Leader in Education:

Diegnan on Reviewing Implementation & Participation in the PARCC Test in NJ (A-4165 & A-4190) from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.

In this video press release, Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) discusses his legislation that examines the current implementation of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized test in New Jersey's schools.
The PARCC is replacing the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge and will be administered to all students in grades 3-11 in March.
Diegnan's parental opt-out legislation (A-4165) was slated for discussion only in the Education Committee.
The second bill (A-4190) would prohibit the state Department of Education from using the PARCC test to determine a student's placement in a gifted and talented program, placement in another program or intervention, grade promotion, as the state graduation proficiency test, or as a component of any evaluation rubric submitted to the DOE for three years, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

Breaking News

Diegnan Looks to Return Rutgers Crew to Varsity Level
By Mark Di Ionno, Star Ledger

It's been a summer of glory for former Rutgers' sports stars. Carli Lloyd stole show in the women's World Cup soccer final. Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds won the home run derby at the All-Star Game. But there is another incredible Rutgers alum accomplishment on the horizon you won't hear much about. If all goes right, a former Rutgers rower will coach his team to its 10th consecutive world championship later this month in France.

Tom Terhaar (Class of '91), head coach of the U.S. women's national rowing team, was a member of the now-extinct Rutgers men's lightweight crew.
It no longer exists because former athletic director Bob Mulcahy killed it 2006, when he took away the varsity status of several sports to free up more money and scholarships for football. Those sports, alternately called "non-revenue" or "Olympic" sports, included men's lightweight and heavyweight crew, men's swimming and diving, fencing and tennis. Women's crew and swimming and diving remained to keep Rutgers in Title IX compliance. Title IX says there must be an equal number of athletic scholarships and participation opportunities for women and men.

Men's heavyweight crew didn't die. It survived as a club, fully supported by alumni -- from the coaching salaries to the boats and oars, and the truck that pulls them to regattas. Some of the money comes from a $3.5 million crew alumni endowment, and the alumni contribute another $100,000 annually to cover operating costs.
The team still rows hard but, without varsity status, is no longer eligible to compete in the national college championships. "That makes it hard for us to attract really good high school rowers," said Steve Wagner, the head coach since 1987. It wasn't that way when Terhaar was rowing for Rutgers Back then, Rutgers was a Top 10 program, year in and year out. Terhaar took that experience and made his women's crew one of the most dominant teams in sports. His women's eight has won nine successive world championships, including gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Terhaar's success is part of Rutgers' rich crew legacy on the national scene. Men's rowing was not only the oldest sport at the schools, but the most decorated.
Rutgers men started rowing on the Raritan in 1864 -- the year Abraham Lincoln put Ulysses S. Grant in charge of the Union army -- and they were formidable right up until they were devalued by Rutgers. Over the years, Rutgers' men won Olympic gold medals and world championships. On many occasions, they beat the Princetons, Dartmouths and Cornells of the rowing world, which is a little like Rutgers football beating Ohio State. They even beat the famed Leander Club of England, which is a little like Rutgers football beating the New England Patriots. Then came 2006.

"It was disgraceful then and it is disgraceful now," said state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex). Diegnan is one of the state legislators who want the Rutgers men's crew restored to varsity status – now. Not in 2020 when Rutgers gets its first full share of Big 10 revenue, as the university has suggested. But now. "The (crew) alumni have shown great fortitude and tenacity in keeping their program alive," said state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union). "They've done an extraordinary job keeping their legacy alive. The university has to partner with them now before that legacy slips away." Kean knows about that legacy first hand. He was one of the Dartmouth who "got our clocks cleaned" by Rutgers in 1990. Princeton was also left in Rutgers' wake in that race. Three members of that Rutgers eight-man crew would go on to make the national team and win a world championship team. Diegnan and Kean said there's an "urgency" to getting the program restored so Rutgers can compete again at that level. Terhaar agrees. "The farther we fall away from our success, the harder it is to build back up," he said. Wagner said his team was always "built on walk-ons and kids who never rowed before. We've always had good, tough kids. All they want is a chance to earn a varsity letter and compete for a national championship."

