Tag Archive: Mark Weber

Camden School Closures Send the Wrong Message to Black Students

Cross-posted from the Local Knowledge Blog. Promoted by Rosi.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Rutgers PhD candidate Mark Weber’s analysis of the Camden school closures. Many of you know Mark as Jersey Jazzman, but he’s also doing work with Dr. Bruce Baker at Rutgers, New Brunswick. His policy brief on the school closures is an important document (and an important public work). It pokes holes in the District’s narrative that this was primarily about “struggling schools” (Mark’s regression shows that McGraw was the highest achieving school in the district given math scores). The district still hasn’t released its own analysis, and frankly, if the two were to disagree it would fuel the fire that such measures aren’t a reliable way to understand quality. But I want to focus on something more fundamental here. Mark’s analysis shows that the two schools with the highest percentage of African-American teachers are being closed, and that black teachers are 1.6 times more likely to be in these closing schools than white teachers. Teachers with 15 to 24 years of experience are more than 3 times more likely to “face an employment consequence.” Those numbers should give pause to those of us concerned about having a diverse, stable and experienced teaching contingent here in Camden. It also sends a dangerous message to students.

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Happy 5-Year Anniversary to Jersey Jazzman

Jersey Jazzman (Mark Weber) & Melissa KatzToday’s a big day for Jersey Jazzman. From all of us at Blue Jersey, high-fives, fist-bumps & secret handshakes of congratulations to our favorite edu-dude!

On a very hot day in July 2011, the pseudonymous blogger Jersey Jazzman went to the huge Save Our Schools March in D.C.. With him, a couple other Blue Jersey insiders, who shall remain nameless. The 3 wandered into the VIP tent. Inside, all the big names behind the national push to save schools from bumbling tycoonery. Plus Oscar-winner Matt Damon. But for a few minutes, among the few dozen worthies there, a rumor ran through the tent that Jersey Jazzman was here, and Which one is he?

My Testimony on “One Newark” Before the NJ Legislature Today

These are remarks as prepared for my testimony today on One Newark. More to come. Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.

Mark Weber

Testimony before the Joint Committee on the Public Schools

New Jersey Legislature

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Good morning. My name is Mark Weber; I am a New Jersey public school teacher, a public school parent, a member of the New Jersey Education Association, and a doctoral student in Education Theory, Organization, and Policy at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education.

Last year, I was honored to testify before this committee regarding research I and others had conducted on One Newark, the school reorganization plan for the Newark Public Schools. Dr. Bruce Baker, my advisor at Rutgers and one of the nation’s foremost experts on school finance and policy, joined me in writing three briefs in 2014 questioning the premises of One Newark. Dr. Joseph Oluwole, a professor of education law at Montclair State University, provided a legal analysis of the plan in our second brief.

I would like to state for the record that neither myself, Dr. Baker, nor Dr. Oluwole received any compensation for our efforts, and our conclusions are solely our own and do not reflect the views of our employers or any other organization.

Our research a year ago led us to conclude that there was little reason to believe One Newark would lead to better educational outcomes for students. There was little empirical evidence to support the contention that closing or reconstituting schools under One Newark’s “Renew School” plan would improve student performance. There was little reason to believe converting district schools into charter schools would help students enrolled in the Newark Public Schools (NPS). And we were concerned that the plan would have a racially disparate impact on both staff and students.

In the year since my testimony, we have seen a great public outcry against One Newark. We’ve also heard repeated claims made by State Superintendent Cami Anderson and her staff that Newark’s schools have improved under her leadership, and that One Newark will improve that city’s system of schools.

To be clear: it is far too early to make any claims, pro or con, about the effect of One Newark on academic outcomes; the plan was only implemented this past fall. Nevertheless, after an additional year of research and analysis, it remains my conclusion that there is no evidence One Newark will improve student outcomes.

New Jersey Charter Schools Association attacks First Amendment rights

Cross-posted at Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.17.09 AMWhen the facts aren’t on your side…

When you’re up against the wall…

When you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar…

You take the cheap shot.

That’s what the New Jersey Charter Schools Association did last week when they filed ethics charges against Rutgers Professor Julia Sass Rubin who, along with doctoral student Mark Weber (aka. Jersey Jazzman) published this study on the segregationist practices of the state’s charter schools which concludes what we already knew (from JJ’s post):

New Jersey’s charter schools do not serve nearly as many children in economic disadvantage, who have special education needs, or who are English language learners as their host districts’ schools.

Here’s the crux of the NJCSA’s complaint:

This is what it looks like when Jersey Jazzman makes the cover of ‘The Progressive’

For several years here at Blue Jersey and at his own excellent education-specific site, the identity of the anonymous Jersey Jazzman was something we guarded at his request. He was a well-regarded voice against the privatizing school ‘reform’ movement which relies so heavily on flashy public relations, buzzwords and empty promises and has so much trouble standing against evidence. Jazzman, who came out as teacher Mark Weber early this year, counters the tycoonery ‘reformers’ with well-researched, well-sourced, and often bitingly essays. Must drive the “reformies” nuts.

Mark is now a doctoral candidate at Rutgers in the Department of Educational, Theory, Policy and Administration, and in addition to blogging, is producing scholarly work like this. So that brings us to The Progressive, Education Issue. Mark A/K/A Jazzman has the lead cover story, Chris Christie, Bully in Chief. Not hard to see this become the go-to piece on Christie 2016 and his ed policy. It’s subscription only now; if it becomes available on line, we’ll link you to it. Meanwhile, takeaways are posted at Jersey Jazzman’s own site. Well-done, Mark!

The Progressive - December 2014 cover

New Study: NJ Charters Do NOT Serve As Many At-Risk, LEP, Special Ed Students

Facts are pesky things. And once again, we have a well-sourced piece of research that challenges the orthodoxy of charter schools’ public relations. Thank you to Mark Weber (Jazzman) and Julia Sass Rubin for making sure we saw it. – Rosi

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

I have a new report out — commissioned by SOSNJ and coauthored with Julia Sass Rubin of Rutgers — on charter schools in New Jersey. This is the first of three, and it looks at student population differences between charters and their host district schools.

No one who reads this blog will be surprised at our findings; however, this is the first time anyone, I believe, has looked at the charter sector this thoroughly to document our conclusion:

New Jersey’s charter schools do not serve nearly as many children in economic disadvantage, who have special education needs, or who are English language learners as their host districts’ schools.

This week, I’ll go over some of the particulars of the report. But for now, let me share what I believe are the three most important graphs in our brief: