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.  

  12. kellypage

    Exactly what policies of SaveOurSchoolsNJ aren’t in the best interest of children?

    Fighting to see the SFRA fullly funded?

    Fighting for local control, so that parents have a say and can serve as a watchdog for the types of schools that open in their communities?

    Fighting against tax-break gimmicks, in the form of vouchers, which have failed the children of nearly every state where they exist?

    Really, Progressif?

    True grassroots really bothers you, doesn’t it? The fact that actual parents are speaking and saying that every kids deserves a quality public education stands in the way of people profiting off our children – that bothers you?  

  13. 12mileseastofTrenton

    If I might ask.

  14. kellypage

    Did B4K give you a Walmart-sponsored backpack in return for saying that? I’m sure you can do better than accusing parents of protecting the status quo.

    You didn’t bother to respond to the part about how vouchers have failed children in nearly every other state they exist in. If you want to experiment on your own children, I can’t stop you. But, peddling ALEC-backed vouchers, at the expense of kids who may or may not get a better education at a private or religious school (and at the expense of the larger group of students left behind with less resources) is morally wrong.

    Your hospital comparison could lead us to a useful conversation about the merits of holistically changing factors that impact that child’s school experience including health factors that are exacerbated by poverty (factors that aren’t usually addressed by just busing a kid over to a different school that may or may not be any better than the one they are currently enrolled in.) But all that aside, and all the reasons that this is a poor comparison aside, I would say if that hospital is actually the reason for the patients poor health, then the hospital should be fixed.

    And, I especially wouldn’t suggest sending a few of the patients over to a pricier hospital elsewhere, with no guarantee that the other hospital provides better care, at the expense of all the other patients left behind in the local hospital with no resources for their care!

  15. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    I didn’t realize the quantity of my writing was at issue. I find it easy to write about a subject I care about deeply. I find it odd that you would care about such a thing.

    If an inner city hospital was receiving the same number of critical patients as other hospitals, and far more were dying, of course I’d call for immediate changes. But what if it were serving many more patients in critical need? How could you possibly blame the hospital if so many more people in the area it served were sick or injured?

    It seems to be it would be insane to talk about closing or replacing that hospital with unproven private health care providers, all on the theory that “competition” would make them more inclined to save lives, while doing nothing to give that community the resources it needed to solve its health care crisis – with special concentration on what happens outside of the hospital.

    And why would anyone insist on “reforming” the other hospitals that were treating patients well? How would that make any sense?

    You say SOSNJ “fights for the status quo.” Let’s be clear: that is a phrase that comes directly from professional reformy types, who are funded directly by extremely wealthy individuals. “Protecting the status quo” was a phrase promoted extensively by B4K, in ads that ran on this very site.

    So before you claim the high moral ground over me or SOSNJ, think carefully about whether there may be financial incentives attached to the memes you post here. Think carefully about whether the motives of the reformy are really so much more pure than this teacher or a group of parents who’ve banded together to save their children’s schools.

    SOSNJ is, in fact, directly opposing the Christie “status quo,” which takes money away from schools and puts it into the pockets of corporations and the wealthy. Blue Jersey readers are well-aware of the billions that have flowed in tax incentives and tax gifts to the powerful, while the administration has simultaneously done all it could to slash SFRA and other funding for schools.

    The research is clear: NJ and other states that implemented school finance reforms have seen substantial increases in student achievement:



    As Dr. Baker shows – and as everyone knows – the key issue in this entire debate is poverty. Reformyists say, “You use poverty as an excuse to not do anything about reform!” That is exactly backwards: the reformyists are the ones who use reform as an excuse to not do anything about poverty.

    Both here and at my blog, I have proposed changes we could make to the school system and teacher evaluation and training. The NJEA has their own proposals. So I utterly reject the notion that those of us who don’t believe in gutting tenure and even more high-stakes testing don’t have proposals to make our public schools even better.

