NJIT gets $250K to keep developing child-proof ‘smart gun’

NJIT gets $250K to keep developing child-proof ‘smart gun’
Good to see my alma-mater making a difference. It’s important to point out — lest we wake the trolls — that this technology is used to prevent child-related accidents, not deter crime.

NJIT has spent the last nine years on a “dynamic grip recognition” technology that can identify gun owners based on how they squeeze the trigger. The technology uses sensors located in the gun to identify unconscious, reflexive actions unique to each person and then decides whether the gunman is authorized to fire the weapon.

University officials say it works 99 percent of the time when paired with an off-the-shelf handgun outfitted with green and red lights to indicate whether the embedded circuitry decided to fire or not. They have tested it successfully with shooters wearing gloves, under timed conditions to simulate stressful conditions and using alternate hands.

Newark schools chief says 30,000 elementary students will wear uniforms

Newark schools chief says 30,000 elementary students will wear uniforms
Promised as a part of a larger reform package, shiny new Newark schools Superintendent Clifford Janey will require 30k students to wear uniforms to class starting in the winter of 2009.

Some schools already require students wear uniforms so the new policy won’t come as a shock. After parents lobbied the Elliott Street School Principal Angel Juarbe to mandate uniforms, he implemented a policy in 2003.

“It unified the students, promoted pride, helped student resist peer pressure and saved parents money,” said Juarbe who is now an executive assistant to the superintendent. “That was the big thing, parents could buy one or two uniforms and it was much less expensive than an entire back to school wardrobe.”

At Struggling School, Pride Displaces Failure

At Struggling School, Pride Displaces Failure
The Newton School celebrates a jump in standardized test scores that may have saved it from complete shutdown.

Just last summer, the Newark Teachers Union invested $100,000 into an improvement program at Newton, though they had poured more than half of that into political attack billboard ads around the city.

The so-called new Newton, which has been touted as a model for education reform, not only raised the school’s profile within the district but also freed it from the usual bureaucracy and paperwork that dictate school life, Newton teachers and administrators said. With the support of the union, Newton was able to replace 6 of its 44 teachers, a turnaround for a place that had once been known as a “training ground,” of sorts, for teachers who failed in other schools. It also extended the school day by an hour for the middle grades.

Seton Hall’s education professors took over much of the staff development, scheduling workshops on data analysis and coaching newer teachers in their classrooms. They equipped every Newton faculty member with a free I.B.M. laptop, and handed out basketballs and tickets to Seton Hall’s home games as an incentive for students and their parents. About 50 Seton Hall undergraduates came to Newton last fall to tutor students.

“I didn’t feel alone,” said Kevin Kilgore, 23, a third-grade math teacher who just finished his first year at Newton. “Teaching can be a very lonely profession. When you’re in a classroom, you’re the only adult. Because of this alliance, I knew there were many people, many adults involved.”

Newark superintendent boasts urban experience

Newark superintendent boasts urban experience

Arriving in a city with its own brand of bare-knuckle politics, Janey said he has no illusions. He’s heard rumors Mayor Cory Booker, a close friend of Fenty’s, wasn’t his biggest booster.

“Maybe that’s juicy speculation, but, frankly, we are going to have to do things together for the betterment of Newark,” he said. “Even if that’s true, it doesn’t matter now. We’re in the same boat.”

Departing Newark school chief always put kids first

Departing Newark school chief always put kids first
The Ledger considers the legacy that Newark schools superintendent Marion Bolden will leave after her departure from the post later this year.

She also is proud of the district’s graduation rate, and decries critics who challenge its legitimacy. Nearly 52 percent of high school students received diplomas in 1999. That number jumped to nearly 80 percent during Bolden’s tenure.

She is the first to admit students are graduating with low grade-point averages, but the fact they remain in school is positive, she said. Unless the state changes graduation requirements, she said, students should not be stigmatized if they don’t pass the HSPA and need the SRA to get a diploma.

“I don’t want kids to be pushed through. Kids who need remediation after graduation, that’s a problem,” Bolden said. “But it’s still better than kids who were dropping out in 7th and 8th grade. You want them to graduate because it affords them an opportunity even if they need remedial classes.”

But this is Newark

But this is Newark
The insightful Carl Sharif provides the insider angle on the nearly successful sabotage of Janey’s relationship with the city administration.

