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Give schools a hand up, not a handoff | NJ.com

by Milton W. Hinton

The first thing to do in order to have an immediate impact on the kids in districts like Camden is to provide breakfast for students. I know that it is not the responsibility of the schools to take on social problems. But the fact remains that hungry first or second graders are not going to learn, listen or be reasonable in a classroom when they have had nothing to eat since the previous day’s school lunch. Inadequate nutrition’s effect on learning has been documented over and over again — and consistently ignored over and over again.

Interestingly, I did not hear anyone at Christie’s media event say anything about the poor condition of many of the schools in Camden. I have been in prisons in New Jersey that were more modern and conducive to learning than many schools. New Jersey State Prison in Trenton has central air conditioning while most schools in Camden do not.

Much school construction has been put on hold while the Christie administration overhauls the N.J. Schools Development Authority, which, by the way is taking too long. New schools, with proper heating and cooling, modern restrooms and the latest classroom technology will greatly improve the learning experience.

The Adamoski model emphasizes early literacy, something missing from almost all of New Jersey’s public schools. A commitment to every student reading at grade level by the end of third grade is one of the best indicators of a student graduating on time. This is no secret, and it does not matter if a private company is running the school. For students not reading at grade level by the end of third grade, summer school should be mandatory.

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