Sunday Leftovers

A "white,""progressive" Jersey mom explains to other moms why she didn't opt out of PARCC and says she's "sorry that you bought into NJEA’s $15 million “No Teacher Left Behind” campaign to convince you that the PARCC assessments are useless and that there isn’t more to your child than what your child’s teacher can tell you."

For a different view, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, whose two daughters attend public school in Edison, said, "We opted out," he said with a chuckle. "I told their mother we got to opt out, so they didn't take it."

Five parents filed a petition with the NJ State Board of Education to bypass the legislative process and standardize opting-out procedures for standardized tests (well, PARCC at least) as well as "require districts to provide an alternate learning environment for students who opt out of testing.” The five parents were “recruited,” says the Star Ledger, by Deborah Cornavaca, who has worked as an NJEA lobbyist, with Save Our Schools-NJ, and is currently legislative director of New Jersey Working Families, which helped elect Ras Baraka. Also see NJ Spotlight.

Prof. Patrick McGuinn from Drew University muses to The Record that the ending of the PARCC testing period is not the ending of the “hoopla” because average scores will drop. He said, "How do you respond to the drop? You can say ‘Wow we thought the students were doing better, but they’re not,’ or you can say ‘This test is wrong; my kid is not doing worse.” On the test themselves:
"The general consensus out in the scholarly community is that the tests...are of good quality and generally aligned with the standards of better quality education than that which the vast majority of states used before," McGuinn said.
He said PARCC is designed to be "more of a skills-based test" than a one that measures "rote learning."
As for the opt out movement?
"It’s really interesting to note that the opt out movement has gotten a lot of attention in the media, but you’re actually talking about a small percentage of students," McGuinn said.
Leslie Brody at the Wall St. Journal on the Park Slope provenance of anti-testers:
At one East Harlem school, where no parents have told the principal they plan to opt out, parent Jasainia Ramos-Lopez said she wants her third-grader to learn how to tackle exams that will be a part of his life through college. “I want to see if he actually is as prepared as I think he is,” she added. 
But in Park Slope, Lori Chajet says her sixth-grader won’t participate as “a political act.” Ms. Chajet expressed frustration that her advocacy in Albany failed to prevent the use of tests and outside observers in evaluations. She said those approaches stripped principals of their authority.
Timothy White of the N.J. Charter School Association:
Recently introduced legislation placing a moratorium on expanding enrollment for New Jersey's charter public schools is one of the most overtly special interest-motivated pieces of legislation New Jersey has ever seen. It is a tragedy that today more than 20,000 New Jersey children sit on waiting lists hoping for the chance to attend a charter public school and escape the local public schools that have failed generations of their predecessors. Bill A.4351 intends to hold these children hostage to mediocrity. We cannot allow this bill to become law.
See my NJ Spotlight related column here. See news coverage from The Record here.

Deja Vu All Over Again:  NJ Spotlight reports that Education Law Center is filing paperwork to fight the expansion of renaissance schools in Camden because on the grounds that "the moves violated state law and regulations on several fronts."

The Courier Post reports that Camden Community Charter School  will add 350 seats for a total of 750 children enrolled in the school. Linden Avenue was once “described as a ‘horrible place’  before the school went up on 9th Street. Prostitutes and crack and heroin dealers walked the avenue, charter school board President Edmond George recalled.”

The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board:
The Asbury Park School District is once again the poster child for the need to shrink the number of school districts in the state, from its lumbering 604 districts to a more efficient number that would save millions of taxpayer dollars and provide more educational opportunities for students.
Does it make any sense for Asbury Park to spend $33,109 per pupil in the 2013-14 school year? Or Monmouth County's runner-ups for highest spenders: Henry Hudson Regional Schools at $30,806 per pupil and Keansburg School District at $30,209, according to new state Department of Education figures data?
In today’s New York Times, Motoko Rich looks at the American teachers,  80% of whom are are white, and asks, “where are the teachers of color?”  Actually, they’re in Teach for America; among its most recent class, 50% are teachers are color. Also, 47% come from low-income backgrounds and one third were the first in their families to attend college.

Clarification: My column at WHYY Newsworks this past week was on the difference between traditional charter schools and renaissance schools in Camden. I could have been clearer in pointing out that children who attend schools that will become renaissance schools will have the choice of attending the renaissance school or the next closest traditional school.