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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Newark: Home of the $24K Lie!

The ignorance about Newark is much worse than any ignorance in Newark. NJ Spotlight:
Gov. Chris Christie has crisscrossed the state quoting a $24,000 per-student figure as he promotes his education reform proposals, led by his plans for overhauling Newark schools with the help of a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
“How can you fail at $24,000 per student?” Christie said, disparaging the district at an Old Bridge appearance last week. “Go to Newark and see what’s happening, and see if you can possibly learn with that leadership -- or lack of leadership.”

Dueling Numbers

But Christie’s per-student figure isn’t the only one quoted for the district, even by his own administration.
The state Department of Education’s Comparative Spending Guide puts the cost at $16,911 – a dramatic drop from the year before and from the $18,378 listed in its latest School Report Card.
Wait a minute - Christie made up a statistic?!? I'm shocked! But where did he get it?
As for the governor’s number, a state Department of Education spokesman said it came from a 2008 report by the Newark advocacy organization, Excellent Education for Everyone, a group controversial for leading efforts to bring private school vouchers to New Jersey.
Oh, well, OK - it's not like have an agenda or anything...

Bruce Baker (who else?) gives us some context:
Newark Public Schools are a relatively high spending district, which provides the district with more opportunities to assist its high need population than other urban, high poverty, high minority concentration districts around the country. But Newark is not some massive outlier – most expensive in the nation district....
Finally, while I have shown here that NPS is still a relatively high spender, even after adjustments, I’ve not tackled the outcome question. What do we get for this funding? I would argue that pundits have grossly misrepresented this side of the equation as well. Pundits argue that NPS has a low graduation rate and that graduation rate is even inflated because more kids graduate than actually pass the high school assessments (using the alternative assessment to get around the supposed gate). Those same pundits are quick to point out the very high graduation rates of the few secondary charter schools in NJ – as a good thing. I show  in this much older post that these same charters which graduate 97% of their students actually had lower high school math assessment scores than poor urban districts (which had lower grad rates). Pot? Kettle? ???? Perhaps more on the outcome issue at a later point in time.
Trust me, you want to click through to Bruce's very funny bar graphs.

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