Jersey Jazzman, who writes a spirited anti-school reform blog (my favorite post is entitled “Zombies Eat Laura Waters’ Brain!”) has just been outed. He’s Mark Weber, a doctoral student who studies with Dr. Bruce Baker, the well-known school finance professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers.
Weber’s anonymity ended on Friday when he and Baker released a report that is harshly critical of Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark Plan. One Newark intends to create a universal enrollment system among Newark residents, offering all families a menu of school choices that include both traditional and charter public schools. Also, Anderson intends to close down under-utilized school buildings.
I’ve only had a chance to look at the Executive Summary of the Weber/Baker report, but there’s a number of politically-slanted assumptions that seem odd for a report that claims to be an “empirical critique.”For example, Baker and Weber write:
- “Is underutilization a justification for closing and divesting NPS [Newark Public Schools] school properties?” (Um, "yes"?)
- “Schools slated for charter takeover and closure serve larger proportions of students who are black; those students and their families may have their rights abrogated if they choose to stay at a school that will now be run by a private entity.” (Hang on: how do public charter schools “abrogate rights?”)
Anyway, congratulations to Mr. Weber for his achievements, although I think either the student or the teacher should investigate the definition of "empirical."
- “Our analyses herein find that the assumption that charter takeover can solve the ills of certain district schools is specious at best. The charters in question, including TEAM academy, have never served populations like those in schools slated for takeover and have not produced superior current outcome levels relative to the populations they actually serve.” (Actually, TEAM has shown many times that it serves demographically similar cohorts as those in Newark's traditional schools and, indeed, its student outcomes are better.)