A Real Victory For Parents Against Reforminess!

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

I can’t let this pass without noting that parents in New Jersey gained a major victory this week in the battle to reclaim public education:

The founders of Tikun Olam, a proposed Hebrew-language high school, and the founders of Hua Mei, a Mandarin Chinese language high school, both bowed out of this application cycle after multiple attempts to earn state approval.

“We are happy,” said Highland Park Superintendent Fran Wood, who has been a staunch opponent of charter school growth in the small town. “We feel there is not a need for the charter in this or surrounding communities.”

Wood and a group of vigilant parents and teachers from the affected communities argued charter schools would steer money away from the high quality public schools already in operation.

The story is much bigger than that: the parents of students affected by this charter banded together, put together a strategy, and stayed absolutely resolute in their fight. They documented the many problems with Tikum Olam’s application. They brought the issue into the national media. They refused to be cowed by the NJ DOE or the charter cheerleading industry. They forced their local politicians to be held to account. They formed a true grassroots resistance to the plan to take funds away from their children’s high-performing schools and put them into a questionable charter that was neither needed nor wanted.

This may not be over; it certainly isn’t over for other districts that have no say in whether or not charters can be shoved down their throats. But the parents in Highland Park have demonstrated how the destruction of public schools will stop: when parents, educators, politicians, and the community come together and say, “Enough.”

Save Our Schools NJ deserves great credit for organizing the resistance; Julia Sass Rubin of SOSNJ has been a tireless critic of unchecked charter expansion. However, if the parents of Highland Park ever decide to erect a statue to the woman who saved their schools, it will bear the likeness of Darcie Cimarusti. Tough, relentless, and fearless, Darcie is proof that one parent can make all the difference.

Julia, Darcie, Chris Rodda, Julie Woestehoff of PURE in Chicago, and parents all over the country – including, of course, the invaluable Leonie Haimson of Parents Across America – are showing the way. They refuse to be spoon-fed the pablum served up by the reformy movement. They resist giving into the parents-vs-teachers war the Billionaire Boys Club wants to wage.

The win in Highland Park is a victory for them all – and it’s merely one of many to come. This one’s for you, parents:

Comments (53)

  1. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Glad to see it.

  2. deciminyan

    As a graduate of Highland Park High School (many decades ago), I’m extra pleased with this development.

  3. zi985
  4. Progressif

    It would be interesting to see “Save Our Schools” change their name to “Save Our Children”. They would have to do a 180 on every policy stance.

  5. Progressif

    SOSNJ blindly fights for the status quo, with the exception of “give schools a lot more money” which, perhaps you haven’t noticed, won’t happen because the state is broke.

    When inner city schools are failing to prepare even half, to be conservative, of their children for higher education, why not try vouchers for parents (empowered parents) to move their children to better public schools or qualified private schools. SOSNJ and the like defend the status quo, government-run, “you are sentenced to the dangerous failing school across the street” mindset.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the gloating Jazzman author of this piece is a union teacher defending his own pension, etc. His shrill propanagnade, thousands of words a day, should be measured against that. If education reform was a jury trial, Jazzman would be barred from the jury for direct financial conflict of interest.

    I don’t see the empowerment of parents with school choice as a liberal or conservative thing, it is a civil rights thing.

    If an inner city hospital was failing in the treatment of 75 percent of its patients, would you legally force parents to send their children there?  

  6. Lovepubliced

    Why don’t we cut funding for cancer treatment because more cancer patients die than those with broken arms?  Better yet, instead of medical treatment, we could give cancer patients a voucher that they could take to a shady clinic that offers Laetrile. That would truly be the perfect analogy for what vouchers pushers are demanding.

    Unless they are magnet schools or otherwise segregated, schools that educate a high percentage of low-income students do less well on standardized tests than schools that educate middle class students.  There are many reasons for this, including poor nutrition, exposure to toxins, untreated health problems, and parents with less time and ability to read to and otherwise nurture their children.

    Corporate education deformers like Regressif don’t want to talk about poverty as a cause of low test scores because that would require that they address the poverty instead of using it to destroy public education and to fatten their own pockets.  

    All voucher pushers should be required to disclose how much they would personally benefit from government subsidy of private and religious education.

    How about you, Regressif?  How much do you stand to make off vouchers?  

  7. Progressif

    Corporate education deformers like Regressif…

    I get it — you changed “reformers” into “deformers” and “Progressif” into “Regressif”.

    Very clever. You could write for Jazz. It’s lucky that namecalling bullying law doesn’t apply to unionistas.

    And, guys, you REALLY don’t help your case with these shrill accusations and childish personal attacks. Do you really think the Gates and the Waltons and whoever the B4k billioniares are are scheming to rake in thousands of dollars from some unnamed plot? Seriously? Do billionaires need that income?

    Personally, charter schools aren’t my thing. Don’t much care about them. But school choice is something that should be implemented NOW to save lives NOW….not wait for some societal wealth change.

    It is hard to argue about school funding inequity when the Newarks and the Camdens are paying nearly twice per student than the suburbs — of course, it isn’t paying, it’s spending — the suburbs do the paying.

    School choice should be implemented NOW. The overcrowded inner city government schools wind with MORE resources and money per student, and parents are able to choose their children’s education. Look at the Dems that GET this — Sweeney, Norcross, Fuentes, Greenwald, Fuentes, Singleton, etc, even Lesniak on occasion. Are they all “corporate deformers”? Or are they progressives that see the need to save children’s lives NOW?

    Maybe the government-run inner city  schools can figure out a way to be successful with more money per children. Because they sure aren’t successful now, and this is about the only way they are going to get more resources.    

    Some of you should put yourself into the place of a parent whose child is starting first grade next year in a dangerous failing inner city school. By legal mandate, they must send their child there. Why should those parents not have the school choice that an affluent suburban parent has?

    Which is more progressive, choice or legal mandate?

  8. Nowlan

    “Do billionaires need that income?”

    Nah, that’s why we should trust them!  Oh, wait there is one thing they don’t have:  MORE  

    (power, influence, and, yes, more dough is always welcome–“thousands”–  is a low estimate).

  9. Progressif

    Let’s pick these off one at a time:

    “Vouchers have failed in every state where they have been tried!!!!

    Quite simply false. They have done better is some, the same in other, worse in some. The measurement of all the variables of the different voucher systems does not lend itself to blanket statements. But some “dot.edu” study can always slice the data to support their union brethren.

    ” Vouchers cause segregation and leave the worst/poorest students in the public schools.”

    False with the OSA. New Jersey’s proposed OSA has a poverty limit which means that only the poorest (interpreted as the “worst” students by Jazzman et al) will be eligible (for the pitifully small pilot). That sounds like reverse segregation to me.

    Vouchers don’t help…plus 700 words blah, blah”

    Let’s take a hypothetical that some results are better, some are worse, some are the same. The taxpayer cost is literally ALWAYS less. The per pupil funding left in government-run/union schools is literally ALWAYS more. And the parent satisfaction rates are OFF THE CHARTS higher.

    “The OSA is a corporate tax-write-off”….blah blah

    There are hundreds of tax writeoffs. The supposition that private donated monies for OSA scholarships will somehow otherwise wind up, dollar-for-dollar, in state coffers is ridiculous. This is somewhere where write-off actually LOWER the tax burden on everyone else by paying for some children’s education which are currently on the taxpayer’s tab.

    “We should fix the public schools instead and eliminate poverty (700 words blah blah)

    Sure. How many decades will that take? Will your average child, right now, have a more positive effect on those inner city communities with a private education or a government-run union education in a failing school? What are the college and graduation rates for private versus government-run/union schools in those communities? How exactly do you break the cycle of poverty? Could successful education have a role? Ya think?

    But the children left behind blah blah…”

    Is that really a reason to spike an idea, because the children chosen will do better than the ones that are not? Should we…er….make the program bigger then?

    Simply put, the OSA will take a (pitifully small) number of the poorest children out of an overcrowded failing school (at current $20,000 PLUS per head cost) and put them into a successful private school at HALF that with the difference STAYING in the public schools.

    I believe the most virulent opponents, here and elsewhere in the debate, public and anonymous, are union employed teachers like Jazzman.

    I believe that the “Blue Jersey” community is best served by noting the sponsors and supporters of the OSA and many reform bills include many leading Democrats.

    Is it a wonder that the NJEA supported virtually no candidates last year? The tide has changed, and progressives in New Jersey see that the true path to raising the hopes and dreams of our poor inner city residents is through efficient education — not union education, not government-run education — efficient education.

    Look at the list of Democarats supporting school choice through the OSA — Norcross, Sweeney, Greeenwald (bill sponsor), Fuentes (bill sponsor), Singleton.

    Peace out. Happy Easter.  

    PS: who is the single biggest, most vocal, usually confusing opponent of school choice in New Jersey? Perhaps State Senator Ronald Rice of Newark?

    Odd that Ronald Rice JUNIOR went to…..no, not Newark public schools, but Pingry, the most expensive private high school in New Jersey and quite a distance from his home in Newark. Strange that Rice Sr. made that school choice for his own children, but won’t allow it for his constituents.

    And how exactly did Ron Jr. get in and afford Pingry? I don’t know — perhaps a scholarship? Is he More Special than the other kid’s in his dad’s district?

    Actually, I genuinely would like to know the answer to the above, if anyone knows.

  10. Progressif

    1: You think I am (whatever, 300 words)

    lol…..I’m not whoever you think I am. Try not to focus on attacking the messenger — it’s very Jazzmanish. Would you want classrooms to operate like this? “Ignore Sally’s presentation of the solar system, she’s for Ron Paul!!!”

    2: There is a MASSIVE body of research showing that vouchers a) haven’t changed the achievement gap, b) students who receive vouchers are no more likely to ‘succeed’ than their counterparts who did not receive vouchers.

    Okay, so I’ll read that to say that the dozens of iterations of scholarship/coucher programs net out to about the same — “no more likely to succeed.”

    Here some questions for you:

    A. Are those schools safer?

    B. Are those schools less expensive?

    C. Are the parents happier with those schools?

    D. Does the OSA leave more $$ and resources per child in the failing, overcrowding sending schools?

    3. Do I support the improvement of neighborhood public (i.e.: government-run union) schools?

    Sure, who wouldn’t, and I believe the best way that can happen is school choice.

    I don’t believe in making private schools, religious school, or government-run public schools better at education — I believe in better education, shorn of titles and jargo and adult motives. The public dollars should follow the child, the child shouldn’t be forced by law to follow the public dollars.  

    Again, if you had a government-run hospital that kills 75 percent of its emergency room patients, would you want YOUR injured child to be rushed there, or to the private hospital across the street that saves 98 percents of its emergency room patients? Because when you are talking about graduating high school prepared for higher education, you are talking about young lives.

  11. Progressif

    ….in the comment section. But Blue Jersey sees fit to allow you — anonymously — with the only communicated credential a foggy  admitted/claimed finanicial bias on teacher compensation. Then you post on no other topic, as a “columnist” or whatever.

    So where should we look to put your opinions in context? Are you an abbott district teacher? Charter school? Richy suburb? Former charter school? Near retirement? Has your district been taken over by the state? Seen a charter school open? Is it one of the possible OSA districts? Are you religious? Tenured? Lose an early job? Ever work in a private school? A religious school? When your mother was pregnant, was she scared by a certified statistician, a numbers analyst, or a nun?

    It is hard to judge where a guy is coming from who pukes out ten thousand words a week with EXACTLY the same Masada defense of union compensation.

    See any sneaky masked opinion columnists in the WSJ, Star Ledger, NY Times. Washington Post, the Weekly Free Shopper? No, they have more journalistic integrity than Blue Jersey.

    I would think Blue Jersey would have a serious integrity issue here. These aren’t progressive/non-progressive issues here — most New Jersey Democrat leaders are against the Jazzman’s positions. Why is this man allowed to attack people in an official column, anonymously?

    Shame on Blue Jersey.  


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