Tag Archive: Star-Ledger

Data does not a great teacher make

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

And so the data reporting begins.

The Star Ledger reported this weekend:

For the first time, New Jersey’s Department of Education will publish a centralized database with the aggregate teacher evaluation results for each school across the state.

The 2013-14 data, to be released next week, will not include performance ratings for specific teachers. But parents will be able to see how many teachers in a school received each of the four possible ratings, according to the state….Before 2013-14, teachers were essentially graded on a thumbs up or thumbs down system, based on a century-old law that required evaluations. Nearly 100 percent of teachers were deemed acceptable….More than 97 percent of New Jersey teachers received positive evaluation scores for 2013-14, the state announced in June (Hmmm… 97% isn’t that ‘nearly 100%’? Just sayin’.) But unlike previous years, the new system creates more distinction between perforance levels and allows the state to further analyze the data for useful trends.

For example, teachers in their first or second year were twice as likely to receive a “partially effective” review as more expereinced teachers.

Meanwhile, experienced teachers were twice as likely to get the highest rating. (emphasis mine)

Ah, ya gotta love the irony. Nothing screams, “We need excellent educators in every classroom!” like underfunding public education, piling enormous amounts of data collection and test prep on top of all the mountains of work classroom teachers already have, blaming, shaming, disrespecting, devaluing, under-paying, slashing and burning, VAM-ing and scaming us into thinking all of this is good ‘for the children’. No wonder 40-50% of educators leave the profession within the first 5 years.

Star-Ledger knocks it OUTTA THE PARK

We don’t have the same problem here at Blue Jersey; most  readers here are all wonky and serious-minded. But over at Blue Jersey’s Facebook, we have to police posts & comments for nasty-talk, name-calling and mocking people – including politicians, including Gov. Chris Christie – for things that have nothing to do with his work as Governor.

To put it plainly, fat-shaming Gov. Christie is not cool with us. Two reasons: (1) Size has nothing to do with why he sucks as governor (2) It’s just mean. To be clear, we don’t think our FB users are any meaner than anybody else (us included); it’s more about the nature of Facebook, where mean memes, skirmishes, and name-calling are common.

Today, the photos of Christie in a baseball uniform tested everybody. I had to lay down the law at Facebook, which most people got (beyond, uh, the guy with the big photo of Jackie Gleason). But you know who put it much better than I did? The Star-Ledger: Grow up, and lay off Christie for the baseball pants | Editorial:

Just because you are not a fan of Chris Christie doesn’t mean you should be body-shaming him.

Ask yourself: Are you still in fifth grade?

The baseball pants photos have gone viral, in the most cretinous way. Enough of this ghoulish feed fest. It was a charity event. Star-Ledger Columnist Steve Politi is right – lay off him.

If Christie were a female politician, would we tolerate this degree of nastiness? Are we really ok with counting the wrinkles on Hillary Clinton’s face?

We don’t love Christie. And when we criticize him, we’ll be specific. There will be links. I hope it’s not insubstantial or stoopid. If it is, call us on it. Meanwhile, relax, be nice, and go read the Ledger’s whole piece. It’s everything today.

The Star-Ledger Editorial Board Continues To Make Stuff Up

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman. UPDATE: Trust me, you need to read what Bob Braun, who spent decades at the Star-Ledger, has to say about all this.

I don’t care if you are a news reporter or an opinion columnist: if you write for a newspaper, your first priority is getting your facts correct.

And yet, once again, the Star-Ledger’s editorial board just makes stuff up:

Especially in larger districts like Newark, which lose hundreds of students each year and therefore need fewer teachers, seniority is a major impediment to a school’s ability to hang on to the best people.

We see the repercussions every time a standout teacher gets a pink slip – like the “Teacher of the Year” for the Sacramento City Unified School District, or New Jersey’s own Christina Passwater, an award-winning literacy teacher at Whittier Elementary School in Camden. [emphasis mine]

Is it true? Was an award-winning teacher really let go by the Camden City Public Schools? When I first read this, it didn’t smell right; claims that seniority ends the careers of dedicated teachers quite often turn out to be exaggerated when you start looking at the facts.

