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 22, 2012

Tom Moran: Listen To Your Readers!

So I opened up my dead tree version of the Star-Ledger this morning and read yet another charter cheerleading editorial by Tom Moran and crew. And I was dreading firing up the laptop and writing yet another post that says - yet again:

"Successful" charter schools in New Jersey do not serve the same students as neighboring public schools. They owe much of their "success" to the fact that they have fewer poor children, fewer children who speak a language other than English at home, and fewer children with special needs. Because of this, they impose undue costs on sending districts, who must serve the children who are more costly to educate.

And then I was going to link to the same research, and post the same graphs:

and make the same case about how "choice" increases segregation, and how hypocritical it is to hold public schools to account for performance in academics but not hold charters accountable for performance in diversity (especially true in the example Moran cites, TEAM Academy in Newark), and blah, blah, blah...

I wasn't looking forward to it. I know for a fact Moran reads this blog, so he has read me make these arguments over and over and over again. I know he knows the work of Bruce Baker, who has far less snark and far greater command of the research than I. But I guess Tom just doesn't care to address either of us head on about the points we are making.

Frankly, it's depressing to have to continue to try to convince someone who is in a position of influence to listen to reasoned criticism when they appear to not care a whit about what we have to say. I may as well bang my head on the wall for all the lot of good my blogging appears to have done.

But then something remarkable happened. I looked down at the comment section. Maybe there has been a value in writing these responses after all, because...

The Star-Ledger's own readers have figured out how weak the paper's arguments in favor of charters really are.
- When will Acting Commissioner Cerf release the long overdue report on the progress and performance of charter schools in New Jersey? 
- At the time the report was released, it was so soundly trounced by experts that Cerf acknowledged a more careful analysis was needed, and promised to do just that. The SL reported the controversy - you really should try reading your own paper. (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/03/nj_acting_education_chief_says_1.html) 
- Yes, the ones in New Jersey that are doing well are the ones with the most motivated students and parents that have been creamed skimmed from the public schools and who also have a lot of political and financial backing from business and other interest. To say that charter schools by in large in New Jersey outperform their districts counterparts, is an out right lie. 
- Why does every SL op-ed involve supporting education reforms that haven't shown to work? Why don't you write about how charters disproportionally serve the community's children?  
- The notion that local approval of charter schools would stick a knife in the movement shows the hypocrisy the SL is willing to engage in - if there are long waiting lists and high demand for these schools, why would they not get approved?" 
- Our view is that charters could help underserved kids, even in successful districts, and that the claims that these schools drain money from conventional schools is overblown..." 
Really? In districts such as East Brunswick, Highland Park and Princeton? So that the religious or ethnic community can have a publically funded school teach Hebrew or Mandarin Chinese? 
- There is nothing "smart" or "careful" about Cerf's approach to charter schools. In many of the urban districts (Newark, Paterson, Camden, Jersey City) Cerf has state control and can push through the charter agenda despite massive parent/community opposition (see Spotlight article on Cerf's Newark girl, Cami Anderson, flexing her dictatorial powers just these few weeks past to overrule the school board on their decision to bock 5 new charters). 
- Based on the School Reprt Card published by the Starledger most charter school student are Not passing the NJASK. This is with have few special need and English as a second language student 
- A student leaves and so does the money, but does the classroom teacher's salary go down by 1/30? Does the cost of lighting and heating that room go down by 1/30? What about programs or initiatives (curricular or extra-curricular, or supports for innovations like small learning communities) whose cost would be the same for 10 students or 20? When students 11-20 leave, the program's very existence is threatened. More charters will by necessity create deleterious cuts in any district they invade (and thus make those schools worse, and thus make the excuse for even more charters arise). 
- Charters have solidly demonstrated to avoid serving the VERY poor, and special needs populations. Further more they are most ANTI-Democratic in nature. Local property taxes pay the bill, but local citizens have no say in their formation, costs or budgets.
Brutal, but all true. And all points Moran chooses not to acknowledge.

Tom, you haven't listened to me, you haven't listened to Dr. Baker, you haven't listened to Diane Ravitch or Matt DiCarlo or SOSNJ or Darcie Cimarusti or NEPC or I don't know how many others.

But do yourself a favor: listen to your readers. Before they become so pissed off that you are ignoring the plain truth about "choice" that they decide they will be your readers no more.


Deb said...

THANK YOU DUKE! It is so frustrating to read the drivel that he continues to put forth, but I agree that the comments show that while he refuses to 'get it' the readers, certainly do. But it is still good to know you have our backs on this because you always say it so well.

Dave said...

I second that emotion, @Deb! :) I think it's time that the Star-Ledger, Home News Tribune, et. al. put Duke and Darcie in their print edition. You know, to keep it fair and balanced. :P

Duke said...

Thx Deb and Dave. Just so Tom knows, he can get me cheap! ;-)

Mother Crusader said...

Me too!

Unknown said...

These editorials are not coincidences- a meeting of the minds- so to speak. The Star-Ledger and Moran is not in the business to counterbalance the power and wealth of a few individuals over voiceless, poor families in Newark. Moran's purpose as a member of "objective journalists" is to justify, glorify, and serve as a propaganda outlet for billionaire edu-reformers.

He CHOOSES to ignore the preponderance of education and developmental science, he CHOOSES to ignore education experts and parent concerns, he CHOOSES to demonize educators as self-interested yet fails to question the self interest of billionaire privatizers. He CHOOSES to ignore the corruption and public education degredation spreading in TN, FL, LA, OH, PA, MI. He CHOOSES to believe those who know the least about child development and learning.

Moran is in his position to give corporate/govt careerists everything they want so when they need a sound byte, The Star-Ledger has their backs. When Christie, Booker, Duncan, Tepper, Broad or Gates need a quote to support their predetermined school-reform conclusions, when they're running for re-election and justifying obscene, unaccountable crony contracts, they've got Moran's purposefully ignorant statements to add to their rank propagandistic press releases.

In 10 years when we and our kids are living out the ramifications of the corporate takeover of schools,the Star Ledger and rising media stars will lament the destruction and ask "Why?" Rather than confront their editorial writers complicity as corrupt servants to power, they'll point the fingers at educators, the AFT and NEA, who were silent and complicit.This is a fight for the long haul against the 1%,ruthless sociopaths use poor kids as capital investments.

This is why this blog and the many others like Darcie's and PAA and SOS and Schools Matter (and many more) are so critical. You chronicle the repercussions with facts.