Tag Archive: Diane Ravitch

NJ parents say #PARCC stinks like #CCRAP!

promoted by Rosi

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:  

Jersey Jazzman Joins the Honor Roll as a Hero of American Education

Jersey Jazzman (Mark Weber) & Melissa KatzI know Jersey Jazzman, who posts both here and at his own highly-regarded blog, doesn’t have it in him to trumpet this honor from Diane Ravitch. So I will. I doubt Ravitch – education policy analyst, champion of public schooling, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush and one of the most respected essayists on education in the U.S. – would mind me posting what she says about him. Jazzman’s been a thorn in the side of certain “reformers” whose vast claims are often cooked up without even the most basic grasp of education. His identity, since he wrote for years anonymously, has been one of our most closely-guarded secrets. That secret’s out now. Jazzman is Mark Weber, whose research-based work now includes work towards a PhD at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, under advisor Bruce D. Baker, whose work we have quoted here many, many times. Mark and Bruce are co-authors of a major study of Cami Anderson’s plan to restructure Newark schools, An Empirical Critique of “One Newark”.

Believe me, it wasn’t always easy to keep the of Jazzman’s identity. I’m so proud of the caliber of people who write here. On the jump, here’s what Diane Ravitch says about our Jazzman:

State Budget Crisis Task Force Releases its Report

State and local budgets are arguably the toughest challenge that citizens and politicians need to face. After all, unlike the Federal government, the state cannot run a deficit, nor can it print money. So it was with great interest and anticipation that I attended the release of a report from the State Budget Crisis Task Force earlier today.

As the presentation started in a ballroom at the Trenton Marriott, the panelists took to the stage and one thing hit me in the head like a falling anvil. Everyone on the stage was a white male. And with the exception of the moderator, John Mooney of NJ Spotlight, all had gray hair. To me, this was is hardly an approach that instills confidence that the interests of all of the citizens of one of the most diverse states in the nation are accounted for in the report.

Nevertheless, there were some big names on that platform. Representing the umbrella organization, the State Budget Crisis Task Force were Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch.  Among the VIPs in the audience was former Governor Jim Florio.

Volcker, a New Jersey native, is a former chair of the Federal Reserve. Ravitch, is a former Lieutenant Governor of New York (and ex-husband of education advocate Diane Ravitch).  The Task Force has done similar analyses in several other states. Here in New Jersey, the leader of the group is Richard Keevey of the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration in Newark.


(L to R) Paul Volcker, Richard Ravitch, Richard Keevey


Another Blue Jersey Thank You

ICYMI, Here's the story of how the national Democrats recognized Marie Corfield's LD-16 special election as the top grassroots-powered race in the country, in their yearly Essential Races List. Below, her thanks for the small role Blue Jersey played. Promoted by Rosi

As someone who is rarely at a loss for words, I’m struggling to find some that can express how I feel about all that has transpired this week. For those of you who missed it, Corfield for Assembly was voted the number one grass roots campaign on the DLCC’s list of Emerging Races for 2012. And it happened because you made it happen.

So here are some words that speak to how I’m feeling…

Gratitude. Apologies in advance if I fail to mention your name. There are so many people to thank—people I know, and people I don’t know. But you are no less important, and I am no less thankful for all your help.

• First and foremost, my team and my kitchen cabinet. I wouldn’t be here without you all. Your energy and enthusiasm—and my gratitude—are boundless.

• Everyone here at Blue Jersey, especially Jersey Jazzman, Kendall James, Senator “Jersey Girl” Weinberg, Deciminyan, and editor, mentor, friend, member of the kitchen cabinet, and fellow Hunterdon County Democrat, Rosi Efthim, who steered this cybership all week. (JJ & D, you were awesome on Twitter, too!)

• Every person I know on Facebook, including family, friends, co-workers, and the group I call ‘The Fight’— people from all over the country who saw my ‘You Tube moment’, felt a visceral connection, and sent me a friend request before I ever thought about running for office. And DFA.

• All my Tweeps, especially @DianeRavitch, @Darciecima, @stopthefreezeNJ, @leoniehaimson, @teacherken, @AnthonyCody, @johnleesandiego, and @NJParents1. The power of your connections cannot be underscored enough.

