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Sun Jan 13, 2013, 01:54 AM

Mother Crusader, NJ parent blogger, has righteous rant about ed reformers. Good read.

This is a parent who got fed up with the way reformers are taking over New Jersey public education.

A Foot Soldier In Rhee's Army Giving Orders To New Jersey

She speaks of the "sheer hubris and arrogance" of the reformers.

I was dragged into this ed reform cesspool almost 2 years ago now, when a group of people with little to no connection to the schools of my community attempted to open a charter school. Despite the lack of community support, they were able to get the backing of a demi-billionaire, the NJDOE and the USDOE. We had to fight like hell to keep "reforms" the majority of our parents and educators didn't want OUT of our district.

She writes about how Michelle Rhee and her group gave a report card in which New Jersey got a D in spite of Chris Christie's massive "reform" efforts. In fact the only two states which got Bs were Florida and Louisiana with the worst test scores and poorly paid teachers.

This morning, when I read John Mooney's NJ Spotlight piece, all of the anger I felt when outside forces were threatening to damage the great schools in my community, came right back up to the surface.

The piece is about the newly launched StudentsFirst rating system, which in reality is nothing more than Rhee throwing a Toddlers & Tiaras worthy temper tantrum that States aren't adopting the policies she advocates. Her rating system has already been decimated by Diane Ravitch and Jersey Jazzman as complete buffoonery.

Here is a link to the Mooney article referred to in the paragraph above.

NJ Touts Educational Reforms But Earns D on One Nationwide Report Card

He had this to say about Rhee's report card:

“It’s clearly an ideological report and not about student achievement,” he continued. “If it was, we’d rank at the top. All it does is measure the Legislature’s willingness to follow Michelle Rhee’s agenda, and obviously that's not selling very well."

Scroll down to the end of the post. She has a picture of the head of the NJ chapter of Students First making gang hand signs. He posted them in an album on Facebook.

There is a post in the comments that sums up the stupidity of such an action.

I blacked out the identifying information, but the comment ON the photo is from the student IN the photo. Her comment is hysterical, and absolutely appropriate.

I hope you are not doing that on the streets, you'll get your ass shot.

It's a good read because parents are fed up now as well. Darcie Cimarusti is a strong and outspoken leader. True grassroots.

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Reply Mother Crusader, NJ parent blogger, has righteous rant about ed reformers. Good read. (Original post)
madfloridian Jan 2013 OP
patrice Jan 2013 #1
madfloridian Jan 2013 #3
patrice Jan 2013 #4
madfloridian Jan 2013 #5
patrice Jan 2013 #6
JustAnotherGen Jan 2013 #2
madfloridian Jan 2013 #7

Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 04:33 AM

1. Here's another more detailed research look at the Rhee's Students First bullshit rating system:

Sounds like it's all marketing. There's no research base for Rhee's ranking list and when you compare the ranks to outcomes its all over the board. Probably this research blogger's biggest concerns have to do with how Rhee's claims for increased accountability and transparency are completely untrue and that in fact the opposite is the case: increased unaccountability and opaqueness.


On Monday, the organization Students First came out with their state policy rankings, just in time to promote their policy agenda in state legislatures across the country. Let’s be clear, Students First’s state policy rankings are based on a list of what Students First thinks states should do. It’s entirely about their political preferences – largely reformy policies – template stuff that has been sweeping the reformiest states over the past few years. I’ll have more to say about these preferred policies at the end of this post.

But I digress… Now back to the Students First ratings. Students First created 3 broad categories of preferred policies for their ratings – policies that it believes:

Elevate teaching
Empower parents
Spend wisely and govern well

By elevate teaching, Students First means the usual basket of reformy options including elimination of traditional salary schedules, teacher evaluations based heavily on student test scores, reduction of retirement benefits and reduction or elimination of due process rights, and pay based primarily on test-score driven evaluation systems. They also prefer to expand alternative routes into the teaching profession. Of course, there’s not a whole lot of transparency into how these various elements are factored into the final grades. But there is a rubric! ...

Every item on their list is somehow mysteriously scored on a “0″you suck) to “4″wow… you are REFORMERIFIC!) scale without using any actual data (apparently) to inform that ordinal rating. Then in a wonderful leap of number abuse, these ordinal scale data are averaged to create a grade point average for each broad category – on a 0-4 GPA like scale, where most values of course lie in the imaginary spaces between the original ordinal ratings (like kinda-semi-almost-reformerific = 3.49).

Finally, I close with a topic that should be another blog post altogether, and likely will be at some point. I’ve been struck by the logic that the preferred policies in the Students First report are intended – by their framing – to increase accountability, empowerment and transparency. Yet, in all likelihood, most of these proposals accomplish precisely the opposite – substantially eroding public accountability and oversight and compromising statutory and constitutional rights of children, employees and local taxpayers. . . .

The Students First state policy rating system – like many other reformy manifestos – implies that the road to ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY is necessarily (perhaps exclusively) paved through shifting larger numbers of students and teachers and larger shares of public funding over to the management of non-government entities and non-public officials, as well as creating entirely new layers of ‘public decision making’ by referendum/petition (Parent Trigger). Whatever gripes we may have regarding the efficiency or responsiveness of government operated services, we must think this one through carefully.

Unless detailed accountability requirements are explicitly spelled out in a whole new layer of state and federal laws, the preferred policies laid out in the Students First and by other reformy institutions are more likely to lead to less public accountability and transparency rather than more. ...

So yes – Students First has their policy preferences – and they’re certainly entitled to that. They’ve built their entire rating system on their idea of what’s good policy. They’ve not tried to justify their policy preferences in any research basis on effectiveness or efficiency of these policy preferences, nor could they. There simply is no research basis to support the vast majority of their preferences. Even where Charter school policy is concerned, findings of successful charters seem to occur most often where authorizers are few and tightly regulated, and where charter market share is low (as in NYC or Boston). This is in direct contrast with the SF preference for further deregulating and expanding the sector (as in states with relatively poor charter performance). So, in short, there’s simply no research based reason to follow the policy agenda of Students First. But the reasons they provide – accountability, transparency, blah… blah… blah… are also not consistent with their policy agenda.

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 02:16 PM

3. I just realized I have not been getting NEPC emails lately.

I was getting them frequently for a while. I need to check. They have a great blogroll.

Thanks for that link.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 02:30 PM

4. Love the charts in that post! Clearly shows it's bullshit. & then the closing paragraph

makes the point that another poster made here somewhere this a.m.: it's not the concept itself, in more highly controlled charter schools more justification is possible for the model, but What we have going on now is simply a facade for deregulation used by people who are doing something other than what they say they are doing, at public expense and that "something other" could ever so easily be racist.

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Response to patrice (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 02:41 PM

5. This one especially.

This report card mess should be the end of Michelle Rhee's career. I am waiting for someone in real authority in the government to stand and tell the people how stupid this "report card" is.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 03:04 PM

6. I've been in work situations in which rubric based models are just thrown out there. It was

almost funny what people thought they were doing compared to how an experienced professional, WITH A DEEP CONTENT/HUMAN KNOWLEDGE BASE, uses that kind of tool.

I'm not at all surprised that chart looks like that.

My first year out of college, I was in an expensive private school office part of the day and in a classroom the rest of the day. It happened that my office duties included collecting grade-books as the end of the year. I. was. shocked. at what constituted "grading". Is it any wonder that students, who are now parents, (for this and several other reasons) ended up with an attitude about grades? The experience prompted me to do my own informal "research" by asking other teachers if they had ever had a class that amounted to, in effect, how-to-run-a-gradebook. I guess that would be a tests and measures class or something like that. I think in 8 years of teaching I met only one other teacher who had ever been a part of anything like that. Probably the result of that fact has become that school districts deliver "the model" now (I've been out of the classroom for several years now) and all of us know how political THAT can get.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 08:25 AM

2. Yeah Rhee is an opportunist


There is no way with the State Income and Property taxes we pay in NJ that FL and LA do a better job of educating their children. They simply don't. I would also go out on a limb and say the 8th graders in my community have better reading and math comprehension/understanding than any Senior in those two states . . . With the exception of those in the private "Christian Schools" that arose as a response to desegregation.

My husband could open a new line of business in Florida. My response to him - that's a lot if flying back and forth aaaaand - do you realize we are going to have to spend big bucks to send our kid to a private school - a Christian school . . .

And he stopped right there.

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Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 06:33 PM

7. You are right about the taxes.

Florida is sadly lacking in those areas. Real estate taxes are going down since Rick Scott and his little Republican Scott puppets came into office. That means school funds go way down just as charters and vouchers are sharing the taxes with them.

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