Tag Archive: school reform

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 /

rә•fôrm•ē/

adjective

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…

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“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:  

Anderson’s “One Newark” Scheme: The Results Could Be Deadly

Normally the debate over school reform isn’t considered, at least in the immediate sense, a life or death issue. Deliberations concerning teacher tenure, educator workload, class sizes, meal quality, even building conditions can get heated, but rarely overlap with the subject of mortality. But this time things are different. As a former Newark resident and Public School teacher, I am writing to express my serious concern. Due to Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan, and its total obliteration of neighborhood schools, children will probably die. It’s sickening to contemplate. Unthinkable – but logically speaking, all of the pieces are falling into place for an unprecedented series of disasters to ensue.

For the uninformed, Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan has replaced neighborhood schools with a network of schools – charter, magnet and traditional – that parents “apply” to through a universal application. Parents list something like their top two or three choices and through a complex algorithm, students wind up with a school. Sometimes it’s a school they’ve selected, sometimes it is not. The school could be a block away, or on the opposite side of the city. Regardless, come this September, tens of thousands of Newark Public School students will be transformed into hardened commuters, traversing the city’s vast distances by bus, car, light rail and foot to get to and from school. Some daily student commutes will be more than 10 miles through a dense, busy and varied urban environment.

Students at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – will be forced to spend long periods of time in transit. Students will be at bus stops and on busses before sunrise. For those thousands attending after-school events like dances, club meetings, games and concerts, evening bus trips and long walks, sometimes in near-to-total darkness, will be the norm. And it should be pointed out that some games and concerts, especially in the high schools, can end as late as 9 p.m.

Students will be required to do this every day. They will be subjected to the elements during the pleasant, warm mornings of September and during the freezing rainstorms of December. Heat waves, cold snaps, traffic jams, neighborhoods with serious safety issues…all will challenge children and teens, and relentlessly so.

This isn’t a commentary to criticize Newark specifically, but let’s be realistic about this. It’s New Jersey’s largest, densest city. Even to an adult with a car, Newark is a huge, sprawling metropolis of broad, lengthy boulevards and steep hills. The sidewalks in some places are falling apart, and entire stretches of pedestrian walkways, even in the city’s bustling Central Ward, go without proper maintenance or snow removal for weeks at a time.

Add into this mix tens of thousands of overstressed commuters hurrying to get to and from work during rush hours and you’re just asking for catastrophe. Don’t take my word for it. Stand at any intersection along Springfield or Central Avenues at 8 a.m. and you will witness cars, vans and busses bolting by at speeds upward to 50 miles and hour or faster. Trucks blaze through yellow lights like Doc’s DeLorean from Back to the Future. Emergency vehicles regularly shriek down Newark’s avenues with a rapidity that, from the perspective of a confused Fourth Grader, approaches light speed.

Now I know that we all take our lives into our hands whenever we venture out of bed each morning. Every step we take is with God’s Grace, no doubt. But if this plan is implemented, the odds of a child coming into harm’s way, either through an accident or as a victim of a crime, will increase astronomically. Every day tens of thousands of children will be moving through and learning in neighborhoods far away from their homes, parents and guardians.

Many parents in Newark don’t have cars, because one of the main advantages of living in a big city like Newark, with its workable public transportation system, is that some can do without them. Additionally, many of Newark’s parents and guardians are low-income and desperately poor. In the case of an emergency, caregivers could take hours to get to school to attend to a child in distress. In inclement weather it could take longer.

These are all disturbing speculations, but they’re not the stuff of fantasy. There are many reasons to stop the “One Newark” program, but perhaps the logistical and perilous nightmare it will create for Newark’s children is the most compelling. We send our students to school to learn, not to die.

I hope I am wrong. But if I am not, the responsibility will lie completely and instantly with Superintendent Anderson and ultimately with the Governor himself. Children are not adults; they’re not independent agents responsible for themselves. Anderson has enacted this drastic, heartless plan and she will be held to its results

National School Choice Group Finds Voucher Allies In New Brunswick; Looking For Spot On Board Of Ed

Earlier, I inadvertently published this under my own byline for a few minutes, while I was trying to help Mother Crusader with formatting and code. My bad. It’s all her work. This is about today’s New Brunswick school election. Promoted by Rosi

I’m staying off this bandwagon…

Back in March Diane Ravitch posted about Rutgers student activist Stephanie Rivera’s candidacy for the New Brunswick school board, and asked readers to donate to her campaign. Diane reposted Stephanie’s request for help, which talked a lot about the “political machine” in New Brunswick and how for the last 20 years the board has been appointed by the mayor.

Election Day is April 16, and there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. We’ll be going up against the political establishment of New Brunswick, which until now has been appointing the Board of Education and depriving New Brunswick youth and the community of the justice and quality education they deserve. For the past 20 YEARS, board members have been appointed by the same guy: New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. And unbelievably, this is the first year in New Brunswick’s HISTORY that the Board of Education is ELECTED.

New Brunswick is right across the Raritan river from me, and I know Stephanie, but I stayed out of it and did not endorse her campaign, even after Save Our Schools NJ’s Julia Sass Rubin jumped in and endorsed Stephanie, too.

Why?

First, because my husband teaches in New Brunswick, so I generally try not to get involved in things there. And second, because I didn’t know her running mates.

But now I do, and MAN am I glad I stayed out of this one (well, until now obviously…).  Stephanie is great, and she has done some amazing things, and I am sure she will go on to be a fine educator and advocate, but her slate is a hot mess and she needs to dump these people.

Immediately.

Yep, Michelle Rhee’s School Reform was a Fraud

I’ve suspected this for some time, but a new USA Today investigation shows that Michelle Rhee’s school reform was a fraud:

Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes’ staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000…

A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones…

USA TODAY examined testing irregularities in the District of Columbia’s public schools because, under Rhee, the system became a national symbol of what high expectations and effective teaching could accomplish. Federal money also was at play: Last year, D.C. won an extra $75 million for public and charter schools in the U.S. government’s Race to the Top competition. Test scores were a factor.

Reading the article you’ll see there’s evidence cheating (probably by administrators) was widespread at other DC schools. It would just be a DC story but frankly I think Chris Christie, Cory Booker, Barack Obama and many others have been taken in.