• Ensuring Equity for All New Jersey Students

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 11/19/2019

    Today, the ultimate challenge for us as district leaders is to assure that each and every one of our students, regardless of background, is exposed to relevant and engaging learning experiences and the support that they will need in order to be successful in school and thrive in our world. That means that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income, as defined by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2017.


    At NJASA, we’re working for fair and equitable opportunities for all students, educators, and communities through our initiative, NJASA 4 Equity. Below is a glimpse of all we’ve been doing, and why you should join us on November 21st for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic at The Palace at Somerset Park.


    We will be initiating a process of reviewing the survey responses from school leaders who provided input regarding strategies and resources needed for building and sustaining an equitable learning environment. Our goal is to create an Equity Toolkit of best practices. We know that this type of Toolkit is not a magic bullet as issues of societal discrimination and inequities have a long history in educational systems. However, with the collaboration of superintendents, district administrators, and our county affiliate presidents, this Toolkit will provide support, guidelines, frameworks and resources to New Jersey school districts as they endeavor to ensure both access and opportunity for educational equity.


    We believe in equitable access to funding for all school districts.

    We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.


    We believe in equitable access to professional development for all school leaders, and in equitable access to career opportunities and fair compensation for all association members.

    We’re continuing to support new superintendents through mentor relationships, specially designed meeting sessions, and network opportunities. We’re ensuring gender, racial and economic equity among those serving as central office leaders. We’re creating an ongoing repository of best practice professional development opportunities in areas of educational leadership. We’re also increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and wellness for novice and veteran superintendents and members of NJASA.


    New Jersey’s schools are #1. Equity will help us to remain at the forefront.

    Education Week recently ranked New Jersey’s schools first in the nation. What will keep us on top is equity for New Jersey’s 1.4 million students. Innovation, practice, policy and performance are so important, and our schools are rising to the challenge.


    In Hamilton Township, Mercer County, NJASA President Dr. Scott Rocco oversees 17 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Equity is a goal in the budgeting process. As a result, not every school has the same budget. Rather, building budgets are developed to support the students’ needs for success. There are many examples of equity budgeting but one is paying for AP testing for students, regardless of their ability to pay. 


    In the Cranbury School District, NJASA Small Schools/Shared Services Committee Chair Dr. Susan Genco stresses the importance of access and opportunity. She says it is our responsibility as educators to create and provide opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations.


    NJASA is working with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania to provide educators with information and strategies that will help our students to achieve. We also are collaborating with the New Jersey Consortia for Excellence Through Equity Northeast, Northwest, Central, and South. These networks of urban, suburban and rural school districts are all driven by a mission to positively transform the lives of each and every one of their students by preparing them for success in post-secondary education and in life – especially those diverse children who have traditionally struggled academically in our systems, or who might likely be the first in their family to attend and graduate from college.


    As district leaders, you are key to promoting and supporting meaningful change. Again, please join us for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Palace at Somerset Park.


    We’ll hear from esteemed, groundbreaking thought leaders on the forefront of equity who are covering an insightful agenda.


    Our keynote speaker, Fay E. Brown, Ph.D., will talk about “Reimagining Equity: The Case for a Whole-Child Approach for Effective Teaching and Learning.” Dr. Brown is a research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. She has co-authored book chapters in such books as: Child by Child; Six Pathways to Healthy Development and Academic Success; and Dynamic Instructional Leadership to Support Student Learning and Development.


    Scholastic’s SVP of Education, Karen Burke, Ed.D., will serve as moderator. Burke has been an educator for more than 30 years, and currently helps district leadership understand and use data to create district-specific comprehensive literacy plans that weave pedagogy, programs, and professional learning together to elevate student learning.


    We also will learn from New Jersey’s school districts about creating and sustaining the structures, curricula and programs that eliminate gaps in achievement. We’ll learn to bypass race, ethnicity, and gender. We’ll remove barriers from language, (dis)ability or family economic background. We are partners who can help gather the resources, thought and energy needed to create and sustain meaningful educational change to the benefit of all of the diverse learners you serve. Together, we will ensure all students succeed.


