Tag Archive: Baker

NJ Education Round-Up 4/13/13

Here this week’s education news for New Jersey:

Remember When Michelle Rhee Was Chris Christie’s Best Bud?

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, former Washington DC  schools chancellor and current darling of the reformy right, Michelle Rhee, has been implicated in a growing cheating scandal. This week, veteran education reporter John Merrow released a memo that confirms Rhee knew there was a potentially huge problem across the DC district with wrong-to-right erasures, but did nothing to investigate the issue.

Chris Hayes has an excellent interview with Merrow about the story that’s well worth watching.

What does this have to do with New Jersey? Well, go back to 2010:

Gov. Chris Christie has courted Michelle Rhee to become the state’s next education commissioner, but the job’s distance from her family may prove an insurmountable stumbling block, two officials familiar with the negotiations said.

Way to pick ’em, Chris. By the way, New Jersey’s own investigations into cheating are moving “at a glacial pace.”

The Kids Are Alright


The students of Newark are tired of indifferent adult politicians and their empty promises of school “reform.” So they organized themselves, walked out of school, and marched down the street to give the Assembly Budget Committee a piece of their minds.

As I pointed out, pro-school voucher forces were happy to have kids skip school to march in Trenton – so let’s skip the “outrage” over these kids missing a couple of classes so they could fight for their schools, OK?

More after the flip…

Data Abuse at the NJ DOE

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

We’ve now had over a year of ACTING Commissioner Chris Cerf’s reign at the NJ DOE. Looking back, one overarching theme emerges:

Data abuse.

Cerf likes to present himself as a wonk, despite the fact that he is a lawyer by training and holds no advanced degrees in education. He love charts, graphs, figures, and “factesque” data. The problem is that he seems to believe the role of research is to support his ideology, rather than guide him to the truth.

Unfortunately for him, highly qualified education researchers have been watching the NJDOE. And their examinations of Cerf’s presentations are quite damning.

Let’s begin with Cerf’s latest focus: poverty and student achievement. Bruce Baker of Rutgers takes down a particularly brazen bit of Cerf’s mendacity:

Charter School Debate Round Up

You probably don’t know what to do with yourself until 4:30 today. If you’re inclined to blow off your honey-do list, perhaps you’d care to join the growing debate about charter schools that’s raging across the Garden State.

Start with Tom Moran’s piece in the Star-Ledger, which takes us to a “high performing” charter in Jersey City. Give Moran some credit for at least acknowledging the other side of the debate; unfortunately, even though he grants that charters have limited scalability, he’s still sides with Chris Christie’s plan for charter expansion.

I take on his example, however, at Jersey Jazzman, and show that, to a large extent, charter school “successes” can often be accounted for by the fact that charters serve a different student population than surrounding neighborhood schools:

May I make a suggestion, Tom? For your next piece, do what Michael Winerip of the NY Times did, and talk to some families who have not been served well by the charter school experience. Then take another cue from Winerip and look at the charter application process.

You’ve come a long way in acknowledging the other side of this debate, Tom. But take the next step: let’s get this all out on the table before we start cheering on more charters.

Professor Bruce Baker at Rutgers goes deep into the data to prove just that:

When one estimates what I would call a “descriptive regression” model characterizing the differences in proficiency rates across district and charter schools in the same cities, one finds that compared against schools of similar demography, and on the same grade level and subject area tests, the charter proficiency rates, on average are no different than their traditional public school counterparts. [emphasis mine]

And NJ Parents Against Gov. Christie’s School Budget Cuts takes Moran to task for ignoring the data and instead attempting to tug on his readers’ heartstrings:

More and more, NJ parents are seeing through the hype and demanding quality public schools for every child rather than the privatization of our public education system. That’s why Christie couldn’t get his education agenda passed in 2011, and he’s going to run up against some powerful opposition in 2012.

This debate cuts right to the heart of progressive interests: are we a society that ensures that every child gets a high-quality education? Leave your thoughts below.

James O’Keefe Brings the Sleaze Back To NJ!

When last we saw admitted criminal, serial liar, pimp impersonator, and professional a-hole James O'Keefe here in Jersey, he was sliming a special education teacher who once literally threw herself in front of a bus to save a dozen kids. O’Keefe’s sleazy “reporting” drew the cheers of Chris Christie; anyone who gets the thumbs up from the governor can't stay away for long.

Who's his new target? A Rutgers professor of education, who just happens to be a a bit of a thorn in the side of Christie's Acting Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf. Dr. Bruce Baker tells the story on his blog: