Sen. Teresa Ruiz Scotches Opt-Out Bill, Despite Pressure from NJEA and Save Our Schools

Props to Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who withstood pressure from NJEA and Save Our Schools-NJ and stood strong against an Assembly bill that would have required school districts to facilitate opting-out of state standardized tests.  Instead, last week, as reported today by NJ Spotlight, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution that “urges Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines on how students not participating in Statewide assessment will be supervised and what alternate arrangements may be provided.”

The original bill, A 4165, was sponsored by Assembly members Patrick Diegnan and Mila Jasey, both of whom support the equally ill-conceived charter moratorium bill. Both of these bills are ardently supported by NJEA and SOS-NJ and ardently opposed by civil rights leaders.

Why does anyone who cares about disenfranchised children oppose oppose efforts to weaken state ability to assess student growth? Let’s ask the old Diane Ravitch, before she underwent her conversion from education scholar to evangelical union hack:
"Absent standards, poor and minority children do not have equal access to challenging courses; absent assessments, no one can know the size of the gap between schools or groups of students or whether that gap is growing larger or smaller. Without valid standards and assessments, there is no way to identify low-performing schools or to determine whether all students are receiving equal educational opportunity."
Of course, A 4165 never had nothing to do with the well-being of children. The bill was always all about  NJEA and SOS-NJ's leaders’ militant stance against tying a fraction of student outcomes on tests to teacher evaluations, a view shared by NEA.  If we can’t validly identify low-performing schools without unified participation in standards and assessments, as Ravitch explains, we can’t validly identify low-performing teachers either. Problem solved.

A 4165 passed unanimously in the Assembly, although one wonders if that’s because Assembly members knew that it would never pass in the Senate. Here’s Sen. Ruiz:
“We wanted to give discretion to the department without being onerous,” she said yesterday. “The key here is we keep moving forward. This puts steps in place, without a binding statute where we can’t have some flexibility.”

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