And now unions and (some?) teachers seem to think they should have better salaries than the private sector and keep the excellent benefits. And people are angry. I'm sorry that it is an Us vs Them fight and that people like you and your wife are caught in the middle.

I haven't read the other responses so this might have already been suggested. Check with your employer about the benefits. Most places have a list of "life events" that allow you to make changes outside of open enrollment. A job change for spouse should allow you to add or drop coverage. I know you said it was very expensive but if you can swing it, it should be an option.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:13 AM
 
16,825 posts, read 17,761,195 times
Reputation: 20853
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerseyj View Post
Very true. Look at Millburn, NJ Monthly #1 rated school district (2008) spends $14,695/per student. Camden #316 (NJ Monthly '08) spends $16,131 per pupil (2009).
Trenton - $16,532
Newark- $19,305
Asbury- $24,428
Hoboken- $24,808
Comparative Spending Guide 2009

This article says there are 264,070 students in the 31 Abbott districts.
A Study of Supplemental Programs and Recommendations for the Abbott Districts

Asbury is a good example, ranked 281 out of 316 (NJ Monthly '08) spends $9733.00 more per pupil than #1 ranked Millburn.

The Abbott Decision is clearly not justifiable.
I find that NJ Monthly list methodology highly suspect if for no other reason they entirely left out many of the academies. High Tech High in lincroft is the #11 school in the country (and the top ranked NJ school) and its not even on the list.

Also, the Ronald McNair High School in Jersey City ranked 43rd nationally. And second in your NJ monthly article.

Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School: Best High Schools - USNews.com

Top New Jersey high schools by rank | www.njmonthly.com

Since some of the children are obviously succeeding, the Abbott system isn't a complete failure it just need an overhaul.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:21 AM
 
342 posts, read 717,681 times
Reputation: 576
Like Piney Power, I am not a teacher, but my husband is (retired)as well as several members of my family. There is a lot of griping about tenure on this forum, but the main thing that tenure does is keep teachers from being fired simply because they are higher up on the pay scale. Look at the pressure on towns right now due to lack of funding. I'm sure if they could, there would be a wholesale firing of more experienced teachers just to cut costs. While many of you will say so what, think about it long term. If every time a school board is having trouble containing costs, higher salaried teachers would constantly get the axe. If this became the norm, what do you think the quality of teachers would be? I worked in the private sector for many years, so yes I know many companies are laying off workers, but it seems to be at all levels of seniority, not just the higher salaried people.

I do believe that tenure laws should be changed as far as getting rid of bad teachers. It is insane that it is so difficult and expensive to fire for cause. I know that many school systems force these teachers out by finding ways to make their lives so difficult that they leave.

I'm sorry about your wife, Piney Power - I also have a son who is a third year teacher, and he is holding his breath.
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:52 PM
 
1,915 posts, read 3,489,813 times
Reputation: 1090
Quote:
Originally Posted by bababua View Post
I am well aware of the problems that a lot of the "Abbots face. I cant turn my head and just give up on the "problem". Maybe you can and thats good for you. I cant and cant see just throwing my hands up and saying a certain bunch of people are a lost cause. You point out the problems in "those" town but what about the success stories? Have you looked into them? How do you not know that the services provided by abbot money didnt shape the careers of good kids? The problem is very complex and I understand your solutions, but I just dont agree. No big deal.
Success stories? I'm sure there are. A child who has the will to learn will do so (and a supportive parental figure or role model in their life) in any environment but with Bloods and Crips and Latin Kings running around the halls....a lot of kids are lost causes.

A group of proud Bloods from NB shot a kid from Franklin HS b/c the kid from Franklin was pretending (frontin') to be a Blood. When the child was confronted by these bullies and "failed" the super secret handshake of the Bloods, they SHOT him. Now tell me those kids (Bloods) who shot that kid aren't lost causes? Who takes the life of another b/c he "dissed" the brotherhood of the Bloods? Losers. And YOUNG losers. Maybe it's because those NB Bloods members didn't have that brand new high school at the tax payers expense? I doubt it.

And that was my point: all this funding for Abbott districts that end up in $millions of dollars of brand new schools, doesn't change anything. Fix a school up, spend a few bucks on new technology, but understand it's not going to change the students who attend the school which tends to be the line of crap delivered to tax payers while our back pockets are being picked.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:33 PM
 
153 posts, read 489,194 times
Reputation: 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
I find that NJ Monthly list methodology highly suspect if for no other reason they entirely left out many of the academies. High Tech High in lincroft is the #11 school in the country (and the top ranked NJ school) and its not even on the list.

