Tag Archive: Jersey Jazzman

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.

The selling of #CCRAP

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

In a previous post I compared the selling of PARCC to an as-seen-on-TV gizmo that promises to make your life perfect for only “3 easy payments of $19.95.” But unlike the Veg-O-Matic, frustrated, white suburban moms, and parents of all colors in all locales, have quickly discovered that the cost of the PARCC and its conjoined twin, CCSS, is anything but easy. They’re standing up and fighting back in droves. And that doesn’t sit well with the folks who market and sell this hokum. So, as Anthony Cody recently reported, somebody created an easy-to-use “How to Talk About Testing” ad campaign guide complete with a cute little bunny rabbit graphic and a classroom-friendly layout and fonts. I guess they figure if they treat parents like second graders, all will be well.

I wonder how many “easy payments of $19.95” this cost? And who created it? And who it’s being sent to?

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