Agenda: State Board of Education

John Mooney | July 10, 2013 | Education
Appointment of officers, various code changes to be focus of summer session

Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time: 10 a.m.

Place: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: Delayed a week due to the Independence Day holiday, the board’s mid-July meeting will continue with deliberation of some administrative code changes but not much in terms of big news for the state’s public schools. State Commissioner Chris Cerf is on vacation, meaning no big initiatives will be presented. The highlight may be continued discussion of regulatory proposals regarding teacher licensure, and public testimony on a number of other proposals.

Election of officers: The board will conduct its annual election of officers, but don’t expect much change. Board President Arcelio Aponte and Vice President Ilan Plawker have been nominated for reelection, with no challengers.

New spokesman: Cerf may not be there, but he will probably have his new spokesman appointed as the board votes on naming Michael Yaple to be the department’s new director of public information. Yaple comes from the communication shop at the New Jersey School Boards Association and, before that, was a reporter for the Press of Atlantic City. He replaces Barbara Morgan, who left to become press secretary for New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.

GPA change: The board will hold its second reading on teacher licensure changes, including increasing the minimum college grade point average for new teachers from the current 2.75 to 3.0 (out of a maximum of 4.0). The change is meant to raise the bar on academic performance for teachers, and so far has encountered little resistance, Aponte said. Separately, the board is also considering changes in the required scores needed for passing the state’s teacher entrance exams, known as the Praxis tests.

Holiday schedule: The board is required annually to sign off on the list of approved religious holidays on which schools must grant students excused absences if requested. The list is lengthy, with more than 100 holidays from all faiths. Each year usually adds a day or two, depending on changes in the calendar or requests from the public.

An unusual disclaimer: The list comes with a disclaimer that it is only a minimum accounting, and schools can opt to add days if so requested as well. The department also stresses the list is not perfect: “The New Jersey Department of Education has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the dates. The information has been verified through the use of various sources and some dates may vary due to the lunar, Gregorian and Julian calendars.”

Public testimony: Starting at 2 p.m., the public is invited to testify on a number of pending codes, including changes in the teacher evaluation regulations that have been perhaps the board’s most controversial issue this year. Other codes open to testimony are related to teacher licensure, adult education, and standards and assessment.