Murphy Proving a Pragmatist on Education

Update II: Here’s Adam Clark’s article on the changes and the upcoming press conference.

Update: It looks like something went wrong with the rollout of these graduation requirement changes. SOSNJ has deleted it’s statement on the issue. There will apparently be more details on the policy at a Murphy press conference tomorrow in Atlantic City. 

Unfortunately, I did not screen shot the SOSNJ statement, or the document they shared which appeared to be from the NJ Department of Education. As I allude to below, the policy appeared to be a pragmatic one: one that reduced testing as a graduation requirement and maintained other options (such as portfolios) as a method to graduate. It explicitly referenced the feedback and testimony from a listening tour in which parents and others spoke to overtesting. However, it also seemed to maintain the basic testing regime and simply scale back the amount of testing — thus my reference to a pragmatic solution that neither side of this sharp debate would find completely satisfying. We’ll have more details tomorrow from the press conference. 

Education was always going to be a difficult issue for Phil Murphy. Over the past two decades, Democrats have fractured sharply over education and education reform. In New Jersey, that fracture has its own political connotations. There are disputes over the state funding formula — something Sweeney has made a key part of his offensive against Murphy and something that gets interpreted through the ever-hyped struggle for resources between North and South Jersey. Similarly, education reform and, in particular, the focus of ‘no excuses’ charter schools in urban communities has been backed by powerful political factions in the New Jersey Democratic Party. Murphy has, often, attempted to find a middle-ground in these discussions. Today, he did so again when his Department of Education proposed new rules on graduation requirements that pared down testing without eliminating the PARCC test, which has been at the heart of the recent graduation conflict. Doing so was a quite pragmatic move — it addressed the key concerns of parents and advocates regarding overtesting, without radically altering the trajectory of the state’s education policy. Here’s a statement from Save Our Schools NJ which has been at the forefront of organizing on this issue:

BREAKING!! BREAKING!! BREAKING!! BREAKING!!! BREAKING!!The Murphy Administration has proposed new graduation…

Posted by Save Our Schools New Jersey on Monday, July 9, 2018

Comments (5)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    Uh-oh, that Facebook post from Save Our Schools NJ has been removed. What did it say?

    Reply
    1. Stephen Danley (Post author)

      Reaching out to see if I can get some clarity on what’s going on.

      Reply
  2. Bertin Lefkovic

    My biggest concern is that Murphy seems to be talking about the issue of testing out of both sides of his mouth. It is great that he says that he would like to do away with PARCC entirely, but then also talks about replacing it with another standardized test.

    I get that federal law requires states to test, but at some point in time some Democratic Governor somewhere is going to have to be the first to stand up and say that standardized testing is the wrong way to assess academic project, refuse to test, and fight this issue in court if necessary.

    Ideally, it would be great if someone like Bernie Sanders came out against standardized testing in all of its forms and pledged to end them once and for all, but as great as he is on most issues, I have never heard him or any other Presidential candidate, Democratic or otherwise, make a pledge like that.

    Reply
    1. Bertin Lefkovic

      academic progress, not project

      Reply
    2. Stephen Danley (Post author)

      I think there’s some general concern in the education space that Murphy is trying to make everyone happy. Think that other progressives — like Bernie — are falling into the same struggle. Murphy is going to have to make some tougher decisions — the Urban Hope Act revision leaves less wiggle room. We’ll see

      Reply

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