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, April 6, 2012

A Real Victory For Parents Against Reforminess!

I can't let this pass without noting that parents in New Jersey gained a major victory this week in the battle to reclaim public education:
 The founders of Tikun Olam, a proposed Hebrew-language high school, and the founders of Hua Mei, a Mandarin Chinese language high school, both bowed out of this application cycle after multiple attempts to earn state approval. 
"We are happy," said Highland Park Superintendent Fran Wood, who has been a staunch opponent of charter school growth in the small town. "We feel there is not a need for the charter in this or surrounding communities." 
Wood and a group of vigilant parents and teachers from the affected communities argued charter schools would steer money away from the high quality public schools already in operation.
The story is much bigger than that: the parents of students affected by this charter banded together, put together a strategy, and stayed absolutely resolute in their fight. They documented the many problems with Tikum Olam's application. They brought the issue into the national media. They refused to be cowed by the NJ DOE or the charter cheerleading industry. They forced their local politicians to be held to account. They formed a true grassroots resistance to the plan to take funds away from their children's high-performing schools and put them into a questionable charter that was neither needed nor wanted.

This may not be over; it certainly isn't over for other districts that have no say in whether or not charters can be shoved down their throats. But the parents in Highland Park have demonstrated how the destruction of public schools will stop: when parents, educators, politicians, and the community come together and say, "Enough."

Save Our Schools NJ deserves great credit for organizing the resistance; Julia Sass Rubin of SOSNJ has been a tireless critic of unchecked charter expansion. However, if the parents of Highland Park ever decide to erect a statue to the woman who saved their schools, it will bear the likeness of Darcie Cimarusti. Tough, relentless, and fearless, Darcie is proof that one parent can make all the difference.

Julia, Darcie, Chris Rodda, Julie Woestehoff of PURE in Chicago, and parents all over the country - including, of course, the invaluable Leonie Haimson of Parents Across America - are showing the way. They refuse to be spoon-fed the pablum served up by the reformy movement. They resist giving into the parents-vs-teachers war the Billionaire Boys Club wants to wage.

The win in Highland Park is a victory for them all - and it's merely one of many to come. This one's for you, parents:


Anonymous said...


The efforts of Darcie and the other residents of Highland Park to maintain local democratic control of their public schools should absolutely be applauded. However, this battle is only just beginning.

The location of charter schools is becoming increasingly irrelevant for two reasons:

1) NJ Department of Education Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf is allowing charter schools to draw from an unlimited number of districts beyond the ones in which they are located, without concern for the wishes of those districts’ residents. So our school districts may well receive bills mid-year from charter school four towns away.

2) Two virtual charter schools were approved by the NJ DOE and are scheduled to open in September. At least one of them is recruiting state wide and can accept up to 850 students just in its first year of operations: http://www.k12.com/njvacs/event-type/person-events-0

Virtual charter schools have consistently failed nationally http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/online-schools-score-better-on-wall-street-than-in-classrooms.html?pagewanted=all. However, the NJ charter school law was written before virtual charters existed. The NJ DOE has interpreted that to mean that these schools are allowed and began approving them last year.

There is a lot of money to be made in virtual charter schools, which are funded at the same rate as brick and mortar schools, but have a tiny fraction of the costs.
The Newark-based virtual charter school will use the “extra” taxpayer funding they will receive from existing school districts to pay the for-profit firm K-12 for its curriculum. K-12 has a very bad reputation and is being sued by its own investors http://finance.yahoo.com/news/law-firm-levi-korsinsky-notifies-170300960.html, but it also has many powerful and wealthy sponsors who lobby for it across the US.

Both of these problems would be fixed by the passage of Senate bill S458, which requires local approval for new charter schools http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp. The bill passed the Assembly recently and Senate President Steve Sweeney has indicated that he supports this legislation. However, the bill is still waiting for a hearing in the Senate Education committee.

This legislation has 73% approval from NJ residents and could easily win approval as a constitutional amendment if it was placed on the 2013 ballot via a simple majority vote of the legislature.

So, as you can see, the fight against the forces of public school privatization and destruction is far from over.

Anonymous said...

Victory for "parents"? Baloney. A victory for parents who are ideological opponents of charter schools over parents who would have liked to have extra options.

