Author Archive: Marie Corfield

Update on One Parent vs. #OneNewark

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Yesterday I wrote about Frankie Adao of Newark’s Parent Power Movement infiltrating a One Newark enrollment center to gain information for parents who are not being provided with it.

Frankie just posted this on Facebook (emphasis mine):

This is some of the crap charters in Newark are pulling. I also spoke to another parent at the Enrollment Center today. First her daughter, without parental guidance, picked where she wanted to go to high school. [This girl was on the] honor roll from 5th – 8th grade, but didn’t score too well on testing. One choice she picked was a charter. The charter told her she didn’t have the stamina to keep up with the pace of the school and would be best served in a traditional public school.

The struggle continues…

One Parent Investigates #OneNewark

Want to know what’s up? Follow the Newark Parent Power Movement on Facebook and Twitter @ParentPowerMov. Follow the Newark Students Union on Facebook and Twitter @NewarkStudents. Please also join the convo at @BlueJersey and @mariecorfield. Cross-posted with Marie Corfield and promoted by Rosi.

#PARENTPOWER

This is what parents in the state controlled Newark Public School District must resort to now that their children’s democratic right to a “thorough and efficient education” has been denied.

Since its inception, embattled former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s ill-conceived One Newark plan that was supposed to provide more school choice and ‘fix’ ‘failing schools’, has been an unmitigated disaster.

From increased segregation, to siblings being bussed to different schools all over the city, to punishing schools that serve a higher population of special needs students, to actually denying parents the right to send their children to the school of their choice, this bureaucratic nightmare has been roundly rejected by parents and students. And despite an Empirical Critique of One Newark by Rutgers University’s Dr. Bruce Baker and doctoral candidate Mark Weber (aka. Jersey Jazzman) highlighting the deep flaws and inequities of the program, it has been ‘damn the torpedos and full speed ahead’ at 2 Cedar Street.  

But Newark’s families never let up. Their vociferous protests were the driving force behind Anderson’s departure. And with her, they assumed would go One Newark. But such is not the case. As a new school year looms and a new superintendent (former NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf) takes the helm, school registrations began yesterday.  

Data does not a great teacher make

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

And so the data reporting begins.

The Star Ledger reported this weekend:

For the first time, New Jersey’s Department of Education will publish a centralized database with the aggregate teacher evaluation results for each school across the state.

The 2013-14 data, to be released next week, will not include performance ratings for specific teachers. But parents will be able to see how many teachers in a school received each of the four possible ratings, according to the state….Before 2013-14, teachers were essentially graded on a thumbs up or thumbs down system, based on a century-old law that required evaluations. Nearly 100 percent of teachers were deemed acceptable….More than 97 percent of New Jersey teachers received positive evaluation scores for 2013-14, the state announced in June (Hmmm… 97% isn’t that ‘nearly 100%’? Just sayin’.) But unlike previous years, the new system creates more distinction between perforance levels and allows the state to further analyze the data for useful trends.

For example, teachers in their first or second year were twice as likely to receive a “partially effective” review as more expereinced teachers.

Meanwhile, experienced teachers were twice as likely to get the highest rating. (emphasis mine)

Ah, ya gotta love the irony. Nothing screams, “We need excellent educators in every classroom!” like underfunding public education, piling enormous amounts of data collection and test prep on top of all the mountains of work classroom teachers already have, blaming, shaming, disrespecting, devaluing, under-paying, slashing and burning, VAM-ing and scaming us into thinking all of this is good ‘for the children’. No wonder 40-50% of educators leave the profession within the first 5 years.

NJ FY16 budget: education death by a thousand cuts

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

                                        ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

On June 30th, Gov. Christie will no doubt sign the FY16 budget which includes this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 12.54.12 PM

Having already violated the state’s School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by underfunding NJ schools to the tune of $6 billion over the past 5 years, the governor, with the approval of the Democratic-majority state legislature, will once again pull precious resources from public schools to give to charters.  

Fixing NJ’s pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Last week dozens of NJEA members rallied outside the state house to protest the State Supreme Court’s ruling and Gov. Christie’s refusal to fully fund the pension system. The rally/lobby day (there are two more next week) was part of NJEA’s efforts to push the legislature to do something – anything – to stave off impending disaster when the fund runs dry in 12 years.

