In K-12 education news this week, local news focused on Newark Public Schools students’ increased access to quality arts programming. In regional news, Governor Chris Christie’s proposed changes to graduation requirements and school funding continue to dominate headlines, while national news ran the gamut from the presidential candidates’ education policies to newly-released national benchmark science test scores.



NAER Presents: Crossing the Lines, a Forum Examining Equality in Education for Newark Youth 
On Thursday, November 10th, the Newark Arts Education Roundtable (NAER) presents a staged reading of the play Lines in the Dust by Nikkole Salter on . Set in Essex County, the play reflects the realities of post-industrial urban/suburban communities and explores issues of inequitable education; race; identity; opportunity; and the meaning of community – issues that are universal, regardless of zip code. 


4 Ways Newark Schools Are Combating Lead Contamination  
School officials in Newark say they are taking every precaution to avoid exposing children to lead, but the costs of remediating the problem altogether are prohibitive. This necessitates that they take other steps to remedy the situation, including testing the water, testing the kids, installing filtration systems and investing in upgrades.

 NJPAC & Newark Public Schools Announce $450,000 Grant To Support Arts Education  
A $450,000 grant in support of arts education will significantly increase the number of Newark students who attend performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years. The two-year grant, part of the commitment made to Newark schools by Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan in 2010, will provide for more NJPAC SchoolTime performances and assemblies for NPS students, as well as professional development programs for arts teachers throughout the district.

Newark Students Participate in Boys to Leaders Foundation’s 2016 Latino Youth Leadership Conference 
Over 100 Newark students participated in the Boys to Leaders Foundation’s fourth annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference at Rutgers University-Newark last week. Students engaged in leadership training as well as various workshops focused around college affordability, athletic scholarships and life skills development within the Latino community.

Newark Public Schools Students Attend the Largest Poetry Event in North America 
Students from Newark Public Schools (NPS) recently attended High School Day at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, the largest poetry event in North America. High School Student Day gives participating students a chance to hear poets from diverse backgrounds who offer a unique perspective on the world.


Opponents of Christie’s PARCC Graduation Requirements Go to Court 
New Jersey is once again turning to the courts to decide education policy, as advocacy groups announced a new legal challenge to the Christie administration’s latest requirements for high school graduation: that, starting with the class of 2021, students must pass prescribed sections of the new PARCC exams to receive a diploma. The fact that both this case and the current challenge to Abbott v. Burke are happening simultaneously is a familiar and historical refrain for education policy in New Jersey, where the courts could have as much influence as—if not more than—the executive and legislative branch.

Special-ed Group Asks Feds to Investigate Trenton Schools 
A special-education advocacy group is asking federal officials to investigate Trenton Public Schools over allegations that the district has failed to provide special-needs students with mandated services and the required support staff in classrooms. The complaints claim that Source4Teachers, the private company hired to provide speech, physical and occupational therapy, one-on-one aides and other paraprofessionals, have not fulfilled its contractual obligations, creating a "systemic issue" across the district.

Prieto to Pitch Plan to Fix 'Unacceptable' N.J. School Funding  
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen) recently introduced their own proposal for addressing Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to revise New Jersey’s school funding system. Like Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Prieto is calling for a panel of experts to study the issue and make recommendations, but Prieto's plan would allow state lawmakers to make tweaks to the group's recommendations before voting.

Will Teacher Shortage Impact NJ? 
A rising student population, shrinking pupil-teacher ratios and high teacher attrition are driving demand for new teachers, but New Jersey has experienced shortages in certain subject areas and in certain school districts recently. Faced with rising college debt and limited earning potential, many certified teachers in New Jersey are opting not to pursue the career professionally.

What Diverse Schools Do Differently: New Report Outlines 10 Promising Approaches 
New York City has recently been forced to reckon with the fact that many of its schools are deeply segregated, but some schools have taken deliberate steps to enroll a diversity of students. “Integrated Schools in a Segregated City,” a report released last week by the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, highlights ten strategies that have already shown promise in New York City.

National NATIONAL 

Supreme Court to Weigh Transgender Rights, Education Department Authority 
The U.S. Supreme Court last week granted the appeal of a Virginia school district seeking clarification of whether schools must allow transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender identity. The court's action in Gloucester County School Board v.G.G. (Case No. 16-273) sets up a high-stakes battle over the rights of transgender students in schools and the authority of the U.S. Department of Education to issue broad interpretations of its regulations.

What Trump and Clinton Have to Say About Education 
The candidates aren't talking much about education, but the next president faces big challenges: reducing achievement gaps, implementing the new education law, and expanding access and opportunity.

K-12 Digital Citizenship Initiative Targets States  
A coalition of groups focused on children and media launched a new campaign today to encourage state lawmakers to promote digital citizenship in schools. The aim is to spur adoption of new legislation requiring the formation of state-level advisory committees charged with finding ways to help ensure students use classroom technology safely and ethically while becoming savvy consumers and creators of online media and information.

The Gender Gap in Math Starts in Kindergarten 
A study published last week in AERA Open shows that the disparity in math performances between boys and girls begins in kindergarten and possibly earlier. Using studies from both 1998 and 2010, researchers found that the gender gap in mathematical abilities hadn’t changed much among kids who entered kindergarten 12 years apart.

Science Scores on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ Rise in Fourth and Eighth Grade, Stay Stagnant in 12th 
Scores on national benchmark science tests rose for fourth- and eighth-graders from 2009 to 2015, while high school seniors’ scores stayed flat and science proficiency for all grades tested remained at basic levels for vast numbers of U.S. students. Achievement gaps on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the “Nation’s Report Card,”) between white students and students of color narrowed in fourth and eighth grade but remained largely unchanged in 12th grade. There was no gap between boys’ and girls’ scores in fourth grade, but boys continued to score a few points higher than girls in eighth and 12th grade.

U.S. Department of Education Awards $427 Million in School Improvement Grants to States, Territories to Turn Around Lowest Performing Schools 
The U.S. Department of Education recently announced more than $427 million in School Improvement Grants (SIG) to help turn around America’s persistently lowest-achieving schools in nearly every state and U.S. territory. The Department awards grants to states, which then award competitive sub grants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to substantially raising student achievement in the lowest-performing schools. States are also given flexibility to develop their own state-determined intervention model that focuses on whole-school reform and is designed to improve student achievement.