    Whether you are just beginning to explore and create or you are maintaining developmentally appropriate conditions, I hope you’ll join us. Register today


    Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News

    As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.

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  • Hot-Button Issues for NJ’s Public Schools – Fall 2019

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 8/29/2019

    Back to School We’re heading back to school. In New Jersey, that means plenty of hot-button issues on the horizon. The 2019-20 school year will be pivotal as we explore state funding, graduation testing requirements, regional consolidation, the teacher shortage, special education disputes, a new mental health curriculum and a later school start time. Here’s a look at what lies ahead, and what it means to administrators, educators, parents and students.


    The Quest for Equitable State Funding


    Funding struggles are nothing new for New Jersey’s schools. But in past years, some districts didn’t receive nearly enough state aid. Landmark legislation passed last year was supposed to correct those imbalances — and it did. The problem is that it took funding from the budgets of other districts.     


    As a result, educational leaders throughout New Jersey have found themselves in one of two positions: finally receiving additional funds for their districts after years of hardship or losing funding and having to slash budgets.


    This summer, Governor Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act, which helps to ramp up K-to-12 funding by nearly $260 million dollars. Of that amount, $60 million will be dedicated to maintain and expand pre-K programs. Another $2 million will expand computer science education to all grades, and not just high school, and there’s $650,000 for STEM and other early college high school programs. Finally, the budget includes another $50 million for “extraordinary special education costs.” Districts can apply for this funding, as needed.


    We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.


    • What State Funding Means for Schools and Educators: Districts receiving funds are still operating at a shortfall since this support has been years in the making. Districts losing funds have already made the first set of cuts, in many cases essential staff. Pre-K programs seem to be the only “safe” bet in this funding scenario — for now.


    • What State Funding Means for Parents and Students: Expect cuts across the board in districts which are losing funds. Parents of preschoolers will have more public options. While STEM programs are already in the elementary grades, computer science will need a learning curve as districts explore appropriate curriculum for younger learners.


    The Path to Graduation is Still Unclear


    State law mandates that students pass an assessment in eleventh grade before they can graduate from a public high school in New Jersey. The PARCC test was intended to replace that requirement, with students passing both PARCC Algebra 1 and tenth grade English Language Arts.


    On December 30, 2018, the Superior Court Appellate Division invalidated those PARCC tests, and legislators have been scrambling to address graduation requirements ever since. The Department of Education (DOE) has recently released educator-prepared student learning objectives for the English Language Arts and Mathematics student learning standards, which will ultimately guide school district curricula and form the basis for a new generation of assessments.


    In the meantime, recent agreements approved by the State Supreme Court allow high school graduation standards to remain the same through 2022. Beginning with the graduating class of 2023, there will be a mandated, eleventh-grade assessment. NJASA is one of the many stakeholders informing future assessment decisions. Stay tuned.


    • What the Path to Graduation Means for Schools and Educators: Schools are continuing the status quo for the foreseeable future, as they await direction from the DOE and the state.


    • What the Path to Graduation Means for Parents and Students: Students graduating high school now through 2022 have a variety of options according to the state: the eleventh-grade state test, the PARCC assessments, SAT, ACT or ACCUPLACER scores and student portfolios.


    Senate President Steve Sweeney and others have introduced a series of Path to Progress bills that promise to fix the state’s financial crisis. A portion of the proposed legislation impacts New Jersey’s school significantly. The idea is to merge K-4, K-6 and K-8 districts into K-12 regional school systems, purportedly saving tens of billions of dollars for taxpayers.


    This is nothing new; we’ve been studying the issue for decades. Proponents say it will increase efficiency and lower costs. That’s not always the case. Regionalization can result in increased transportation costs, higher property taxes, and loss of state and federal aid. Local participation and involvement also is an issue. Our experience leads us to believe that parents identify and participate with greater frequency in local school districts rather than in larger regional districts where a town may only have one board member and the meetings take place in a different town. Finally, the quality of existing courses and services in many small districts is excellent. Many students thrive in a small educational setting. Therefore, bigger in terms of educational organization does not necessarily mean better.