When the NJEA members drowned out the voice of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who was addressing a small group of Americans for Prosperity counter protesters, he responded with this:

“Do you want to yell at me or do you want to have a discussion? Because quite frankly, if we’re just going to yell, we’re not going to get anywhere.”



“This is the type of ignorance and screaming that gets us nowhere. … You have to make a real plan that’s sustainable so, long term, we can take care of our dedicated workers, make sure that the pensions are there, make sure that in two or three or five years from now, it doesn’t fall apart. Screaming, ‘just make the payment,’ doesn’t get me $2 billion.”
(emphasis mine)

Look, I get it, no one wants an angry mob screaming and yelling at them, and when people are pushed, they kinda tend to push back. I’m not attacking Asm O’Scanlon. I have never met him, nor do I have extensive knowledge of his voting record and/or history with public employee unions. From his Twitter posts (more below), he seems like a reasonable guy who is willing to communicate with constituents in an open forum. His altercation with NJEA members is but a snapshot in the larger pension crisis picture.  

Dear President Obama

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi

Barack ObamaWelcome to the Garden State. I hope your visit to Camden is successful.

This letter is a long time coming. I have drafted it in my head many times as I lie awake at night wondering how much longer I can afford to remain in my profession and still keep my integrity, passion, drive, and yes, my home. And now you’re here, so here goes:

I openly wept on election night 2008 as you gave your historic victory speech to a nation of adoring supporters of all races who waited generations for that moment. I have been awed by your unyielding composure over the past seven years as Congress has behaved like-well-spoiled, rich, white men who couldn’t handle the fact that someone not like them was now Commander in Chief. I have willed you on to make the right decisions, to move this country forward in the face of tremendous odds, and dig us up out of the Great Recession because I knew that you knew in every fiber of your being, because of your history, because of your place in history, that if the poor and the middle class couldn’t make it in America, no one could.

Is the NJ pension crisis Christie’s Waterloo?

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

It’s the 15th of the month, and once again, along with thousands of other public employees across the state, I made my legally-required pension payment. How about you, Gov. Christie? No? I didn’t think so.

If you live in NJ, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know about the pension battle raging in Trenton. And if you’re reading this, you also know that this debacle is decades old with Democratic and Republican governors being equal opportunity offenders as one after another raided the once-flush fund to plug budget holes and prop up their pet projects. (Bonus points for alliteration!)

So, what can public employees do to fix this mess? Nothing. We didn’t cause it and we can’t cure it. The only thing we can and should do is demand nothing less than full funding of the pension system as required by the law Gov. Christie touts as his signature, bipartisan ‘reform’. Because while he was busy cutting deals with certain Democrats to ‘fix’ this fiasco (translation: public employees work more, pay more and get less in return while the super wealthy and corporations get tax breaks) he was also doing this-with the blessings of the NJ Democratic Party Machine and GOP legislators who have been too afraid to stand up to him:

Gov. Christie’s pension battle: “Weird NJ”

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Governor/Presidential Candidate Christie tours the country touting bipartisan pension and health benefits reform as the signature accomplishment of his administration. Part of that reform was his legal obligation to make regularly scheduled contributions in order to get the system off life support. (See here for CliffsNotes on the long history of the state’s underfunding of the system.)

Today, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will hear arguments in the ongoing pension battle between the state’s public employee unions and the Christie administration because the governor has decided he can’t come up with the full, legally obligated payments that he signed into law.  

More PARCC drivel from the Star Ledger

Cross-posted from my blog, Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Oh my! The NJ DOE shill Star Ledger editorial board is at it again. This weekend’s propaganda piece is about Education Commissioner Hespe’s proposed punishments for school districts that don’t hit the 95% participation rate on PARCC, the magical test that can determine if your third grader will get into the college of their choice (it just won’t help you pay for it).

The exam is like an MRI for education. It can tell us where kids are failing and help diagnose the problem, even when it’s hidden in an otherwise well-performing district. But because parents in more affluent communities have become increasingly suspicious of the state test itself – not unlike the overwrought side-eye given to childhood vaccines – what’s now at risk is funding for kids who are most vulnerable.

WHAT?! “An MRI for education”? Vaccine refusers? Government more concerned about students not taking a deeply flawed and harmful test than they are about children not getting life-saving vaccinations? Did somebody put Crazy in the water?! I’m sorry, please excuse me while I clean up the coffee I just spit out, and adjust the antenna on the tin foil hat Tom Moran accuses me of wearing. I’ve simply got to find the comedy channel source of his claim.

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