Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tom Moran crosses the line in latest editorial


As noted at the end of this original post, Cami and Cerf are in AZ at the DAVOS conference. Here are her thoughts on dealing with those in Newark who are against her and One Newark. So glad she's on her white horse riding in to save everyone. 

(Note: as I was drafting this post this week, Bob Braun wrote several excellent pieces on One Newark, which I quoted from extensively. Oh to be retired and have time… Well, I can dream, can’t I?)

The Star Ledger is my newspaper of choice. I’m sorry to see it suffering so much financial hardship in recent days. On average I’ve tended to agree with editorial page editor, Tom Moran more than I’ve disagreed, but on education he’s just plain wrong.

Moran seems to hate teachers and public education almost as much as Christie does, and has made it blatantly clear in countless pieces including his rather strange retraction of the SL endorsement of Christie, going so far as to characterize the NJEA (a big supporter of Christie’s opponent, Senator Barbara Buono) as “regressive… [with] relentless efforts to protect bad teachers.” (Not too far removed from Christie’s own “greedy and selfish” mantra, wouldn’t you say?)

Jersey Jazzman has taken him on more times than I can count, but in case you missed any of them, here’s an example. Moran completely ignores all data, studies and research that prove corporate education ‘reform’, including the One Newark plan, does not work, and has accused those who reject its tenets, including Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), as "conspiracy theorists". He’s written several editorials praising Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson for her "sensible and bold reforms" in Newark. But if they’re so sensible and bold, why are the city’s parents, students and community leaders loudly rejecting her? His latest editorial explains it thus:

“Newark has a deeply rooted hostility toward outsiders, and Gov. Chris Christie, who appointed Anderson, is unpopular in the state-controlled district. It’s not clear that any politician could handle this gracefully.”

Is it my imagination or does this statement smack of racism? Jersey Jazzman, Dr. Bruce Baker and Dr. Joseph Oluwole recently released a study that exposes One Newark as racially biased to both students and teachers, but Moran characterizes the people of Newark as paranoid and insular because they don’t want their neighborhood schools closed and their lives uprooted by 21st Century carpetbaggers ready to make a quick reformy buck. Makes a whole lotta sense—especially when said carpetbaggers have absolutely NO IDEA what the heck they’re doing! (More on that later.) For 20 years the state has told Newark parents what they should want for their children’s education, because let’s face it, their schools are "failure factories" so what do they know?

But the backlash over One Newark is not only coming from a few "shrill and unreasonable" parents—Moran’s label for anyone who dares to stand up to Anderson at school board meetings. Seventy-seven clergy signed a letter to Gov. Christie and Cami Anderson calling for an immediate halt to One Newark. Bob Braun reports:

“The list includes Rev. William Howard, one of the state’s and the nation’s most prominent clerics, the first African-American president of the New York Theological Seminary and head of the National Council of Churches. Howard also served as chairman of the Rutgers University governing board. He is pastor of Bethany Baptist Church. 

“The strongly worded statement from the 77 religious leaders warned about the ‘venomous’ anger that had been provoked by the Christie/Anderson plan. 

“’We are extremely concerned about the level of public anger we see growing in the community, based upon an overwhelming sense of frustration, community disenfranchisement, and alienation that has resulted from the One Newark Public School Plan the Superintendent of Schools has proposed. It is not overly dramatic for us to say that we are extremely worried about the level and tone of the current emotional discourse.’ 

“There are many well-educated, reasonable minded, and rational individuals, parents, educators and citizens in general in the City of Newark. They all share an intense passion for excellence in education; they have come to feel that their input and voice have been repeatedly ignored. It is unfair to characterize Newarkers opposing the current approach to change as irrational and resistant to change in any case. Many voices of reason have been largely denied meaningful input into the decision-making process.”

The voices of 77 prominent ministers are hardly a "predictable shriek"!

Apparently Moran thinks the people of Newark are just too dumb to realize that the One Newark roll out has been a complete disaster. Bob Braun just posted this scathing criticism:

“The One Newark plan is a disaster for the city’s families. Now, even the district leadership all but admits it by again postponing crucial deadlines. Parents who were promised a ‘match’ with a new school this week won’t be getting it until next month. Other parents won’t know until days before school opens. And to make things even worse, some Newark school principals yesterday received instructions that, if literally followed, would require them to turn away from their schools all children who had a right to be there. How can the city’s parents feel comfortable with educators who cannot even express themselves in understandable language?

“It’s what happens when you place the fate of school children in the hands of bungling, overpaid amateurs who got their jobs because of connections with Teach for America and charter schools and who are now trying to impose a political agenda on the people of a city just to please a governor.

“One Newark was not only unworkable in design but now the state regime running the schools is so incompetent it can’t figure out what to do about the transportation and special education problems it created. Once more, its implementation has been delayed, leaving Newark’s parents dazed and confused.

“Anderson still doesn’t know what to do about the massive transportation problem created by the 'One Newark' mess—and still doesn’t know how to handle the placement of special education students, especially those whose parents might want to go to charter schools that are unprepared to deal with them."

(Emphasis mine)
A One Newark bus route???

Remember what Christie said:

Christie and Cami set the rules of the game. They developed the us-against-them scenario for this God-awful plan, and when the heat was on, Cami bolted—for good. And Moran can’t understand why the people of Newark are angry? He thinks this is merely a PR problem? That all will be solved if Cami simply hires some consultants to help with the messaging? (Where will that money come from?) I can see it now: why not do some focus groups? You know, re-brand One Newark! Maybe offer a special toy with every enrollment like a Happy Meal! Because everyone knows that ‘carrot and stick’ reforms work so darned well!

The people of Newark know full well what they want, and numero uno on that list is well-paying jobs—not some cockamamie scheme to uproot entire families and neighborhoods, sell off neighborhood schools to charter operators at fire sale prices, and test their kids to death! And number two on that list is probably a safe learning environment for their children. I’m not just talking about violence; I’m talking about schools that are free from rats, cockroaches and black mold. I’m talking about schools that can provide basic needs like clean, working lavatories, and properly functioning plumbing and heating systems, schools that are well lit and well furnished, that kids actually want to attend. The schools we build in third world countries are probably better equipped than some that these students are forced to attend. But how in the world can Cami make all that happen when she’s just given big, fat raises to her still-wet-behind-the-ears staff? Dear Lord, did somebody put Crazy in the water?!?!

And while the good people of Newark are wondering when they will learn where their children will attend school in the fall, and how they will get there, where do you think Cami and former education commissioner Cerf are? The Ed Tech DAVOS Conference in Scottsdale, AZ! This from Diane Ravitch:

“This summit was originally organized by Michael Moe, who has for years predicted that the education sector could be monetized. He was right. His company—GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley–says on its website: ‘Our founders have spent the past two decades focused on the Megatrends that are disrupting the $4 trillion global education market along with the innovators who are transforming the industry.’ 

Some of the sponsors: Pearson, the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, amazon, Scholastic, etc. 

“The speakers’ list reads like a who’s who of the privatization movement, which it is. Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, billionaire heiress to the Hyatt fortune, former member of the board of Chicago public schools; Jeb Bush, Chris Cerf, Cami Anderson, Reed Hastings, Margaret Spellings, Tom Vander Ark, Kaya Henderson, James Shelton, Jonathan Hage, and many more in the business of education reform. (Emphasis mine)

I rest my case, Tom.