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What you need to know about special education in Newark this year

The big story

Special education is a critical component of the Newark school system, where about one in six district students, and one in 10 charter school students, require special services.

Yet schools sometimes struggle to meet the full range of students’ needs. And some parents struggle to keep tabs on what’s going on with special education in their own children’s schools, much less across the entire district.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Roger León has promised to revamp the district’s special education program, even as some parent-advocates call for immediate improvements.

To help inform those efforts, Chalkbeat will be reporting this school year on the current state of special education in Newark and how it can be improved. 

As part of that project, we hosted a community conversation about special education last weekend (more on that below). And we published a story highlighting major issues to watch out for this school year.

Those issues include: busing for students with disabilities, whether they’re receiving their mandated services, how charter schools handle special education, and what impact trauma and lead exposure can have on students.

As León put it: “Our neediest children need to be taken care of.” 

Read the full story.

Listening tour

If you want to know what special education really looks like in Newark, ask parents and educators.

On Saturday, we did just that. Together with the Newark Special Education Parent Advisory Council, we co-hosted a public discussion about special education — what’s working well and what needs to be improved.

The event drew nearly 30 people and sparked some passionate conversations. It also amplified experiences and perspectives that will help guide our reporting on special education this year.

Read all about it here.

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

College readiness…

  • An ambitious Newark high school graduate is determined to earn a college degree — but first he had to make it through a grueling pre-college boot camp. Chalkbeat

Famous alumnus…

  • Jordan Thomas, a Rhodes Scholar who will be studying at Yale Law School and Harvard Business School this year, spoke to students at his alma mater — Newark’s University High School. Newark Public Schools

School food…

  • Philip’s Academy Charter School, where students help grow vegetables that are used in school meals, was awarded for having the state’s best farm-to-school program. TAPinto Newark

Upcoming events…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark. 

School segregation…

  • New Jersey charter school advocates are fighting back against a lawsuit that claims, in part, that charter schools exacerbate school segregation. NJTV, TAPinto Newark, (op-ed)

Student activism…

  • New Jersey students joined young people across the world last week who participated in “climate strikes” to demand action on climate change.

Education chief…

  • New Jersey’s education commissioner talks preschool, standardized testing, and student vaping. NJTV, NJ Spotlight

STEM grant…

  • Under a new law, teachers of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) who work in public schools in New Jersey could get up to $20,000 in college-loan assistance. NJ Spotlight

Civic engagement…

  • A new report shows that New Jersey universities saw the largest increases of any state in the proportion of students who voted in 2018, compared with the 2014 midterms. NJ Spotlight


  • Cory Booker says he stopped supporting private-school vouchers years ago, yet he co-sponsored a bill to reauthorize vouchers in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. Chalkbeat, Washington Post

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

A small-group discussion at Chalkbeat Newark’s special education event on Saturday.

The post What you need to know about special education in Newark this year appeared first on Chalkbeat.

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