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: