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, January 18, 2012

Governors: 2 Goofuses, 1 Gallant

Governor Goofus, Jersey edition:
You need to look only at the recent Harvard/Columbia study of 2.5 million students over 20 years in America. Its independent research supports what I told you from my heart, from this podium, one year ago.
Great teachers have a more significant impact on their student’s future success than average ones. Even more importantly, average teachers have an even greater effect on their students when they replace underperforming teachers. Research that confirms our own common sense.
Tenure reform will lead to even greater student achievement because replacing underperforming teachers with even an average teacher raises each classroom’s lifetime earnings by over a quarter of a million dollars. Let’s act on real tenure reform now. Let’s replace despair with hope in every classroom in New Jersey.
Governor Goofus fails to acknowledge that his plan will put undue emphasis on standardized tests, which are unreliable barometers of student learning and completely inappropriate for use in teacher evaluation. He also cites ONE unpublished study using student from ONE city that has not gone through peer-review yet, but already has been critiqued by experts as inadequate as a justification for this sort of policy.

Governor Goofus, Louisiana edition:
Gov. Bobby Jindal today laid out an extensive agenda for revising education in Louisiana that includes expanding the New Orleans voucher program statewide to funnel state tax dollars to private schools, revising teacher tenure and granting school superintendents and principals hiring and firing authority that now is held by school boards.
The plan touches on issues that in past years have been sensitive and legislators have been reluctant to address.
Under his proposed voucher plan, students at any school graded “C” or below in the state accountability would be able to get a voucher for a private school. Currently 71.5 percent of all schools are rated “C” or lower.
As Eduction Secretary Arne Duncan said in a moment that shed a great deal of light on this character: Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.” Well, it's over five years since the big one hit; plenty of time to starve the system so it could be carved up and sold to privatizers.

But Chris Christie isn't waiting for a huge natural disaster to hit: he's going to start the decimation as soon as he gets his court nominees in place. And he's pushing the privatizing hard:
• Last, and perhaps most importantly, establish tax credits to provide scholarships for low income students in the worst-performing schools in the state to enable them to attend a better school, either out of the district or a private school. 
And we'll determine that the private school - the school, not the students - is better... how?

This is depressing. Let's see how Governor Gallant is doing in California:
Next, I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other government activity and rightly so as they have a profound effect on our future. Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do. But that doesn't stop experts and academics and foundation consultants from offering their ideas -- usually labeled reform and regularly changing at ten year intervals--on how to get kids learning more and better. It is salutary and even edifying that so much interest is shown in the next generation. Nevertheless, in a state with six million students, 300,000 teachers, deep economic divisions and a hundred different languages, some humility is called for.
No system, however, works without accountability. In California we have detailed state standards and lots of tests. Unfortunately, the resulting data is not provided until after the school year is over. Even today, the ranking of schools based on tests taken in April and May of 2011 is not available. I believe it is time to reduce the number of tests and get the results to teachers, principals and superintendents in weeks, not months. With timely data, principals and superintendents can better mentor and guide teachers as well as make sound evaluations of their performance. I also believe we need a qualitative system of assessments, such as a site visitation program where each classroom is visited, observed and evaluated. I will work with the State Board of Education to develop this proposal.
The house of education is divided by powerful forces and strong emotions. My role as governor is not to choose sides but to listen, to engage and to lead. I will do that. I embrace both reform and tradition--not complacency. My hunch is that principals and teachers know the most, but I'll take good ideas from wherever they come. [emphasis mine]
I have no doubt there are teachers in NJ and LA who are dream of polishing both their resumes and their surfboards when they hear Brown speak. Why the Son of Mario wants to pattern himself on Christie and Jindal and not on Brown is a mystery for the ages. We have enough Goofuses; we need more Gallants.

Bobby J says: "Ya'll gotta great guv there, Jersey!"


Anonymous said...

As Duke points out, who the heck is going to evaluate and decide which private schools are acceptable or even better than the regular public schools. Oh wait, if it's a private school or a charter school, then a priori and without question it is a great wonderful, terrific, fantastic, superior, best of the best, automatically triple A+ phantasmagoric school. Some wealthy parents will get to reduce the cost of the elite private schools by requesting that their kid would be better served at the Lawrenceville School (for example) than the regular public school. They will get a voucher of $10K or more to reduce the cost of the elite private school which can cost from $25,000 to $38,000 in tuition. The poorer parents will not be able to afford the elite private schools even with a voucher.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just realized that the time posted for my last comment is Pacific time, 3 hours behind: 4:34 PM posted but it was 7:34 PM in NJ. Off topic but interesting.

Duke said...

Anon, never trust the clocks on this thing.

The tuition is only part of the cost; elite private schools have endowments, tax breaks, in-kind donations, and all sorts of extra revenue. If you compared all of those things together against public school spending, you'd get a much more accurate picture.

Anonymous said...

@Duke: Why would the suspension of reality here not include time? :-)

@anon:".. that their kid would be better served at the Lawrenceville School (for example) than the regular public school."

Gosh, who would say that?

Most of the people taking shots at the OSA have no clue what the current draft bill includes. The scholarships are restricted to a fraction, sometimes less than half, what the government-run schools spend to educate a child. The children, should there be a surplus of applicants, are chosen by lottery and the receiving schools who sign up must take the winners. The only kids eligible for the program are the poorest in the district compared to the poverty level. Only a handful of the worst of the worst failing schools in Newark and a few other districts will be in the bill. Children already enrolled in private schools will not be eligible for money from the program.

This is a win-win-win for everyone, including the teachers in overcrowded failing schools who will be left with more resources per child.

Why should, as Christie said, your zip code be your destiny at this point in time for a New Jersey child without the wealthy family to choose their school?

The NJEA seems to have finally come around to the fact that, hey, there seems to be a problem in our inner city schools and maybe new things have to be tried like tenure reform and merit pay and teacher evaluations. Wow, that was a quick about face. But how long is that going to take? When will the NJEA-endorsed reforms, say, tenure, start to improve the quality of failing urban schools? Ten years from now? 20? 50?

Duke said...

Anon, I've read OSA cover to cover, and the OLS report - have you?

The OLS report clearly states on the first page that it will take money away from local districts. It is not win-win-win; especially when you consider the kids left behind will be special needs kids that will not be able to attend private schools and need special services that cost more money.

No one's zip code should be their destiny. But why do public schools with unionized, tenured faculty and no merit pay and no standardized tests tied to teacher evaluations do so well in the burbs here?

As to "failing" schools: