By Tina Kelley, NJ Advance Media for

JerseyCAN, a statewide student advocacy nonprofit, announced Tuesday that Paula White is its new executive director. The group, based in Cranford, trains parents in advocating for students, trains teachers in public policy, and produces research reports on topics such as instruction, the educator workforce, and school facilities.

White, 56, taught for almost a decade before founding a Newark charter school, running New Jersey’s efforts in school improvements, and nearly becoming the state’s assistant education commissioner.

She said her first priority is pushing for a statewide plan for improving student literacy using scientifically proven methods.

“We don’t have the liberty to be able to meander about, with everyone doing their own thing,” she said, calling for the Department of Education and legislators to get literacy instruction to the largest swath of students as quickly as possible. She cited Mississippi and other states as examples of success.

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