"I am shocked - shocked! - to find that gambling is going on in here!"Check out today’s NJ Spotlight for a discussion of the wheeling and dealing behind the evolving list of school districts where children would be eligible for vouchers to attend private and parochial schools. Example: Atlantic City Public Schools, with a DFG of A, isn’t on the list and “[Senator Ray] Lesniak conceded that the decision had something to do with it being represented by state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), an outspoken opponent of OSA.” East Orange is on the list, but “may not be for long” because it’s represented by Sheila Oliver, a foe of the voucher bill.
"Your winnings, sir."
Eligible schools must give the state tests to their voucher students, but that information will not be available if there are fewer than 10 voucher students in any grade. In short, there will be no information about how well voucher students are performing. Why not require that any eligible school demonstrate that its instruction is consistent with the New Jersey core curriculum standards and that all of its students take the state tests?In fact, information is withheld for any cohort of that size in public schools in order to protect the identity of the students. All voucher students, according to the current draft bill, will take the regular standardized tests administered to public school students.
Progress has been too slow. That frustration has been fueled by those who embrace a right-wing market ideology that blames unions, public employees, and government generally. In New Jersey, it coincides with an extraordinary political détente between a conservative Republican governor and urban Democrats.But he’s got it wrong. The education reform movement -- school choice, accountability, tenure reform -- isn’t a right-wing ideology, and there’s nothing extraordinary about the détente between our “conservative Republican governor” and NJ’s urban Democrats. It's happening all over the country as recognition grows that we fail our most vulnerable students. Doesn't sound very "right-wing," does it? How much more American can you get than a civil rights movement challenging a failing status quo, a post/bi-partisan alliance of grassroots activists and entrepreneurs, of minority leaders and educators, of urban parents and public policy makers. Now that's something to salute.