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Reflections: Special Education—A Service, Not a Place

March 31st, 2014

By Dr. Larry Feinsod 

Early last year, I devoted my Reflections column to special education, and a new commitment NJSBA had made to study the way our state provides special education.

Special education has always been close to my heart as an educator. I began my career as a special education teacher, and throughout my four decades in education, I have always felt a special responsibility to help children with disabilities achieve their utmost. But even the most ardent supporters of special education have to acknowledge that the cost of the programs and services is presenting long-term challenges to public schools—challenges that often divide our school communities into general education and special education factions. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: An Effective Relationship

March 13th, 2014

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

Folk singer Mary Travers used to say that fans would sometimes ask her, “Which one are you married to, Peter or Paul?”  In fact, the answer was neither, but she would explain that in many ways, the trio’s professional relationship was like a marriage.

The same can be said about board presidents and superintendents. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: Higher Standards for Educators

February 4th, 2014

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

This installment of Reflections is based on an OP-ED column by Dr. Feinsod, published by the Asbury Park Press on January 23.

Every child should know a “Miss Ann Sloan.”  Miss Sloan was my fifth grade teacher and the person who inspired me to enter the field of education.  She connected with each child and set high standards in academics and behavior.

Just about everyone, I’m sure, will recall being taught by an excellent educator like Miss Sloan.  And everyone—students, parents and school officials—has likely experienced a teacher who is not effective; one who needs focused attention or, perhaps, even a new career.

If we are sincere about our primary mission to improve student achievement, we must ensure that the people who teach our students, and the process of teaching, are top grade.  But that’s not how educator evaluation worked in all schools Read the rest of this entry »

Feb. 3 Meeting Cancellation: Monmouth County SBA ‘Meet-Up’

February 3rd, 2014
The Monmouth County School Boards Association “Meet-Up,” scheduled for tonight (February 3), has been cancelled due to the winter storm.  For further information, contact Ray Pinney at rpinney@njsba.org.

Reflections: Safely Transporting Our Students

January 27th, 2014

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

Last week’s snow storm reminded me of one of the most difficult decisions I had to make during my time as a school district superintendent: whether to close schools for the day, keep them open, or delay the start of classes. But even as weather forecasting improved over the years, making the right decision never became easy.

For school leaders, the health and safety of our students is the foremost priority. We should make decisions as policy-makers Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: Two Seemingly Unrelated Events

January 9th, 2014

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

January is an unusual time of year to think about the NJSBA Delegate Assembly, which takes place in May and November. However, two fairly recent and seemingly unrelated developments brought to mind the semi-annual meeting and its significance.

The first was the passing of Nelson Mandela on December 5. Driving to work the following day, I heard an interview on WCBS radio with former Gov. Tom Kean Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: Five things to remember from 2013

December 17th, 2013

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

December offers an opportunity for social gatherings, good times with family and friends…and a recounting of the year’s events.

Like any other year, 2013 had some disappointments.  However, for those of us who have dedicated ourselves to advancing public education, I’d like to offer the opportunity to reminisce about the many positive developments of the past year.  And there were many. So, for your consideration, here is my list of the “top 5” developments in New Jersey public education Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: From Good to Great to Why

December 9th, 2013

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

Always the educator, I have found enormous value in engaging my administrative and executive staffs in chapter reviews of books on leadership and management theory. I’ve done this as a district superintendent and, last year, began the “tradition” at NJSBA with our study of Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. It’s an exercise that provides motivation, direction and, quite often, good ideas.

Since September, the NJSBA executive staff and I have been engaged in a periodic chapter review of another impressive work, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by a motivating author, Simon Sinek, an expert on leadership and management theory. I might add that Sinek is a product of New Jersey’s Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: Connecting with Parents

November 20th, 2013

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

The parent is the child’s first teacher. You don’t have to search very far to find countless variations of that statement; just type it into Google or Bing.  However, it is the next step in the parents’ role that we have not addressed frequently enough:

Parents are also the primary advocates for their children’s education.

I can vouch Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections: Achievement for All

November 12th, 2013

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

New Jersey’s performance on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), better known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” should come as no surprise. Released last week by the U.S. Department of Education, the results show that, as in past years, our state’s public school students rank near the top in reading and mathematics when compared to their peers throughout the nation. The report is significant. While curriculum standards and state testing programs may vary from location to location, the NAEP enables an apples-to-apples comparison of student achievement nationwide.

Digging deeper into the NAEP results, one finds another statistic that also comes as no surprise, but nonetheless is troubling: a persistent economic and racial achievement gap. Read the rest of this entry »