    We believe that for some districts regionalization may bring some students a wider range of course offerings and services, and possibly some other benefits. We also feel strongly that combining school districts must be a local decision. It could be right for your district, but that’s for communities to decide — not the state.


    • What the Path to Progress Means for Schools and Educators: Districts that consolidate may lose their unique offerings and ability to personalize education. Prepare for faculty cuts as districts eliminate redundancy.


    • What the Path to Progress Means for Parents and Students: If regionalization becomes a reality, parents and students will need to navigate a more complex education system while potentially paying more in taxes.


    What You Need to Know About the Teacher Shortage


    A growing concern is New Jersey’s teacher shortage in critical areas. Simply put, districts are struggling to employ teachers who represent their diverse student base. Having a teacher that looks like you, or shares a similar cultural background, helps to build relationships. That in turn promotes equity, where all children have an equal opportunity to succeed. Districts are working on opportunities for minority students to develop interest in education careers. School leaders are also making an effort to recruit a more diverse teacher base.


    This summer, the Department of Education held its first statewide conference on equity in education. There were workshops on LGBTQ inclusivity, disability awareness, empathy and trauma, among other topics. The DOE also is encouraging a focus on social-emotional learning initiatives to help students thrive.


    • What the Teacher Shortage Means for Schools and Educators: Equity continues to be the watchword in today’s districts. Look for more programs to learn how your school can establish equity for all.


    • What Teacher Shortage Means for Parents and Students: Don’t expect significant staff changes overnight as schools struggle to recruit talent. Do expect an emphasis on social-emotional learning, and ask your child’s teacher how he or she is addressing this important aspect of education.


    Streamlining Special Education Disputes


    There are hundreds of disputes each year between districts and families with special education students. At issue are whether student needs are being addressed. Due to a shortage of judges, these cases can drag on for months or even years.


    New state rules promise to streamline the process. Cases must be resolved within 45 days. That may seem challenging, and time will tell whether that’s realistic. There will be non-judicial hearing officers to help process the caseload.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this complex issue.


    • What Special Education Disputes Mean for Schools and Educators: Schools will have increased accountability to the state. It’s unclear whether the non-judicial hearing officers will have the expertise to make decisions.


    • What Special Education Disputes Mean for Parents and Students: Cases will be resolved during the current school year, or close to it, for more immediate action.


    Fostering Mental Health


    Governor Murphy signed legislation requiring mental health education in K-12 health curriculums. That means in future physical education and health classes, students also will study mental health in an age appropriate manner, starting in kindergarten.


    • What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Schools and Educators: New curriculum could mean additional investments for fund-strapped districts.


    • What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Parents and Students: Mental health curriculum will hopefully reduce the stigma and instill greater empathy among students.


    Later Start Time


    The Governor also established a pilot program that would test later start times in New Jersey schools. The program will be tested in five districts, representing urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.


    • What a Later Start Time Means for Schools and Educators: Research has suggested that a later start time may improve student learning outcomes.


    • What a Later Start Time Means for Parents and Students: There will be jockeying for timing of transportation and extracurricular activities, but most students will enjoy a later start.


    Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News

    As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.


    Stay tuned to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators website at www.njasa.net, this blog and our Facebook page for continuing up-to-date information on these critical issues and our professional programs.

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  • 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award Winner

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 6/14/2019


    Dr. Scott McCartney Makes a Difference in Moorestown and Beyond


    Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference.


    Dr. Scott McCartney That’s the case with Dr. Scott McCartney, Chief Education Officer for Moorestown Township Public Schools. As recipient of the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award, Dr. McCartney had made quite a difference both at the local level and statewide.


    The Value of Education

    For Dr. McCartney, it started with a longstanding interest in education that turned into a major in college. But it was during his undergraduate practicum at Ursinus that he realized the full value of his chosen profession. He was asked to teach the color green to three young special needs students. It took many attempts, and a lot of creativity, but he succeeded – and was captivated by the experience.


    The first of his family to attend college, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in secondary education from Ursinus and followed with a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from Rowan University and a doctorate in administration from Seton Hall University.


