(Teacher Marie Corfield was targeted by StudentsFirst/B4K in her bid for the State Assembly. Why? Because, as this post shows, she’s not afraid to call them as she sees them. – promoted by Jersey Jazzman)
I don't believe in coincidences, so when New Jersey parent/education advocate/blogger, Darcie Cimarusti, aka Mother Crusader, posted this piece on Thursday about the 'new and improved' NJDOE website, and yesterday I received an email link to the NJDOE's new newsletter, The Bridge, then this morning I read Jersey Jazzman’s post about Michelle Rhee's Students First being an extreme right wing branch of the Republican party, I took it as a sign that I needed to say something.
To anyone who follows education 'reform' in New Jersey and across the country, Darcie's findings are disturbing, Duke's words are a reminder of how far to starboard the Republican Party is listing, and this newsletter is merely a sugary-sweet softball designed to dull the senses of the rank and file teachers in this state who only want to do their job. Here's a quote from Education Commissioner Cerf's front-page missive:
“Educators are the heart and soul of our schools and our state. There are few professionals that are more passionate, dedicated, and hard working than educators, and yet too often your work goes unrecognized as you develop the young minds that will become our future leaders. I want to thank you for the work you do every day with our students, and I look forward to the start of this dialogue with you.”
He was appointed three years ago, and he wants to start this dialogue now? Well, let's start by talking about Darcie's discovery that the DOE now lists the Center for Education Reform (CER) as one of its 'important partners'.
Jeanne Allen, who runs CER, is a pro-voucher, anti-union and anti-tenure reformer. As painful as it might be, please watch the embedded video in Darcie's post, especially where Allen says,
“You can't have parent power and teacher union power.”
No? Well, how about all the high-performing, unionized, suburban school districts in New Jersey where parents and teachers together pushed back against the expansion of charter schools in their neighborhoods? And how about the Chicago Teachers Union, under the leadership of their president, Karen Lewis, who effectively organized last fall's CTU strike over cuts to education with the support of parents and the community? Not to mention the great work Leonie Haimson's Class Size Matters and Parents Across America do on a daily basis in New York City and across the country. Apparently Allen didn't get the memo that there's a whole lotta parent/teacher power going on out there.
Allen also goes on to say that,
“The education reform movement is not a strong political movement.”
Um… Ok. Michelle Rhee, Eli Broad, The Walton Foundation, Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, and company have no political clout whatsoever.
But back to the new newsletter… It's touted as
“a bridge between the NJDOE and educators across the state [to] provide valuable information and resources to help educators in the classroom.”
But the best part is that there's a page where you can submit questions to the DOE. So, here is the question I sent:
“As a parent of public school children, a teacher in one of the best public education systems in the United States and a proud member of the New Jersey Education Association, I would like to know why you list the anti-union organization, Center for Education Reform, as an 'Important Partner'? Jeanne Allen is an outspoken opponent of teachers unions despite theresearch that shows states with strong teachers unions have good public schools. Your association with this group sends yet another message that the NJDOE is anti-union, anti-public schools, pro-voucher. If unions were indeed the problem, how do you account for the overwhelming success of New Jersey's public schools? The only ones that are 'failing' are those in high poverty districts that are being systematically starved of funds due to the proliferation of unproven charter schools that skim the best and brightest students, and leave the most challenging and expensive ones behind.
I look forward to your reply.”
I really do.
I urge you, dear readers, to send your questions and share this link with educators and concerned citizens throughout the state.