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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Jersey Jazzman: Year Three Begins!

I now enter my terrible twos...

I'm very grateful to all of you for reading, retweeting, "liking," commenting, and inspiring me in this venture. I'll be more specific below; but first, indulge me for a minute or two in a birthday rant:

This blog has garnered more and more attention lately, to the point that I've tripled my audience over the last year. That's very gratifying, and I appreciate everyone's support, but it's clearly not good enough.

While I can see that some of the questions and arguments I've put forward have entered the conversation around education "reform," particularly in New Jersey, it's also clear that the messages of the teacher blogosphere haven't penetrated the dialogue on education as much as they must.

This is a serious problem: the voices of teachers are not being heard. I've tried to contribute as much as I could from this blog, but it's obviously not enough. We need to demand our place at the table; we need to force ourselves on to the pages of newspapers, and in the statehouses, and on the airwaves. Talking to each other via social media is important - but it's only a start.

I haven't blogged about this, but as Jersey Jazzman has gained notoriety, there's been a change: I've gone from being anonymous to pseudonymous. In other words, I'm still blogging under a pen name (laptop name?), but many people know who I am; that includes people who I have been less than kind to on this blog.

That may seem like a small point, but it's important to me, because blogging as JJ allows me to separate my teaching from my advocacy work. I am, first and foremost, a teacher; aside from my family, it's my primary responsibility, and I take it very seriously. Blogging under a pseudonym helps me to keep these two worlds as separate as I can.

Unfortunately, however, I'm growing increasingly concerned about what is happening in this state and around the country. It's undeniable that we are in a War Against Teachers; if we lose, this war is going to destroy public education in America. Yes, that sounds hyperbolic; the problem is it's the truth. When teaching is transformed from a career into a job, our schools and our students will be the ones to pay the price.

I simply can't sit on the sidelines and let that happen. So this year I'm planning on getting more directly involved in the conversation. I'll talk more about that as the year unfolds.

OK, let me give some thanks before this gets too maudlin:
  • Diane Ravitch. There's nothing I can add to what's already been said about this woman. Every teacher in America owes Diane more thanks than we could ever give.
  • Rosi Efthim and the whole staff at Blue Jersey. I'm very proud to be involved with this terrific community. I think Ed Reform 101 is probably the best thing I've done, and that's all because of Rosi. She has been a great source of encouragement and advice.
  • Defend NJ's Public Schools, the Facebook page that gets me more traffic than anyplace else. Every state needs a social media advocate as dedicated, as insightful, and as bold as the people who run this great resource.
  • Dr. Bruce Baker and Dr. Matt DiCarlo. These two are dispassionate, critical thinkers who have used their extraordinary analytical skills to shed a light on the fallacies that pervade the reformy agenda. If you are a teacher, a parent, or anyone who cares about education, you must read their blogs. At the end of the day, I'm just a pissed off teacher, but they are the ones who are doing the truly important policy work that is the best hope for saving our schools.
  • Marie Corfield. This is, perhaps, the bravest woman I know. She stood up to a bully of a governor, put herself in the national spotlight by running for the NJ Assembly, and is running again in spite of the fact that she is an extremely busy mother and teacher. If every educator in America had the courage and fortitude of Marie, this battle would have been over before it started. If you enjoy this blog, please support Marie in her campaign!
  • The Education Law Center. These are people who have quite literally used public policy and the law to save children's lives. They are fighting to good fight for all of us.
  • The NJEA. No, I haven't always agreed with my union. But they are a critical part of stopping the reformy juggernaut. If you are a teacher, get involved with your local; it's the only way to both save our profession and help the union get better.
  • All the retweeters and "likers." There are way too many to thank, but I'll try to #FF you this week!
  • Mrs. Jazzman and the Jazzboys. 'Nuff said.
Year Three starts tomorrow. Many thanks to all, and may the Merit Pay Fairy watch over you...

Ain't you done squawkin' yet? It ain't like youse won a Grammy or somthin'!


Rosi Efthim said...

