All this week, teachers are setting up classrooms, parents are buying school supplies, and children are getting in their last cannonballs at the pool. The first day of school is coming to New Jersey; for many of us, it’s truly the traditional start of the new year.
But things won’t be the same when the school doors open this year. New Jersey’s education system – in many ways, the envy of the nation – has come under severe assault. Budgets slashed, unions attacked, school leaders demonized… even the teachers themselves are under fire. Parents are growing concerned about their children’s future; citizens are wondering if we are on the brink of destroying one of New Jersey’s greatest assets.
At the center of it all stands Chris Christie, a Republican with clear national ambitions who has staked his reputation on a war with teachers and their unions. He has surrounded himself with some of the leading lights of what education historian Diane Ravitch calls the “corporate reform” movement: Michelle Rhee, Chris Cerf, and Derrell Bradford, among others.
These “reformers” have filled the airwaves and newspapers with tales of “failed” schools and wildly successful “reform” schemes. They’ve spent untold sums of money buying advertising to sell their vision of education; a vision that will radically change even the best performing schools.
The corporate “reformers” have campaigned for merit pay and vouchers and charter schools and standardized tests like magical elixirs, capable of curing the persistent inequality, racism, and poverty that have plagued this state and this nation for far too long.
But are they right? Do they have the facts on their side?
It’s time to find out. Join us this week for a special series: Ed Reform 101: Understanding the Future of New Jersey’s Public Schools. We’re going to get past the hype and get to the truth about education, reform, and the future of New Jersey’s children.
Because on this test, everything counts.