At JerseyCAN we believe that all families must have access to high-quality schools and that students need continuous support and excellent teaching, regardless of their zip code, cultural background, or socioeconomic status. Since 2013, we have worked to level the playing field in New Jersey to ensure educational excellence and equity. And now, as schools across New Jersey are shuttered due to the COVID pandemic, JerseyCAN is more determined than ever to ensure that all students across our state are still able to access a high-quality education.
Since schools closed on March 18th for New Jersey’s 1.4 million school children, the JerseyCAN team has been in regular communication with key education decision makers at the Governor’s Office, the Department of Education (NJDOE), and leaders in the Legislature. Indeed, our strong advocacy skills have resulted in our appointment to the Senate Education Recovery Task Force and an invitation to serve on the NJDOE’s steering committee focused on reopening schools. Given the significant changes in our education community, we have pivoted to focus our goals and efforts in a way that will yield the best results for students in all communities during these times of transition:
Goal 1: Ensure that federal stimulus and state funding is given fairly to all New Jersey public traditional and public charter schools.
- We are continuing to follow the federal stimulus bills and working with national and state partners to assess the availability of new federal stimulus funding for our students.
- We have gathered partners to write to our federal representatives about the need for additional federal stimulus funding to continue to support our education system in New Jersey.
- Our team has also engaged with Senators Menendez and Booker to advocate for education dollars for our schools and communities.
Goal 2: Ensure New Jersey maintains high academic standards and implements the use of diagnostic tools to measure learning loss and inform realignment and acceleration of curricula to students.
- According to a Collaborative For Student Growth brief:
- “Preliminary COVID slide estimates suggest students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year.
- However, in mathematics, students are likely to show much smaller learning gains, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.”
- New Jersey’s achievement gaps persist, and given the compounding reality of the COVID slide, it is imperative that our education community think innovatively about how we can accelerate learning during these times to ensure no child falls behind.
Goal 3: Strengthen the teacher talent pipeline to increase the quantity of high-quality teachers in New Jersey.
Now more than ever the power of effective educators is front and center. We began writing a New Jersey Educator Workforce Series prior to COVID19 because New Jersey’s educator workforce was already starting to lag in both supply and demand. We have started a teacher policy working group with key leaders across the state to ensure New Jersey can mitigate some of the economic impacts to educators and think innovatively to assure every classroom has a teacher in Fall 2020.
A bright spot in all of our work has been the establishment of New Jersey Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship (NJTLPF) in partnership with We Raise New Jersey. The Fellowship will help create more teacher leader advocates and will provide JerseyCAN with a unique opportunity to hear from educators about what they experiencing during these times and how they are approaching the future of education in New Jersey. We look forward to introducing you to our ten phenomenal teacher leaders in the weeks to come.
Overall, we are grateful for your continued support and partnership with JerseyCAN. As advocates, parents, former educators and engaged leaders we are looking to continue to elevate solutions and innovations that put student achievement, equity and excellence first.