That's what the legislators want, too. Kean and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) co-sponsored a bill that was approved to send $25 million in economic growth grants and tax credits toward the improvement of Rutgers facilities. Diegnan said he would sponsor a companion bill in the Assembly as his "top priority."
What they want in return is to have Rutgers crew restored, quickly, and let it again become the flagship sport that turned out 17 Olympians in the decade or so before it was dismantled. "All Rutgers sports should be brought up to Big 10 levels," Lesniak said. "And the crew team should be restored to national prominence." . .

My political philosophy:

These are challenging times for our state and our nation. For the first time many Americans fear for the future of their children and grandchildren. We are the greatest democracy in the history of mankind. We must work together, regardless of party affiliation, to return New Jersey to its history of achievement and innovation. This is where Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein literally changed the world as we know it. Where Frank Sinatra taught us about "My Way" . . . where The Boss was Born to Run and Boni Jovi told us to Make a Memory. I am a firm believer that New Jersey's best days lie ahead and I am proud and honored to be able to contribute to that bright future as a member of the legislature.

– Assemblyman Partick Diegnan
18th Legislative District


patriots corner

Excerpts from Diegnan Unveiling of ‘Patriots Corner,’ Commemorating Active Duty NJ Service Members from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.

Leader in the District

Diegnan a Guest of Honor at India Day Parade
“I had a great time at the India Day Parade and am extremely proud that our district hosts such a successful and internationally renowned celebration of Indian heritage.” –Patrick J. Diegnan Jr.
By: Marc Krauss, tapinto.net
EDISON, NJ - The 11th Annual Official New Jersey India Day Parade took place on Oak Tree Road, New Jersey’s little India. Official estimates place the attendance at 38,000. The parade commenced in Edison and concluded on India Square, in Iselin. The over 1 mile parade route was filled with spectators, in many instances three and four rows deep.

“The success of today’s parade is due to the efforts of many, including our sponsors and volunteers,” Dhiren Amin, president of IBA said.

The largest parade to date, the festivities included marching bands, over 20 floats and dozens of walking groups. Six Bollywood stars, including talk show host Richa Anirudh and “Calendar Girls”Avani Modi, attended the parade. Rounding out the galaxy of celebrities were Prachee Shah, Madalsa Sherma, Sameksha Singh, and Sujata Mehta.

“This was so amazing, a real tribute to India,” Richa Anirudh added.

They were joined by an assortment of state wide elected officials, including Congressman Frank Pallone, State Senators Ray Lesniak and Sam Thompson, Assemblypersons Craig Coughlin, Patrick Diegnan, and Nancy Pinkin, Middlesex County Freeholder Ken Armwood, and Newark councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins. Leading the political delegation were Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac.

The parade featured a 110 member marching band. Additional highlights included the floats by the Edison Democrat Organization, Air India, TV Asia, Oxigen, Investors Bank, and the SriVari Balaji Temple. Over 100 New Jersey based organizations participated. There were several dance groups as well.

“No matter where Indian immigrate to, they continue to be filled with passion for India,” Calendar Girls, Avani Modi commented.

Another unique feature of the parade was the Young Entrepreneurial Society, a new subchapter of IBA.

“They are our future, we a building for tomorrow” Chandrakant Patel, Chairman for IBA explained.

“We need to promote our local talent,” Manher Shah, IBA trustee added. “New Jersey is filled with young talented artists.”

Oak Tree Road is an internationally known business district filled with Indian stores and restaurants. Mahesh Shah, IBA trustee, described the area as “our Time Square” Asian Indians account for 12.93% of the Middlesex County's total population.viewing Implementation & Participation in the PARCC Test in NJ (A-4165 & A-4190)