So honored to be mentioned on this list of amazing people. Thank you. But the credit goes the other way. You've done some beautiful reporting for Blue Jersey - well-sourced, well-researched and knowledgeable about kids and learning - and your readers at Blue Jersey are as grateful as your readers here at JJ.

Happy Birthday. You do good work, man.
Know this: Whatever's next, Blue Jersey has your back.

Deciminyan said...

Congratulations, JJ, on two years of informative and fact-based reporting. You are doing the work that the mainstream media is not.

As a fellow Blue Jersey writer, I think you have done a tremendous job of making Blue Jersey the "go to" site for an accurate rendering of what's going on around the state in the education field. My only regret is that we have yet to meet face-to-face. Hopefully, that will be rectified soon.

Anonymous said...

So, there's lots of information that must get out there. Many people know and understand the hot burning issues and there's good debate happening.

But it's what is behind or rather who is behind what that is important for everyone to learn.

A must read for all is "Class Warfare" - a book about the ed reform movement (from their perspective) but it explains the money involved, the politics, and the players - many of which are high flyers here in Jersey.

Marie said...

I too am honored to be given a shout-out with such honorable company. Keep up the great work! As in your classroom, you are a great teacher in the blogosphere—educating the public about education 'reform'. Your students are so blessed!


Anonymous said...

lol....Reality check: This site has done more to forward educational reform than any other. Duke, you haven't picked up a single vote that wasn't already in the union's pocket. But you have done a great deal advertising the blatant self-servicing rhetoric of the NJEA -- messaging better left behind the scenes to the faithful than trotted out for taxpaying citizens to weigh (with their jaws dropping in amazement).

When you defend, say, tenure, and get five "attaboys" in the comments, do you think you have accomplished something? I think you have exposed people who may be on the fence to the hollow greed that is behind virtually all positions taken counter to ed reform.

So -- keep up the good work! There is a lot of ed reform still to pass!

Anonymous said...

"attaboys?" Is that like when you say the Kean bill doesn't benefit private school students, and then ignore the responses showing it does? Come on.

You're just pissed because someone is exposing your privatization and anti-middle class schemes for what they are. Clearly, that's the case. Otherwise you'd have no reason to visit this site, let alone troll it. If those of us telling the truth weren't a threat to your plans, you'd ignore us.

Keep doing the bidding of the Koch bros, Heritage Foundation, Friedman Institute and your corporate masters.

Duke said...

Rosi, thx as always - you are the best.

D, thx for the support and inspiration in your own work and writing. We WILL meet this year!

Anon 7:50 - have been meaning to read for while, just to be fair. I was not impressed with Brill on his tour, but he did report the $500K Murdoch gave to Rhee, so give him his due.

Marie: Back atcha, my dear! You are an inspiration for all NJ teachers.

Anon 1:50 - thx for commenting and reading. You are welcome to respond to trolls, or not. I have no problem with negative comments, as long as they don't cross the line.

Anon 1:21 - If coming here is your new hobby, why not get a real Google ID or OpenID so we know it's you? That way, we can follow the logic of your arguments across posts. Obviously, it shouldn't be your real name, unless you want it to be.

Actually, I have a better idea: start a blog. You have my word I will promote it here when you do.

I started JJ to force myself to do more than just gainsay. Trust me, I think you'll find it's worth the work.

As always, you are free to post here. Unlike B4K, I am very liberal in allowing dissenting views.

Deb said...

Duke - First congratulations and thank you to your and your family. I suspect that they see you blogging quite a bit and their support makes it possible. Looking forward to the next year to come. Certainly a lot of material to cover already.

I agree completely that teacher voices need to be heard. it is great to be represented at the table but in this day and political climate, the voices of the teachers needs to be out there and heard.

The stories of what it means to be a teacher, to work in an urban district, to learn to become a great teacher, what professional development entails, how summers are spent, what it means to have tenure, and so much more - in addition to the voice you give teachers on the political deformy movement. Christie has done too good a job at dividing and conquering and scaring people. If we remain silent, he wins.

There will come a time when a surge of voices will come together and will put a stop to this - and with every blog you post, you are shortening the time until that happens.

Many thanks!


Anonymous said...

""""" That way, we can follow the logic of your arguments across posts.""""

Thanks for your advice, but then you would throw open the tower window and your handful of flying monkeys have someone to personally attack (which, out of habit, they manage to try without a person...lol..)

Each post can stand by itself. Your minions can flash their brilliant wit on Christie fat jokes.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Derrell! I guess this is the best you could do once your masters told you to stop getting your ass kicked all over the internet.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations JJ and keep up the great work. Your work is so vital, important and informative.
I don't get it, why is tenure such a big (pseudo) problem. It's been around for about 100 years and all of a sudden it has to be dumped or "reformed." NJ schools are top rated and have been for years, so how are unions or tenure such a big problem? Tenure is a problem because Christie and all the phoney baloney reformers have made it out to be a problem. Once they eliminate tenure, then they can fire or force out the older more expensive teachers, no matter how great they are.

Anonymous said...

Top-rated? Then send your kids to Camden and Newark. They sure prosper under the current system. Most expensive and least productive. What works in the suburbs apparently doesn't work in the inner city. But don't let that bother you, all the adults make money.

Anonymous said...

The work you you do here and in school is noble. The reformers know nothing of the "effectiveness" they seek.

I hope your call is heeded; your example followed.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 7:49 PM
It's an undeniable fact that NJ schools rate in the top tier of high performing schools in the US and it is in first place in many areas such as graduation rates and AP scores. We have many more high perfroming schools that are successful than so called failing schools. Camden and Newark are high crime areas with high poverty and high unemployment. The reformers claim that that has no affect on the schools, just blame those horrible teachers, tenure and the unions. It's so much more fun to demonize teachers and tenure.

Anonymous said...

We have many more high perfroming schools that are successful than so called failing schools.

What a sad brag.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Troll, you'd mess up ALL the public schools, huh? Ah, how you'd brag then!

Duke, All the best, and remember what Brendan Behan said about the the begrudgers!

Anonymous said...

Duke, I await your post ion this with bated breath:

ed.snooper said...

Duke -

(having trouble posting this - so if several show up, sorry about that)

Anon 7:50 has a good point on Brill's book "Class Warfare".

It's a good primer on who's who and what's what - shows us how to connect the dots or the money!

For instance, Eli Broad Foundation is one of the top funders for KIPP, our illustrious ACting Commissioner Cert was on the board of KIPP in Newark, who is also a key player with Broad. Almost all of Cerf's hires are Broad members, fellows, or whatever in one sense or another. Broad is infusing itself with it's self-serving for-profit agenda in NJ. (even his "nationally known" $2,500 a day consultants are connected to Broad in one way or another)

The book is an easy read - might make you sick at all the teacher and public school bashing but well worth it. Also unmasks people who profess to be for public schools.

Happy Birthday and thanks for all the good work.

jcg said...

(sung to the tune of happy birthday)
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to yoou.
Happy Birthday, dear Jazzmaaaan..... Happy BirthDay, toooooooo youuuuuuuuu. And many moooooooore...

You are weekly my go-to blog for the latest news in reformyness. Your posts are always illuminating and insightful. Your commitment to kids and advocacy for public educators is in stark contrast to the corporate profiteers (aka, greedy moguls, hedge fund managers, ambitious politicians) masquerading as edu-reformers.

TN is the blueprint for the wholesale sell off of our public schools, so if you need to see first hand the wholesale destruction of free appropriate public education (FAPE), visit us down here. NJ is the mirror image of TN's war on teachers and students, with one major difference- you all know how to fight back.
We have a long, uphill fight but we have facts and integrity on our side.
Your TN fan and special ed teacher,

Duke said...

Thx, jcg. Say hi to the Mr. for me!

Lisa said...

Duke, congrats and kudos! Great thanks for all you do!