Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Week in Weird (Ed Reform) NJ—Part 2


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Holy moly! Just when I thought ed 'reform' in the Garden State couldn't get any weirder, all this happened in the past seven days. So, here's your one-stop shop for all the ed 'reform' news that's fit to print, whether it makes sense or not: 


  • *5/23 Thousands of Newark students defied Superintendent Cami Anderson's threats of consequences and walk out of classes to protest her regime and demand return of local control and fair funding of their public schools. Sounds like that 'reform' plan of hers is going swimmingly well!
  • 5/24 The Star Ledger posts yet another pro-PARCC shill piece (more on this below).
  • *5/25 Newark's Central High School Principal, Sharnee Brown, risks her job by starting a petition on MoveOn.org calling for an end to the practices of Anderson's signature 'One Newark' plan that discriminate against the district's special education students.
  • *5/28 Newark Mayor, and former Central High School principal, Ras Baraka calls on the citizens of his city to take back the school district from Cami, Christie and Co.
  • 5/28 Gov. Christie says the Common Core State Standards aren't working, and vows to have parents and teachers involved in writing new ones. Wait, what
  • 5/29 Before the ink is dry on Christie's CCSS speech, the Star Ledger posts pro Common Core piece by the Center for American Progress's Daniella Gibbs Leger that, once again, touts the magical ability of education 'reform' to fix the devastating effects of income inequality, unemployment, underemployment, generational poverty and racial segregation.
* Special thanks to Bob Braun, whose superior coverage of all the 'reformy' goings-on in Newark is a must-read.

Whew! That's a whole lotta crazy packed into six days! And the education community wasted no time in responding:
  • 5/28 Jersey Jazzman eviscerates Christie for his "screaming hypocrisy"
  • 5/28 Peter Greene's response to Christie: "Big frickin' deal"
  • 5/28 NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer: “If the governor is genuinely interested in new standards, the state must abandon the PARCC fiasco, which is taking a terrible toll on the quality of instruction and student learning in New Jersey,”
  • 5/29 Peter Greene's response to Daniella Gibbs Leger: "I think cigarette companies do a better job of making a case for their [product]"
  • 5/29 Sarah Blaine Tepper: "Chris Christie has a bridge to sell us"
  • 5/29 Julie Borst: "We all deserve to understand, in the most transparent way, what [the CCSS] has cost us."
As for me? Well, there's not much more I can say about Christie and the Common Core that hasn't already been said. But, I take great umbrage with the propaganda the Star Ledger continually passes off as professional journalism. 

"But Marie", you say, "why bother? They aren't going to change their tune. Don't waste your time." But when the state's largest newspaper continues to spew illogical garbage like this...
But here's what this issue boils down to. If you're interested in racial equality, you have to go for the PARCC, imperfect as it may be. Why? Because it's the only game in town — and if we're going to have any hope of closing the achievement gap between poor, minority kids and their wealthier peers, we need this data to do it. (emphasis mine)
("The only game in town", oh right, because adequate school funding, housing, food, medical care, personal financial stability, job opportunities and safe neighborhoods would never, ever solve that problem. Only the bogus data from a deeply flawed test will.)

... When they insult the general public with ignorant statements like this...
The opt-out movement is sabotaging the data. Liberal-minded people who would normally be very concerned with helping underachieving kids are taking an anti-testing position that actually hurts those kids. In that respect — and in the degree of paranoia involved — it's similar to the anti-vaccination movement. And it may be just as damaging.
(Hmmm... "anti-vaccination movement"... where have I read that before? Oh yes, here. But at least they admit, albeit in a backhanded way, that Conservative-minded people really have no concern with helping underachieving kids.)

... I fall back on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who must be rolling in his grave over what is happening to public education in Newark and other mostly minority cities around the country:

"In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Now, I don't consider anyone an enemy, but I will not sit back quietly when people and institutions that hold great sway and influence over large swaths of the general populace refuse to do their homework and, for whatever reason, disseminate information that is factually incorrect. I've taken a lot of shots at the Star Ledger and Tom Moran, and some may have been too snarky, but sometimes I feel like I'm living in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I can't imagine how the people of Newark feel.

When parents and students who want an excellent education resoundingly reject the carpetbaggers who swoop in to 'save' them in part by silencing their voices and excluding them from the process, I can't sit idly by. None of us should. When the state's largest newspaper refuses to listen to the citizens of the state's largest city, others have an obligation to do so. We all must continue to call out those who, for whatever reason, simply will not see what's happening before their very eyes. If not, we are part of the problem.

As for the rest of this week's events, time will tell how much—if any—of a seismic shift this all will bring. Mountains aren't moved in a day, but sometimes, when too much pressure builds up, this happens:


Mt. St. Helens, 35 years ago this month