    Taking the Helm to Lead Toward the FutureDSA Award Recipient


    During that process, Dr. McCartney officially began his career as a teacher, substituting in the very district where he once attended school. The district recognized his potential and soon offered him a full-time teaching position for language arts, writing and reading. His administrative career soon followed, as assistant principal and principal at the George L. Hess Complex in Hamilton Twp., Atlantic County.


    At the age of 32, he took the helm of Dennis Township Schools in Cape May County, becoming – at the time – the youngest chief education officer in New Jersey. He has since served as chief education officer for Downe Township Schools in Cumberland County and Egg Harbor Township Schools in Atlantic County.


    Today, Dr. McCartney is Superintendent of the Moorestown Township Public Schools, a post that he has held for the past three years. And lot has transpired in those three years.


    The district has been awarded a Bronze Certification in the Future Ready Schools Program. It has extended and enhanced technology integration. It has engaged with the community to address social and emotional learning.


    Dr. McCartney has also worked with the Board to generate over 2.5 million dollars in new revenue through grants and programs in the district.  This includes a school security grant of over a million dollars for Moorestown High School.


    Through it all, Dr. McCartney is doing what he does best – making a difference. In addition to providing stability in leadership, he has engaged the school community on focused district goals. He emphasizes innovation, social and emotional learning and targeted instruction for different learners.


    Taking on the Challenges that Make the Difference


    His dedication to the profession is shown by his extensive record of service. Dr. McCartney is an active member of NJASA, and a past president. He also is an NJASA mentor and a former AASA Governing Board Member for New Jersey. Professional development remains his passion, and he regularly presents at the local, state and national levels. He is proud to be part of the Moorestown Township School family.


    Throughout his career, Dr. McCartney has sought and been asked to participate in visionary programs and to take on new challenges.  As a first-year teacher, he was asked to build a new computerized writing lab program and stepped in to help redesign an alternative school.  As a building administrator, he has always looked forward to see how innovation and progressive thinking could benefit his students and my staff.  Some of those areas included the development of a school based professional development institute, looping, innovative schedules and a variety of new instructional program and curricular models.  As a Chief Education Officer, he has led the charge to implement standards-based instruction and reporting, professional learning communities, differentiated instruction, character education programs, STEAM, alternative programs, and a host of other visionary initiatives.


    Says Dr. McCartney, “This career in education has blessed me and continues to do so daily as I serve a robust and talented community of learners.  I am encouraged, excited, and enthusiastic about the care I see being delivered in our public schools each day and I truly feel privileged and grateful to be a part of it!”


    For these reasons, and others too numerous to mention, it is my pleasure to recognize Dr. Scott McCartney with the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.


    Click here to view the video.


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  • Three Reasons to Attend the Spring Leadership Conference

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 4/30/2019

    SLC Cover 2019 Self-awareness. Focused attention. Empathy and inclusiveness. These are just some of the concepts embedded in mindfulness, the theme of this year’s NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference: “Mindfulness for All: Connecting Leaders and Learners.” When mindfulness is a focus in education, both leaders and learners benefit—which is why attending the conference could be the most important professional development opportunity that you take this school year. In fact, there are hundreds of reasons to sign up for the spring conference. I’ll give you my top three.


    Reason #1: Inspiring Speakers Offer Exciting Perspectives on Leading and Learning

    The conference opens with a keynote presentation on Wed., May 15, from 1-3 p.m. by Jonathan Mooney. Jonathan first learned to read when he was 12 years old. Today, he’s an award-winning writer, entrepreneur and activist who is one of the foremost leaders in neurodiversity, education reform, and career pathways for at risk youth. His books, including “The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal,” are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution, and are used in undergraduate and graduate programs at universities and colleges across the country. Jonathan has lectured in 49 states and 5 countries, and has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, HBO, NPR and more.


    On Thurs., May 16, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll hear from Dr. Samuel Betances, a former school dropout who went on to earn two graduate degrees from Harvard. Now he’s a senior diversity consultant who inspires willing learners to excel. Dr. Betances is passionate about social justice and increasing the cultural competencies of mission-driven teams for educating ready-to-learn urban students immersed in poverty. His books are well received by principals, educators, students and parents, including his most recent release, “Ten Steps to the Head of the Class: A Handbook for Middle School Students.”


    On Fri., May 17, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll learn from Dr. Michele Borba, an internationally-known educator, author and bullying expert. Her realistic approach is stopping bullying in its tracks, by bolstering empathy and social-emotional intelligence. Her proposal, “Ending School Violence and Bullying” (SB1667) was signed into California law in 2002. Dr. Borba is an award-winning author of 24 books translated into 19 languages. She is a frequent NBC contributor, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Phil, Dateline, The View, as well as MSNBC, Fox & Friends, CNN, and more.


    Reason #2: Insightful Programs Offer Best Practices—Ready to Launch in Your District

    With a focus on mindfulness for all, our Spring Leadership Conference workshops are designed to encourage, educate and celebrate both leaders and learners. Here is just a sampling of what you can expect. Find a full list at this workshop link.


    • Reducing Anxiety, Stress and Aggression in Students with Autism and Behavioral Disabilities Using Mindfulness Practices
    • Social and Emotional Learning and At-Risk Youth; A Whole-Child Programmatic Approach to Meeting the Needs of Our Most Vulnerable Students
    • A whole child approach to school safety
    • Harnessing the power of resistance
    • School-based interventions without IEPs
    • STEM and problem-based learning with a purpose
    • Building an inclusive culture


    Reason #3: Great Opportunities to Expand Your Resource Base Through Networking

    Last, but not least, you’ll connect with like-minded leaders who are successfully pioneering ideas in their districts. You’ll also have the opportunity to chat with vendors who might be able to provide that pivotal product or service for your programs. Don’t miss the chance to meet that colleague, collaborator or expert who will help you take your district to the next level.


    To register for the 37th Annual NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference on May 15-17, 2019 at Caesars Atlantic City, click on the following links for the registration page, information on hotel reservations and a waiver for overnight lodging.


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  • Inspiring Women Leaders in New Jersey's Schools

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 3/6/2019


    Women Leaders



    Women have made great strides professionally in many roles. In New Jersey, they dominate the business world. However, it’s not quite the same in New Jersey’s public schools. If you’re looking at the position of superintendent, more likely than not you’ll find a man at the helm. 


    While New Jersey has an average of 33% percent of Chief Education Officer roles filled by women – ahead of the national average of 24% – we are still actively looking to increase these ranks. 



    Women Mentors Inspire Women Leaders 


    Mentors are key to encourage young female administrators, according to NJASA Secretary Dr. Margaret Dolan, Chief Education Officer, Westfield Public School System; and NJASA Director of Special Projects Judith Rattner, former 2016 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year. Ms. Rattner had an opportunity to mentor nationally as part of the “More Than a Power Lunch” initiative through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA. Ms. Rattner said, “We need to inspire people to serve as mentors and work with people whom we see are effective leaders and sponsor them in new roles.” 


    The NJASA Women’s Leadership Group is key, according to Dr. Dolan. She notes, “We now have representation all over the state, with individuals who have started initiatives in their own county or region.” 


    Dr. Dolan worked with her fellow chief education officers to create a local event in Union County. Despite a massive snowstorm that first year, the conference was a success. Teachers who participated approached the organizers, saying they were inspired to become administrators. 


    Mark Your Calendar: 2 Conferences in March 


    This year, the organizers are expanding their reach. The annual Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on March 14-15, 2019 at The Palace at Somerset Park, in Somerset, NJ. Inspiring speakers, who will chronicle their journey as women in all industries, will share their expertise. Check out the agenda and register today


    On the state level, NJASA was proud to host the Annual Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum and Luncheon, on March 1, 2019.


    Get Involved at the Local, Regional and State Levels 


    I encourage women in New Jersey’s school districts to join in these initiatives. To see more featured events for women leaders and to learn more about the NJASA Women’s Leadership Group, click here


    We’re all working to promote gender, race and ethnic equity within New Jersey’s schools. As positions open up for chief education officers, we hope to have plenty of women leaders poised to fill those roles.

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