Tag Archive: Bob Braun

Cerf’s Up in Newark, and That Means More of the Same For Its Schools

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

Remember haters: Bob Braun broke the story first:

Gov. Chris Christie and state Education Commissioner David Hespe have announced the resignation of Cami Anderson as state-appointed superintendent of the Newark schools. She will be replaced by Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner.

Here’s the official announcement:

Trenton, NJ – Commissioner of Education David Hespe today announced that Cami Anderson will be stepping down as State Superintendent of the Newark Public School District.

“Superintendent Anderson has worked tirelessly over the last four years to implement a bold educational vision for the students and parents of Newark,” said Commissioner Hespe.  “Under Cami’s leadership, the Newark school district signed a landmark teacher’s contract, implemented One Newark, and increased flexibility and support in virtually every school in Newark.  We know that these positive educational reforms will continue to benefit the students and parents of Newark for years to come.”

Superintendent Anderson will depart the district by July 8, 2015.  By July 8, 2015, Commissioner Hespe will recommend to the State Board of Education the appointment of Chris Cerf to the position of State Superintendent for the Newark Public Schools.  Mr. Cerf will be recommended for a three-year contract consistent with initial contracts in other state-operated districts including most recently Camden. [emphasis mine]

Yes, that’s right: Chris Cerf, the former Acting Commissioner of Education for the entire state, won’t just be an interim superintendent for the state-run district; he’s going to be the permanent replacement.  

The Star-Ledger Editorial Board Continues To Make Stuff Up

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman. UPDATE: Trust me, you need to read what Bob Braun, who spent decades at the Star-Ledger, has to say about all this.

I don’t care if you are a news reporter or an opinion columnist: if you write for a newspaper, your first priority is getting your facts correct.

And yet, once again, the Star-Ledger’s editorial board just makes stuff up:

Especially in larger districts like Newark, which lose hundreds of students each year and therefore need fewer teachers, seniority is a major impediment to a school’s ability to hang on to the best people.

We see the repercussions every time a standout teacher gets a pink slip – like the “Teacher of the Year” for the Sacramento City Unified School District, or New Jersey’s own Christina Passwater, an award-winning literacy teacher at Whittier Elementary School in Camden. [emphasis mine]

Is it true? Was an award-winning teacher really let go by the Camden City Public Schools? When I first read this, it didn’t smell right; claims that seniority ends the careers of dedicated teachers quite often turn out to be exaggerated when you start looking at the facts.

So I did what Tom Moran, head of the S-L’s Editorial Board, should have done before he put this into print: I checked out the truth of the claim.

It took maybe a total of 15 minutes of my time. I emailed the offices of the NJEA (of which I am a member) and asked if they could find out if Passwater was still teaching in Camden. A few back-and-forths later, I learned the truth:

Christina Passwater is currently teaching in Camden, and is looking forward to teaching there again next year. The Star-Ledger editorial page got her story completely wrong.  

PARCC Espionage – Let’s Do More!

In the Theater of the Absurd, what’s more absurd than the truth? Well, maybe the lawless chatter of 8-year-olds! Promoted by Rosi.

Tap Phones. Hack Emails. Bug The Little Bastards’ Bedrooms.

Earlier this week, veteran New Jersey education writer/editor Bob Braun broke the story that Pearson PLC, the developer of the new PARCC standardized test, has been monitoring students’ social media posts. As reported by NJ Spotlight:

In each case, Pearson confirmed that as part of standard security, it looks for students who may be divulging questions on Twitter or other public social media platforms.

Pearson and representatives of the PARCC consortium, as well as a spokesman for the state Department of Education, all defended the practice as necessary to maintain the integrity of the tests, and they said the monitoring is only of public sites and publicly available information.

A breach of PARCC, according to a statement from Pearson, includes any time someone shares information about a test outside of the classroom – from casual conversations to posts on social media.

Casual conversations? Sounds serious. But if loose lips on or offline have the potential to bring down a multibillion dollar test, why are they only monitoring public sites? Isn’t that like only watching for nuclear missiles lobbed at us from Mexico? Or only following Kim Kardashian on Snapchat?

Links between NJ education and Pearson are cozy indeed

Cross-posted with Bob Braun’s Ledger, which is daily reading for us here at Blue Jersey. Bob is Star-Ledger’s longtime education editor and columnist until his change of address two years ago. The Pearson monitoring, now national news, was the result of Bob’s reporting. – Promoted by Rosi

BLOGERLICHSONMR-300x300Bari Anhalt Erlichson, an assistant New Jersey education commissioner and chief testing officer who supervises PARCC testing throughout the state, has a personal connection of sorts to PARCC’s developer, the British publishing giant Pearson. Anhalt Erlichson is married to Andrew Erlichson, a vice president of a company named MongoDB. MongoDB (the name comes from humongous database) is a subcontractor to Pearson, helping to develop its national student database that provides the larger company with access to student records. Pearson later sold the center to Hobson’s which no longer deals with MongoDB.

