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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Does the Star-Ledger Enjoy Embarrassing Itself?

Why does the Star-Ledger continue to embarrass itself by publishing schlock like this?
The Newark school system once served more than twice as many kids as it does today, but it still has almost as many schools. So it’s full of empty space, with more than 8,000 vacant seats at last count. That’s an expensive albatross.
The city is also home to a thriving charter school movement that is bursting at the seams. The best charter organizations, such as North Star and Team Academies, are showing remarkable results and have waiting lists that stretch into the thousands. They want to expand. [emphasis mine]
Oh, my goodness. Is this really so hard to comprehend? Have I really done that poor of a job explaining the most obvious thing in the world?

Folks, North Star is not "remarkable"; it only gets high test scores because it lets loose the students who would bring its scores down:

Here, I take two 8th grade cohorts and trace them backwards. I focus on General Test Takers only, and use the ASK Math assessment data in this case. Quick note about those data – Scores across all schools tend to drop in 7th grade due to cut-score placement (not because kids get dumber in 7th grade and wise up again in 8th). The top section of the table looks at the failure rates and number of test takers for the 6th grade in 2005-06, 7th in 2006-07 and 8th in 2007-08. Over this time period, North Star drops 38% of its general test takers. And, cuts the already low failure rate from nearly 12% to 0%. Greater Newark also drops over 30% of test takers in the cohort, and reaps significant reductions in failures (partially proficient) in the process.
My point here is not that these are bad schools, or that they are necessarily engaging in any particular immoral or unethical activity. But rather, that a significant portion of the apparent success of schools like North Star is a) attributable to the demographically different population they serve to begin with and b) attributable to the patterns of student attrition that occur within cohorts over time. [emphasis mine]
And it's the same for TEAM Academy. This isn't analysis by some wild-eyed blogger; this is work from Bruce Baker, one of the foremost authorities on education finance in the country. A man who is an expert regularly quoted in the Star-Ledger's own news pages.

And yet the rest of the editorial mocks those who question Cami Anderson's push for charters. Newark advisory board president Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson "regard(s) the charter movement as an alien invasion" (it is, if we call California billionaires "aliens"). Steve Adubato is "a make-believe school reformer"; Ras Baraka "is reflexively opposed to everything Anderson does."

So Tom Moran, the S-L's op-ed editor, blithely waves aside those who don't share his views; but when I point out the obvious facts about charters to him over and over and over and over again, he refuses to listen. Why? Is this really so hard to understand?

Tom, read the comments below your editorial. Your readers get it. Why don't you?

Or, more precisely: why won't you?


Deb said...

Duke, Let's be very clear. You have done a phenomenal job of explaining and exposing all this over and over again. There are just people, Moran and Water come to mind, that have their heads in the sand and just refuse to see what the rest of us get. But you have done a great job. I do not think a lightening strike would bring them round, but we will keep trying.....

Duke said...

I guess behind this cynical exterior I am a hopeless optimist. I really do think the day will come where Moran says: "OK, you've got a point."

Waters, on the other hand...

Thx, as always, for all the support, Deb!

Deb said...

Drinks are on me if Moran comes around one day.....I love your optimism and I would be glad to admit I am wrong!

czarejs said...

Unfortunately, I don't ever think he will come around. His gushing support for Devid Tepper really convinces me that Moran follows the money straight into his pocket.