Tag Archive: Leonie Haimson

NJ parents say #PARCC stinks like #CCRAP!

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Which stinks more?

Our garbage dumps or the PARCC Test? Credit: NJ Spotlight

Four years ago I attended the very first Parents Across America meeting in New York City where I heard Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson, Karran Harper Royal, Andrea Merida, Rita Solnet, Julie Woestehoff, Mark Mishler and several other passionate and dedicated parents from all across the country speak about what was then a young but rapidly growing movement. At the time, Gov. Christie was at the height of teacher bashing, and many educators were wandering around like deer in the headlights. I remember Diane saying that ultimately nothing would change unless and until parents led the charge.

And she was right.

I expected it to happen over night. The destruction of public education was completely obvious not only to me, but rank-and-file education professionals all across the country, not to mention education researchers and scholars. Surely if parents could just see…

Ah, but change doesn’t happen in a New York minute even if you live right next door. Steering this suburban ship away from the rhetoric and privatization schemes of education ‘reform’ required a lot more than teacher voices.

It required parents to stop, look and listen:  

NJ Department of Education pitches ‘softball’ newsletter to hide knuckleball reforms

I don't believe in coincidences, so when New Jersey parent/education advocate/blogger, Darcie Cimarusti, aka Mother Crusader, posted this piece on Thursday about the 'new and improved' NJDOE website, and yesterday I received an email link to the NJDOE's new newsletter, The Bridge, then this morning I read Jersey Jazzman’s post about Michelle Rhee's Students First being an extreme right wing branch of the Republican party, I took it as a sign that I needed to say something.

To anyone who follows education 'reform' in New Jersey and across the country, Darcie's findings are disturbing, Duke's words are a reminder of how far to starboard the Republican Party is listing, and this newsletter is merely a sugary-sweet softball designed to dull the senses of the rank and file teachers in this state who only want to do their job. Here's a quote from Education Commissioner Cerf's front-page missive:

“Educators are the heart and soul of our schools and our state. There are few professionals that are more passionate, dedicated, and hard working than educators, and yet too often your work goes unrecognized as you develop the young minds that will become our future leaders. I want to thank you for the work you do every day with our students, and I look forward to the start of this dialogue with you.”

He was appointed three years ago, and he wants to start this dialogue now? Well, let's start by talking about Darcie's discovery that the DOE now lists the Center for Education Reform (CER) as one of its 'important partners'.

Jeanne Allen, who runs CER, is a pro-voucher, anti-union and anti-tenure reformer. As painful as it might be, please watch the embedded video in Darcie's post, especially where Allen says,

“You can't have parent power and teacher union power.”

No? Well, how about all the high-performing, unionized, suburban school districts in New Jersey where parents and teachers together pushed back against the expansion of charter schools in their neighborhoods? And how about the Chicago Teachers Union, under the leadership of their president, Karen Lewis, who effectively organized last fall's CTU strike over cuts to education with the support of parents and the community? Not to mention the great work Leonie Haimson's Class Size Matters and Parents Across America do on a daily basis in New York City and across the country. Apparently Allen didn't get the memo that there's a whole lotta parent/teacher power going on out there.

 

Education Reform That’s For The Birds

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If education historian Diane Ravitch was the all-knowing eagle of education during her speech at last week’s New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Acting Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, was clearly the prey being circled by hawks. Blue Jersey’s own Deciminyan reviewed Ravitch’s speech, and it’s a must read in light of my review of Cerf’s…  

In a standing room only venue, all eyes and ears, and iPhones and iPads, were trained on Cerf as he spoke to educators for about an hour. Tweets and texts were flying from the more tech-savvy, while others took notes with pen and paper. Cerf represents everything educators know is wrong about the divisive, corporate ‘reforms’ that are destroying public education nationwide: increased reliance on standardized testing and charter schools, vouchers, merit pay, and value added measures (VAM).

The former New York City Deputy Schools Chancellor under Joel Klein, Cerf came to New Jersey with some professional baggage. Leonie Haimson, education activist, Executive Director of the New York City group Class Size Matters, and founding member of Parents Across America (PAA) paints a troublesome portrait. With quite an extensive resume in the private and public sector, Cerf actually taught high school history for four years at the beginning of his career. However, it’s ironic that he didn’t make it to the five-year mark-the make-or-break point where teachers decide whether to stay or leave the profession. But he opened his speech with the applause garnering statement that he never worked harder than when he was teaching. Can’t argue with that.  

However, the hawks swooped in with boos, hisses and shouts of “liar!” when he emphatically stated that Governor Christie “has the highest regard for teachers,” and that, “neither I nor the governor are against unions.” Now, I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading this post has some idea of current events in this state, so you know that this is simply not true. But if perchance you need some proof, look no further than Blue Jersey blogger Jersey Jazzman for evidence.  

Ed Reform 101 Extra Credit: Leonie Haimson

This morning featured an extended story in the Star-Ledger examining Chris Cerf, and his record as Deputy chancellor of NYC schools. Cerf has been appointed to be acting New Jersey Commissioner of Education by Gov. Christie, and is intent on implementing many of the same divisive policies that have been tried and failed in New York City, including charter school co-locations and expansion, and teacher merit pay linked to unreliable test scores.