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Archive for Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Bell: One more candidate chat, today at 1 p.m.; YouTube video still defending teachers; N.J. school financing faces constitutional questions

March 23, 2011

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Some education-oriented items from around the area, and beyond:

One more chat.

Today at 1 p.m., Tyler Palmer is scheduled to sit down for a live, online chat here at The News Center — marking the ninth of nine such chats with candidates for Lawrence school board.

Anyone interested in asking Palmer a question may submit one — or two, or three... — in advance, or during the chat itself. Just follow the link at the side of this story.

I’ll be moderator for the chat, just as I have been for the previous eight. You can read transcripts of those chats, also by following the links alongside this story.

All nine candidates are vying for election to occupy four available seats on the board. Winners will take office in July.

In-person advance voting continues now through noon April 4. The general election is April 5.

•••

A friend of mine came across a YouTube video getting some fresh play these days, more than four years after its original posting.

The video is billed this week by MoveOn.org as “The Most Aggressive Defense Of Teachers You'll Hear This Year.”

Check out Taylor Mali’s take through the MoveOn.org item, which includes the YouTube post. You can also just check out the video straight from YouTube. But be warned: The clip includes some salty language and, yes, a gesture that would send any student to the principal’s office.

There’s also an edited version — “cleaned up a bit (aka censored) for a teacher's inservice audience” — available here, with a whole new set of visuals.

In either case, the can’t-miss message is quite clear.

•••

Here’s a news flash: Kansas isn’t the only state dealing with pressures on its financing for public education.

Check out what’s going on in New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s cuts last year — $820 million worth — have kept public schools from providing students with the “thorough and efficient” education that’s required by the state constitution.

That’s according to a ruling by Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne, as reported by Philadelphia Inquirer.

The judge, acting as a “special master” appointed by the state’s Supreme Court, issued a 96-page advisory report, but did not offer any specific remedies.

From the Inquirer story:

“Depending on what the court decides, the matter could have significant repercussions on the state's finances. In the fiscal year that ends June 30, New Jersey would have to have provided another $1.6 billion to comply with the funding formula law, according to Doyne's report. Faced with a nearly $11 billion deficit, Christie slashed education aid by about $820 million.

Doyne acknowledged the difficulty of meeting the constitutional mandate during the state's fiscal crisis. But he said, repeatedly, that New Jersey failed during recent hearings to prove that its funding levels were adequate.

"Something needs to be done to equitably address these competing imperatives," Doyne wrote. "That answer, though, is beyond the purview of this report. For the limited question posed to this Master, it is clear the state has failed to carry its burden."

Despite the state's efforts to inflict less pain on poorer districts, Doyne wrote, "the reductions fell more heavily upon our high-risk districts and the children educated within those districts."

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