I recently spoke after mass at my church, St. Aedan’s, about the fact that most of Jersey City’s public schools lack working water fountains in all the schools. The result, I shared, was that kids often go through the school day thirsty; they are distracted from academics due to thirst, they suffer headaches due to thirst,...Continue reading
Category: Civics in Action
JCPS Update: Positive school climate, trauma informed schools, and social emotional support for kids
In my years within Jersey City Public Schools as both an advocate and a parent, I have heard stories of children who experience poor school climate. School climate is a casual term that some of us may use in a colloquial sense, but it is also framed professionally by school and mental health experts in...Continue reading
Update on Water Advocacy in Jersey City Public Schools
It’s worth sharing some good news as we head into the new school year: Jersey City Together’s education team has helped push for water remediation in over a dozen schools. Specifically, more than a dozen schools now have new, 21st century working water fountains. The list of schools that have had new working water fountains...Continue reading
Take Action: Support Jersey City Public Schools
This letter was created by the Jersey City Together Education Team. I am hosting the letter on CivicParent to support the advocacy. To learn more about Jersey City Together's advocacy and ongoing work (and how you can plug in), click here.
JCPS Mental Health – 2021 Call to Action
I have written this post with the help and input of Jessica Taube and Divya Dodhia, who are both parents, mental health professionals, and school advocates. The three of us are members of Jersey City Together's Education Team. We came together through our advocacy work and put this page together as a resource for parents,...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools Urgently Need Counselors for Our Kids
Update: the BOE did not speak in public to the issue of mental health counselors at the Nov 29th BOE meeting but they did take up an issue around teacher pay which you can read about here. The post below summarizes an issue that is ongoing and merits public attention and advocacy. There is a...Continue reading
Transparency & Better Communications Needed for Jersey City Public Schools
The Board of Education (BOE) nearly shut down “remote” public comment last week and it’s worth explaining what happened, simply to highlight how important it is for the district and board to improve transparency and communication – both internally but also with the public. “Remote” public comment is calling into a public meeting and sharing...Continue reading
NJ’s “Cost Per Pupil” is a flawed comparison of school district cost.
On its face, the NJ Department of Education's "cost-per-pupil" is an inviting metric upon which to compare and contrast school spending among New Jersey's 600+ districts. However, cost-per-pupil is misleading as it distorts the intentional, extra investment for students with more needs, including at-risk students and students with limited English proficiency. Specifically, the intentionally extra...Continue reading
The Board of Education Should Approve Superintendent Walker’s Schools Budget & Fully Fund Our Schools
Superintendent Walker proposed a fully funded budget on Monday, March 15th, a monumental step forward in Jersey City’s efforts to climb out of a gaping funding hole. The Board of Education should approve this budget. Our children are currently underfunded and the BOE is being presented with a plan to start to meaningfully fix that...Continue reading
Jersey City Schools Parent Advocacy Update: Connect with Jersey City Together
COVID19 remote learning is extremely challenging. It's important to note that some challenges are exacerbated by chronic underfunding of Jersey City Public Schools. For instance, our schools lack: social workers crisis intervention teachers psychologists math & literacy coaches Teachers, paras, and remaining staff are left to absorb much of this work in addition to keeping...Continue reading
Thoughts on Jersey City’s 2020 Board of Education (BOE) Election
I’ve been getting asked about my thoughts re: the Board of Education election. I wanted to offer two insights that matter to me from a funding and advocacy perspective. Take it or leave it; every vote is sacrosanct and reflects myriad personal considerations. These are two factors that matter most to me and I'm sharing...Continue reading
Safely Reopening Our Schools in NJ: Understanding the Constraints of Fragmentation in the Garden State
I have been trying to learn about the practical implications of reopening our schools in the fall. The stakes are profoundly important and the landscape is fraught with complexity and uncertainty, making this both a bumpy but extremely important learning curve. Much of what I've learned has been from Jersey City Together: from and with...Continue reading
Open Letter re: Police Reform to the Mayor, City Council, Chief of Police and Public Safety Director
A Call to Action in Jersey City: Tell Mayor Fulop, the City Council, Chief Kelly, and Director Shea: We need reform NOW! The Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement (JCACM) has drafted this open letter with three concrete, initial demands for police reform in Jersey City. They are calling on all residents who are interested in...Continue reading
It’s Now or Never to Support the 2020/21 Schools Budget for Our Kids.
