It’s been around since 1982. It affects property values and community pride. It’s the National Blue Ribbon program, one of the biggest honors in education given by the federal government.

When a school is awarded it is very prestigious and an accolade the township can hang onto for many years. The 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools were just announced and nine of them are here in New Jersey.

The award centers on academic performance or progress in narrowing gaps in performance. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, in announcing this years winners said, “This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish.”

The nine Blue Ribbon winning schools are:

Academy For Information Technology, Union County Vocational-Technical School District

Hillside Elementary School, Closter Public School District

John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Jamesburg Public School District

Lucy N. Holman Elementary School, Jackson School District

North End School, Cedar Grove Township School District

Torey J. Sabatini Elementary School, Madison Public School District

Walter M. Schirra Elementary School, Old Bridge Township

Wemrock Brook School, Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District

Weymouth Township Elementary School, Weymouth Township School District

But don’t be too dazzled. According to an article by Ted Kesler on edweek.org, the designation of a Blue Ribbon school never expires and a school can tout the accolades for years while it may in fact have gone downhill. These schools will proudly and prominently display their awarded status but many things can change the performance of the school over time. Kesler cites changes like “faculty turnover, new mandates, and curricula that affect educational practices; changes in student population or funding for programs in the arts or sciences; or other factors that have an impact on overall school performance.”

So don’t get too caught up in the status. New Jersey schools are always ranked among the very best in the United States. If your child is happy, you have good communication with your school and they’re pulling good grades, relax. Blue ribbons aren’t everything.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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