Trenton, May 10 – New Jersey’s school principals find that their school buildings come up short in meeting specific curricula needs, such as science, music/art, physical and special education, preschool and after-school activities, and community access.
These findings are from a survey study (PDF, 509KB) of NJ school principals released in Trenton today. The study was initiated by the Building Education Success Together (BEST) collaborative, supported by the Ford Foundation. Dr. Mark Schneider, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York, conducted the study. The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) and the Education Law Center (ELC) hope to use the results to press for changes in the State’s facilities construction program.
A majority of principals (80%) thought their schools were educationally adequate overall, but, in the specific areas of science, music/art, physical and special education, preschool and after school activities, and community access, those same principals see a need for improvement, stated NJPSA President Dan Money.
“Our principals felt strongly that they, their teachers, and the community as a whole need more opportunities to provide input regarding the planning and design of construction projects. We must ensure that the curriculum needs are our first priority,” Money continued.
Dr. Schneider noted that by a large margin principals view their training in facility management as less adequate than their training for other aspects of their jobs. “School principals are critical to the management and design of an educational facility,” noted Schneider, “and they must be given the tools and resources necessary for success.”
David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director, noted that the study results highlighted the need for improvements to New Jersey’s landmark school construction program. “As we continue to renovate and build new schools, we must directly engage principals in the planning and design process. If principals are involved, along with teachers and parents, our school buildings will be better equipped to deliver high quality programs, particularly in specialized areas such as science and the arts,” Mr. Sciarra stated.
According to Mary Filardo, Executive Director of BEST, “The need to upgrade school facilities to meet curricula requirements in New Jersey is widespread. While the problems of poor facilities are often most severe in low income communities—urban and rural—the mismatch between facilities and curricula is in fact a national issue. Without clear policy changes, this problem will accelerate, particularly as science testing mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act comes into force.”
Supporting Material: “Results from a Survey of Principals” (PDF, 509KB)
Charles Stein, NJPSA, 609-860-1200
Mary Filardo, BEST, 202-745-3745, ext. 11
David Sciarra, ELC, 973-624-1815 ext. 16
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications