An Education Reformer and an "Old School" Proponent Find Common Ground

Sometimes it seems like the positions of education “reformers” and education status quo proponents grow more entrenched each year.  Certainly, the backlash against Common Core and its attendant assessments (merely intended  to instill some degree of accountability to course content) have hardened resolve on both sides. Once in a while, however, there’s an harbinger of consensus.

Here’s one.

Over the holidays NJ Spotlight published a long-form essay by Paul Tractenberg, who founded Education Law Center (ELC) in 1973 and now is Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and Alfred C. Clapp Distinguished Public Service Professor at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. ELC litigated the Abbott cases, which led to NJ’s first income tax in order to pay for compensatory aid to poor urban school districts which lacked adequate tax bases, and provided cover for NJ’s intensely segregated school districts. After all, why integrate when you pledge tons of state aid? Here’s Tractenberg last week:
[When one delves beneath state-wide achievement scores] what emerge are two fundamentally different educational systems.  
One, the predominantly white, well-to-do and suburban system, performs at relatively high levels, graduating and sending on to higher education most of its students. The other, the overwhelmingly black, Latino, and poor urban system, struggles to achieve basic literacy and numeracy for its students, to close pernicious achievement gaps, and to graduate a representative share of its students.
Five years ago Derrell Bradford, who now serves as Executive Director of Better Education for Kids, a school choice advocacy organization, wrote an editiorial in the Star-Ledger:about the (now defunct) Special Review Assessment, an alternative high school degree qualifying exam overly used by poor urban districts because so many of their students couldn't pass the more rigorous (if still middle school level) standard High School Proficiency Assessment:

We have argued that New Jersey has two education systems. One you attend if you are white and live in an affluent suburb, and one you attend if you are poor, minority, and live in a city.
Same sentiment, right? It's heartening that, at least once in a while,  we're all on the same page.

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