    But I don’t pretend for a second that any of these will make nearly as much difference as dealing with inequality in society and inequity in school funding. That is the true “status quo” in this state and this nation, and no one should make any claim to “stand for children” or put “students first” unless and until they put this issue front and center.

    One last thing: you claim SOSNJ and I are against parental choice. I see SOSNJ as the ultimate in parental choice: these parents chose to come together and fight for their public schools.

    That they won this round is undoubtedly a serious shock not just to the professional reformyists – the folks like Michelle Rhee, who make their living off of bashing public schools – but to their deep-pocketed backers as well. I imagine more than a few of the folks who professionally push charters and vouchers and VAM-based evaluations are flummoxed by these groups of parents defending their schools – and winning.

    I imagine the backers of these professional reformyists are quite surprised at the blowback that’s occurring: that parents don’t want their kids saddled with round after round of high-stakes testing; that they don’t want them going to boutique charters with unaccountable managers; that they aren’t interested in a voucher system that will overwhelmingly benefit religious schools.

    I imagine those wealthy backers look at a real grassroots group like SOSNJ pull off a victory like this, and they wonder whether they are getting much for their investment in the professional reformyists. And I imagine that’s making those pros very, very nervous.

    If they lose a couple more of these fights, the gravy train ride may well be over. Is that why they are becoming increasingly shrill?

  16. Marie Corfield

    “Why not try vouchers…?” Because vouchers do not work. Neither does merit pay or increased standardized testing or VAM or over reliance on charter schools or any of the other corporate backed/ALEC-written reforms-du-jour. Normally I’d post links to support my claims, but since you obviously read JJ on a regular basis, you’ve seen all the evidence. You just refuse to accept it as fact.

    One interesting piece of evidence tho: One of the granddaddies of education deform, Bill Gates, sponsored not one, but two studies on charter schools within the last 3 years. Both studies found no statistical difference between them and public schools.

    So, I ask you, WHY do ed deformers continue to pour millions and millions of taxpayer dollars into them at the expense of public schools?

    … because charter schools turn a profit.

    Oh, and as to the snarky remark about JJ being in a union? I don’t know any NJ teachers who are paid $2000/day to teach, but some Broad Academy education ‘consultants’ down at the DOE (who’ve never taught a day in their lives) sure are.  

  17. sayitaintso

    fighting to empower parents.

    They don’t want your solution of vouchers.

    True Empowerment includes people who don’t agree with you.

    Suck it up.  

  18. deciminyan
  19. denniscmcgrath

    I’ll bet you remember the International 70. And the “All You Can Eat” underground newspaper …

  20. 12mileseastofTrenton
  21. Lovepubliced

    Vouchers are a right-wing solution in search of a problem.  Their real goal is to de-fund public education, but since that doesn’t sell so well, voucher proponents came up with the idea of choice.  After all, who could object to that?

    Unfortunately for them, 20 years of experiments in other states have shown that this particular “choice” is toxic to the very low-income children they supposedly want to help.

    Vouchers have not improved the academic performance of low income children one bit.  In fact, in a number of States, the voucher students have done worse than those in the public schools.

    What vouchers have accomplished, however, is to segregate those school systems where they have been tried, leaving the public schools with the most challenging students.

    New Jersey’s voucher bills would take their funding from existing school districts, the very same ones that educate the low income students that the voucher pushers supposedly want to help.  Despite Cerf’s lies, it’s impossible to help children by de-funding their schools.  

    You are right.  Vouchers are not a partisan issue.  Some NJ republicans have the courage to oppose vouchers (senators Allen and Bateman, for example) and some democrats support them.  However, those democrats are entirely in the grip of the Norcross-Joe D– Adubado alliance and are thus forced to do whatever their bosses tell them.  

    The root of NJ’s problems right now is that unholy alliance between those democratic “bosses” and Christie.  It serves the four of them well as they trade favors while screwing the rest of us — I’ll give your son a TV network and your daughter a charter school for autistic kids and I’ll throw in the Rowan-Rutgers merger if you support me on vouchers and defunding low-income school districts so I can be seen as a conservative republican who can work across the aisle, when I run for national office.


