Paterson Top Stories

Officials Continue Work on Ambitious Plan to Reform Paterson's Education System

Under proposed restructuring plan, School 11 would host "Newcomers" program for children who don't speak English.


PATERSON, NJ – About 7,000 Paterson students are in danger of being left back at the end of this school year, a consequence of city education officials’ determination to stop promoting pupils who have failed to meeting the academic standards for their grade level.

The discontinuation of Paterson’s long-standing practice of “social promotion” comes as part of a sweeping and aggressive proposal to overhaul the city’s troubled education system.

Sign Up for E-News

Under a plan outlined at a meeting on Tuesday, education officials would restructure eight of Paterson’s worst performing schools, create three new magnet programs for middle school students, expand pre-kindergarten offerings in underserved parts of the city, launch a special program for 300 youths who don’t speak English, reduce the staff at the district’s central offices and remove ineffective teachers from classrooms.

Some school board members cautioned that the district may be making too much change too fast. “It’s important that we succeed,’’ said Paterson Schools Commissioner Jonathan Hodges, calling the proposal “complicated” and “hurried.’’

City Schools Commissioner Christopher Irving said it would be feasible to make the changes over the course of a couple of years. Implementing the reforms all at once, Irving said, would undermine the district’s ability to do them all well.

In the next two weeks, the Board of Education will hold a special workshop meeting to discuss the plan and the school district will hold a community forum on the proposal.  Those dates have not yet been scheduled.

On May 2, the Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the proposal, which will be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education by May 4 for state approval.

The plan was compiled by state-appointed superintendent Donnie Evans and consultant Theodore Best, a former city school board member and a current Passaic County freeholder. Evans’ contract expires in August and the reform plan could play a crucial role in the Christie administration’s decision on whether to reappoint him to his $210,000 position.

Meanwhile, on Mon., April 23, at 6:30 pm at Eastside High, the district will hold a community forum on the end of “social promotion,” a practice that officials said has put Paterson children at an educational disadvantage by allowing them to move up in grades even though they didn’t learn the requisite material. “That’s why we have kids in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades who are reading at a second-grade level,’’ Evans said.

Instead, students who have not met proficiency levels required for their grades will have to go to summer school, and then would only advance to the next grade if they make sufficient progress during summer school, officials said.

“It’s a shock to the community,’’ said Board of Education President Willa Mae Taylor.

“You will have an uproar from parents who do not understand this,’’ said Irving.

Evans said that about 7,000 city students currently are at risk of demotion. But about 2,000 of them were on the border and could reach the requirements by the end of the school year, the superintendent said. The district has set aside enough money to pay teachers to cover 5,000 summer school students this year, he said.

Hodges warned that the district may not have enough space in its existing school buildings if substantial numbers of students are left back in the fall.

Here’s a brief overview of Evans’ 10-point plan:

Close and reconfigure some of the lowest performing schools, including Schools 6, 11,15, 21, 28, New Roberto Clemente, Napier and Kilpatrick.

Create “model middle schools” at Schools 6 and 15.

Establish magnet schools for middle school students in the performing arts, international studies and gifted and talented programs.

Enter partnerships with charter schools, which would be required to adhere to a “non-selective admission process.’’

Expand Pre-k program and emphasize literacy in the early grades.

Open a “Newcomers” program at School 11 for 300 children who do not speak English.

Impose additional “academic interventions” at the city’s most troubled schools.

End social promotion.

Reduce and reorganize Central Office staff.

Improve principals’ autonomy and allow them to refuse the transfers of teachers they don’t want in their schools. This would include a revised system for evaluating teachers’ performance as well as the removal of ineffective teachers from the classroom.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Thu, April 26, 12:00 PM

Paterson Public Library, Paterson

Book Discussion

Arts & Entertainment Law & Justice


Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM


Bronze Heat Community Carnival


Fri, April 27, 6:00 PM


Bronze Heat Community Carnival

TAPinto Paterson Reader Shares Concerns About Absentee Ballots

April 21, 2018

Dear editor:

I am writing this letter to express a grave concern I have regarding the influx of absentee ballots. To my understanding, absentee ballots were designed to be used by those who are unable to make it to the polls on Election Day. Such as people in the armed services or those who are away on vacation. 

This year’s municipal election will be one for the history books.

Assembly's Longest Serving Member Dead at 79

April 19, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Paterson's Assembly members, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly, are mourning the loss of their colleague, Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield) who died on Thursday.

Green, 79, was the longest serving member of the Assembly, and considered to be a champion of affordable housing. Green stepped down as Chairman of the Union County Democratic Organization on January 24 to ...

Pascrell Statement on the Passing of Paterson Police Officer Tamby Yagan

April 24, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- “Today Paterson is in mourning. Officer Tamby Yagan of the Paterson Police Force made the ultimate sacrifice for our city when he was tragically killed while in the line of duty.

“A native of Prospect Park, Officer Yagan was a volunteer in the Prospect Park Fire Department for six years before joining Paterson’s Finest through a COPS hiring grant. Officer Yagan ...