Also, the Ronald McNair High School in Jersey City ranked 43rd nationally. And second in your NJ monthly article.

Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School: Best High Schools - USNews.com

Top New Jersey high schools by rank | www.njmonthly.com

Since some of the children are obviously succeeding, the Abbott system isn't a complete failure it just need an overhaul.
First off, High Tech and MAST are both part of the Monmouth County school district and are the elite of the elite in an already exceptionally wealthy county. That has absolutely nothing to do with Abbott funding. Actually, the tuition for those schools are paid for by the taxpayers of the local districts where the students are from in cash each year.

Secondly, one or two academies in each city aren't indicative of the larger picture. If you want to have elite academies and spend more on them, that's fine, but it's the fact that EVERY school in these districts is spending exorbitant amounts of money and STILL experiencing low grad rates, high gang activity and low test scores that is the problem. The bottom line is that, overall, these districts are failing miserably and are collectively the best evidence on Earth that throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:05 PM
 
16,825 posts, read 17,761,195 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GS37 View Post
First off, High Tech and MAST are both part of the Monmouth County school district and are the elite of the elite in an already exceptionally wealthy county.
Thanks!! I teach at one of those academies, nice to hear we are appreciated, lol! And while I would agree we are a competitive district, we take kids from lots of areas including Asbury Park and even places like Edison and a couple of years back Jersey City (MAST is allowed to take kids from all over the state) as well of lots of kids that are classified.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GS37 View Post

That has absolutely nothing to do with Abbott funding. Actually, the tuition for those schools are paid for by the taxpayers of the local districts where the students are from in cash each year.
Tuition is about 30% of our funding but the majority comes from the county and the state (or did). I only brought up High Tech because I found the NJ Monthly rankings odd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GS37 View Post
Secondly, one or two academies in each city aren't indicative of the larger picture. If you want to have elite academies and spend more on them, that's fine, but it's the fact that EVERY school in these districts is spending exorbitant amounts of money and STILL experiencing low grad rates, high gang activity and low test scores that is the problem. The bottom line is that, overall, these districts are failing miserably and are collectively the best evidence on Earth that throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it.
The academies dont actually cost more, or at least not much more. In my district we are at 16k per pupil give or take a bit, which is relatively median for our county. My point is more that all children benefit from smaller schools and classroom sizes like those found at the academies. I believe the abbott funding is necessary for alot of those districts but that it would not need to be so much if a radically different approach was taken.

For one make many, much smaller high schools. These do not need to be new construction, for example at my school they just made use of buildings that already existed.

Or make "academies" with in high schools as they have done with fair success in some of the schools in Baltimore. If my school can keep pupil spending to 16k (less than what many of the Abbott districts spend) and can keep class sizes small (generally less than 17) why can't they? Smaller classes and especially smaller schools have been shown to improve students success.

So basically, I stand by my original statement. The Abbott districts can succeed, they just need to radically change the way they approach education.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:25 PM
 
153 posts, read 489,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
The Abbott districts can succeed, they just need to radically change the way they approach education.
Why should they change, though? The teachers are competent, the facilities are adequate and they have the same curriculum and textbooks as every other school in NJ. It's not the schools nor the teachers who have to change a thing - it's just the community outside of the school's control that determines its own fate.

When parents don't care, when gangs are tolerated, when drugs are accepted and when 80% of the kids have no dads around, things go south pretty quickly. A radical change is needed, indeed, but not in the classroom.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:33 PM
 
3,026 posts, read 9,067,130 times
Reputation: 3245
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
I find that NJ Monthly list methodology highly suspect if for no other reason they entirely left out many of the academies. High Tech High in lincroft is the #11 school in the country (and the top ranked NJ school) and its not even on the list.

Also, the Ronald McNair High School in Jersey City ranked 43rd nationally. And second in your NJ monthly article.

Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School: Best High Schools - USNews.com

Top New Jersey high schools by rank | www.njmonthly.com

Since some of the children are obviously succeeding, the Abbott system isn't a complete failure it just need an overhaul.
I totally agree that these "rankings and ratings" of schools are suspect but there is a certain validity to them.

I agree that some kids (few) do well in the Abbott Districts but I doubt that it is a result of the money allotted to them, given the fact that these districts have not fared well over the 20+ years of Abbott funds.

VIDEO: Nearly two-thirds of Trenton high seniors may not graduate - The Trentonian News: Serving Trenton and surrounding communities. (trentonian.com)

This is an example of some good kids who might be left behind.
216 students failed the HSPA....2/3 of the senior class...this after a 60% drop out rate.

The Abbott money needs to be evaluated and spent where it would really serve these kids.
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