  22. kellypage

    You’ve been asked at least three times here why you continue to peddle the false promise that led to failure in every other state that has vouchers.

    Its ironic, that you cite the same machine dems who are aligned with Christie on the Rutgers-Rowan merger – what were they  instructed by pricey consultants to do what when people asked about the facts behind the merger? They were instructed to ignore the questions. I guess you’ve all decided to take the same approach here, right? Just keep pushing the hype, but when anyone asks you about facts or statistics, you just ignore them. (Oh, and throw in a union-shill accusation for good measure.)

  23. kellypage

    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? The U.S. Education and Training Market is actually a $913 Billion dollar industry – get your facts straight. We aren’t talking about thousands; we are talking about Billions.

    Look at the Dems that GET this … Or are they progressives that see the need to save children’s lives NOW? The Norcross controlled legislators you referred to are progressives? On what issues, specifically? Here’s how Norcross himself refers to education  ( http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IAa2… ) – as an industry. Let’s at least be honest here – its about profit to him. Same as the Rut-Row merger that has had absolutely no explanation of any merits to anyone or anything other than Cooper’s (i.e. Norcross’s) credit ratings.

    Now, I answered your questions. HOw about you address mine?

    What do you say about all the failed experiments with vouchers in every other State? What do you say to the children who missed out on an opportunity at an education, being sent to voucher mills? How do you respond to Dr. Bruce Baker’s research that shows the majority of OSA money will do more to help kids already enrolled in Lakewood Yeshivas than it will affect any systemic change for NJ’s poorest students? What do you say to all of the students left behind in schools with left resources when local school dollars has been siphoned off to religious schools? What do you say to the parents buying the OSA hype who will find that many of the private/religious schools that perform as well as public schools may not even accept their kids, or may systematically counsel them out?

    Are you going to respond to any of our questions or no?

  24. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    Your responses here are superb. I’ll try to put them together into a succinct post later.

  25. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    King Lear, right? How apt: Rupert Murdoch gave big $ to Students First, according to Stephen Brill. Then SF hooked up with B4K:


    B4K got involved in the last legislative elections and funneled money to pro-corporate-reform candidates:


    But now, like Lear, Murdoch is an old monarchic watching his empire crumble before his eyes:


    This is costing Murdoch a lot of money:


    I wonder if the money tap is going to run dry soon for the reformy movement. What will they do?

  26. KendalJames

    You admit that your ideas are fundamentally undemocratic. You admit that caring about ALL students is not part of your agenda. You admit that you have no interest in making neighborhood schools better for ALL students.

    But most laughable is your accusation that those opposing your snake oil (shame on you for deceiving those you claim to help) only do so because they are “union employed teachers.” So is that to say that you have no financial interest in how this policy fight plays out? Hardly. You E3 and b4K empty suits make double or triple the income of teachers with years of experience. Meanwhile, schools with “union employed teachers” are among the very best in the state and the country. Gee, doesn’t really sound like the union is a problem in Highland Park, or Cherry Hill, or Montclair, where parents love their public schools and do everything they can to protect them from bloodsuckers who know that there’s lots of money to be made from the “big enchilada” that is public education.

    The fact is that you have an axe to grind because a confederation of truth-tellers has risen up to stop you and your corporate masters from privatizing public education. You dismiss research while exploiting the emotions of parents who don’t realize that your agenda of abandoning public education in our urban centers sounds good now, but will leave these communities depleted and more underresourced than they already are.

    But you can’t stop us, and you won’t. You can’t stop us from writing, from informing, from lobbying, or from telling the truth. And while your masters may have told you to stop tweeting publicly, we know you can’t help yourself. The ego is amazing.

    So please. Show us the data that backs your claims.

    Yes, “peace out” indeed.

