Yesterday, we had an interesting juxtaposition of views on child advocacy here in the Garden State. On the one hand:
Dear Secretary Duncan,
We are writing to express our grave concerns about the negative impact of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver on New Jersey’s most vulnerable children.
We understand that the waivers were an effort to return more control to the states to improve educational opportunities and outcomes. Unfortunately, here in New Jersey, it is quite clear that the NCLB waiver is being used to apply measures that are more damaging than NCLB would have been, particularly to low-income Black and Latino children.
Below, we detail our most pressing concerns with the program the State is implementing under the waiver: 1) introduction of a punitive accountability system that disproportionately impacts school districts populated by low-income children of color while rewarding selective schools and those populated by wealthier, majority white students; and 2) a process of State intervention that excludes low-income communities of color from substantive input in the planning or implementation of the proposed interventions.
Click through and read who signed this: parent groups, children’s advocates, school board members, civil rights groups, teachers unions, scholars, labor, politicians… it reads like a who’s who of NJ education policy.
The two problems the letter outlines can be laid directly at the feet of NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. He implemented the system by which schools can be classified as “Priority,” “Focus,” or “Reward” schools, a system that does nothing to acknowledge the very real differences in student demographics between these schools: