Paterson Board of Ed will investigate secret state charter school approval

Wei Tiger

Mother Crusader shares reactions from Paterson’s Board of Ed members to the news that Christie’s Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, approved two more charter schools for Paterson without the Board’s consent or knowledge, or knowledge of other city residents. The State is legally required to solicit community feedback regarding new charter applications but as Mother Crusader points out, “from what I heard at that meeting, nothing about this administration’s charter agenda in Paterson was shared with the good people of that community.” read more

5 articles on why charters are bad for Paterson

Mother Crusader is a new voice in education reform – on the good guy side. This lady didn’t intend to become an advocate for public education. But, she followed the thread of a bit of “education reform” injustice she stumbled across one day which led her to a huge ball of intentional attacks on public education by privatizers who want the money it represents for themselves, and are out to destroy students’ minds, happiness and their communities while they’re at it, in order to get that money. Mother Crusader was disturbed, put aside all of her other tasks for the week and wrote a series of articles explaining in very clear English, why charter schools are bad and exactly why the Paterson Collegiate Charter School in particular, is bad for Paterson. read more

What is Torah (the Jewish bible)?

Torah scrollThere are many misconceptions about what the Jewish Bible is, arising largely from the fact that only the most dedicated Jewish scholars have engaged in the many years of study required to review and learn what Torah contains, and what it actually is. Some people refer to the Torah as a set of laws, but this is not accurate. Torah, or teachings, refers to more than the Torah scrolls kept in Jewish synagogues and the complete body of “written scripture” which Jews call the Tanach and Christians call the Old Testament. It also refers to the Oral, or spoken, teachings. Books on specific topics have been written by prior and modern sages that collate, codify or explain, information that is found woven throughout different parts of the Torah, for example: Maimonides book listing the 613 positive and negative commandments Jews must adhere to and the laws of careful speech, which is another area of Torah study which merits its own, special, space. read more

Online Learning, Free Classes and MOOCs


  • Coursera offers free online courses and certificate courses you pay a fee to get
  • Distance Ed Archive Collection curated by George Brett
    Topics related to distance eLearning in academia and other organizations.
  • EdX
    EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.
  • Harvard offers a variety of free online courses.
  • MIT OpenCourseware. Basically, MIT gives you last year’s course lectures totally for free. If you want this year’s courses and access to professors, you need to attend the school.
  • Udemy has a variety of free and low cost courses. Offers change so check in once in a while to see if you can catch what you want at a good price or for free.
  • read more

    Self learning beats a “degrading” educational system

    TED features a MOOC project this week

    Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online — giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks — they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn. read more

    Expanded student demographic data now on ELC website

    chart of funding weighted per pupilOver the years, Education Law Center (ELC) has become the “go-to” source where parents, policymakers and advocates can find high quality, in-depth data and other useable information on New Jersey’s public schools. This organization is committed to continuing to provide timely and relevant data in a highly functional and interactive format and is pleased to announce that visitors can now find an expanded range of student data on their website: racial/ethnic composition, poverty rates, limited English proficiency rates, and special education rates of NJ public school students, whether enrolled in district schools or charter schools. read more

    The correct word is . . .

    It’s definitely time to start a proper word usage list. I just spotted the third statement about “peek interest” made by a college educated person. This is going to be a running list. I’ll add to it when I spot anything new that belongs here. If you have a suggestion, put in the Talkback section and I’ll add it.

    Pique Something may pique your interest, but it cannot peek or peak it.

    Apostrophes (‘) – words should only have them to show possession or when the word is a contraction, like can’t or don’t. Plurals don’t get apostrophes. Let’s make a concerted effort not to misplace this bit of punctuation . . because understanding each other is important.
    Resources: Apostrophe Catastrophe, Wikibooks read more

    Us or them? Goals for public education

    An increasingly corporatized school system wishes to crush students with learning challenges because they are not expected to fulfill the mission being set: that students during the course of their educations should be trained to become willing and obedient servants of large corporations and of wealthy individuals upon graduation. But, is this what the people of the United States want to be? If not, we must begin evaluating what public education means to our families, our children and our overall society. We must ask: what is the purpose of public education? What are the life, moral and academic lessons we want imparted to our children during the course of their public school educations? read more

    What is Cory Booker’s vision for Newark?

