February 22, 2017

Acting State Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington is scheduled to render a decision by early March on the Princeton Charter School (PCS) request to add 76 students.

Both PCS and Princeton Public Schools (PPS) face related law suits in the state courts over violations of the open public meeting act (OPMA, the sunshine law); both PCS and PPS have filed opposition statements, responses, and additional statements with the commissioner in making their cases, some before and some after the January 31 deadline for public comment; the conflict has raged in the media, with many letters to the editor and paid ads on both sides of the argument; and the commissioner has received petitions and thousands of letters from both sides, as well as a resolution from Princeton Town Council opposing expansion.  more

The beleaguered PARCC test suffered another blow last week when the State Assembly Education Committee voted С 10 yes, one abstention С to support a resolution that would strike down regulations adopted by the State Board of Education in August 2016 that made PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) a graduation requirement.

The standardized assessment has been the target of much criticism from local educators, teachers’ unions, and community members, with many parents in Princeton choosing for their children, particularly at the high school level, to opt out of taking the tests. more

Shock waves continue to reverberate through academic, scholarly, and scientific communities, even though the White House executive order of January 27, 2017, banning entrance to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely, has been temporarily suspended by federal court order. more

February 15, 2017

Princeton and 16 other universities filed an amicus curiae brief on Monday in a civil action which the attorney general of New York and others are pursuing in federal district court in New York City. The brief follows up on a February 2 letter to President Trump signed by Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber and 47 other college and university presidents urging Mr. Trump “to rectify or rescind the recent executive order” on immigration. more

As Princeton Charter School (PCS) awaits a decision from the State on its application to expand, both PCS and the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) face law suits in the state courts over violations of the open public meeting act (OPMA, the sunshine law).

The Charter School applied to the State Department of Education on December 1, 2016, requesting to add 76 students and to institute a weighted lottery to increase enrollment of economically disadvantaged students. The proposal set off immediate resistance from the PPS, which warned of severe financial consequences for the District. Controversy between the schools and within the community continues to seethe. more

QUALITY OF LIFE: Bike Planners look forward to finalizing their Princeton Bike Plan, winning Planning Board approval, and seeing their proposals put in place to enhance biking opportunities and the quality of life for the whole town. (Photo courtesy of Bicycle Master Plan)

There are the intrepid cyclists who are happy to ride in almost all conditions. There are the community members who wouldn’t ride under any circumstances, and then there are the 60 percent of people in Princeton who would like to bike, but find conditions a bit scary, with narrow roads, traffic, or other problems.  more

February 8, 2017

A rally “Against the Muslim Ban and Bigotry,” co-sponsored by The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), took place on the steps of the Trenton City Hall Monday, as federal courts, which had temporarily banned the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order, considered the federal government’s appeals against their ruling.

Meanwhile local institutions, groups, and individuals continue to express their concern and to take action to support vulnerable individuals. more

GOING GREEN ATJW: Green Team members show off their new plan for recycling and composting at John Witherspoon Middle School. The students presented the program to their teachers at a faculty meeting on Monday and will bring their peers on board in homerooms this Friday.

A group of seventh and eight graders, members of the John Witherspoon Middle School (JW) Green Team, are moving into high gear this week, first teaching their teachers about recycling and composting, then bringing their training to the whole school in homerooms on Friday. more

As she was growing up, Joy Barnes-Johnson planned her future life as a dancer. Then an injury during her junior year in high school turned into a loss for the world of dance but a great gain for the world of education and for hundreds of students at Princeton High School, where she has taught science since 2007.

“When I knew I couldn’t be a dancer, I fell in love with science,” she recalled. “And I remember my chemistry teacher said to me, ‘Joy, you’re not going to be a dancer, but you’re really smart and you’ll probably be a great teacher.’ I knew I had this ability to explain things to my peers.”  more

February 1, 2017

Leaders from Princeton Charter School (PCS) and Princeton Public Schools (PPS) continue to hold confidential private meetings, most recently last Thursday, in search of a resolution to their clash over PCS’s proposed expansion, with a decision from State Department of Education (DOE) Acting Commissioner Kimberley Harrington expected by the end of February.  more

With chaos at airports, in the courts and elsewhere throughout the country amidst controversy over President Donald Trump’s recent immigration restriction orders, Princeton is making plans to protect vulnerable members of the community.

