COVID Crisis Exposes Educational Inequities Between Haves and Have Nots

By Christine Sloan | August 17, 2020

Insider NJ

 

The Newark Public School District announced Monday it’s dropping plans to reopen in-person classes and instead opting for a virtual year until November.  The decision by the state’s largest school district comes less than a week after Governor Phil Murphy suddenly changed course, allowing public schools to go all-remote if they couldn’t meet COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for in-person teaching.

If the process appears somewhat schizophrenic, it may say something about the circus-like political atmosphere around the front office and its sensitive relationship with labor and other key stakeholders in the educational firmament – but it also fundamentally underscores a deep divide in New Jersey, persistent from one administration to the next, as poor children struggle amid unfair and unequal conditions now exacerbated by COVID-19.

The Governor had initially asked the state’s 600 public school districts to offer some form of in-person learning, even as the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s largest teacher’s union and one of Murphy’s biggest supporters, called for all-remote learning statewide.

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Trump elevates Scott Atlas, a doctor with a rosier coronavirus outlook

Dr. Scott Atlas warns against coronavirus overreaction and hysteria, pushes for the reopening of schools and sports leagues and downplays the need for broader testing to root out the virus.

Unlike bigger-name, more circumspect public health officials, who’ve watched their luster dim at the White House, Atlas has become a star adviser in President Donald Trump’s inner circle at a crucial moment during the pandemic.

With the virus showing no sign of letting up — the U.S. has recorded roughly 5.4 million Covid-19 cases and 170,000 deaths — and with less than three months to go in an uphill reelection battle, the president is betting that a telegenic physician with a positive outlook, though no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, can change his fortunes.

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A Streetfighter Congressman from Paterson, Bill Pascrell, Challenges a Gangster President

By Alan Steinberg | August 16, 2020

Insider NJ

Congressman Bill Pascrell

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Full Disclosure:  I take very personally Donald Trump’s attempt to deprive Americans of their right to vote by mail.  If Trump is successful, like millions of Americans during this Pandemic, I will be effectively completely deprived of my right to vote.

I am a senior citizen, age 70, with pre-existing conditions of adult diabetes and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). Thanks to the outstanding doctors at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, and to the dismay of my critics, I continue to be in good health, thank God.

During the Covid Pandemic, however, these two preexisting health conditions significantly lower my resistance to the Covid.  If I contract the virus, my life will likely be over within a week.  That will bring joy to the army of illiterate, ignorant, racist, fascistic, anti-intellectual, Trumpist Steinberg haters who defame me on the Internet but unwittingly succeed in boosting the number of my readers to historic highs! Sorry to disappoint them, but my family and many friends would not be happy with my demise!

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What you need to know about N.J.‘s mostly mail-in ballot elections, with all the controversy

Posted Aug 15, 2020

This fall’s elections in New Jersey — including the race for the White House — won’t be normal in these not-so-normal times.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed an executive order for the Nov. 3 elections to be conducted in a hybrid but mostly mail-in fashion in the Garden State amid the coronavirus pandemic. All of the state’s active registered voters receive ballots in the mail, though there will still be some in-person polling locations across the state where people can cast a paper provisional ballot.

Murphy said you can put your ballot in the mail, drop it in one of several secure boxes to be set up across the state, bring it to polling location on Election Day, or vote provisionally in person.

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Newark book store one of three finalists for $25K contest that honors community changers

Posted Aug 15, 2020

Among the skyscrapers of downtown Newark sits a small establishment that’s become a staple of the community.

For over 30 years, Source of Knowledge has served as the city’s local book store catering to its neighborhood, especially children, as a source of guidance and hope. It’s fed kids mentally and physically, helped establish writing careers, hosted open mic nights and seminars and even celebrated a wedding ceremony there.

NJ.com earlier this year profiled the business as part of its Black in N.J. series.

Now the store is in the running to receive $25,000 from Mayflower, which is honoring “inspiring and impactful organizations” that embody “compassion, courage and a drive to make a difference.”

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Obama: Trump is trying to ‘kneecap’ Postal Service

Former President Barack Obama condemned President Donald Trump in a new interview over his efforts to “actively kneecap” the United States Postal Service in order to frustrate mail-in voting ahead of the November election — casting the maneuvers by his White House successor as “unique to modern political history.”

The criticism from Obama came in response to Trump’s admission Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the federal agency and election security grants because those provisions would help facilitate voting by mail amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

“What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to [discourage] voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.’ That’s sort of unheard of,” Obama told David Plouffe, his 2008 campaign manager and longtime adviser, in an interview on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast released Friday.

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‘This is Not a Normal Election Year’

By Fred Snowflack | August 14, 2020

Insider NJ

 

Why are many Republicans so opposed to voting-by-mail?

After all, it is easier to vote by mail and you’d think a political party would want to make things easier for its supporters. And this should be especially true if, as studies suggest, your core voters skew older than Democratic supporters.

Perhaps not. The all-Republican Morris County freeholders this week endorsed in-person voting, suggesting outside polling places and spreading out voting over a few days. Give them credit for creativity.

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November election in N.J. to be mostly mail-in, Murphy will announce

Posted Aug 13, 2020

November’s elections in New Jersey — which includes the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden — will be mostly mail-in as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the state, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Friday, NJ Advance Media has confirmed.

That means all of the state’s 6.2 million registered voters will be sent ballots to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 elections, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

There will also be a select number of local polling places across the state for people who choose to vote in person, the sources said.

The hybrid setup will be the same as the state’s July primary elections, which were delayed a month and conducted mostly mail-in to help protect against COVID-19. Murphy also delayed a number of local elections earlier in the year and made those races vote-by-mail only.

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Another Worry for School Districts as They Consider Fall Reopening — the Minefield of Legal Liability

JOHN MOONEY | AUGUST 14, 2020

NJ Spotlight

File photo: Aug. 5, 2020, elementary school students wait for classes to begin in Godley, Texas.

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As New Jersey’s school districts make reopening decisions — and the state issues new guidance, almost by the day — a question has come up more and more: Can schools be held legally liable if one of those decisions turns out to be wrong?

At least one bill has been filed in the Legislature that would grant schools immunity from civil liability in the case of a child or staff member getting sick from COVID-19, as has another that applies to colleges and universities.

The state school boards association this week posted its own guidance for members on potential liability, saying the law already provides some protections but also advising local boards to talk to their attorneys and check their insurance policies.

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Christie: Lobbying for Attention

By Carl Golden | August 13, 2020

Insider NJ

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

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With former Gov. Chris Christie’s recent rant holding the Murphy Administration responsible for the COVID-19 related deaths of thousands of nursing home patients, the political/media complex leapt into speculation overdrive, interpreting his tirade as evidence he intended to play a significant role in the 2021 election or as a step toward seeking a return to the office he left nearly three years ago.

The more logical explanation, though, is his tirade represented a well-documented craving for attention, a near insatiable desire to stand firmly astride the political landscape towering over everyone else.

His eight years as governor stand as irrefutable testimony to his obsession with occupying the center of attention, the individual around whom the political universe revolved no matter the issue or controversy.

His first term was largely a success, but the second was a disaster, stained by the Bridgegate scandal and his ill-advised decision to seek the Republican presidential nomination.

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