There are parents on both sides here -- just as there are human beings on both sides. It's stupid to pretend that your side represents all "parents" generally.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder why "Save Our Schools" isn't named "Save Our Children". They would have to do a 180 on most of their policy stances.

Anonymous said...

Really, anonymous? Supporting fully funding our schools, opposing taxpayer funded vouchers to pay for private and religious education, and requiring that our state's charter schools be wanted, transparent, and not segregate is against our children?

Anonymous said...

Well, we have Save Our Teachers' Benefits (the NJEA), Save Our Schools (basically the same thing, but they apparently like brick and mortar) and Save Our Children (various reformies, trademark that name), which seem to actually be interested in the best education for children rather than compensation for adults in the government-run education monolith.

The place people like Jazz and SOS face plant is the one size fits all defense. Jazz has never done ANYTHING but mock ANY study, ANYWHERE, by ANYONE that he believes may pose alternate education ideas that may pose a threat to the NJEA/government-run schools.

Like Jazz, the SOS just fronts for the NJEA.

To a reasonable observer, this intractability is ridiculous, to believe that there aren't varied solutions to inner-city failed schools that can be implemented immediately, without decades of tens of billions more dollars that we simply don't have.

Anonymous said...

If the "observers" would admit that they would like to save some, but by no means all or even most, of the children, perhaps there can be an honest debate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, if you want to have an honest debate about how our children are affected by the policies of privatization, profitization and taking away local democratic control of our public schools, let's do it.

All I see you doing, however, is anonymously posting lies about Save Our Schools NJ. That takes real courage, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

Anyone who refers to public education as "government run schools" is immediately discredited from any legitimate education policy discussion.

Why don't you E3 folks just post under your own names? It's obvious who you are anyway.

Miss said...

It looks like someone hit the bottle rather early this morning!!! Damn, 9:30? You couldn't at least waited until noon?

Anonymous said...

Government run schools?!? Aren't charter schools government run schools since they get government money? Schools are mostly the creation of local school districts, local school boards which are elected by the residents of said districts. Christie and Cerf are the state government and they are pushing charter schools and school vouchers. That is government run charters and government run vouchers forced down the throats of local school districts which do pay for most of this school choice crap. The state and the federal government impose all kinds of mandates and standardized tests upon the local school districts and then some troll says, see, they are government controlled. Geez, it's like blaming the victim of rape for being raped.

Anonymous said...

Who gets to elect the charter school "school boards?" Who elects the heads of the private and or religious schools that will get voucher money, public tax monies?
Nada, the tax paying public is denied the right to vote for the board of directors of charter schools or the heads of religious and private schools. Just shut up and cough up the money for NJ DOE/Christie/Cerf IMPOSED school "choice."

Anonymous said...

From Bruce Baker:
"Collectively what we have here is a massive effort on the one hand, to require traditional public school districts to adopt a common curriculum and ultimately to adopt common assessments for evaluating student success on that curriculum and then force those districts to evaluate, retain and/or dismiss their teachers based on student assessment data, while on the other hand, expanding publicly financed subsidies for more children to attend schools that would not be required to do these things (in many cases, for example, relieving charter schools from teacher evaluation requirements)."

A Nonny Mouse said...

Oh YAY! Derrell's out trolling the Jazzman again! Ever notice he can't be bothered to post comments on the graft and corruption stories the Jazzman posts? I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

I question the troll's motives (and can likely infer the answer); but let's not throw names out there: that's not cricket.

Anonymous said...

How ironic that the pro-voucher ads run on Duke's blog site. Although they are not likely to find a lot of buyers here, it certainly speaks to how much money they have to throw around. But of course it's all about the kids ...

Duke said...


This discussion spilled over to Blue Jersey as well. I'd urge everyone to check that out.

I've come to expect the gainsaying from trolls (singular or plural?). That's fine; just don't expect a response. Readers can judge for themselves whether I'm avoiding legitimate arguments or not. I don't think here's really anything to say in response to someone characterizing this blog, because you can read it for yourself and form your own opinion.

I agree w/ anon 4:24 that there's not much point in guessing who each anon is. I will continue to allow folks to post anonymously here as long as I continue to write under a pseudonym - that seems fair.

But I'll remind you all that you are not even allowed to MENTION this blog over at B4K. I've put no such restrictions on comments here.

Thx for visiting and posting, everyone.