Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Time: 10 a.m.
Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton
What they are doing: The board gets back to work under a new president, Mark Biedron, with some important matters before them: renewing the state’s achievement standards and also a new proposal for special education regulations. The first version of the regulations last year were loudly protested by parent advocates on a number of fronts and subsequently withdrawn. The board will also hear public testimony on amendments to teacher evaluation code and also charter schools.
New president: The meeting will begin with the election of new officers, and Biedron, appointed in 2011 by Gov. Chris Christie, is expected to be named the board’s new president, replacing Arcelio Aponte. A Tewskbury resident, Biedron is founder of the Willow School, a private school in Gladstone, and also a homebuilder in “green” construction with Solid Wood Construction LLC. Aponte steps down after three years as president.
Special ed redux: The Christie administration comes back before the board with one of the most contentious pieces of the state’s administrative code, that for special education services in and outside schools. The administration had put forward new code last year in an attempt to streamline the process and reduce some of the red tape for schools. But the proposal faced fierce protest from advocates who contended it gave too much authority to districts and weakened that for families. The latest iteration leaves out some of those earlier proposals, focusing more on technical adjustments to bring the code in line with federal rules, officials said.
The “other” standards: While the national Common Core State Standards for language arts and math have gotten all the attention — and debate — the state board is expected to easily renew New Jersey’s remaining standards for social studies, science, health-physical education, and the arts. The board held several hearings on the standards, including some significant changes in the sciences, and drew mostly small crowds.
Public testimony: The state board also has on its agenda a couple of major pieces of code for teacher effectiveness and charter schools, although they provide few big changes from previous code. That doesn’t mean they won’t draw a lot of comment, though, since the New Jersey Education Association has implored its members to testify on the teacher evaluation code as part of a “lobby day.” The public testimony starts at 2 p.m.