    Honestly, I don’t know enough about Newark politics to make a judgment call about how well Cory Booker governs. I do have growing questions about how some important city matters are being handled, though. As the Green Drinks Newark founding host, people bring issues and questions to my attention and I feel a moral obligation to look into them. This 21 May article by Josh Benson purports to addresses some of the underlying political reasons things happen the way they do in Newark. Josh quotes State Senator Ronald Rice as saying, “… if people don’t understand it now by … Cory traveling throughout the country, the people he meets with, people he supports and all the stuff happening in Newark with hedge funds and investors, if they don’t understand he’s completely beholden to them, there’s something wrong with them.” read more

    New tracking skews against some NJ students

    The intent to harm vulnerable young people inherent in Christie’s new educational initiative begins to reveal itself. We have to look for this in every move Christie makes: even when his PR buzz makes it look like he’s doing something good for low-income students, the reverse is always true. Using the new federal system of tracking high school graduation rates as an excuse, Christie announces plans to expand the number of assessment tests students get in their high school years.

    Where’s the harm in that? Athough this tool will clearly make it harder for our state’s highschoolers to graduate, it comes with no thoughtful companion plan on how to improve education. As one poster comments in a Facebook page on education, it’s unfair to wait until students are in high school to start rigorous testing for academic readiness: those evaluations need to start much earlier in their academic careers. read more

    Danger looms for higher ed student diversity

    The Supreme Court has agreed to consider if it’s lawful for colleges and universities to take into account the ethnicity of a student who applies for entrance when deciding whether to admit him/her. Most institutions of higher education have been required since 1978 to make room for students who may be lower-achieving academically than other candidates because they’re members of ethnic groups recognized as disadvantaged and need the boost of a handicap to raise their area of the playing field to a level which will statistically provide a similar admission opportunity as students coming from ethnic groups with history of better academic performance. read more

    Christie Plans New Ways to Block Vulnerable NJ Students From Quality Education

    Political conservatives, lead by arrogant politicians who clearly want to deprive the poor and vulnerable of any chance of escaping roles as menial laborers or fodder for a privatized prison system eager to house an expanding prison population: societal roles that coincidentally, provide creature comforts, and even riches, to too many – have a new plan for making quality education even less attainable for New Jersey’s most vulnerable students. They’ve appropriately named this tool of destruction the “Urban Hope Act”, as it hopes to make possible the future exploitation of young urban poor for many, many years to come. Sad to say that although Christie is spearheading this initiative, which makes sense given his politics, seriously misguided South Jersey Democrats have apparently gotten on board the bandwagon to help him destroy these kids’ futures, and that’s Just Not Right. read more

    Low-income Community College Students Still Without Health Insurance

    Added on 20 Feb 2010: I’ve reworded the title of this post to reflect that (in New Jersey) this issue is principally a concern of community college students. Rutgers, New Jersey’s state college, offers two very low-cost options for students: for under $200 they can use clinics on site at the school and for about $500 enroll in a traditional HMO is offered. But the insurance offered by Bergen Community College covers students only in case of hospitalization for a catastrophic incident – which yes, is as serious and rare as it sounds. I supposed other state community colleges have similar policies. read more

    Free University Education Programs

    MITx: Online Teaching Model Beta Launching in 2012

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) takes its online teaching program to the next level with the new MITx initiative, which will be introduced this spring as a beta-testing model. Forbes magazine says, “MITx . . . will offer the online teaching of MIT courses free of charge to anyone in the world. The program will not allow students to earn an MIT degree. Instead, those who are able to exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion.” read more

    Only one sentence space in digital documents!

    People, we should be using only a single space between sentences in electronic documents. Many of us still use two!

    On the topic of this practice, Slate says,

    Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

    And the Chicago Manual of Style agrees:

    But introducing two spaces after the period causes problems: (1) it is inefficient, requiring an extra keystroke for every sentence; (2) even if a program is set to automatically put an extra space after a period, such automation is never foolproof; (3) there is no proof that an extra space actually improves readability—as your comment suggests, it’s probably just a matter of familiarity (Who knows? perhaps it’s actually more efficient to read with less regard for sentences as individual units of thought—many centuries ago, for example in ancient Greece, there were no spaces even between words, and no punctuation); (4) two spaces are harder to control for than one in electronic documents (I find that the earmark of a document that imposes a two-space rule is a smattering of instances of both three spaces and one space after a period, and two spaces in the middle of sentences); and (5) two spaces can cause problems with line breaks in certain programs. read more