It's Saturday May 9th and we are within a week of the 2020/21 schools budget being passed for next year. Parents are on the 98th yard line of a fight to push Superintendent Walker's full budget across the goal line. This post is aimed to bring parents and school advocates up to speed, give a...Continue reading
Approve the 2020/21 #JerseyCity Schools Budget: Invest in Jersey City’s Kids
PS #5 PTA Campaign: Tell the Board of Education: Approve the 2020/21 Schools Budget - Invest in Jersey City's Kids The PTA Advocacy Team at Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School created this "Call to Action" email campaign ahead of the final vote for the 2020/21 schools budget season that we can share with the...
Jersey City Public Schools Enrollment Data Shows Diversity of District, Imperative to Progressively Fund
Here is what got cut JUST LAST YEAR (2019/20 schools budget): 160 teachers - CUT 25 teachers’ aides & assistants - CUT 20 janitorial, security, and food service staff - CUT 15 administrators & supervisors - CUT All reading recovery teachers - CUT 22 out of 25 literacy coaches - CUT 19 out of 21...
Thoughts on Technology and Mental Health in “Remote” Paradigm of Learning.
I normally use this blog to share data and analysis about taxes and public funding, but this is a more personal post. We are nearly a month into isolating at home and I wanted to share some reflections on education in this current moment. I have 2 kids in Jersey City Public Schools and I teach...Continue reading
What Investing in Jersey City Public Schools Looks Like for 2020/21
On Wednesday March 18th, Superintendent Walker proposed a budget that significantly increases local investment in our public schools. The budget includes a $64 million school levy increase, which represents a 47% increase over last year’s levy. Mayor Fulop “blasted” the increase, citing the harm to taxpayers, stating that “They’re going to destroy the taxpayers. They’re...Continue reading
Value & Empower Our Public Schools By Locally Funding Them in the 2020 Schools Budget
Helpful Tips: Thank you to the PTA of Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School for this information & advocacy. We are asking all concerned parents, residents, and taxpayers who care about our public schools to send an email to the Board of Education and Superintendent Walker to demand that Jersey City #FundOurSchools. The Superintendent can...Continue reading
PS #5 PTA Fall 2019 Email Campaign: No more “efficiency cuts” – What’s the long-term plan to fund our schools?
Why do the class sizes keep growing? Why did my child's "special" - art - get cut? Why aren't there any working fountains with potable water? Why did the BOE cut my math support teacher? Because: these are examples of "efficiency eliminations" - what the BOE needs to cut to balance its budget. "Efficiency Eliminations"...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools Funding Crisis – A CivicParent Timeline
This is a timeline of stories published or shared on CivicParent as it relates to funding of Jersey City Public Schools:
The Clock is Ticking…What’s the Plan to #FundOurSchools?
Sharing...from the Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 PTA Advocacy Team It's July and the Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools? July 2019...School is less than 2 months away. Tell City Council: The Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools? Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT yet resolved. There are...Continue reading
PS #5 Advocacy Campaign -Jersey City’s school funding crisis is NOT resolved. City Council — #FundOurSchools!!
Sharing...from the Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 PTA Advocacy Team Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT resolved. City Council -- #FundOurSchools!! Keep the pressure on City Hall. Demand that Mayor Fulop & City Council: FUND OUR SCHOOLS!! Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT yet resolved. There are still over...Continue reading
June 26th: Tell the Jersey City City Council to #FundOurSchools
Jersey City Public Schools are $100 million underfunded and the stories we’ve heard about how this underfunding is impacting students are real. Join us as we press the City Council to put $16 million towards the schools budget. This will help prevent unnecessary layoffs, stop the sale of Central Office, and help the JC BOE...Continue reading
PS #5 Advocacy Campaign: Not Good Enough – Better Leadership Needed.
Tell Jersey City's elected: we need you to provide better leadership. Fund Our Schools. How you can help. Keep the pressure on the City and Board of Education. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It is our civic responsibility to communicate our concerns & express our priorities. Please help send...Continue reading
PS #5 PTA School Funding Advocacy Action: Keep the pressure on the BOE & City Leadership: No Pink Slips!
Jersey City is not properly funding its public schools. Hundreds of JCPS employees have received layoff notices aka "pink slips" due to systemic underfunding. The time to act is NOW. How you can help. Contact your Board of Education & City representatives. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It is...Continue reading
Accountability Checkpoint: Parent FAQs for May 13th BOE Meeting to Finalize the Budget
I’ve been getting some questions in advance of the Board of Education meeting tonight, and thought I’d share via a post, so everyone has access. This is all public data, and we can endeavor to understand it in community. If you have a question, please email me at [email protected] When was the BOE given notice...Continue reading
Tips for Public Comment at City Council Meetings
I’ve been asked more than a few times: “Do you have any tips for going in front of the City Council for public comment?” So I figured I’d write up a post about it. There are actually two opportunities to speak at any City Council meeting: During 2nd reading ordinances. At the end of the...Continue reading
PS #5 PTA School Funding Advocacy Action!
Jersey City is not properly funding its public schools. Our public schools are $100+ million underfunded and it's about to grow much worse. The time to act is NOW. How you can help. Contact your city representatives. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It is our civic responsibility to communicate...Continue reading
“Do Not Stand Idly By” Campaign Inspired Me to Add Gun Control Activist Investing to My Equities Lecture
Today I attended a press conference with New Jersey Together where Governor Murphy signed on with the Metro IAF Do Not Stand Idly By campaign (note: NJ Together is an affiliate of Metro IAF). I was there with others from St. Aedan’s: the Saint Peter’s University Church to support NJ Together’s involvement in the event....Continue reading
NJ Property Tax Dashboard: Updated for 2018 w/ Jersey City Highlights
Every year, the state of NJ publishes property tax data on the Department of Community Affairs website. I have combined all the available data, for tax years 1998 through the most recently published data for 2018, into one tabulation and visualized it in Tableau. This dashboard is intended to provide taxpayers with a bird's eye...
NJ Public Schools – Diversity Dashboard Using Income, Race, & ESL Data
I was prompted by this tweet by Alpha Sigma Nu to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan 21, 2019). When I saw the tweet, the first thought that popped into my head was “better understand and share about school diversity.” There is a dataset I’ve been dabbling with for quite some time now; it’s the...Continue reading
#PayrollTax Ordinance: Public Testimonials About Our Public Schools
Since launching CivicParent five years ago, I've attended countless public meetings about issues related to property taxes, abatements, and public schools. And one thing that I've learned and that increasingly informs me at each meeting: the wisdom and pluralism of community comes alive during public comment. Public comment is the time when individuals engage the...Continue reading
Street Safety – PS #3 Parent Concerns Survey (Responses)
In October 2017 I created a bi-lingual survey with my friend and fellow PS #3 parent, Catalina Aranguren. We shared it with the school community and asked for feedback. This post summarizes the responses. Our goals with this survey are to: Understand initial feedback about street safety concerns. Synthesize the concerns into actionable feedback for...
Love, Hope, & Dignity: A Summit on Immigrant Justice, Advocacy, & Solidarity
On Saturday September 30th from 10am to 2pm St. Aedan's - The Saint Peter's University Church sponsored an event on immigration titled "Love, Hope, and Dignity: A Summit on Immigration Justice, Advocacy, and Solidarity". Our goals for the Summit included sharing information, helping provide information to the community, listening to those who are worried, and strengthening our...Continue reading
An Interview with Heather Darcy Bhandari: The Artist’s Contract for Jersey City’s Mural Program
Jersey City’s “Monopoly Mural” on Newark Avenue serves as a lens into Jersey City’s mural program, a fusion of private art and public space. The 33-square foot mural was the work of local artist Mr. Abillity. Mr. Abillity began painting the mural in late May, completed it in June, but by mid-July, the mural was gone....Continue reading
Civic & Education Awesomeness in Jersey City: PS #5’s “Air Fresheners”
I’m taking my kids out of school early tomorrow so they can go into NYC and witness some stellar role models in action. These role models are Inventors. Technologists. Scientists. Civic Pioneers. They are the Air Fresheners of PS #5, and tomorrow they will be finalist presenters at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. The Air Fresheners are Ivonne, Nancy,...Continue reading
Mayor Fulop: Please Stop Politicizing Our Public Schools
I emailed this letter to Mayor Fulop on September 24th. Dear Mayor Fulop, After reading this article in today’s Jersey Journal, I’m asking you, as a parent of two children in the Jersey City Public School (JCPS) system: Please stop politicizing our public schools. I was at the Jersey City Board of Education (BOE) meeting...Continue reading
Press Releases, Property Taxes, and the Value of Spin
Mayor Fulop announced last week the hiring of a new communications director for Jersey City, 26-year old Ryan Jacobs, at a salary of $110,000. The current communications director, Jennifer Morrill, earns $100,614 and will remain as press secretary “to assist…with day to day operations.” Jersey City taxpayers are now paying over $200,000 for spokesperson duties. A city...Continue reading
Sustainability, Community, and that Beautiful Sign at PS #3
Frank Conwell Public School (PS) #3 is a school committed to sustainability; they now have a sign to prove it. And it’s a really beautiful sign at that. This morning, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, Lead Teacher Mark Buttner and two preK classes celebrated the unveiling. At about five feet tall, the sign was provided by Slow...Continue reading
Open Letter to City Council – Ordinance 14.136: Why Should Taxpayers Take on Variable Interest Rates?
