Tag Archive: Tom Moran

An Open Letter to Star-Ledger Editorial Board Director Tom Moran

Dear Tom,

This week, you crossed a line.

Until now, your pieces in the Star-Ledger about Newark’s school system and the reorganization of the district have been ill-informed and reckless. You’ve ignored the warnings of teachers, parents, community leaders, researchers, and students, preferring instead to cling to recycled talking points crafted by those with scant little experience in education policy, but much to gain in profits.

You’ve paid a price: like your ridiculous attempt to walk back from your disastrous endorsement of Chris Christie, your continuing effort to support State Superintendent Cami Anderson while distancing yourself from the consequences of her catastrophic leadership has shredded any integrity you had left as a journalist. Any standing your newspaper had left as a champion of the people of Newark has also eroded: as with Anderson, no one in the city trusts you or the Star-Ledger’s editorial page anymore.

“Shame on you for refusing to educate yourself about the policies you endorse.”

But as awful as your previous meanderings about Newark’s schools have been, at least you never had the bad taste to try to pawn off Anderson’s failures and your own poor judgement to others. At least you never tried to make the case that the impending disaster of One Newark was the fault of anyone but the Christie administration, its appointed superintendent, and her enablers in government and the press.

This week, however, you crossed that line. We have tried individually in the past to get your attention and set the record straight to no avail (see all the links later in this piece). Therefore, we-professional educators with a combined total of seven degrees, a PhD in the works, and 38 years of teaching experience-who, along with countless others across this state, have stood against the illogical, faith-based, and racist education policies you espouse for Newark regularly from your position of influence, have come together to deliver you a message:

Shame on you, Tom Moran

Shame on you for sanctioning One Newark, a plan so controversial and discriminatory that it’s the subject of both state and federal civil rights complaints. Shame on you for ignoring and then blaming the people your newspaper is supposed to serve. Shame on you for refusing to educate yourself about the policies you endorse.

Why do you insist that educators must be held accountable for the sins of greed and the failure of government to address generational poverty, while no one holds you, the editorial director of the state’s largest newspaper, accountable for the half-truths and misinformation you spread?

Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction:

You claim: “At the same time, the city’s most successful charter school chains will take over management of three district schools, fueling their explosive growth.” As we have explained to you over and over again, the ‘success’ of these charters hinges on the fact that they do not serve the same population of students as their neighboring public schools.

Fact:

Percentage qualifying for Free Lunch

NPS: 80%

North Star (Uncommon): 68%

TEAM (KIPP): 73%

Robert Treat Academy: 60%

Fact:

Percentage Limited English Proficient

NPS: 9%

North Star (Uncommon): 0%

TEAM (KIPP): 0%

Robert Treat Academy: 1%

Fact:

Percentage Special Education

NPS: 17.7%

North Star (Uncommon): 7.8%

TEAM (KIPP): 12.3%

Robert Treat Academy: 5.8%

(All enrollment data 2014 from the NJDOE; special education classification data 2013 from NJDOE.)

Fact:

The small number of special education students within Newark’s charters overwhelmingly have low-cost special educational needs: milder learning and speech disabilities. And both TEAM and North Star have engaged in well-documented patterns of student cohort attrition: according to Julia Sass Rubin of SOSNJ, nearly 60 percent of the black males from North Star’s Class of 2014 dropped out between 5th and 12th Grade.

Fact:

Mark Weber and Dr. Bruce Baker have published several policy briefs explaining, in painstaking detail, why One Newark has little chance of succeeding:

  • There is no evidence Newark’s charters can succeed with equivalent populations of students to those of NPS.

  • The plan is racially biased, both against students and against their teachers.

  • The district has apparently committed several serious methodological errors in creating the plan; we say apparently because NPS has never released its methods, and the Star-Ledger has never demanded that they do.

  • The information the district released in the One Newark application about the quality of Newark’s schools is invalid.

    We would think this last issue would concern you, a journalist, the most. You claim that Newark’s parents are clamoring to get into charter schools. What if, however, those parents are making their choices based on false information from Anderson’s administration? What if the waiting lists you point to-lists, by the way, whose lengths are wildly exaggerated – are the product of both the state’s neglect of Newark’s public schools and oversold claims from NPS – and your editorial page – of charter schools’ successes?

