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Public Education Discussion Panel Series

Panel Discussion 2014  -  The Politics of Public Education



Matt Stanton, Government Affairs Executive, MBI GluckShaw




Derrell Bradford, Executive Director of B4K

Victoria Flynn, Partner, DeCottis FitzPatrick & Cole

Paul P. Josephson, Board Member of the New Jersey Charter School Association

Troy Singleton, New Jersey Assemblyman

LOCATION: 200 MacArthur Ave Garfield

DATE: January 29, 2014

Matt Stanton

Derrell Bradford

Discussion Topic Areas


1. 2013 Election in New Jersey


In November 2013, New Jersey held its elections for its state and local municipal government. While there were very few changes in the overall political landscape in New Jersey, it is important to understand how the results of this election will effect public education in New Jersey. What aspects of the  2013 gubernatorial an/or legislative election in New Jersey stood out to you as being impactful to public education in New Jersey?


2.U.S Senator Cory Booker


Earlier this year, Cory Booker was elected to the U.S Senate, leaving behind his post as the Mayor of Newark. While serving as Mayor, Booker was one of the more outspoken advocates for education reform and charter schools in New Jersey. How do you think his support for education reform and charter schools will translate into his new role as the Senator from New Jersey?




3.Christie’s 1st Term Report Card


Governor Christie has built and solidified a clear record on public education reform during his first term. Under the leadership of the governor, New Jersey authorized an unprecedented number of charter schools, established monumental pension reforms for teachers, enacted salary caps for superintendents and made major progress on teacher accountability, to name just some of what has been accomplished. What were some of the things that you think stood out in the Governor’s first term, and what letter grade would give him on his first term in regards to education legislative policies?


4.Governor Christie’s Record on Public Education


In November, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was reelected in a virtual landslide. The Governor has established a clear record to education reform in his first term. What do you expect to see from Governor Christie as it relates to education reform, pension issues, charter schools, teacher accountability and public school funding in his second term as Governor?


5.State Legislature


In November, 2013 New Jersey saw very little changes to the makeup of its state legislature. In this new term, assemblyman Vincent Prieto from Secaucus will assume the role of speakers. With very few changes to the makeup of our state legislature, what do you see as being a priority for the democratic majority in both the senate and the assembly in this next term?


6.The crossroads of student behavior and technology


Public charter schools, especially the NJASCS, are often leading the way for technology in the classroom. Technology, digital media, social media and other technological advances are incredibly helpful tools for teachers to teach and students to learn with, however, like everything else they have their downside. With the rise in technology and social media, we have also seen a rise in cyber-bullying. What can schools do to protect their students while providing them with top-level technological tools? What role should schools have in the discipline of students for cyber-bullying that is done against other students while off school grounds at home? What can local and state elected officials can do to ensure that students are protected against cyber-bullying and those who perpetrate the crimes are held accountable.


7.Effects os Schools on Communities


As school districts have placed more police officers on campuses, criminal charges against children have drastically increased, a trend that has alarmed civil rights groups and others concerned about the safety and educational welfare of public-school students.


The Administration advised schools to focus on creating positive environments, setting clear expectations and consequences for students, and ensuring fairness and equity in disciplinary measures. It also called for districts to collect data on school-based arrests, citations and searches, as well as suspensions and expulsions, and reminded schools of civil rights laws protecting students.


How can we continue to create a positive school climate, particularly in schools that are in communities that are themselves not calm and orderly?


8.The Continued Success of New Jersey Public Schools


A recent study from the Quality Counts report stated that New Jersey public schools rank near the top in the nation in student achievement and chance for success. While this is an incredible honor, it is also a very large responsibility for New Jersey’s public schools to continue to provide such top-quality education moving forward. What can policy makers do to ensure that New Jersey continues to be ranked among the top public schools in the nation with regard to student achievement and chance for success. While this is an incredible honor, it is also a very large responsibility for New Jersey’s public schools to continue to provide such top-quality education moving forward. What can policy makers do to ensure that New Jersey continues to be ranked among the top public schools in the nation with regard to student achievement and chance for success?


9.Arts & Music Programs in Schools


The state of New Jersey over the past two years has been forced to make some necessary cuts to the way it funds public school districts. As such, many schools have had to cut back on some programs, for example arts and music programs. One study identifies a strong relationship between continued involvement in instrumental music across middle and high school and high-level math proficiency in grade 12, particularly for students from lower income families. What does the future hold for art and music programs continue to be a part of our public school curriculum? Can non-profit community programs play a role in supplementing funding for these programs?


10.New Charter School Legislation


It is likely that in this new legislative session, there will be a bill proposed that will reform the original charter school bill that was passed in 1995. This bill will likely include changes to the way charters are authorized and funded. This bill may also address things like facility funding, efforts to increase transparency, and possibly allowing out of state teachers to teach in New Jersey charter schools. As this legislation is being crafted, what issues do you think are important to address in this legislation? Given the current political climate with a Republican Governor and a Democratically controlled Senate and Assembly, what is the likelihood of a charter school bill getting passed?


11.New Jersey Education


Over the last few years we have seen several public officials distinguish themselves as leaders in public education. Governor Christie, Senator Booker, Senator Ruiz, Assemblyman Singleton and Patrick Diegnan, Chair of Assembly of Education for New Jersey. In your opinion, who do you see becoming an education thought leader in New Jersey over the next few years?


12.Role of Teacher Unions in New Jersey


The fight between the NJEA and the Governor has been well documented throughout the entirely of the Governor’s first term. Many  believe that this Governor has reduced the influence of the NJEA over the past four years. What do you see as the role of the NJEA in his second term? Do you see them regain the strength and influence that they lost over the past four years? Are legislators less reluctant now to listen to policy advice from the NJEA as they were a few years ago?



Watch full video.

Victoria Flynn

Paul P. Josephson

Troy Singleton

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