  27. kellypage

    I’ll respond to you, again. And, point out that no one will suddenly have access to Pingry with an OSA scholarship – be honest. Again, you are attacking the messenger, because you can’t attack the message. And, speaking of attacking the messenger, can you quit it with dismissing the many, many parents trying to defend, support and improve our schools, instead of the constant union slamming? I’m not a teacher and I’m not a union member; I’ve never been a teacher or a union member.

    Now, would you please stop evading my questions?

    I’ll ask you again: 1) What do you say to the children who missed out on an opportunity at an education, being sent to voucher mills? 2) How do you respond to Dr. Bruce Baker’s research that shows the majority of OSA money will do more to help kids already enrolled in Lakewood Yeshivas than it will affect any systemic change for NJ’s poorest students? 3) What do you say to all of the students left behind in schools with less resources when local school dollars have been siphoned off to religious schools? 4) What will you say to the parents buying the OSA hype who will find that many of the private/religious schools that perform as well as public schools may not even accept their kids, or may systematically counsel them out?

  28. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    New Jersey’s proposed OSA has a poverty limit which means that only the poorest (interpreted as the “worst” students by Jazzman et al)…

    I have never, to my recollection, described the “poorest” students as the “worst.” Please do not use quotes and attribute that word to me without a direct citation.

    And, guys, you REALLY don’t help your case with these shrill accusations and childish personal attacks.

    Says it all, doesn’t it?

  29. KendalJames

    I know what Dergressive will say (or not) to all of these, but in particular I would like to do my impression of his general attitude toward any legitimate, peer-reviewed academic research that offends his delicate sensibilities:

    “Oh, come on, man. Any pencil-necked pencil-pushing bookworm can say WORDS and THINGS.”

    Doesn’t see the irony in being a self-styled “champion” for education while simultaneously mocking and dismissing those who have made education the core of their lives.  

  30. Progressif

    …but perhpaps you’ll have a Resurrrection of Courtesy this AM.

    I’ll ask you again: 1) What do you say to the children who missed out on an opportunity at an education, being sent to voucher mills?

    The reverse is much the better question, given that the majority of children in failing, dangerous  inner city government-run schools do NOT — beyond a shadow of any statistical parsing by Jazz et al — receive an education preparing them for higher learning. That is one unassailable fact in the mess of rhetoric. Bbillions of dollars, a huge per student cost, and new buildings haven’t changed ttat. A private school with that record would be out of business.

    2) How do you respond to Dr. Bruce Baker’s research that shows the majority of OSA money will do more to help kids already enrolled in Lakewood Yeshivas than it will affect any systemic change for NJ’s poorest students?

    When “Dr. Bruce Baker” comes up with a single soundbite from a “conclusion” that was not clearly written before the study, I’ll concede he isn’t a union shill.

    And take the anti-religious bias out of the above and let’s think about not worrying that the OSA benefits MORE of one type of children than another. The reailty is that it benefits ALL children.

    3) What do you say to all of the students left behind in schools with less resources when local school dollars have been siphoned off to religious schools?

    There will not be LESS resources per child in those overcrowded schools when the lower poverty level children leave. There will be MORE. And what do I say to them? I say “ask your assemblymen and Senator why they didn’t push years ago for a larger OSA.”

    4) What will you say to the parents buying the OSA hype who will find that many of the private/religious schools that perform as well as public schools may not even accept their kids, or may systematically counsel them out?

    There are protections in the current draft of the OSA (which clearly you haven’t read) that protect agaisnt that. Receving schools accept every single child. And if you think private schools are going to seek to lose paying bodies down the road, you haven’t looked at their balance sheets. Being “counseled out” is more Jazzman jargon. Look at any failing governmennt-run union inner city high schools and look at the rate where students poof disappear on their 16th birthday. Look at the size difference between the 10 and 12th grades.

    Happy Easter to all. Let’s hope that 2012 brings a resurrection of hope to our children through the passage of a bill that will give all these families the civil right of choosing their children’s school.

