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

Monday, February 27, 2012

30 Pieces of Silver

It doesn't take a lot of money to sell out teachers:
In the latest move to use money as an incentive, Gov. Chris Christie's administration has added to its new school funding plan a multimillion dollar program to reward schools and districts that meet specific goals and implement targeted reforms.
Acting education commissioner Chris Cerf outlined the new "Innovation Fund" in last week's 83-page report on school funding, which serves as the basis of Christie's proposed system for distributing state aid to schools next year and beyond.
Under Cerf's plan, the Innovation Fund would serve two functions.
First, it would provide dollar rewards to schools that make specific achievement gains, such as the largest improvement in fourth-grade reading scores for low-income students or the biggest jump in graduation rates.
Second, it would serve as the central pool of funds for a competitive grant process. Schools would apply for specific projects and programs that meet the Christie administration's reform agenda for raising achievement, including greater teacher accountability or strategies for helping the very lowest-performing schools. [emphasis mine]
"Greater teacher accountability" is code for "teacher evaluations tied to standardized tests." So it's worth remembering that the ACTING Commissioner, back in his NYC days, was the one who swore that teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores would never be revealed to the public. That pie-crust promise was broken last week, much to the glee of the teacher bashers.

Make no mistake: the schools that are taking these relatively paltry sums are selling out their teachers. The entire point of this exercise is to put in place a data system that will eventually make teachers' VAM/SGP scores public.

Of course, the ACTING Commissioner could prove me wrong right now: he could support legislation that would make it illegal to publish this data. Will he?


Anonymous said...

People being rewarded for doing well. Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

Trolls who comment on articles they haven't read (or understood), oh my.

Lisa said...

Anonymous Troll, such a plan would not be rewarding those doing well, and ignores the actual factors that cause achievement gaps.

First, it's a given that we ALL want to improve that which needs improvement, and want ALL kids to succeed. But with that said, let's work with actual facts for a moment. In 2011, NJ ranked #2 in the nation for 4th grade reading (NAEP ranking), very closely behind Massachusetts, which educates 956,000 public school students compared to our 1.35 million. And we lead the nation in graduation rate with 87%.


#1 ranked Massachusetts only graduated 83.4%, according to the Boston Globe (2/10/12).

So yeah, let's reward those who are doing well. Where's my raise?

The majority of NJ schools and teachers are already doing well, and those will not be rewarded under Cerf's proposed plan. For example, schools that may increase their graduation rate from, say 72% to 80%, would be rewarded, whereas schools that already graduate 90% that may increase their graduation rate to, say, 95% would not. So under this plan, a school graduating 80% would be rewarded, whereas a school graduating 95% would not.

Although there's always room for improvement, this plan would not be rewarding those doing well. Moreover, and most important--and telling--is that Christie and Cerf ignore and even denigrate the fact that NJ schools are ALREADY doing well, and are even focusing their bogus "reforms" on the areas where NJ leads the nation.

Oh dear.