I sent this letter to the City Council members this morning. If you live in Jersey City and have similar concerns about funding variable interest rates, please feel free to copy/paste this letter and send from your own email account, or call your Council reps. Contact info is provided below the letter. Background on Open Letter On August...Continue reading
City Hall Annex: Concerns About the Fine Print
Jersey City currently rents office space at several locations other than City Hall for a total of about $2.7 million per year. To cut costs and give residents a single location (other than City Hall) to access services, the City wants to create a City Hall Annex (“the Annex”). A key question has become: how much money should the City pay for the new space?...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools: 2013-14 Year in Review
This week marks the conclusion of the 2013-14 year for Jersey City Public Schools. The last week of school is an opportunity to pause, reflect upon, and celebrate some of the highlights from the past ten months. JCPS serves nearly 30,000 school children through 39 schools that operate on a budget of over $650 million....
Mayor Fulop, About the Annex…
On Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 7:30pm, the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA) will host Mayor Steven Fulop for Q&A during their monthly meeting. One issue likely to be discussed is the community building at 180 9th Street — aka “the Cordero Annex” or “the former Golden Door Charter School.” The building has been the subject of contention in recent months due to...Continue reading
Van Vorst Park: Won’t You Be Their Neighbors? (Originally Published Nov 2013)
The post below – originally published in November 2013 on my other blog – is a primer for an upcoming article that will show how the “Bright & Varick micro units” are now sitting squarely at the intersection of public schools, taxes, and abatements in Jersey City. Stay tuned as we connect the dots in Jersey City… The “Bright &...Continue reading
A Concerned Parent Addresses City Council re: Classroom Shortage in Jersey City
The letter below was read into the City Council record on March 26, 2014 by Sarah Welt, a downtown mom with a child who is eligible for public pre-K this coming fall. Sarah has been instrumental in informing many parents in downtown about the PS 37 annex issue. Sarah waited five hours to speak during the public portion...Continue reading
JCPS Demographic Study: Pertinent Facts re: Classroom Space
A Jersey City parent who reviewed the Board of Education’s (BOE) two demographic studies asked that I share pertinent information from the studies as it relates to the pre-K facility issue. If you’re unfamiliar with that issue, this article in the Jersey City Independent provides background information. The Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) has 28,000+...Continue reading
JCPS 2-Volume Demographic Study (Published in 2014)
Below are links to the 2-volume demographic study published by the Jersey City Public Schools district in 2013 and 2014. These documents are an extensive analysis of Jersey City’s city-driven development (Volume 1) and the capacity outlined in each school (Volume 2). These are documents published by JCPS and I’m sharing on CivicParent as reference....
News Flash: JCPS is now on Twitter! (@jcps_district)
I’m a big believer in getting civic, and a big part of getting civic is tuning-in to your local community. Once you start tuning in, your confidence to provide feedback and become part of the conversation grows, and then a virtuous cycle of community and civic partnership is born. But oftentimes, tuning-in can seem impossible, especially...Continue reading