NJ Education News Round-Up, 6/8/13

Let’s get right to it:

Debunking Propaganda on Teacher Evaluation

I have a post over at Jersey Jazzman on how the rhetoric out of NJDOE on teacher evaluation is becoming increasingly like propaganda:

Again: I am not going to criticize the motivations of any of the members of EPAC. But this op-ed piece is not helpful: it evades addressing the central concerns with AchieveNJ, and it asks teachers to happily sign on to a system of evaluation that has no support in research. Unless and until the NJDOE is prepared to seriously and substantively answer the criticisms leveled against these rigid, top-down, unsupported regulations, no teacher should buy into what comes across as little better than propaganda.

The truth is that NJDOE still has not addressed the serious, substantive criticisms about AchieveNJ. Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his staff talk about “giving administrators information,” but they are subverting the desicion-making process at the local level and forcing principals and superintendents to act in staffing decisions with highly questionable methods.

This week, noted scholar Jonah Rockoff testified before the State Board of Education in favor of AchieveNJ; however, his presentation raised more questions than it answered. Maybe that’s why the authors of last year’s teacher tenure law are suddenly squeamish about actually implementing this untested system.

Cyber-Charters Halted in NJ

In a stunning reversal, virtual charter schools – schools either partially or completely based on online learning – have been halted by Commissioner Cerf. As Darcie Cimarusti pointed out, these schools were poised to drain a significant amount of money from local districts, even though they have poor track records.

Darcie also calls out the outrageous astroturfing employed by the edupirates running these cyber charters.

It’s worth pointing out that K12, Inc. was one of the companies poised to come into NJ, and K12’s former chairman, Andrew Tisch, is one of Cory Booker’s biggest supporters. Make of that what you will.

Changes in Local Control

Another surprising turn: the Newark School Advisory Board will get control over the fiscal operations of its schools after 18 years of state control. Most operations will still be controlled by the state; however, this is still a significant change in opposition to Cerf and Governor Christie, signaling that discontent with their education policies is growing.

On the other hand, the state takeover of Camden’s schools has been formalized. Expect a new superintendent and a move toward charter school expansion in the near future.

More after the flip…

Extra Credit:

Bruce Baker at Rutgers further explores the growing inequity in New Jersey’s (and other states’) school funding. The NY Fed says the former Abbott districts have been hit especially hard; of course, they don’t vote Republican anyway, so who cares? [/snark]

Evesham board, residents struggle with member’s comments. Counting the number of Jews on your school board will not endear you to a lot of people.

– Vouchers are dead. Dead, dead, dead. Enough already.

Philly laying off 3,700 in the cash-strapped schools. This is what you get when you vote Republican…

Walt Sautter breaks down Christie’s education spending priorities.

– The great Mulgrew Miller, jazz pianist and educator, dies far too early at 57.

Prom season! You know, you kids have it so easy these days. Why, we had our prom in the old high school gym, and we were thankful for it… [/oldmanvoice]

The countdown to graduation and summer break has begun; have a great week!

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