    Separate and Unequal Education

    Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.15.32 AM

    The sad truth is that parents in your town of Montclair (or any other mostly white, mostly wealthy suburban community) would never willingly subject their own children to what’s happening in Newark right now:

  • Public schools being closed without community input

  • Children in the same family being sent to different schools in different parts of town on a transportation system that’s never been tested

  • Tax dollars going to a school system that is separate and unequal: that segregates the neediest students from those who are the easiest and least expensive to educate

  • The harsh, unforgiving “no excuses” disciplinary policies that are characteristic of so many charter schools

  • Mass layoffs of education professionals

  • A superintendent who has been a colossal failure at fiscal management

  • Schools in such disrepair that they are unsafe to occupy

  • A superintendent who refuses to listen, who refuses to attend board of ed meetings, and who is not supported by the community

    In fact, the parents of Montclair are fighting back right now, but you have not written one word about it. Why is it okay for them to fight back, but when the parents of Newark do so, you accuse them of “shrieking” and being “shrill and unreasonable”? Are the parents of Newark not smart enough to know what’s good for their own children? Don’t you think they can smell a rat as well as someone from the ‘burbs?

    Public education belongs to the public. The board of ed is answerable to all the people. But in Newark? Meh, what do those people know? They have no money, so they have no voice. They aren’t the right skin color, so they have no voice. They can’t write big campaign checks, so they have no voice. They aren’t concerned parents. They are, in your words:

    “CONSPIRACY THEORISTS”

    Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.17.39 AM
    Yea, these parents look really crazy.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.18.12 AM
    … so do these students.

    Were these people “conspiracy theorists” too…?

    Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.19.00 AM

    Tin Foil Hats and Fox Mulder: The Truth is Out There

    The message Newark parents hear from you is that if they would just shut up, take off their tin foil hats and let all these rich, smart (that term is used very loosely) white folk completely up-end their lives, they’ll crawl back on their hands and knees someday in thanks and praise.

    But you’re wrong. Just because many are working class or poor, don’t speak the King’s English as well as you, refuse to stand on protocol at board of ed meetings because they’re sick and tired of the people in charge not listening when they use their ‘indoor voices’, are “voting with their feet” (as you so love to say of all those charter parents) by boycotting the first day of school, you accuse them of being crazy and-perhaps the cruelest cut of all-not giving a damn about their own children:

    “[Anderson] is facing determined opposition from local activists and politicians who don’t seem to give a damn about the children.



    “why not organize a protest march, or a sit-in, or even acts of civil disobedience? Why would your first big move be to keep kids out of classrooms when so many of them can’t read at grade level?”

    Tom, the activists are parents. Keeping children home from school is an act of civil disobedience. The parents of Newark are not “conspiracy theorists”; they are concerned citizens who want what’s best for their children-just like parents in your town-but they’ve been shut out of the conversation. And you owe them an apology.

    The fact is, Tom, the majority of opposition comes from parents and students who are supported by the clergy, unionized education professionals (whom you seem to hate for some reason even though NJ consistently ranks at the top in public education) and elected officials, some of whom also happen to live in the community. In case you hadn’t noticed, Mayor Ras Baraka ran and won on a platform to stop this madness. He was elected by a majority of the citizens of Newark, and he has dedicated his professional career-most recently as principal of Central High School-to the children and families of Newark.  But you, Tom, wonder “if the kids fit into the mayor’s political calculus at all?” Do you really believe that Ras Baraka is less committed to the children of his city than Cami Anderson, an outsider from California who lives in the suburbs?

    In your X-Files world, conspiracy theorists are people “who see charter schools as a dark plot by Wall Street to somehow suck money out of the public system.” Should we assume you aren’t aware of the ways Qualified School Construction Bonds enrich charters while neighborhood schools starve – and at the same time translate to big profits for banks? (Are you also unaware that David Samson, who just resigned from his Port Authority position because of that pesky Bridgegate mess, is a partner of the law firm that oversees bond transactions between charters and banks?) The fact that you flat-out refuse to accept the mountains of evidence (see , here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) linking Wall Street profits with the explosion of charter schools completely discredits you as a legitimate journalist.

    “The fact that you flat-out refuse to accept the mountains of evidence linking Wall Street profits with the explosion of charter schools completely discredits you as a legitimate journalist.”

    And as for children not being able to “read at grade level,” it’s important first to note that the link you reference details students’ scores on standardized tests, which are inherently flawed and economically-and racially-biased – and which are not indicators of students’ “grade level.” But if we are to keep with your language, there are a myriad of reasons children can’t read at grade level; many have little to do with what goes on inside a classroom. And setting up a system that closes schools, replaces veteran educators with inexperienced ones, and prevents hundreds of parents from enrolling their children does nothing to help those children.

    How many times do we have to say this?

    We’ve tried to reason with you and the rest of the Star-Ledger editorial board many times (here, here, here, here, here, and here), but your failure to acknowledge the evidence with which you’ve been presented makes your defense of Cami Anderson and her One Newark plan all the more troubling.  

    Unlike you, Tom, we believe that responsibility for the gross failures of One Newark rests solely on the shoulders of Cami Anderson and her supporters-

    not on the shoulders of the parents, educators, researchers, community members, and elected officials who recognize and denounce One Newark’s glaring flaws and Cami Anderson’s failed leadership.  

    Who will be sitting at this bus stop on the first day of school in Newark? It’s not hard to figure out, Tom. It won’t be kids from your town.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.19.49 AM
    This photo is from apartheid-era South Africa

    Sincerely,

    Marie Corfield

    Ani McHugh (aka. Teacherbiz)

    Mark Weber (aka. Jersey Jazzman)

    [Great pic at the end! Let’s do this, ladies!] Okey dokey!! I will look it over once more in the morning & wait for Ani’s additional info & let u all know when it’s ready to go. Thanks so much!!

    Woo hoo!!! You guys rock! Very proud to have worked with both of you on this piece–although my contributions were scraggly compared to yours. 🙂 –A

  • Ledger: In an ideal world, taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for Christie’s Bridgegate camouflage

    We flame the Ledger – and especially its head opinionator Tom Moran – plenty when we think they’re wrong. Today, they make a crucial distinction between what the public got for Chris Christie’s Bridgegate legal bill ($6.52 million) vs. what it got for the much-cheaper (and , uh, more transparent) legislative investigation. And it’s dead-on:

    The legislative investigation has cost $725,000 through March. From that, we learned that this traffic jam was manufactured for political reasons. We learned the order came from Christie’s inner circle. And we learned that the “traffic study” excuse was nonsense. We will learn more, no doubt, but Democrats are rightfully holding off on key witnesses to give prosecutors first track.

    What did we get from Mastro, at nearly 10 times the expense? Few helpful facts, but plenty of laughs.

    We read that Christie got all misty when he learned that his staff went rogue. We learned that it’s perfectly reasonable for him to forget that David Wildstein, his own appointee, told him about the lane closures as they occurred. We learned that Mastro did not even interview Patrick Foye, the Port Authority executive director who first exposed the lane closures as a scam. And we learned Mastro drew conclusions even though the other key players refused to speak with him.

    @StarLedger Editorials: Consistently Wrong About Newark Education

    Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

    I reached the end of my rope with the Star-Ledger Editorial Board and its chief, Tom Moran, a long time ago. When it comes to education — particularly in Newark — both the paper’s unsigned editorials and Moran’s columns have displayed massive ignorance. Frankly, I’m tired of having to address their nonsense when it’s clear that Moran and his board lack the journalistic integrity to engage in good faith arguments about the schools in a city their publishing company has abandoned.

    But this weekend’s editorial is so wrong, so ignorant, and so full of sophistry that it just can’t go unchallenged. Fortunately, Bob Braun has already done most of the heavy lifting: as he correctly points out, the discriminatory practices in the school district restructuring plan, One Newark, are quite real and quite pernicious:

    The sheer chutzpah of a newspaper that is abandoning the city to leave behind a “Dear John” letter that essentially supports the denial of civil and human rights to its people-rights enjoyed by New Jersey’s predominantly white suburban population-is breathtaking.

    Amen. I just want to add a few more points to Bob’s post:

    Karen Lewis, Ras Baraka, and “Worried” White People

    Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.

    Fellow white people, heed my advice, please:

    Relax.

    Take a stroll. Enjoy a decaf macchiato. Do some yoga, And stop reading the newspaper, which these days seems to be full of pieces by some more of our fellow worried white people — in this case, the very reformy and very white Tom Moran — designed to make us very, very… concerned:

    Now Newark has a new mayor, Ras Baraka, a charismatic politician, a street activist, and until now a high school principal and city councilman. He just beat the dominant machine in Essex County through sheer force of will, on a shoestring budget. He is aggressive, populist, and he owes nothing to the machine.

