Friday, September 19, 2014

Project-based learning benefits students By Jessie Wagoner

“We had developed a pretty comfortable expectation that was going to be something that happened,” Kirk said. “To be perfectly honest, the district is committed to us for the educational piece, not for the financial piece. There is no argument; we are more expensive than a traditional school setting. So there has to be a conscious decision that the benefit outweighs the cost.”
The legislative post-audit looks solely at the financial matters of the district. The audit identifies ways to reduce expenditures. 
However, the district maintains it is important to look at the whole picture when making decisions related to education. The quality of learning and the different style of learning offered at Turning Point Academy is valuable to the students, parents and the district. The district is engaged in efforts to raise awareness about the services offered at Turning Point in an effort to increase enrollment.
“There will be a conscious effort to help parents be more aware of exactly what services their children can receive there,” Davidson said. “We want kids to know what their options are so they can make the right choice for them. Our district is committed to doing everything we can to continue having an option for those students because we think it is important for there to be a whole continuum of services for kids.”
Project-based learning is a staple at Turning Point. For students, project-based learning provides the opportunity to collaborate with others, research, be active learners and hone their public speaking skills. 
“Education is probably going more toward how we teach students here than how a traditional system does,” Kirk said. “The most significant difference is we are able to do it easier here because we don’t have such large numbers.”
In a project-based learning environment, the teacher will give a big picture or umbrella of what the class will be talking about, then give a target and timeline for where the class will be going. The teacher then asks the children an overarching question.
Teachers won’t tell the students how to answer the question, but will instead give them a rubric explaining how the students should demonstrate their knowledge. Most frequently this requires working in groups of two to three students and making a presentation to the class. There is collaboration, participation and research while the teacher takes on a role of facilitator.
The learning is hands-on. One group may design an invention, while another group may develop a computer program to demonstrate their learning. The rubric is the same for every student, but the student takes ownership of the learning.
“Our focus at Turning Point is creating learners that are capable of learning themselves,” Kirk said. “We don’t want to just give the kids knowledge — we want the kids to chase the knowledge and find it. We want to create thirsty learners.”
One feature at Turning Point is the way classes are combined. Kindergarten through fourth grade students are in a group, fifth through eighth are another group and high school students are placed together.
Shalla and Robert Bennett’s daughters have been attending Turning Point for several years. This year, Emeil is in third grade and Elleana is in fifth grade. The family said they have enjoyed the learning experiences offered at Turning Point. Small class sizes, project-based learning and the combined class grades are highlights for them.
“I like Turning Point because it is more individual,” Elleana Bennett said. “Last year I was in ninth grade math and seventh grade reading, so I didn’t have to just stay on fourth grade things.”
One benefit of the class setup Shalla Bennett has noticed is that it allows for consistency. Instead of changing teachers each year, her daughters have been able to have the same teacher for multiple years.
“I’m not very good with change,” said Emeil Bennett. “So I like having the same class and the same teacher each year.”
Having the same teacher has helped increase learning for Emeil Bennett by providing her with the stability that meets her needs.
“That stability allows her to immediately start learning,” Shalla Bennett said. “Otherwise it takes her a good couple months just to get settled into the environment.”
Learning at their own pace and working with other students is another plus for the family. Older students serve as mentors for younger students.
“There is an expectation that if you are a student that has mastered this skill, then you should help your peers,” said Shalla Bennett. “Sometimes kids learn better from other kids. So they can help one another.”
Students at Turning Point are eligible to participate in athletic activities offered through Emporia Middle School and Emporia High School. As the Bennett girls get older, they are looking forward to taking part in several different sports.
In light of the audit findings, Davidson and the USD 253 board will continue studying and evaluating recommendations of the audit. The district is committed to meeting student needs while also being fiscally responsible.
“We have already begun a study,” Davidson said. “And I think we will continue to look at it to make sure that we are doing the best that we can, being as effective as we possible can for those student services.”
For more information about Turning Point Academy or enrollment questions, call at 341-2455. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Longitudinal QSAC Scores in Instruction and Program DPR Under Kids First/Carter-Rusak-Toback Leadership

Click to Enlarge
On September 9, 2014 the Hoboken Board of Education officially released their 2013-14 QSAC Initial Placement letter to the public. The score on INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM was a 45 out of 100. This is a 20+ point drop from last year (the single biggest drop in district history in terms of points and percentage) and 35 points away from a passing score of 80.  Here is a look at the QSAC data in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM beginning with when the curriculum I headed up was formally approved by the Board of Education in December of 2009 and since the political group known as Kids First have had a super majority of the Hoboken Board of Education (see chart). 

During the entire time of this decline in Instruction and Program, Trustee McAllister was not only a Hoboken Board of Education member but was also chair of the district's Curriculum Committee. The curriculum committee is the committee with oversight and responsibility for many of the benchmarks on the QSAC Instruction and Program DPR. Trustee McAllister is a board member fond of saying that the district was in dire straits when she was elected in Spring of 2009 and that it is doing so much better now. She is entitled to her opinion, but this data indicates differently. 

In my opinion, the task at hand seems beyond the competency level of those overseeing the education of the children in the Hoboken School District. In addition to the failing QSAC score in Instruction and Program, the district has a lower than average HS graduation rate, for the first time in history the district is classified as a DISTRICT IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT by the NJ Dept of Education (Nov. 2011), the district is ranked 9th worst in the state in violence, vandalism and bullying (, and is one of the lowest ranking districts in NJ (New Jersey Monthly- September 2014). The high school received a grade of "D" (lowest ranking) from the Newark Star-Ledger in 2013. These are not my opinions. These are the findings of independent, objective, and impartial third party evaluators and self reported data by the district. Some may disagree with one or two of these--- but there is overwhelming consensus. And.... It wasn't like this in 2009 when Kids First took over the district. The Board majority DID NOT inherit a district in decline as they want everyone to believe. Rather, these disturbing facts are the result of the past 5+ years of board/district "leadership" and the entire community is now suffering for their incompetence, arrogance, and unwillingness to accept responsibility and provide a plan of action to remediate the damage they have done. The Board majority rose to power pointing fingers and pontificating about costs per student, test scores, and ineptitude-- now they want everyone to be silent on these issues for fear the downward spiral they've set in place for the district might be blamed on them instead of those who came before.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hola Dual Language School to Receive Grant From the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

Boys and Girls Club of Hoboken- November, 2012
On Tuesday, September 8th the Hoboken Board of Education voted to transfer $28,235.41 from a $819,000 portion of the United Arab Emirates Embassy's $4.5 million Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to the Hola Dual Language Charter School. The funds will be used for a number of items in order to implement a "Digital Divide" project in complicance with the requirements of the Sandy relief fund. The motion passed overwhelmingly (7-2) with Board members Ruth Tyroler, Thomas Kluepfel, Peter Biancamano, Jennifer Evans, Jean Marie Mitchell, Francis Rhodes-Kearns and Monica Stromwall voting for the transfer. Two Board members voted against the agenda item.

Click here for full details on the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Inc.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reconsideration Documents for the 2013-14 School Year QSAC Instruction and Program DPR - Hoboken School District

After receiving a score of 45 out of 100 on the June 16, 2014 QSAC 2014-15 Placement Letter for the Instruction and Program DPR, then superintendent Mark Toback asked the State of New Jersey's Department of Education for reconsideration or appeal for the low rating (80 is passing). The appeal allowed for both reconsideration of the score by the state as well as initiated a delay in when the Board would officially have to present the results to the general public (the Board by code must report QSAC scores at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting after receiving their QSAC Initial Placement Letter). 

The appeal or reconsideration was denied. The following are the official documents the State of New Jersey generated in response to reconsideration as well as the state's reasons for denying the appeal. The score of 45 in Instruction and Program stands.

Agenda for the September 9, 2014 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Parent Group Exposes Hoboken Public Schools Should Not Have Laid Off Aides- Violation of New Jersey’s Education Law Code § 6A 13-3.2

In June 2014, former Hoboken Public Schools Superintendent 
Mark Toback proposed cuts in Violation of New Jersey Education 
Code § 6A 13-3.2 that eliminated Hoboken's Kindergarten 
aides. Kids First members of the Hoboken Board of Education 
voted unanimously in favor of Toback's recommendations despite
being in violation of Abbott code. 

Seems as if when the Kids First Board majority and former Superintendent Mark Toback weren't shepherding the school district down a path in which the QSAC Instruction and Program DPR plummeted from 68% to 45% in one year (the largest one year decline in district history), or bringing national attention to the district for the use (non-use?) of the district's laptop program, or outsourcing and eliminating an entire collective bargaining unit in the district (transportation), they were busy figuring out how to fire/eliminate/cut kindergarten teacher's aides.  The problem is, as many quality New Jersey administrators and Board members know, having Abbott district kindergarten classes without teacher aides is in violation of New Jersey Education Code. 

Carlo Davis of the Hoboken Reporter has been doing some excellent reporting on the Hoboken Board of Education this summer. Here is a very important piece recently published under Carlo's byline where Davis documents the efforts of a parent group in exposing the cuts made to kindergarten aides in Hoboken, NJ that were in violation of NJ Education Code and were recently restored.  -Dr. Petrosino

The Hoboken Board Of Education recently "discovered" that Hoboken’s district is actually required to have kindergarten aides under New Jersey’s education law code (Full day kindergarten requirements. New Jersey Education Code § 6A 13-3.2  ). On August 19, they voted unanimously to bring back aides for all 14 kindergarten classes in Hoboken’s public elementary schools for the upcoming year.

Hoboken’s school district must follow different regulations from most New Jersey school districts. In 1985, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that poor urban school districts were being unconstitutionally shortchanged in funding compared to affluent suburban districts. To help correct this imbalance, the state legislature devoted extra funding to 31 poorer “Abbott districts”—nicknamed after the original court case—including Hoboken.

Abbott districts receive special money for things like universal pre-kindergarten, and must follow corresponding rules and stipulations. One of those rules is that full-time kindergarten classes must have a teacher’s aide and no more than 21 students in each class.

Outgoing Superintendent Mark Toback had announced the elimination of the aides at the last board meeting of the 2013-2014 school year in June.

According to the Hoboken Reporter a parent group uncovered the violation: 

According to group organizer Lisia Zheng Hohlfeld, their efforts “made little difference until [they] came across a part of the NJ education code” applying to “at risk” districts. 
Hohlfeld said the group consulted with the state Department of Education, which confirmed that Hoboken is still an “at risk” district and subsequently contacted Interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Brockel, who officially replaced outgoing Superintendent Mark Toback two weeks ago. 
Hohlfeld said she’s happy with the outcome, but the turnabout came too late for some. She mentioned that two of the families in her group’s steering committee decided over the summer to move out of Hoboken. It’s this kind of exodus that continues to cripple Hoboken public schools and this whole episode will only further encourage the trend,” said Hohlfeld.
Hoboken Board of Education member Fran Phodes-Kearns expressed disappointment at Hoboken’s flirtation with a legal violation. She and Peter Biancamano voted against the original cuts to Kindergarten aides in June while the remaining seven trustees Ruth McAllister (Tyroler), Thomas Kluepfel, Jennifer Evans, Leon Gold, Jean Marie Mitchell, Irene Sobolov, and Monica Stromwall voted yes on the motion which led to the elimination of Kindergarten aides in the Hoboken Public Schools.    

Here is how Carlo reported on cuts to the Kindergarten aides in the July 6, 2014 edition of the Hoboken Reporter: 

Kindergarten cuts

The severity of Hoboken’s school budget shortfall was recently brought into focus by a decision to eliminate 13 instructional aides in kindergarten classrooms at Hoboken’s public elementary schools.

Three aides in other areas will also be eliminated. The cuts to kindergarten will save the city around $240,000.

Three mothers of students in next year’s kindergarten classes spoke against the cuts at the June 24 school board meeting, and an online petition calling on the administration to reinstate the aides has received 140 signatures as of press time.

The mothers said they had only learned of the school board’s decision the previous Friday, a week before the end of the school year.

Toback said the decision was one of the hardest choices his administration made in seeking to counteract its budget shortfall.

He maintained that the move would not have an adverse effect on Hoboken kindergarteners. According to Toback, many public schools in New Jersey already forego instructional aides in kindergarten, including some of Hoboken’s charter schools.

Toback expects Hoboken kindergarten classes to have a larger enrollment next year, and said the school board was closely monitoring class sizes. The average class size in kindergarten was 17 students this past year, and has historically never been above 23 students.

Projected kindergarten class sizes at or above 21 students next year would be a clear “cause for concern” for Toback. The board could bring back some aides or an additional kindergarten teacher at the school board’s August meeting.

Megan O’Reilly’s daughter is entering kindergarten in the public schools next year. At the June 24 board meeting, she said even 17 kindergarteners would be too much for one teacher.

“I can’t imagine [my daughter] wandering around the hallway to go to the bathroom by herself, or should she be sick, to not be able to have enough care,” she said.

“Kindergarten and the quality of the program is really a cornerstone of Hoboken’s appeal as ‘a nice place to raise a family,’ ” wrote Lisia Zheng Hohlfeld, another of the parents present at the meeting, in an email to the newspaper. “This dramatic cut in teaching staff will severely undermine what the school district has done all these years to build the program and establish its reputation.”

A group of parents including Hohlfeld met with Toback on June 26 to discuss the issue. According to Hohlfeld, Toback assured the parents that “things will not be ‘as bad as they look now’” come September, and scheduled an additional meeting in two weeks after conversations with other members of the administration.

While Hohlfeld doubted that all of the aides could be brought back, she expressed a hope that shared aides or floater aides could be installed as the next best option.

Read more: Hudson Reporter - More money for charter school fight But no room in school budget for 13 kindergarten aides who are cut 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2013-14 Final QSAC Instruction and Program DPR for the Hoboken School District

The following is the final 2013-14 Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) Placement for the Instruction and Program DPR (District Performance Review) for the Hoboken School District. The previous score for the Instruction and Program DPR was 68% in February of 2013. A score of 80% is considered satisfactory. 

QSAC is not a standardized test that students take. QSAC is the New Jersey Department of Education's monitoring and evaluation system for public school districts. Monitors come to the school district and interview key professional staff and personnel. The administrators and staff are required to show documentation indicating compliance with a number of indicators in Instruction and Program that the State of New Jersey regularly reviews (curriculum, special programs, gifted and talented, certified staff, etc...).   

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hoboken's Charter Schools Fostering White Flight? Pictures from The Jersey Journal Tell a Much Different Story

Steven's Castle- Hoboken NJ 
On March 13, 2014 then Hoboken Board of Education President and Kids First member Leon Gold was quoted on as saying charter schools in Hoboken, NJ are "fostering white flight." In other words, white students are leaving the traditional Hoboken Public Schools to attend one of the three charter schools in the city and by implication, that charter schools contain very little children of color or economic diversity

On May 23, 2014 the Jersey Journal reported on the senior prom of Hoboken Charter School located at 713 Washington Street:

HOBOKEN -- Luminous purple lights coupled with the mosaic details of the walls was reminiscent of a 1920's film. This was the setting for the small group of almost 30 seniors who gathered together for the Hoboken Charter School prom on Thursday, May 22.

The "Roaring Twenties" theme of the dance translated into the decor of the room, complete with feathered hats and beaded necklaces, which were placed in the center of each table.
A crowd of young woman embodied the style and grace of an iconic '20's woman, while the young men exuded charm in their crisp, mainly monochromatic suits, as they celebrated their 2014 senior prom, which took place at Room84 in Hoboken. By Chinedum Emelumba/The Jersey Journal 

Here are pictures that the Jersey Journal published online. Does this look like white flight to you?......

The students of Hoboken Charter School, located at 713 Washington St., gathered to celebrate their 2014 senior prom, on Thursday, May 22. Draped in their finest vintage inspired ensemble, the crowd danced through the night at the extravaganza, which was held at Room84 in Hoboken. Chinedum J.C. Emelumba/The Jersey Journal

White Flight? Of course not. But, the irresponsible language and terminology has left a negative impression about charter schools within the City of Hoboken and has caused a divide in the community. Dr. Gold's inaccurate and unproductive attacks on charter schools are unfortunate. 

Editor's Note: Dr. Leon Gold recently stepped down as the President of the Hoboken Board of Education. According to the Hoboken Reporter, Gold said it was simply time for time to step down. Gold was sworn in as President of the Hoboken Board of Education on January 7, 2014 and is stepping down 5 months from when his 1 year term was due to expire. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robert Reich: Inequality Is at the Heart of Who Gets a Good Education and Who Doesn't

Robert Reich 
The following is a recent and very thoughtful position piece on inequality and education. Former Labor Secretary Reich uses statistics and sound economic theory to deliver a clear message-- that it is important to spend money on eduction and especially to spend money to educate children from and currently in poverty. I have commented on how the Hoboken School District stands as an anomaly (spending over $28,000 per student) to Reich's argument and how easily it could used as a counter example to some of Reich's arguments. In the mean time, please enjoy this article. It really is excellent and well researched for a piece directed at a broad audience. -Dr. Petrosino 