So I did what Tom Moran, head of the S-L’s Editorial Board, should have done before he put this into print: I checked out the truth of the claim.

It took maybe a total of 15 minutes of my time. I emailed the offices of the NJEA (of which I am a member) and asked if they could find out if Passwater was still teaching in Camden. A few back-and-forths later, I learned the truth:

Christina Passwater is currently teaching in Camden, and is looking forward to teaching there again next year. The Star-Ledger editorial page got her story completely wrong.  

Chris Christie & the Middle Class: Lies up in New Hampshire, truth on the street in Jersey

Right now, Gov. Christie, the street in front of the NJ Statehouse is filled with the middle class you’re up in New Hampshire lying to. But of course, like a lot of important stuff, you’re missing it.

Today, Christie gives a “major” economic speech in his do-or-die state, where he’s in 11th place. Christie, the total flop on economic issues.

Organized labor’s role in creating the middle class that politicians of both parties like to talk about is very well known. But beyond the rest of us thanking Labor for our weekends (thank you, Labor), the obligations here in this state go beyond that. Our state workers have paid into their pensions as agreed; New Jersey has not reliably done so. And now we have an ambitious governor – trying to get a bigger job without cleaning up the mess he’s made here – whose lawyers argue in court that the agreement he made is now – presto! change-o! – unconstitutional. But just now that he’s actually required to fulfill it. Pretzel logic.

We’re following hashtag #FundNJPension. Sea of red right now at the Statehouse. Count these folks as a lot of the middle class Christie has already lied to, protesting his failure to do the right thing by them, even after being so ordered by the court. As they say, they never missed their payments.

#FundNJPension rally Trenton Statehouse May 12, 2015

Christie’s actual economic record? marshwren (who also comments here) sums it up succinctly (in a comment to NJ.com)  – To the jump page!

ICYMI from Sheneman: The Gov goes free

Cartoon & commentary from the Ledger’s Drew Sheneman captures – like Jon Stewart did – the absurdity of Chris Christie Govsplaining the Bridgegate indictments of three people he placed in powerful positions to do his bidding. And how much ridicule he deserves for trying to sell the idea that unless he was literally caught working the cones he’s blameless and White House-ready:

He talks about leadership an awful lot, but apparently forgot the definition. This isn’t corporate America where the CEO gets to claim “Not it!” when the feds come calling. Sure, the governor isn’t going to be indicted, but it is going to put the final proverbial nail in the coffin of his flailing presidential campaign no matter how hard he tries to convince us that he’s been vindicated.

Drew Sheneman cartoon 5/8/15

More PARCC drivel from the Star Ledger

Cross-posted from my blog, Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Oh my! The NJ DOE shill Star Ledger editorial board is at it again. This weekend’s propaganda piece is about Education Commissioner Hespe’s proposed punishments for school districts that don’t hit the 95% participation rate on PARCC, the magical test that can determine if your third grader will get into the college of their choice (it just won’t help you pay for it).

The exam is like an MRI for education. It can tell us where kids are failing and help diagnose the problem, even when it’s hidden in an otherwise well-performing district. But because parents in more affluent communities have become increasingly suspicious of the state test itself – not unlike the overwrought side-eye given to childhood vaccines – what’s now at risk is funding for kids who are most vulnerable.

WHAT?! “An MRI for education”? Vaccine refusers? Government more concerned about students not taking a deeply flawed and harmful test than they are about children not getting life-saving vaccinations? Did somebody put Crazy in the water?! I’m sorry, please excuse me while I clean up the coffee I just spit out, and adjust the antenna on the tin foil hat Tom Moran accuses me of wearing. I’ve simply got to find the comedy channel source of his claim.


Backing Menendez: It’s a dangerous game NJ Democrats are playing tonight

Read the 68-page indictment.

The problem with being a party activist is that sometimes you get stuck having to defend people, or situations, before you’re in any kind of position to know whether you should.

Tonight, we saw:

  • an avalanche of clamorous, full-throated confidence in New Jersey’s senior senator, expressed in official statements from NJ Dem electeds.
  • Twitter account @IStandWithBob with only 35 followers (mostly reporters).