  31. KendalJames

    Still wondering…

    1) How much of your income/living is provided by paychecks signed by those pushing this agenda. (Answer: 100%) You are entirely owned. But someone has to pay for your fashionable clothes and martinis, right? Either way, everyone knows that you have a major, life-encompassing personal financial interest in this stuff, as well as your political capital. Tell us, when you initially betrayed the Black Ministers Council, did you think they’d notice? Are these posts some sort of strategy for placating those who now better understand your opportunism and personal ambition?

    2) Where’s the data? You casually poo-poo Dr. Baker, but have nothing – NOTHING – that shows he is wrong, no matter how emotional you get. WHERE IS YOUR DATA? WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE? 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.  We are left to assume that, for example, you also think everyone at the Campaign for America’s Future is simply a union shill. Again, after repeated requests, we are still waiting. I guess NJ residents are, too, as they oppose voucher scams 2 to 1.

    3) Do you support the improvement of neighborhood public schools or not? Sounds like the answer is “not.”  

  32. kellypage

    in choice, unless it’s the one you chose. Here I am, a parent sharing what I’d like for my childrens’ schools and you’ve chosen to ignore me. So, when I called you on it, you said I must be a teacher or a union member. So, I called you on that tactic, so now nstead of ignoring my questions, you’ll just replace my questions with ones you prefer. That’s cute. What did I say that you found rude, exactly? Was calling you on your tactic of “attacking the messenger instead of the message” rude?

    Its funny that you now want the”money to follow the child,” yet that is exactly what the SFRA does and yet you’ve essentially dismissed that formula in you’re explanation.

  33. KendalJames

    Try not to focus on the messenger? All you have done is attempt to discredit the messengers, like Jazzman and Baker. On the other hand, your accusations of their positions being without merit are entirely based on the fact that they have some sort of dog in the fight. You’ve not offered a single study, a single research-based piece of evidence. We are waiting, while you shoot messengers.

    So I’ll try again. Do you or do you not make your living by pushing this fake “reform” agenda? If the answer is yes (we know it is) then your dismissiveness is pure hypocrisy.

    “Jersey Jazzman is a union shill! Don’t listen to him! Bruce Baker is a union shill! Don’t listen to him!” – It’s quite clear that YOU DO want classrooms to operate this way. Then again, it’s clear you know nothing about classrooms. Or am I wrong, and you’re an experienced educator?

    Answer this question, because it sets the context for all the others you ask.  

  34. William Weber (WjcW)

    do you feel the interdistric school choice should be expanded and will not hurt sending districts financially…but schools sending kids to charters will suffer financial harm?

    Can you please explain that position?

  35. William Weber (WjcW)

    You’ve posted your support previously of the inter-district school choice program, and for its expansion. But at the same time you are part of the crowd who feels that any reduction in student population results in financial harm to the district.

    Why is it OK for a district to lose students via interdistrict school choice but not to OSA or charters. What is the difference in the financial dynamics?

  36. kellypage

    I’ve advocated for local decision making on charters, because in some cases the reduction in overall income for public education spending in a district may be worth it; for some it may not. For example, in my district of East Brunswick most residents will tell you we do not feel the 2M loss to our school budget is worth it. Most residents will tell you that the benefit in our case does not outweigh the price our students have paid. However, Princeton residents may tell you they approve of the diverted revenue to the charter school in town. In the case of IDSC, the decision making process is still a local one and the local tax payers still have a voice in how their tax dollars are best spent on the education of the children in their community. There is also a guarantee in IDSC that the public schools that children are transferred to have a successful track record. In the case of vouchers, most states have found voucher mills popping up all over the place for a money grab. Most recently Milwaukee documented a 75% attrition rate for students in voucher mills returning back to the public school system.

    Additionally, public schools are required to accept all students, and since the program is locally controlled there is chance for a long-term, expanded program that results in a true spreading of students of different socioeconomic backgrounds spread out across different schools within the sending-receiving districts for a more even sharing of resources, unlike OSA or charters where you often end up with a concentration of higher-needs children in certain schools or districts.