Humility. I never set out on this course, but life sometimes has better ideas. A door opens and we either choose to walk through, or let it close. I walked through. I am humbled and honored that so many people support me. I’m working very hard to do you proud.

Fired Up! This is no time to sit and watch the grass grow. Let’s get to work! We have 24 days to make this happen. We are the grass roots race to watch in the entire country. We must not rest on our laurels. We must now work harder than ever, and engage others to do the same.

My opponent, the Tea Party’s Donna Simon, is out of touch with the wants and needs of the middle class and working families of this district, and this state, and she has the voting record to prove it. On day one in Trenton I will be a voice for all the people who’ve been shut out of the so-called ‘Jersey Comeback’. I will be a voice for hardworking men and women, children, the poor, minorities, seniors, taxpayers and the LGBT community. I will fight to make sure that the real ‘Jersey Comeback’ is good for all of us, not just a chosen few.

To volunteer and donate (because I need you to do both), please go to my website. Then share it with everyone.

Thank you.

Now let's win this thing.

An open letter to New Jersey teachers…

Dear New Jersey Teachers,

No doubt over the next few days you will engage your students in discussions and activities surrounding the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If not for your efforts, the only thing some children today would know about him is that they get a day off for his birthday.

Thank you.

And thank you for everything you do to enrich the lives of your students. You work hard both inside and outside the classroom to bring the world—past, present and future—to your charges. Sometimes you have to move mountains, sometimes you ride waves, sometimes you're doing both simultaneously, but you do it all because it's your passion, your calling. You can't think of anything else you'd rather be doing than teaching 24 wide-eyed first graders about the developmental stages of a butterfly. Or helping one terminally stuck 9th grader slog through algebra (that was me).

And your dedication shows. New Jersey has one of the best public education systems in the country. 

But, as you all know, that is changing. I won't go on about corporate education 'reform' because I'd be preaching to the choir. But if somehow you missed what's been happening in New Jersey education policy over the past two years, I suggest you sit down and read every post ever written by Jersey Jazzman. Then read columnist and author, Chris Hedges, beautifully poignant piece about why the United States is destroying its education system.

Read it. 

Share it.

Education Reform That’s For The Birds

promoted by Rosi

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.  

Crime Spree in New Jersey

Suppose Governor Christie issued an executive order stating that if a city like Newark or even his home town if Mendham were not 100% crime-free by 2014, he would fire the entire police department and allow anyone, no matter what their qualifications, to carry a badge. He’d be subject to quite a bit of well-deserved ridicule. Yet that’s exactly what he’s doing with another profession – not cops, but teachers – according to noted education expert Diane Ravitch.

Ravitch was the keynote speaker on the first day of the annual convention of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) in Atlantic City today. And unlike the factually-challenged memes spewed by the corporate media and the education profiteers, Ravitch backed up her points with hard evidence.

In a comprehensive review of the right wing assault on education in New Jersey and across the country, Ravitch systematically debunked the myths being propagated by the corporatists and their enablers like the governors in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and yes, New Jersey.

Ed Reform 101 Extra Credit: Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Ed at NYU and a historian of education. She’s a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC and recipient of the 2011 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for academic professionals who use science to improve public policy. She was Asst Sec. of Education and Counselor to Sec. of Ed. Lamar Alexander in the Pres. George H.W. Bush administration. Dr. Ravitch has written ten books on education and edited 15. Her latest – The Death and Life of The Great American School System – How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education – is a national best-seller. – Rosi

A few years ago, I attended a large conference of conservative foundations and chaired a panel in which contestants were invited to submit their proposal for the best education idea of the next decade. A man from a public relations firm said that his big idea was to put billboards all across the state of New Jersey blaming the teachers’ unions for the woeful condition of public education. As a judge, I asked him if he could explain a few things that puzzled me. Why was Massachusetts the highest performing state in the nation, even though it had a unionized teaching force? And why was Finland the highest performing nation in the world, even though it has a unionized teaching force? And why were the right-to-work states and the states with weak unions usually found near the bottom of the federal testing reports? He demurred, saying he was a public relations person, not an educational expert.

At the time, I didn’t look closely into the statistics for New Jersey, but New Jersey is certainly in the national spotlight since the governor wants to inject competition and other free-market principles into education.