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, May 12, 2013

Tom Moran's Pig-Headed Ignorance

What do you do when someone in a position of influence refuses to see a basic truth over and over again? Like, for instance, the Star-Ledger's op-ed page editor Tom Moran, here speaking about Newark's  charter schools:
The best charter schools have waiting lists that stretch into the thousands. The council wants [Superintendent Cami] Anderson to block any expansions — and even bar the charter schools from even using empty classrooms in district schools.
And so we have yet another piece by Moran that implies that Newark's charters are "succeeding," without acknowledging the most basic fact about these schools:

Charter schools in Newark are not replicable on a large scale because they do not serve the same students as public schools.

I have explained this to Moran over and over and over and over and over again. I know for a fact he reads this blog (one day, maybe I'll tell the story of how I know this), yet he refuses to acknowledge the argument. The closest he's ever come was in a piece where he, once again, sang the praises of Anderson for doing things she hadn't yet done.

And if he doesn't want to listen to a crazy teacher-blogger, that's fine; how about a leading education researcher who has written about the segregation and attrition found in Newark's charters over and over and over and over again.

Sometimes even with pretty pictures that a child could understand!

As Bruce Baker says:
Misinformed charter punditry doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help the public to make more informed decisions either about choices for their own children or about policy preferences more generally. It also doesn’t help charter operators get their jobs done and it doesn’t help those working in traditional public schools focus on things that really matter. [emphasis mine]
That is exactly right, and it is a clarion call for Tom Moran - the man in charge of the op-ed page for the most widely-read newspaper in the state - to start stepping up his game. If Moran wants to make a counterargument, let him make it.

But this pig-headed, willful ignorance about what's really happening with Newark's charter schools has got to end.

Star-Ledger Editorial Board.


Mrs. King's music students said...

I have no particular grudge against charter schools and no grudge at all against teachers that choose to work in them. But I have a big problem with the absence of reliable data to enable anyone to make informed decisions about whether to work in one or to send a child to one. As a former Trenton public school teacher and employee of a top-notch non-profit organization that serves Trenton children, I had opportunities to rub elbows with educators and ed admin from 2 wildly different charter schools. The first (Trenton Community Charter), a senior staff member I met in'principal school' explained that she was willing to work longer hours for A LOT less money because she believed in the charter and she believed in the staff even more. The second (Foundation Academy) involved the charter leader introducing himself and his org to all the right people - to gain their trust I suppose- then posting false job openings (for positions he'd already filled), for the purpose of stealing curriculum and such from applicants during phone interviews. I'm sure this little pip thought he'd outsmarted 'all the right people' and I've often wished I could scan some reliable data on the impact his tactics had (are having?) on that school.

alm said...

Would you be in favor of letting a charter school serve a 'catchment' zone of students in Newark?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in the Newark Public Schools, here's how I see the issue. If I lived in Newark, I would likely do whatever I had to to get my kids into a charter school. That decision would not be based on how the schools are in Newark. As in every town that has many schools, some are great, some are ok, and some need work. My concern is what charter schools are doing to the public schools.

Since charter schools are technically public schools, they hold lotteries to determine who will attend. In theory, it seems that would keep the students there on par with the kids in the neighborhood schools. Not so.

Charter schools place rules and demands on the students and their families. They are able to say, "If you want your child to remain a student here, you must agree to come to x number of meetings per cycle, you must agree to extended days, and you must agree to any academic interventions we deem necessary fr your child." If a parent fails to follow through, the student is transferred back to his neighborhood school.

Well, duh! If I could demand such things, I would have a much higher "success" rate, too! The one factor we have little to no control of is family involvement. My kids who excel almost all have parents who are invested in their kids' lives. Those who can't do all these things have kids who really try, but sometimes slip a little here and there due to family issues. The parents who simply won't do all these things often have kids who also don't value education.

How can we fight this? If enough charter schools open, all the kids whose parents want better for them will end up there. Who will be left in the neighborhood schools? Only kids whose families don't or can't go the extra mile. These charter schools may look better than traditional public schools, but it may have zero to do with the quality of those schools. It may just have to do with how they've stacked the deck.

bhurrel said...

Moran is little more than a useful idiot for the charter school and anti-tenure lobby. He has written gushing pieces on Perth Amboy disaster Janine Caffrey while the Ledger sins the praises of despicable union-buster David Tepper. The Ledger is anti-union in general and anti-NJEA in particular, and continues to spew misinformation on what tenure actually is and what teachers actually do for a living.