American kids are getting ready to head back to school. But the schools they’re heading back to differ dramatically by family income.
Which helps explain the growing achievement gap between lower and higher-income children.
Thirty years ago, the average gap on SAT-type tests between children of families in the richest 10 percent and bottom 10 percent was about 90 points on an 800-point scale. Today it’s 125 points.
The gap in the mathematical abilities of American kids, by income, is one of widest among the 65 countries participating in the Program for International Student Achievement.
On their reading skills, children from high-income families score 110 points higher, on average, than those from poor families. This is about the same disparity that exists between average test scores in the United States as a whole and Tunisia.
The achievement gap between poor kids and wealthy kids isn’t mainly about race. In fact, the racial achievement gap has been narrowing.
It’s a reflection of the nation’s widening gulf between poor and wealthy families. And also about how schools in poor and rich communities are financed, and the nation’s increasing residential segregation by income.
According to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of 2010 census tract and household income data, residential segregation by income has increased during the past three decades across the United States and in 27 of the nation’s 30 largest major metropolitan areas.
This matters, because a large portion of the money to support public schools comes from local property taxes. The federal government provides only about 14 percent of all funding, and the states provide 44 percent, on average. The rest, roughly 42 percent, is raised locally.
Most states do try to give more money to poor districts, but most states cut way back on their spending during the recession and haven’t nearly made up for the cutbacks.
Meanwhile, many of the nation’s local real estate markets remain weak, especially in lower-income communities. So local tax revenues are down.
As we segregate by income into different communities, schools in lower-income areas have fewer resources than ever.
The result is widening disparities in funding per pupil, to the direct disadvantage of poor kids.
The wealthiest highest-spending districts are now providing about twice as much funding per student as are the lowest-spending districts, according to a federal advisory commission report. In some states, such as California, the ratio is more than three to one.
What are called a “public schools” in many of America’s wealthy communities aren’t really “public” at all. In effect, they’re private schools, whose tuition is hidden away in the purchase price of upscale homes there, and in the corresponding property taxes.
Even where courts have requiring richer school districts to subsidize poorer ones, large inequalities remain.
Rather than pay extra taxes that would go to poorer districts, many parents in upscale communities have quietly shifted their financial support to tax-deductible “parent’s foundations” designed to enhance their own schools.
About 12 percent of the more than 14,000 school districts across America are funded in part by such foundations. They’re paying for everything from a new school auditorium (Bowie, Maryland) to a high-tech weather station and language-arts program (Newton, MA).
“Parents’ foundations,” observed the Wall Street Journal, “are visible evidence of parents’ efforts to reconnect their money to their kids.” And not, it should have been noted, to kids in another community, who are likely to be poorer.
As a result of all this, the United States is one of only three, out of 34 advanced nationssurveyedby the OECD, whose schools serving higher-income children have more funding per pupil and lower student-teacher ratios than do schools serving poor students (the two others are Turkey and Israel).
Other advanced nations do it differently. Their national governments provide 54 percent of funding, on average, and local taxes account for less than half the portion they do in America. And they target a disproportionate share of national funding to poorer communities.
As Andreas Schleicher, who runs the OECD’s international education assessments, told the New York Times, “the vast majority of OECD countries either invest equally into every student or disproportionately more into disadvantaged students. The U.S. is one of the few countries doing the opposite.”
Money isn’t everything, obviously. But how can we pretend it doesn’t count? Money buys the most experienced teachers, less-crowded classrooms, high-quality teaching materials, and after-school programs.
Yet we seem to be doing everything except getting more money to the schools that most need it.
We’re requiring all schools meet high standards, requiring students to take more and more tests, and judging teachers by their students’ test scores.
But until we recognize we’re systematically hobbling schools serving disadvantaged kids, we’re unlikely to make much headway. 

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Obama's transition advisory board. His latest book is "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." His homepage is

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research

2014 Softball Champions- Hoboken, NJ 
News from the National Academy of Education: 

We are pleased to share information on the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs in education research. Please help us widely distribute this information to qualified candidates, listservs, and other electronic sources by using the paragraphs below. Thank you for your assistance.
National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research

The NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education. These $25,000 fellowships support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world. Fellows will also attend professional development retreats and receive mentorship from NAEd members and other senior scholars in their field. This highly competitive program aims to identify the most talented emerging researchers conducting dissertation research related to education. The Dissertation Fellowship program receives many more applications than it can fund. This year, up to 600 applications are anticipated and about 30 fellowships will be awarded. Additional guidelines and the fellowship application form are available on our website. Website:
Deadline to apply: October 3, 2014

National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Education Research
*** The Postdoctoral Fellowship underwent an applicant qualification change last year. Please note the new eligibility requirements pertaining to the date in which the doctoral degree was earned. ***

The NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports early-career scholars working in critical areas of educational scholarship. Fellows will receive $55,000 for one academic year of research, or $27,500 for each of two contiguous years, working half time. Fellows will also attend professional development retreats and receive mentorship from NAEd members and other senior scholars in their field. Applicants must have had their PhD, EdD, or equivalent research degree conferred between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2013. This fellowship is non-residential, and applications from all disciplines are encouraged. Up to twenty-five NAEd/Spencer Fellowships will be awarded. Additional guidelines and the fellowship application form are available on our website.
Deadline to apply: November 7, 2014

Contact Information:

The National Academy of Education greatly appreciates support and funding from the Spencer Foundation to provide and administer these fellowship programs. For more information on the Spencer Foundation, please visit

Monday, August 25, 2014

American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation

(photo credit:

For Release:  August 25, 2014 Studies show that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep often suffer physical andmental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance. But getting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. – and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day. 

In a new policy statement published online Aug. 25, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later. Doing so will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “School Start Times for Adolescents,” published in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics. 

“The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” Dr. Owens said. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.” 

Many studies have documented that the average adolescent in the U.S. is chronically sleep-deprived and pathologically sleepy. A National Sleep Foundation poll found 59 percent of 6th through 8th graders and 87 percent of high school students in the U.S. were getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights. 

The policy statement is accompanied by a technical report, “Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences,” also published online Aug. 25. The technical report updates a prior report on excessive sleepiness among adolescents that was published in 2005. 

The reasons for teens’ lack of sleep are complex, and include homework, extracurricular activities, after-school jobs and use of technology that can keep them up late on week nights. The AAP recommends pediatricians counsel teens and parents about healthy sleep habits, including enforcing a media curfew. The AAP also advises health care professionals to educate parents, educators, athletic coaches and other stakeholders about the biological and environmental factors that contribute to insufficient sleep.

But the evidence strongly suggests that a too-early start to the school day is a critical contributor to chronic sleep deprivation among American adolescents. An estimated 40 percent of high schools in the U.S. currently have a start time before 8 a.m.; only 15 percent start at 8:30 a.m. or later. The median middle school start time is 8 a.m., and more than 20 percent of middle schools start at 7:45 a.m. or earlier. 

Napping, extending sleep on weekends, and caffeine consumption can temporarily counteract sleepiness, but they do not restore optimal alertness and are not a substitute for regular, sufficient sleep, according to the AAP.

The AAP urges middle and high schools to aim for start times that allow students to receive 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night. In most cases, this will mean a school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later, though schools should also consider average commuting times and other local factors. 

“The AAP is making a definitive and powerful statement about the importance of sleep to the health, safety, performance and well-being of our nation's youth,” Dr. Owens said. “By advocating for later school start times for middle and high school students, the AAP is both promoting the compelling scientific evidence that supports school start time delay as an important public health measure, and providing support and encouragement to those school districts around the country contemplating that change.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit
- See more at:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hoboken Board of Education President Resigns - Remains as Board Trustee; Trustee McAllister Becomes President

Brandt School, Hoboken NJ 
At the start of the Tuesday August 19, 2014 Hoboken Board of Education meeting, Board President Leon Gold resigned as the Board President. There was no prior public notice and no explanation was given. Dr. Gold will remain a member of the Hoboken Board of Education. Gold received state and national attention when he was quoted in as being critical of Governor Chris Christie's administration's stance on charter schools and the consequences of "white flight*" on traditional public schools in Hoboken. 

The new Board President will be Ms. Ruth McAllister. McAllister is the chair of the Curriculum Committee for the Board of Education. She has been vocal for the past few months on how much better the Hoboken School District is now than when when she was first elected back in 2009. I'm sure the new QSAC DPR for INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM will provide some objective evidence of her claim. The district's appeal of their June 16, 2014 decision letter should be finalized soon.  

Gold emphasized that he was speaking in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of the entire Hoboken Board of Education.