After the gubernatorial inauguration on Tuesday, New Jersey educators might wonder what’s in store for education reform under the leadership of Democrat Phil Murphy.

Endorsed by the NJEA, it has been clear since voting season that Murphy has a few specific priorities going forward–most of them in opposition to the approach of Chris Christie. Some plans laid out on the governor’s website include:

  • “Restoring and funding the only school funding formula that has been upheld by the Supreme Court;
  • Working to expand free pre-K to all families in NJ;
  • Ending high-stakes testing and replacing PARCC with shorter tests that provide real-time feedback to help educators correct problems immediately;
  • Implementing a state-of-the-art STEM curriculum;
  • Expanding access to community colleges for high school students and creating new vocational training programs to provide alternative pathways to success; and
  • Giving local communities a stronger voice in education decisions by working to end state takeovers and abandoning the top-down approach of the Christie administration.”

It’s hard to predict the exact timeline for Murphy’s ambitious changes, but in more recent news, Murphy named Lamont Repollet as education chief on January 12th.

Repollet was the superintendent of Asbury Park’s schools in Monmouth County. He took the job in 2014, when Asbury Park’s schools were rated amongst the lowest performing districts in New Jersey. During his tenure the graduation rate went from 49 to 73 percent and other improvements in attendance and literacy were significant.

As head of the state Department of Education, Repollet will work on adjusting standardized testing and graduation requirements, among Murphy’s other priorities.

Teachers can anticipate the elimination of PARCC testing. However, there is no timetable for when PARCC will end. There is also no immediate replacement for PARCC. In a recent interview with, NJEA president Marie Blistan, said ‘the entire testing system needs to be reviewed, and, absolutely, I question whether the PARCC test is the appropriate test to use in any way, shape, or form here.’

Murphy has also promised full funding for schools, whereas Chris Christie came up with his own plan, which was different from the Senate approved formula for district funding. As far as free community college, Murphy’s other objective, it is yet to be seen how exactly these programs will be funded, especially in light of some early resistance to a proposed millionaire’s tax and the legalization of marijuana.

As of inauguration day, Murphy’s administration seems to  be a serious departure from the preceding eight years of policy.

What do you think about Phil Murphy, and his proposed plans for New Jersey’s school system? Let us know in the comments.

-Megan West

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