“Recent executive actions on immigration issues are cruel, counterproductive, and contrary to the values we hold dear in Princeton,” Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Town Council wrote in a statement issued Monday night.  more

LEADERSHIP TRANSITION: Princeton Day School on the Great Road will welcome Rebecca Bushnell, a University of Pennsylvania English professor and administrator, as its new Board Chair on July 1.

Rebecca Bushnell, elected last week as chair of the Board of Trustees at Princeton Day School, has a long history with the school, and looks forward to the challenges ahead.

“It was a young school when I was there,” the 1970 PDS graduate recalled. “I got a wonderful education that prepared me for education and life. PDS has certainly transformed over the years, but it has kept its core strengths in academics and athletics, with strong programs in the arts and architecture.” more

January 25, 2017

Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 outspoken community members the Municipal Council voted 4-1 on Monday night to approve a resolution urging the State Department of Education to deny Princeton Charter School’s (PCS) recent application to expand.

In responding to a conflict between PCS and Princeton Public Schools (PPS) supporters, who have claimed devastating effects to their budget if the expansion is approved, the Council members discussed the issue at some length and listened to a range of opinions from the public before casting their votes on the resolution.  more

DAZZLING DESIGNS: Among the many new retail and eating establishments coming onto the Princeton scene this spring is the Cargot Brasserie, a French inspired eatery next to the Dinky Pub and Kitchen, shown here in a rendering by Celano Design Studio of New York.

The ever-shifting landscape of Princeton shops and restaurants may be even more turbulent than usual over the coming months, with Carnevale Plaza preparing to open on eastern Nassau Street, MAC Cosmetics moving in to Palmer Square next to Ann Taylor, The Papery stationery store relocating to Princeton Shopping Center to be joined by Dental Care Princeton and a creative salad company called Chop’t, and the Cargot Brasserie opening in Princeton’s arts and transit neighborhood.  more

Michelle Jacob, science and math teacher and middle school program coordinator at Princeton Montessori School, feels she has found her vocation and her niche. “There’s always new things I want to introduce to the program,” she said, “but I would love to stay where I am with what I’m doing.”

Ms. Jacob joined Princeton Montessori School in 2008 after ten years at Princeton Charter School and four years before that at St. Paul Roman Catholic School. She lives with her husband and two children in Montgomery, where she serves on the Township Environmental Commission. more

ON TRIAL: After all her miraculous success in leading the French to victory, Joan (Andrus Nichols) finds herself captured, brought before an ecclesiastical court on charges of heresy, and interrogated by the Inquisitor (Eric Tucker) in Bedlam theater company’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 12. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson) 

The young heroine of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan (1923) has a lot in common with the celebrated Bedlam theater company that is presenting the play at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 12. “There is something about the girl,” says a soldier in the opening scene of the play, as Joan of Arc wins over the local squire to supply her with a horse, armor, and troops, and, following orders directly from God, she sets out to free the city of Orleans from the English.  more

January 18, 2017

Despite impassioned appeals on both sides, along with expressed commitments to work together, Princeton Charter School (PCS) and Princeton Public Schools (PPS) remain entrenched in their opposition over the question of a PCS expansion.

Princeton Charter School’s board voted unanimously last Wednesday to support their application to the State Department of Education for expansion, and Princeton Public Schools continued their efforts to block that move.  more

Annie Isaacson, 47, yoga teacher and founder in 2014 of Rise Power Yoga on the second floor at 80 Nassau Street, believes in balance. She realizes that Rise Power Yoga is a successful business, but more important to her is leading a balanced life and providing a service to the community. As she explains it, “It becomes a space for a lot of people to show up and discover their radiance and deal with whatever they’re going through, whether it’s physical or emotional.” Annie lives in Princeton off Mount Lucas Road with her 13-year-old son. Here, in her own words, she talks about her journey to Rise Power Yoga. more

BURIAL BATTLE: Laertes (Edmund Lewis, on bottom) and Hamlet (Eric Tucker) fight over the corpse of Ophelia (Andrus Nichols) in the graveyard, as Hamlet prepares for his final revenge in Bedlam theater company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 12. (Photo by Elizabeth Nichols)

A New York-based theater company founded in 2012, Bedlam, currently presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Shaw’s Saint Joan in rotating repertory at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre, has received much acclaim from New York critics and others for its productions over the past four years. McCarter artistic director Emily Mann saw their Saint Joan a few years ago in New York City, and “was determined to bring Bedlam’s work to Princeton.” more

January 11, 2017

Princeton Charter School campus

It’s up to the State Department of Education’s Acting Commissioner Kimberley Harrington whether or not to approve Princeton Charter School’s (PCS) application to expand its enrollment by 76 students. With Princeton Public Schools (PPS) and their supporters opposing the expansion publicly, in the press, in the courts, locally and in Trenton, and the PCS strongly defending its proposal, Ms. Harrington has plenty of opportunity for input from both sides on her decision, which she is expected to render within the next two months. more

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education last week swore in three new members and appointed a new president and vice president. Debbie Bronfeld, William Hare, and Gregory Stankiewicz, newly elected last November, joined the Board for three-year terms; Patrick Sullivan stepped up to the office of president; and Dafna Kendal assumed the position of vice president.

Priorities on the agenda for the year ahead include opposing the Charter School’s proposed expansion; pursuing the most effective, financially responsible ways to relieve overcrowding; and implementing the Strategic Plan to close the achievement gap and improve education for all. more

Institute for Advanced Study

Throughout the fall the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) continued to assert its right to proceed with its faculty housing project adjacent to the Princeton Battlefield. Despite ongoing objections from the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) and others, site preparation moved forward and construction seemed imminent.  more

January 4, 2017

Seven hundred and seventy students from a pool of 5003 candidates who applied through single-choice early action have been offered admission to next year’s freshman class at Princeton University. The number of early applicants is the largest in the past six years, up 18.3 percent from last year. more

Photo by Mitsu Yasukawa

As it pursues its mission to support playwrights, new plays, and the future of the American theater, McCarter Theatre Center’s LAB program will be putting to work a $35,000 grant, announced last month, from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The future of the American theater rests with the American playwright,” McCarter artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann stated. “We take it as a core mission of this theater to develop and support new works and the playwrights who create them.”

LAB offers readings, workshops, a 10-day artists’ retreat in the spring, commissions and the annual LAB Spotlight Production. It also provides McCarter audiences with a window into the creative process. New works developed in the McCarter LAB have included pieces by Christopher Durang (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike), Danai Gurira (Eclipsed), Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics), Regina Taylor (Crowns), Tarrell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) and more.

Noura, a new play by Iraqi-American playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire), will be featured at the end of this month as a LAB Spotlight Production. Created after years of work in Arab American communities in New York City, where Ms. Raffo discussed A Doll’s House with Middle Eastern women, Noura is “a timely re-imagining” of Ibsen’s play “through the lens of an Iraqi refugee family” and “a passionate exploration of contemporary feminism that reflects the dilemma facing modern America: do we live for each other or for ourselves?” more

December 28, 2016

AS IT HAPPENS: This is how the site of Princeton University’s Arts & Transit complex looked last January. Much progress has been made on the buildings designed by architect Steven Holl, and the project is still scheduled to be completed in 2017. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

The rapid pace of teardowns and the often out-of-scale houses that replace them was an issue that dominated discussions in Princeton throughout 2016. The town’s changing character was the theme in the platforms of nearly every candidate who ran for local office in 2016. Midway through the year, moved to take action by the presence of bulldozers all over town, Princeton Council formed a Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative. more