What is engaging, informative and car-ride friendly? The answer: NJSBA’s podcast program, “Conversations on New Jersey Education.”

Begun eight years ago, and hosted by Ray Pinney, NJSBA’s director of member engagement, “Conversations on New Jersey Education” is similar to a live radio call-in show, except that it is broadcast through the internet. The show, which runs anywhere from 30-45 minutes, airs live, but recordings are also available to download later for listening, to listen to “on demand.” To hear the live or previously recorded broadcasts, or to download on your phone for listening during a daily commute or road trip, visit the “Conversations on New Jersey Education” web page.

“When I started the program, I thought it would be an opportunity to bring information to people on their schedule, not ours. They can listen whenever they want,” says Pinney. “And we have listeners beyond New Jersey’s borders. Not long ago we had a caller with a question from St. Louis, Missouri!”

Over the years, the podcast has broadcast interviews with a wide range of guests, including politicians and legislative leaders, commissioners of education, school law experts, superintendents, and school administrators such as curriculum directors. “I have always thought it’s hard for people to say no when I ask them to participate, because we can tape it pretty much anytime and the participants can just call in from wherever they are,” says Pinney. Guests have included Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Republican leader Tom Kean Jr., several past New Jersey education commissioners, education reformer Diane Ravitch, and the executive director of the state’s School Ethics Commission. The program has tackled topics such as the school funding formula, school security, teacher evaluation, the 2 percent property tax levy cap, educational technology, school law, special education, and standardized testing.

Below are some recommended programs:

What Board Candidates Should Know Before Taking Office When school board candidates turn into school board members, they need to be prepared for their new responsibilities. The program features Carl Tanksley, director of NJSBA’s legal department, and Terri Lewis, NJSBA field service representative, discussing matters such as the roles and responsibilities of board members, how to get the information needed to make decisions, and the board-superintendent relationship. Originally broadcast in November 2018.

School Law Today: Legal Issues with Bullying in Our Schools The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights has been in effect for seven years now.  What legal issues have emerged that school districts would be wise to avoid? What are some best practices that districts can follow in preventing harassment, intimidation and bullying? What new revisions to the Administrative Code could affect districts?  Ray Pinney discussed these and other issues with Joseph Roselle, a partner with the law firm of Schenk, Price, Smith & King, LLP. Originally broadcast in October 2018.

School Law Today: The Impact of the Janus Decision In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME struck down the use of “agency shop” fees, which were established by statute in 22 states, including New Jersey. What is the impact of this ruling on school districts? Will this have an effect on the “Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act,” a recently enacted state law which broadens the union’s access to prospective and existing members? John Geppert, a partner with the law firm of Scarinci Hollenbeck, discussed this issue with Pinney. Originally broadcast in September 2018.

What Board Members Need to Know About Special Education No matter the size of your district, special education is a key component in your curriculum and budget.  There are numerous legal restrictions, as well as procedures that districts must follow. Dr. Gerry Crisonino, the director of special education for the School District of Jersey City, and a school board member in Union County; along with school board attorney Nathanya Simon, now a partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck, discussed the finer points of special education in New Jersey. Originally broadcast in 2016.