Carter Responds to NJQSAC on Oct. 18
He plans to give his response to the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum monitoring report, among other topics.
Carter had hardly set foot in Plainfield at the end of the last school year when he found out that the district had done poorly in four of the five performance areas studied by the state monitoring team earlier in 2007. With perhaps an appropriately apocalyptic tone, he dubbed his new group of administrative allies the “post-6/11” team. Once Carter was hired at an unusual Friday night emergency meeting, he recommended Michael Donow the same night to serve as interim business administrator. The board agreed and soon after accepted Carter’s recommendation to hire Walter Rusak as interim assistant superintendent, forming the team.
Since then, there have been numerous personnel changes as uncertified administrators were dismissed and other staff reassigned. Having paid more attention to municipal government than to the school district in recent years, I couldn’t attempt to give a scorecard. For that matter, some key positions are still not filled.
So since Carter took over on June 11, the administrative landscape has radically changed. The players that were in charge when the monitors made their dire findings are mostly gone. How the district ended up meeting only 61 percent of the indicators for operations management, 38 percent for personnel, 8 percent for instruction and program, 11 percent for governance and 32 percent for fiscal management may be the subject of future forensic studies, but for now the post-6/11 team is hustling to fix as much as can be fixed in the short term.
The school board obviously has to assess why members accepted so many apparently faulty recommendations from the past administration, and must address the 8 percent score for governance.
State Department of Education Commissioner Lucille Davy announced the report on Aug. 20, just as an inauspicious report came out questioning her department’s ability to manage the monitoring follow-up activities. The DOE has had to make a lot of changes even as it is probing the state’s most troubled school districts.
All around, it is not a pretty picture for public education. But Carter so far appears to have built up good will and projected a “can-do” outlook here in Plainfield. His letters to the community have been frank about what is expected from all stakeholders in the public schools if the NJQSAC findings are to be overcome.
Carter said recently that about one-third of the deficiencies have already been addressed. One directive straight from Deputy Commissioner of Education Willa Spicer was a change in leadership at Hubbard Middle School, which has not met federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards in seven years.
In about four months, the DOE will take the measure of Plainfield’s progress and has the power under the NJQSAC legislation to intercede further if it is not deemed sufficient.
All of the above makes Oct. 18 an important date for parents, students, school staff and taxpayers. Click here to read Carter’s entire letter.