Tag Archive: research

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

INTRODUCTION

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:

Where Will All the Boys Go?

I’m pulling this up top again today to make sure as many people as possible see it. Are Gov. Christie’s brave new world reformers even aware of this kind of research? let alone conducting it themselves with the vast power they exercise over the Camden district and its kids? Do they even care? Promoted by Rosi, with thanks to Julia, and to her Rutgers colleague Stephen Danley, at whose excellent site, Local Knowledge Blog, Julia first published this today.

Imagine turning your public schools over to a private corporation that is unaccountable to your community; has no experience educating children like those attending your public schools; and forces most of the boys to leave before graduation?

That is exactly what the Christie Administration is doing in Camden.

The Administration is transferring control of public education to three out-of-state charter corporations – KIPP, Mastery and Uncommon Schools – that are completely unaccountable to the people of Camden.  The corporations will take hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from existing Camden public and charter schools to build or renovate and operate 16 new renaissance charter schools.*

The three charter corporations are aggressively marketing themselves and their new facilities to Camden parents and could quickly account for 9,300 of the district’s almost 15,000 publicly-funded spots, leading to the closure of the majority of Camden’s public and charter schools.  

Buono Posts Economic Plan for New Jersey

I’m pulling this up to the top of the front page for anyone who might have missed it early this AM. – Rosi

Today, Barbara Buono released her plan for jobs and economic security for the State of New Jersey. The plan is based on needs of the people and businesses in New Jersey, not the cronyism that we see in the Christie administration like big, expensive contracts to politically-connected companies like AshBritt. The plan acknowledges that in order to attract businesses, we need an educated workforce and investments in education at all levels, and must include vocational education and county colleges. The plan also acknowledges that in order to make the state business-friendly, we need to invest in our infrastructure – an area where Governor Christie has been negligent. And it stresses that clean energy is a job-creator, not a burden to business in the state.

Click here to access the complete report.

Rush Holt talks Watson-Jeopardy showdown

I’m amused by this video of my old boss Rep. Rush Holt, who is here explaining his history on Jeopardy (he was a 5-time winner decades ago) and how he came to be matched up against IBM’s supercomputer Watson. Holt is the only human to ever beat Watson in a Jeopardy contest. He talks about how since he was a kid he’s been interested in how the world works (that’s science) and how people get along (that’s politics), the first time he saw a computer (in a Scientific American spinoff). Holt uses his vanquishing of Watson to talk about investing in research – public and private – and investing in the kind of education that will produce the next wave of scientists and researchers. A common theme in this physicist-congressman’s life and work, and one he’s in a great position to make.

But really what gets me about this video (made by the social media folks at IBM, where Watson was hatched), is the solar power backlighting, the unironic illumination as New Jersey’s rocket scientist discusses … well, illuminating.

QoTD: Scott Garrett and “ethnicities”

Blue Jersey’s Quote of the Day is out of the mouth of Congressman Scott Garrett, of New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, and its 90% whiteness.

I only take note of the 5th CD’s whiteness, because I confess I’m baffled what the hell Scott Garrett was talking about on a “backwoods” tour of (even lily-whiter) Warren County for some business visits last week, ending up at Rudolph Research Analytical in Washington Township (in Morris County, but near Hackettstown, in his purview). Rudolph Research Analytical is a 30,000 square foot lab that designs devices for the pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum & food industries. Some labs have an outsize demographic of Asian people working in them (and plenty don’t)  and some people think all Asian people are alike. Is that what Garrett was talking about? Or was he commenting on people darker than himself? What, what, Scott Garrett? What does this mean?

The lab’s director, Richard C. Spanier, said something nice about dealing with people in the American Midwest. Their attitude is “straight-forward”. To which Garrett replied:

“Other ethnicities are not that way,” Garrett said. “They’ll say yes to you constantly and then you’ll realize they really didn’t mean it.”

Other ethnicities? Dude. What are you talking about? You scare me.  

Rush Holt Talks R & D & Jobs on Maddow

Last month, Rush Holt cross-posted at Blue Jersey an in-depth article he did advocating for federal investment in research and development. Read Dueling Visions for Science.

Now, we have video of the scientist congressman talking with Rachel Maddow about what the military has achieved, even in unexpected areas like breast cancer, ovarian and prostate cancer research.

Holt comes in at the 5:17 mark, but it’s worth watching Maddow’s opening to see the scary-cool thing the Roomba people make for the military, and the difference between what’s new in the kind of new car you can get soon vs, the kind of new car the Army gets. And aircraft the size of bugs.

What’s new in military whizbang vastly outstrips what private industry has done. You’re paying for it; it’s public investment. The question is, can we learn anything from the way investment in R & D has fueled the leaps forward in military equipment innovation? And are there jobs in that?

Yeah, there’s an ad I can’t scrub. Sorry. Calculate digits of pi in your head. Or plan dinner.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dueling Visions for Science

promoted by Rosi

I wrote this for Science; and it was published a few days ago. I thought my friends in the Blue Jersey community might be interested in this issue too.

– Rush Holt

A clash is under way in Washington, DC, between two starkly different visions for the U.S. government’s role in research and development (R&D). The outcome of this debate will shape the nation’s scientific landscape for years to come.

The first vision is a grim and pessimistic "No, we can’t" view. Its proponents insist that the federal government can play no substantive role in advancing science or technology. The argument is that the government has been ineffective, that "investment" is a code word for wasteful spending, and that the only way forward is for the government to lower its sights, stop making new investments, and scale back spending. This view is encapsulated in the recently enacted Budget Control Act of 2011, which demands $2.4 trillion in federal spending cuts. Considering that, as a share of the U.S. economy, the government’s support for R&D has fallen by nearly two-thirds since the 1960s, I have little doubt that R&D will bear more than its share of these latest cuts.

Dueling Visions for Science

I wrote this for Science; and it was published a few days ago. I thought my friends in the Blue Jersey community might be interested in this issue too. – Rush Holt

A clash is under way in Washington, DC, between two starkly different visions for the U.S. government’s role in research and development (R&D). The outcome of this debate will shape the nation’s scientific landscape for years to come.

The first vision is a grim and pessimistic "No, we can’t" view. Its proponents insist that the federal government can play no substantive role in advancing science or technology. The argument is that the government has been ineffective, that "investment" is a code word for wasteful spending, and that the only way forward is for the government to lower its sights, stop making new investments, and scale back spending. This view is encapsulated in the recently enacted Budget Control Act of 2011, which demands $2.4 trillion in federal spending cuts. Considering that, as a share of the U.S. economy, the government’s support for R&D has fallen by nearly two-thirds since the 1960s, I have little doubt that R&D will bear more than its share of these latest cuts.

 

A hard spending cap forces false choices: Should the United States invest in badly needed new science instrumentation or in educating inner-city kids? The truth is that the nation must invest in many things. Fortunately, there exists another, far more hopeful vision for the federal government, one that rejects the notion that government budgeting must begin with a hard cap. The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 demonstrates how federal investment in R&D can drive the economy forward. I was part of the negotiations that put $22 billion of new R&D funding into science agencies, like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. How many jobs did these funds create, and how many more will they create in the future? We won’t have the final answer for years. How many lab technicians have been hired, and how many electricians wired the labs? The accounting is difficult now, and until the scientific and technological accomplishments have reverberated through the economy, the full effect cannot be known. It appears that the short-term benefits are similar to those of shovel-ready construction projects, and for the long term, past experience is very promising. The return on spending by the NSF over the decades appears to be very large. And the most comprehensive study of the economics of the Apollo space program found that its $25 billion in government investments returned $181 billion to the economy.

Science is usually a smart investment for a nation’s future, and is more important today than ever before. America’s inflation-adjusted borrowing costs have fallen to historic lows. When the private sector is not making enough investments and consumers are not spending, Congress should make the investments that will pay large dividends: public and private scientific research, education in science and engineering, and infrastructure projects to support scientific growth. An investment-focused vision for America could begin by fulfilling the commitments made in the America COMPETES Act, enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010. That law authorized a doubling of the budgets at key science agencies and created the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to fund transformative research on energy technologies. If Congress were to fulfill that law’s vision for scientific investment, it would both create good-paying jobs today and lay the groundwork for a far stronger economy tomorrow.

This will be a daunting task. With the Budget Control Act, Congress appears to have said, in effect, that federally sponsored science has no role to play in advancing the economy, that unemployment is a problem that only time will cure, and that the nation’s best days are behind us. How contrary to American tradition that would be! It must not prevail.