Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “As the Only Black Person in My Class, I Lost a Sense of Self.”

This is a love story. Twelve years ago, Shiana Torres was a student at Essex County Community College. She had grown up in Summit, a mostly white town where she often felt alienated. “I excelled academically,” she recalled, “so I was always the only Black person in my class. You lose a sense of self.” Suddenly she noticed a young man in a restaurant on Springfield Avenue in front of a Chinese restaurant and, well, …

I Didn’t Want to Go to KIPP But Now I’m in College and I Totally Get It.

Julien Broomfield is a senior at Howard University pursuing a degree in English with a minor in sociology. She aspires to be an elementary school English teacher at KIPP after graduating from Howard in the fall of 2018. Julien’s piece was first published at Education Post. It’s 5:45 a.m. on a Monday in mid-August. The year is 2006 and my mom is rapping on my bedroom door. “Julien! Time to get up Ju, you have …

Cerf: “This Is The Moment. The Biggest Risk as We Go To Local Control Is That Lurking In the Background Is a Real Transactional Mentality.”

Last week in The 74 I analyzed the legacy of Chris Cerf’s tenure in New Jersey, both as Commissioner of Education and, more recently, as state-appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Part of my analysis came from a conversation we had last month and I wasn’t able to work all the content into the article. So, in the interest of completeness, here are some of his answers to other questions I posed to him. Waters: …

Mark Weber, Bruce Baker, and Thomas Jefferson

Mark Weber, who blogs at Jersey Jazzman, has lately been focused on a study he wrote with his Rutgers professor Bruce Baker that tries to undermine a Harvard analysis of the impact of education reform in Newark. (Here are links to my views of the Harvard study and the Weber/Baker study.)  Quick recap: The Harvard professors show that, post-reforms,  Newark schools are providing better results for students, especially in English Language Arts (ELA); students’ year-to-year …

In Newark, Every Teacher Is Sacred

Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. Does anyone else  remember that ditty “Every Sperm is Sacred” from the Monty Python movie called “The Meaning of Life”? When I’m feeling most foul about teacher tenure laws, this song becomes my earworm. And Monday was one of those days because I read Leslie Brody’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal about chronic teacher absenteeism in Newark. …

Confessions from A Recovering Academic; Or, The Problems with Proffered Solutions To N.J.’s Segregated Schools (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

The Civil Rights Project has a new academic paper out called “New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward,” a follow-up to a report on the same subject supplemented by new data from 2010-2015. This release of this report has been dutifully covered by New Jersey traditional media outlets (see the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, NJ Today) by reciting a few talking points: New Jersey is more diverse than it used to be—there’s a “remarkable increase in …

Newark Signatories Put Adults Before Kids

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, except when  treasured memories are delusional. Which pretty much describes yesterday’s op-ed in NJ Spotlight signed by State Senator Ronald Rice Sr., Newark School Board member Leah Owens, Newark Teachers Union president John Abeigon, and other Newark luminaries. In this piece the writers lament that they were “disenfranchised by the state takeover of the public school system for 22 years” and — even worse —  “boldly disrespected during the past …

What is Driving Newark Students’ Academic Growth? Answers Here, Via New Harvard Analysis

Researchers at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) are releasing a  study today called “Assessing the Impact of the Newark Education Reforms.” This report analyzes student academic growth since Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million Facebook donation in 2011, matched by another $100 million raised by U.S. Senator (then Newark mayor) Cory Booker. The researchers — Thomas J. Kane (Harvard), Douglas Staiger (Dartmouth), Beth Schueler (Harvard), Whitney Kozakowski (Harvard), and Mark Chin (Harvard) — according …

“Significant Reforms” Drive Newark Students’ Steady Academic Gains

We are very encouraged by results that show our students continue to make steady gains, especially when comparing their results to students in other cities. This data shows us that while there remains progress to be made, thousands more Newark students are reading and doing math on grade level today than just a few years ago, and that these students have a better chance at attending college and pursuing a meaningful career when they leave …

Five Maxims for Phil Murphy

At a town hall in Montclair this past weekend, Phil Murphy held forth on the four New Jersey school districts — Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, and Camden — that over the last twenty-four years have been taken over by the state.  “In every  case, 100 percent of cases, state takeovers are of communities of color — that’s a fact, whether it is the school district or the entire community. And,” added Murphy indignantly, “ I …