    Further and most importantly, IDSC isn’t routed through corporations for the sole purpose of circumventing laws that safeguard public dollars.

  37. kellypage

    Since you asked the same thing twice.

  38. William Weber (WjcW)

    financial impact. Will you admit the financial impact is exactly the same between the IDSC and sending a student to charters?

  39. Progressif

    You regularly excuse poor school performance on economic and social issues on your blog. “Eliminate poverty and then maybe schools will get better.”

    It’s a constant refrain, usually with charts and graphs.

  40. kellypage

    Are you trying to compare IDSC to vouchers or charters?

    Regarding OSA, what does it matter if the financial implications are similar to IDSC, when one has an opportunity to improve outcomes, and the other (vouchers) has already proven to be a failure in other states?

    Now, comparing IDSC to charters, yes, I believe the financial impacts are similar which is exactly why we NEED local control over charter approvals, as we already have with the decision to participate in IDSC, since only the local communities can really understand whether the overall impact to the districts involved is going to be beneficial to the children in those districts as a whole.


  41. Progressif

    I have no financial income or interest in education reform or non-reform aside from being a NJ taxpayer.

    Can Jazzman say the same?

    And aspiring financial motives to billionaires and the Waltons and the Gates and the Buffets is absurd. Buffet gave over $1 biilion dollars last year to the Gates Foundation.

    You really think these guys are scratching around looking for a new “market” in education to scratch out a few tens of millions in profits starting charters or something?? Come on, pick a better argument.  

  42. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    I regularly point out the obvious correlation between poverty and student performance. I don’t believe I have ever said the students themselves were the “worst.” I have said “most expensive” or “most challenging to educate,” which is true. But “worst”? I don’t think I’ve said that. Point me to it if I did, as you seem to be monitoring my blog quite closely these days.

    You’ve picked up the sophist’s habit of paraphrasing my words incorrectly. If you’ve decided to make rebutting me your life’s mission, at least have the courtesy to link to my writing directly so readers can decide for themselves whether you are being accurate or not. It’s a courtesy I extend to all of the reformyists I criticize.

    Also: there is no question that eliminating poverty will do more to help improve student performance than charters, vouchers, VAM, gutting tenure, merit pay, and deunionization combined.

    If you’d like to make a research-based case that I am incorrect, I would suggest you start your own blog.

  43. William Weber (WjcW)

    the financial component from the argument.

    OSA, Vouchers, IDSC all should leave the sending districts in an IMPROVED financial state because they leave a certain percentage of money behind.

    The idea that any and all of those programs ‘drain resources’ from sending districts is inaccurate, I believe. From the statistics I have seen, the larger districts in NJ are no more efficient than the smaller, and in many cases have higher class sizes.

  44. William Weber (WjcW)

    die by the sword.

    I think I’d summarize your position as one favoring ‘the market’ (choice) to improve education.

    And generally, I’d agree with you. But I think if we are going to champion empowering parents and school choice, we have to at the same time embrace the will of the voters to accept or reject charter schools etc.

    So from where I sit, the system should afford charters the opportunity to make their pitch to school districts, and in turn, the district’s voters should have the opportunity to vote on it.

  45. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    And since you’ve become my self-appointed personal critic, you know what that is. But I’ll say it again:

    I am a NJ public school teacher and a member of the NJEA. I hold no elective or other office in the union, although I am involved in my local.

    No one pays me to write here or at JJ. I’ve made a little money from ads on the blog. Regular readers will know that I have been critical of the union in the past, both at JJ and here at BJ.

    I write about these things because I see a group of politicians and oligarchs poised to destroy my profession on the flimsiest of arguments. I enjoy teaching and don’t want to see the joy sucked out of it by people who have no idea what they are talking about. Yes, I do resent having my compensation cut while I and my colleagues are described as greedy by the governor and others.

