QOD: NJEA Spokesman on Why N.J. PARCC Opt-outs Skew White and Privileged

"The vast majority of opt-outs are taking place in non-urban, non-disadvantaged districts,” agrees [NJEA Spokesman Steve] Wollmer, “because parents tend to be better informed in those districts and tend to communicate among themselves a lot more.”
This quote is courtesy of Robert Pondiscio at the Fordham Foundation, who was able to research opt-out numbers using  NJEA's own list that they're collecting in order to lobby  legislators to vote for anti-PARCC bills.  According to this data, parents who opt their kids out of PARCC tests are largely  affluent and white so Pondiscio checked in with Wollmer, perhaps anticipating a bit of hedging, but NJEA is apparently content with this disparity.

As long as it's Throwback Thursday, we'll glance back at a quote from Julia Sass Rubin, who founded the Princeton-based (i.e., white and affluent) lobby called Save Our Schools-NJ. Rubin recently co-authored a report with Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman, that claims that charter schools attract poor but not really poor kids, "creaming off" those come from more motivated families. Upon the report's publication, Rubin answered a Star-Ledger reporter's question about the way that poor families choose charter schools.

Rubin explained, “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools,” she said. “It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

Some of those "people in abject poverty" -- who, by the way, have bandwidth to spare -- responded to Rubins's aspersion, although they could just as likely be responding to Wollmer. (NJEA and SOS-NJ read from the same script.) Here are reactions from  parents to Rubin, all of whom live in Camden and Newark, and all of whom would no doubt beg to differ with Wollmer's description of their ability to communicate and inform themselves.

Crystal Williams, Newark mother of four children who attend district public schools:
Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?
Her “study” yesterday was nothing more than a series of cherry-picked numbers chosen to create a false narrative, but it has little resemblance to the story of my family’s life. My child’s experience is proof of that. And the real evidence coming out of the high-performing charter schools shows that she is just wrong
Arthur  Barclay, lifetime Camden resident and City Council member:
Everywhere I turn, Julia Sass Rubin seems to be talking for Camden's poor. Just last week she told one of the state's largest newspapers: "People in abject poverty don't have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. It's just not going to be high on their list." 
Excuse me? That deeply offensive comment toward low-income families in Camden shows not only her complete disregard of our families, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what our families want. 
I know thousands of parents in this city — including my own — who desperately want better for their kids. Our district schools are finally showing progress. 
Thankfully, we are also getting some new schools in our city that are committed to ensuring our kids' potential is fulfilled. Rather than assailing these new schools, called Renaissance schools, she should be embracing them because of what these schools are doing for our children. The kindergartners in Renaissance schools in Camden are already reading, counting to 100, and articulating the major accomplishments of George Washington Carver. And it's only November.
 Marlene Gonzalez and Hector Nieves, two parents whose children attend Camden's  LEAP Academy:
Speaking on behalf of more than 1,000 families who made the choice to send their children to the LEAP Academy charter school in Camden, we have had the bandwidth to evaluate the education available to children in traditional public schools in cities such as Camden, Trenton and Newark. In spite of the thousands of dollars that poured into these districts, even when they have been under state oversight, the results have been atrocious and simply unacceptable.

Note to Wollmer and Rubin: We should all have as much bandwidth, communicative ability, and ability to inform ourselves about standardized testing and school choice as the parents whom you disparage so flippantly. As NJEA and SOS-NJ get ready to slam Camden's expansion of renaissance schools, the ones that Mr. Barclay says you should be embracing, you might want to expand your bandwidth enough to speak to the parents directly affected.

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