    And now he’s promising to turn his convincing win at the polls into a movement.

     

    Earth to @starledger: There Are No Miracle Charter Schools

    Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.

    What do you do with someone who, when presented with the truth time and time again, refuses to see it? What do you do when a person of influence — for example, the Star-Ledger’s Editorial Page Editor, Tom Moran — repeatedly, stubbornly, infuriatingly continues to perpetuate myths that are demonstrably untrue?

    Newark, for all its woes, is a city that’s surprisingly easy to fall in love with if you spend enough time here.

    It’s not beautiful by any stretch, and it breaks your heart all the time. The violence here devours children with a merciless regularity. The schools lose one-third of their students to the street before high school graduation.

    Public meetings turn into ugly and pointless shouting matches all the time.

    But it always feels that something better is just around the corner for Newark. And people here never seem to give up. That fight is baked into this city’s DNA.

    And good things do happen. A downtown construction boom. A miraculous chain of charter schools. New parks. Hope lives. [emphasis mine]

    Go ahead and read the rest of this patronizing nonsense if you want. Apparently, Ras Baraka’s desire to be paid like a professional when he was principal at Central High (where even Moran admits he did an outstanding job) gives Tom Moran a case of the vapors. Let’s concentrate here on this particular phrase: “A miraculous chain of charter schools.” Click on the link and you will be guided to US News’s rating of TEAM Academy Charter High School. TEAM is a division of KIPP, the national charter management chain. Is TEAM “miraculous”? Let’s hold off for a second on testing that claim with some outside sources and look, instead, at what US News has to say:  

    Be Careful What You Wish For, Tom Moran Edition

    promoted by Rosi

    Seven years ago Jon Corzine was Governor, Stu Rabner was awaiting confirmation to be the Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court, Chris Christie was US Attorney and Star Ledger editorial columnist Tom Moran preferred bluster and aggression to accomplishment and measure.

    Back then Senator Nia Gill had some concerns and Rabner and wanted to speak to him.  She quietly put a hold on his nomination as is tradition in the NJ state Senate, and without any fanfare asked for more information.  This delayed Rabner’s confirmation, a situation that enraged Chris Christie to the point that he used his federal staff, materials, transportation, security and authority to hold a press conference condemning Gill, Corzine and a host of Democrats for the delay.

    Here’s how Moran described it at the time:

    The @starledger’s Reformy Fantasyland

    Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.



    I really can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Bob Braun blogging; for a while there, it felt like I was the only one who cared to point out that the Star-Ledger, Bob’s former paper, was writing education editorials that were both massively ignorant and callously dismissive of the needs of children in New Jersey’s cities.

    Bob’s skewering of the Star-Ledger Editorial Board (SLEB) includes a history lesson on the civil actions that led us to the segregated apartheid schools we have today. This is a history of which the Star-Ledger’s editorial writers remain blissfully, willingly ignorant. They foolishly continue to believe the primary issue in urban education today isn’t segregation or adequate funding, but teacher quality:  

    Obituary: Patrick Moran, 19, of Montclair

    We learned last night of the death of Patrick Moran, 19, after a 2-year struggle with melanoma. Tom Moran, editorial page editor at the Star-Ledger is his father, and his mother is Mary Jo Layton Moran, a senior writer at The Record.

    We’ve sparred with Tom Moran on his pages, and on ours. Probably will again. But today, deepest sympathy to the Morans for their loss.  

    Here is Patrick Moran’s obituary.

    Reformy Billionaires and the Money They Waste

    Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

    Perhaps my favorite bad reformy argument — one favored by Tom Moran, among others — goes something like this:

    We should listen to billionaires when they opine about education because:

    1) Well, they’re billionaires, so they must know what they’re talking about.

    2) They don’t have a direct stake in the outcome, so you can trust them.

    I often harp on the absurdity of Point #2: even though a plutocrat may not have a direct stake in making public education more like corporate American, their reformy crusades certainly match their ideological predilections. And ancillary benefits like New Markets Tax Credits and union busting are happy little bonuses.

    But I don’t often talk about Point #1. Watching the implosion of the Common Core is a great example: Bill Gates poured millions into its development and marketing, but it’s clear he really didn’t understand what he was getting himself into. I don’t think anyone, if they are being honest with themselves (and that includes Bill), would think that Gates is any sort of an expert in any field of education.