    Calls for resignation The loyalty’s all very nice. And I hope to hell he’s innocent; he’s my senator, too. But  – – at the same time, two powerfully-written editorials came out – Star-Ledger and APP – both calling for Menendez to resign. The Ledger calls him a “tarnished defendant,” notes the legal fight could go on for years, and implores Menendez to “spare us the drama.” APP’s is rough stuff, telling Menendez he’s “done,” and “don’t play the aggrieved public figure fighting for justice, and don’t pretend that you have some overarching obligation to your supporters to stay on the job.”

    Ouch. But that’s what voters who read newspapers are going to be absorbing with their coffee in the morning. And I would bet that those sentiments will have a great deal more to do with shaping how voters see all this than the all the energetic Democratic party attaboys.

    Backlash risk This Democratic display carries a backlash risk – if it ends up that Menendez is found guilty, or has to resign. New Jersey Democrats, particularly those from North Jersey, are already perceived by many voters as corrupt. And only some of that due to Gov. Christie’s political targeting as U.S. Attorney.

    You’ve got to have sympathy for some of these folks who were so vocal tonight for Menendez. It comes with the territory. They have little choice. But Democrats, and the NJDSC itself, risk being seen as out of step with most New Jerseyans. Most people will either take a wait-and-see attitude, or outright want anybody staggering under that many federal corruption charges to step aside and let somebody govern who isn’t also battling in court.

    2015 races And with every Assembly seat up in November, and even the looming question of who’s next for governor, this is not a good time for Democrats to be fundamentally out of step with NJ voters. Not on something as big as the leader of NJ’s congressional delegation. And not on something as sensitive to weary Jersey voters as corruption.

    Wild clapping & hooting Tonight, I watched Menendez’ press conference. Have to say, it was a little weird. There was wild clapping, hooting and cheering at everything he said. And that’s because crowded in with the reporters were Democratic loyalists, plus people billed as anti-FEMA activists. The anti-FEMA folks were apparently organized by Menendez staff to rally at the same hotel one hour before the Senator’s statement, with flyers that promised “food will be served”.  

    I’m sure it was good staff work to make all that happen. But frankly, it struck me as kind of Hudson County. All this loud, unquestioning devotion seems dissonant. And I hope as Assembly campaigns heat up, and posturing begins in earnest to replace Christie, that voters don’t look at Democrats and remember a night they tripped over each other to support the powerful guy who … just … might … be …guilty.

  • Menendez Indicted

    UPDATE #2: LA Times reporting Menendez to step down “temporarily” as Ranking Dem on Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    UPDATE: Star-Ledger and Asbury Park Press both now calling for Menendez to resign, while NJ Democrats are hunkering down in a defensive posture, with a Twitter account @IStandWithBob.

    WayneVia Associated Press, Senator Bob Menendez has been charged with using his office to improperly benefit Dr. Solomon Melgen, the Miami eye doctor and high-donor who the Senator has described as a family friend.

    A New Jersey federal grand jury today issued a 13-count indictment of Menendez on charges which include conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.

    Both Sen. Menendez – in a press statement early this month, after which he took no questions – and Dr. Melgen have denied any wrongdoing.

    Dr. Melgen’s Florida offices were raided by the FBI several times over several months, the most recent time early this year. In 2012 Melgen received more than $21 million in Medicare reimbursements more than any one doctor in the country. The investigation has been going on for more than two years. Prosecutors believe Menendez made improper efforts to help Melgen in a dispute with federal regulators over Medicare charges, and also in an attempt by the doctor to gain a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

    You will remember that the Dominican Republic also figures in a wild story pushed by right-wing rag Daily Caller, run by operative Tucker Carlson, that alleged underage prostitutes were procured there for Menendez. The young women involved later recanted their story.

    The investigation also centers on trips Menendez took on Melgen’s private plane. The Senator has acknowledged that he flew on Melgen’s plane to the DR without properly paying for it. He later reimbursed the cost of the flights.

    Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has previously said he’s done nothing wrong and that he and Melgen have been close friends for a long time.

    Until the Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate, Menendez was Chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he is now Ranking Member.

    He is only the second U.S. senator to face a federal corruption indictment in the last 20 years.