    As to your argument that the funders of reforminess have no financial stake in the outcome:

    You have left out several who most certainly do have a stake, such as Rupert Murdoch, who, according to Steve Brill, has given millions of dollars to Students First, which is now aligned with B4K. Murdoch put Joel Klein in charge of a division with the expressed intent to make money on education “reform.”

    The Waltons most certainly have a stake in deunionization; the breaking of teachers unions only helps them to keep unions from forming in the private sector.

    Finally, you say: “I have no financial income or interest in education reform or non-reform aside from being a NJ taxpayer.

    That’s an interesting answer to the question. Derrell Bradford of B4K has said much the same thing:


    “The one really important difference is that the people we represent are the kids and the families,” said Derrell Bradford, executive director of the policy arm of the group [B4K]. “I know everybody says it’s all about that. We have no financial interest in public education, at all. Every other group does. I don’t say that in a way that’s meant to disparage anyone. We can be about pure activism because we don’t have anything to gain from the success of the agenda other than that kids get better educational opportunities.”

    And yet clearly he does make his living on this issue.

  46. Progressif

    So from where I sit, the system should afford charters the opportunity to make their pitch to school districts, and in turn, the district’s voters should have the opportunity to vote on it.

    I’ll agree with that. As I said, charters aren’t my real area of interest.  

  47. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    There are a couple of versions of OSA up for consideration. The old one had 25% of scholarships going to students who were already enrolled in the private schools. The Kean bill, however, has no such restrictions. I have heard reports that the Assembly bill will not allow this, but last I check, the bill hadn’t been posted.

    It is a key provision, because state aid is predicated on enrollment; a district only gets aid if a child enrolls in the district. Well, if a child isn’t enrolled, but can still get a voucher, where will the money come from?

    If from the district, that is a huge drain. If from the state, the bill is no longer revenue-neutral, as supporters claim. State aid will need to be provided for a student who wasn’t on the rolls before.

    None of this, by the way, addresses the cost differences in educating children with different needs. Will private schools really be taking the same proportion of IEP/LEP/etc. students as the sending district? Doubtful, because the private schools aren’t required to provide the same level of services for those children.

    OSA is a drain on schools.

  48. Progressif

    JJ: ….”Yes, I do resent having my compensation cut while…..”

    (plus 700 words on why he isn’t financially biased).

    So, admission he is personally monetarily entangled. But I’m sure JJ will continue to make little cartoons and mock those with progressive idealism (and not their “compensation”) from behind his mother’s skirt of anonymity.


  49. KendalJames

    Anyone with any financial stake in this fight is therefore not credible? Gee, this seems like it would include all the $100k+ types like Bradford, Rhee, and Cerf.  

  50. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    I just got called out for being anonymous by…

    …an anonymous commenter.


    Thank you for being so into my writing that you count the words.

  51. Jersey Jazzman (Post author)

    You want to know if I, an unpaid contributor to BJ, am “religious.” You want my work history. You joke about my mother.

    This has become personal and frankly creepy. We’re done.

  52. kellypage

    Most Democrat leaders support a local vote on charter school openings, and most also oppose OSA. The only ones who publicly support the ALEC-promoted corporate school deforms you are pushing are machine democrats in partnership with Christie.

  53. Progressif

    I have no hesitation criticizing an anonymous persona who is actually published by BJ for some reason. I think it is reprehensible slash cowardly how you hide behind those skirts of anonymity to personally attack, mock, smear, and accuse real people of criminal behavior by name.

    But, that is your conversation with St. Peter. I wonder if your wife and boys read your blog and admire you? Or is it a secret from them? Or maybe they know and are they not allowed to tell?

    …what a tangled web we weave…

    I don’t think the “Jazzman” persona here forwards the Democrat and progressive agenda a bit. Various pieces of education reform is back by almost all Dems, from Norcross to Sweeney to Obama. A few outliers (Ron Rice Sr., who sent his son to Pingry) seem to be hanging on. But anyone who wants to see the worst of the worst of NJEA greed just has to read the Jersey Jazzman. (featured here, for some reason).


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