I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Christie's Lying Education Statistics - Part IV

Chris Christie published a little statistical whine about New Jersey's schools as part of the rolling out of his corporate-based school reform plan. I've already picked apart how his financing claims are completely bogus; let's take a look at his claims about student achievement.

The first thing you'll notice is how every claim is about the "achievement gap" between poorer and wealthier students, or about the gap between white students and black or Hispanic students.

Which is bizarre, because his false and/or misleading claims about teacher salaries, education spending per pupil, and total spending are geared toward ALL students. Why doesn't he say anything about the achievement of ALL students in New Jersey?

Because he knows New Jersey's schools are some of the best in the nation (click through for the links):
A leading annual publication ranks New Jersey first in the country based on 19 factors that measure the quality of its public schools.
New Jersey ranks second in the nation in Education Week's "Chance for Success Index," which measures a state's ability to give its children the greatest chance for success and shows that it is doing more in preparing young people for the challenges they will face as adults.
New Jersey public schools rank 3rd in the nation in academic achievement.
New Jersey eighth graders rank #1—far above any other state in the nation—in writing in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
New Jersey average score on the fourth grade reading exam for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the second highest in the nation. New Jersey ranks third in the nation for having the largest proportion of public school eighth graders scoring at the highest two levels in reading NAEP.
New Jersey ranks third in the nation for having the largest proportion of public school eighth graders scoring at the highest two levels in math in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and fifth in the nation among fourth graders.
New Jersey is first in the nation in the average Advanced Placement (AP) score for public school students this year.
Not only is New Jersey first in the nation in the average Advanced Placement (AP) score for public school students for the third year in a row, this year's score is the highest any state has ever scored...
And so on...

You know, most governors would be crowing about results like these. Most governors would be proud of our kids, our teachers, and our schools. Apparently, however, Governor Christie doesn't think very highly of our kids' accomplishments.

Which gets us back to the "achievement gap." Let me pose a hypothetical:

On National Assessment of Educational Progress for 2009, State A's 8th Graders score a 293 in mathematics (tying for 3rd in the nation). White kids score a 302 (also 3rd); black kids score a 267 (9th). The gap between the two is 34 points (tied for 31st).

State B's 8th Graders score a 270 (tied for 47th in the nation) in math. White kids score a 271 (50th - yes, that's right, LAST in the nation!); black kids a 263 (tied for 17th). The gap between the two is only 7 points (1st in the nation).

So: all of State A's kids do better than State B's. The black kids do better in State A. The white kids do WAY better in State A.

But Chris Christie claims State B is doing better than State A. Is he insane, stupid, lying, or some combination of the three?

Oh, and guess what (I knew you were waiting for this)? State B is West Virginia; State A is New Jersey. Is everyone rushing down the Turnpike to get their kid enrolled in one of those "superior" West Virginia schools?

The reason New Jersey has a higher "achievement gap" is because, although our poorer, black, and Hispanic kids do relatively well compared to the national average, our white and wealthier kids do SPECTACULARLY well! We should be PROUD of this!

Yes, it goes without saying that we need to keep working hard to get black, Hispanic, and poorer kids to achieve more. But the "gap" is not an accurate measure of the success NJ schools have had. The only reason Christie focuses on it is to distort the reform debate.

He wants to implement a radical agenda in ALL of NJ's schools, even though they are some of the best in the nation. He wants completely change the way teachers are paid, evaluated and protected in the workplace, even though these same schools have been, up until now, very successful.

And he's willing to deceive, distort, and outright LIE to his constituents to do it. We can't let him get away with this.


Teacher Mom said...

Here, Here!!

calugg said...

Yeah, it's about working smarter with schools that serve poor students and poor minority students in particular. But our current governor isn't interested in doing that at all.

Instead, Christie is a policy anarchist willing to blow up public systems (see transportation) for any perceived political advantage. The Good Government Republicans (and they're out there) should really say something.

My gut (not very scholarly of me, I know) tells me he's short timing it. As a Gov, you don't inflict this much harm on systems or pick so many fights with so many different political constituencies if you want to govern for 8 long years.

Let's see if he runs against Menendez in 2012, since that's who he tried to sandbag in 2006 as US Attorney.

Anonymous said...

Christie needs to start telling the truth- his plan is to cut funds from public education and send public funds to charter schools. How much money do you think he and his friends will make educating our kids? Are we going backwards to 2 classes- the rich and the poor?