[photo: Andrew Erlichson/LINKED-IN]

When Pearson Monitors Students, They Prove the Inferiority of Their Product

Update Monday morning: I’m moving this up to the top again, because of the conversation going on below Jazzman’s excellent diary. – Rosi

Over the last day or so, several extraordinary events in rapid succession – veteran journalist, now blogger, Bob Braun posts a blockbuster story revealing PARCC test creator Pearson as creepers “monitoring” student social media, and  then directing NJ Dept. of Education to discipline students. Some hours after he posted – with the story getting heavy attention – there was a DoS attack on his site. Read on – then please consider sharing this story to your own contacts. – Rosi

Cross-posted at Jersey Jazzman.

UPDATE I: Watching Hills Regional High School has released a statement about the incident below.

Full disclosure: my K-8 district “feeds” into WHRHS, but I am not employed there as it is a separate district. I do not know who the student is but it is possible he is a former student.

UPDATE II: Looks like Bob’s post is back up for now, but it’s loading slowly — possibly because this is such a big story and he’s getting tons of traffic.

Also: here’s a report about what Pearson — again, a foreign corporation — expects from students regarding test security and social media. But I can’t find any equivalent information at the PARCC website or from NJDOE. Were parents and students expected to seek this out themselves?

By now, you may have heard that Bob Braun, veteran education journalist and a personal friend, published a blockbuster of a story yesterday: Pearson Education, Inc., creator of the PARCC standardized test, has been monitoring students’ social media use and, in at least one case, reported what they considered to be a violation of their test security.

Even worse: Bob’s site has been under a “denial of service” attack since shortly after he published the report. As of this morning, I’m still not able to access Bob’s story at his blog, but not to worry: Bob published his story on Facebook, where it appears to be immune from DOS attacks. Here’s an excerpt:

The Week “Reformy” Died In New Jersey

Efforts to suppress freedom of opinion … they don’t just happen in Paris. Among the issues Jazzman deconstructs in the reformy-clan’s disastrous week is this: the desperate attempt by the charter forces to intimidate and silence an academic researcher and critic, Julia Sass Rubin, because as usual they’re failing at making relevant data go away. – Rosi

Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.

re•form•y /



1. of, denoting, or pertaining to education policies that have little to no supporting evidence, yet allow supporters of those policies to feel like they care about children more than you do.

2. (of a public education policy) used to justify inequitable and/or inadequate education funding.

3. (of a public education policy) infuriatingly smug while concurrently so freakin’ ignorant that you just want to bash your head on your keyboard over and over and over…

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 1.12.32 PM

“Jersey Jazzman just read the latest reformy argument on his computer.”

This was a bad week for “reformy” here in Jersey; dare I say it, we may have just witnessed the beginning of the end of the “reformy” movement in the Garden State. Let’s review:  

Star-Ledger journalist alums: Requiem for a Newspaper

Star-Ledger alums

I love this photo of last night’s gathering of some of the old hands now gone from the Star-Ledger, as the Ledger itself is now gone from Newark. That was the subject of discussion last night at an event on the Rutgers Newark campus called Requiem for a Newspaper: the Star-Ledger Leaves Newark – a bittersweet title. It is most certainly now gone from Newark, whose name it once carried on the masthead and housed in a nondescript office building in Woodbridge.  I asked our friend Bob Braun, who was on hand last night along with mayor Sharpe James, and others, what the discussion got him thinking. Bob:  

Tonight: “Requiem for a Newspaper”

I just want to flag this event for you – tonight – because it looks damned interesting, and I can’t attend. This is an invitation for anyone who does go to write about it here.

I am personally conflicted in how I feel about the decline of the Star-Ledger, which has now lost its long brick and mortar home in Newark, even as its wrong-side advocacy of the state-controlled dissolution of Newark public education shows its disaffection with the city whose heartbeat it once knew. There are still great writers at the Ledger, and newspaper journalism is something I think is critically important in a state of political liars. But the Ledger’s departure leaves Newark without a daily newspaper for the first time since 1832, and tonight is about what Newark thinks about that.

Requiem for a Newspaper: The Star-Ledger leaves Newark

A Panel Discussion and Community Forum

When: Tonight – 7-9 p.m.

Where: Robeson Campus Center, Rooms 255-257, Rutgers-Newark

Panelists: Andy Baglivo, Newark Evening News City Hall reporter; Bob Braun, Star-Ledger education writer and columnist; Sharpe James, Newark’s longest-serving mayor; Dr. Clement Price, Rutgers professor and city historian; Stanley Terrell, Star-Ledger City Hall reporter; Joan Whitlow, Star-Ledger reporter and columnist

Star-Ledger Newsroom, Newark, dismantled
Star-Ledger newsroom, taken by Tom Moran

as it was dismantled. Via Facebook.