The idea of the story was to feed an ongoing strategy to isolate Booker. By pitting him in a struggle with Governor Corzine over the selection of Janey as superintendent, Booker was to be portrayed as against the best interests of Newark school children. It also sought to fan contention between Mayor Booker and Steve Adubato, with whom Booker has had a series of recent dust-ups. Adubato is quoted in the Ledger piece as making a statement that has not been verified and is not likely to be verifiable. Nonetheless, the planted Booker/Corzine/anti-Janey feud story is being peddled all over town and Steve Adubato is now being blamed for it.

According to the story, Booker favored Ross Danis for the job. Steve is quoted as saying of the mayor, “Everybody knows he was with Danis … I don’t think it’s right to have a position and keep it a secret.” Now analyze Steve’s comment. It states a falsehood, accuses the mayor of wrongful behavior and condemns him for harboring a secret. This is pretty powerful stuff. And were it accurate, it might be damning. But it’s just dead wrong.

Newark principal’s political memo is rebuked

Newark principal’s political memo is rebuked
You’ve got to appreciate that last Del Grasso quote, given the Newark Teacher’s Union’s highly politically-charged billboard campaign in the city.

In a Feb. 26 memo addressed to two staff members, East Side High principal Mario Santos forwarded copies of tickets to a March event for Augusto Amador, the East Ward councilman who is raising money for his re-election campaign.

According to Newark Public School policy, “All District employees are prohibited from active campaigning on school property on behalf of any candidate for local, state or national office.” Violations of the policy could result in “disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Superintendent Marion Bolden said she received a copy of the memo and spoke with Santos. He was issued a verbal warning, she said.

Joseph Del Grosso, who heads the Newark Teachers Union, said asking staff for political contributions is “unacceptable.” Staff members at the school called to complain to union officials about the memo, he said.

“There is not supposed to be politics involved in public schools,” Del Grosso said.

Gov. Jon Corzine introduces Clifford Janey as Newark’s next schools superintendent

Gov. Jon Corzine introduces Clifford Janey as Newark’s next schools superintendent
It’s official, ex-Washington D.C. school superintendent will run the $1 billion Newark public school operation.

“I believe in high performing schools that have universal access to individuals, families and communities” he said. “I believe in teaching and learning environments that are safe and enabling. I believe in results that are based on proven practices, not gimmicks. I believe in working with engaged communities.”

Janey was introduced during an afternoon press conference at the nearly completed new Central High School building. State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy, outgoing Superintendent Marion Bolden, Mayor Cory Booker and other state and local officials attended the event.

Newark schools settle suit over commencement

Newark schools settle suit over commencement

Newark Public Schools settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a former Muslim student who was forced to skip his graduation from West Side High School two years ago because it was held in the sanctuary of a Baptist Church.

As a Muslim, Bilal Shareef’s faith prohibited him from entering a building with religious icons, such as pictures of God or images of the cross, according to the suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union- New Jersey.

The suit argued both the graduation and a yearly baccalaureate service held in a Catholic church, discriminated against Shareef be cause of his religious beliefs.

“I was forced to choose between honoring my education and my faith, and no one should be put in that position,” Shareef said in a statement. “I’m proud that I stood up for my beliefs, and I’m proud that my experience will keep other students from having to face the choices I did.”

Superintendent Marion Bolden wouldn’t reveal the amount, but confirmed there was a financial settlement between the district and Shareef. Barocas would not comment on the monetary settlement.

New York Times: Three Remain in Running for Newark Schools Post

Three Remain in Running for Newark Schools Post
The Times provides a helpful overview of the search for a new Newark school district superintendent — a $270,000/year position that is at the center of an entrenched political power struggle.

With more school control likely to return to the city from the state, the individual filling this role will have a large part to play in shaping Newark’s future and Mayor Cory Booker’s political career.

The change in leadership comes as the long-struggling, 42,000-student Newark district is poised to return to local control for the first time since a takeover by the state in 1995.

The process of selecting a new superintendent has been closely followed by educators, parents and advocates here who see an acute need for a viable school system in Newark — a city plagued with high crime and unemployment — as it struggles to revive itself.

“With its location and resources, Newark could be so much more than what it is,” said Derrell Bradford, deputy director of Excellent Education for Everyone, an advocacy group for school choice here that had Mayor Cory A. Booker among its founders. “The only way it will realize that dream is by fixing its schools.”