New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf discusses education policy in his state.
Acting Commissioner Cerf pointed to the performance gap in NJ, but in fact that that gap is smaller than pure income differences would predict. Professor Bruce Baker has a great post on this that ends with the following summary: "New Jersey's adjusted achievement gap between higher and lower-income students, when correcting for the size of the income gap between those students, is smaller than the gap in the average state." You can read more of that discussion here: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/reranking-new-jerseys-achievement-gap/#respond
Brian from Brooklyn makes his point well. I would add that while "first in, last out " is a flawed system, doing away with it completely would be just as flawed. Sadly, some very talented new teachers lose their positions because of it; however, not all teachers in an upper age bracket and/or nearing the top of the pay scale are "dead wood" Just as sadly, without protection, regardless of how innovative, dedicated and superlative in the classroom an older teacher is, he or she will become easily expendable because the bottom line is: money talks.
@Becky, that you assumed (even after reading the last few sentences of my comment) I was referring to ALL Black tells me more about you, than the subject.
Here in Sunny Montclair, I see successful black folk (one, in the mirror) everyday.
But you cannot overlook the simple fact that "urban" and "inner-city" are just code for "Black."
The guest spoke of Asbury Park- about 60% Black according to the Census- looking deeper and you will see, as it relates to NJ the Black family is in crisis (have you seen the Black unemployment rate?).
So, sorry if I failed to properly assuage any fear of "grouping" ALL Black folks together. But the truth is my people are in trouble.
And we cannot expect the schools to solve this one.
The Ivy League graduate who wanted to work in Orange didn't get a call back because she would threaten the status quo. I have a friend who works in an Abbott district and mediocrity/status quo is the standard - don't try to do anything better for the students, just protect yourselves (the teachers.) If I could share the stories, everyone would be appalled. This is why Christie is right - throwing money at the problem will not make a difference - it will just make the city officials, administrators and senior teachers richer. The system has to be shaken up - even broken up- to serve the children. Oversight is right!
Most people should NOT go to college! If 40% are dropping out of HS, and 60% are not prepared to "do college work" it is because they should NOT have been tracked towards going to college in the first place! Even I shouldn't have gone gone to college, and I got a full New YOrk State Regents Scholarship back in 1964, with an 87% grade-point average back when getting an "A" was serious business! Most people should get vocational or commercial related education, and not one that funnels them into academia! This is a VAST misdirection of resources and part of the reason for our debt crisis.
When are this administrators going admit it is not only the teachers and the union that is the issue. If you continue to put student in settings that limits their ability to learn you will continue to get the results we have. Teachers can only do so much.
Regarding the value of good vs. a bad teacher, you should check out Planet Money's podcast "How Much is a Good Teacher Worth?" They have economists who claim to have proved that good teachers are worth millions of dollars for the economy. School board commissioners everywhere should listen because it could help them help their school districts.
I would like to know what Mr. Cerf is doing to reduce school costs by promoting reduction in the number of school systems in NJ through consolidation and regionalization. We are a small state yet we have a large number of districts. The state could achieve economies of scale and reduce support staff, better utilize facilities and transportation by doing this. Let's keep as many teachers as we can but eliminate the higher salaried positions like Superintendents and departmental Supervisors by merging systems. Many other states have regional or county systems.
FYI Chris in sunny Montclair...NOT all Black Family's are broken, careful of generalizations...there is a whole country of whites, poor whites, hispanics et al, in need of family structure as well.
The speaker wants a reason for the First In, Last Out rule:
The whole point of the law for Seniority layoffs was so that it would be completely arbitrary. If it isn't arbitrary, you'll have layoffs applied for 2 reasons. First, financial reasons. Older teachers are paid more and will get larger pensions. They will be purposefully laid off first to save the city/state money. Those people will lose their jobs, lose their pensions, and will have a much harder time finding employment or changing careers simply because they are older. Age-ism is real.
Second, layoffs will be applied for personal reasons. Because a principal doesn't personally like the teacher. Or doesn't like their teaching style. Or because of nepotism - they have friends or families that they want to take the job. Human beings are by their very nature easily corruptible. Removing arbitrary layoffs injects corruption into the system.
Quit whining about l-i-f-o. If there are "bad" teachers, you fire them! You don't wait for a lay off to get rid of them.
I know a teacher in Bogoda NJ who was very popular and a good teacher The school administration did every thing they could to have him retire ( gave him the worst schedule, worst parking spot anything they could so to make his work environment awful) because he was at the end of his career and the school had to pay him more than a new teacher- the school administration wanted him out so they could hire a less expensive new. teacher.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM:
I've heard NO mention of the family.
Poor kids do poorly because of family structure. No matter how much Asbury Park spends on kids at school, so long as the Black family and community is broken, we cannot expect any better.
This is not to say that ALL poor kids, or ALL kids from broken homes fail. But to have this discussion without mentioning this elephant in the room is disingenuous.
This is infuriating --- words from someone with no credibility. Edison schools -- a failure. NYC schools under Bloomberg-Klein- Cerf also a failure: 75 % of the HS graduates are not adequately prepared to do college work, and at best only 60% graduate HS.
Cerf talks about how money was spent -- where did $ 20 billion a year go? not to reduce class size; not to develop schools where teachers are constantly developed, and where they learn to collaborate. Instead they spent it on test prep which does not demonstrate learning anything other than to take tests, and they spent it on technology, and private contractors.
Discussion on education must be much broader than this discussion, and by that I do not mean including Eli.
Brian, you asked him to name some support structures--presumably for teachers--enacted while he was in charge of transformation. He gave a long answer, in which he didn't name a single support structure. How about a follow-up?
The hiring system is NJ is completely political. Very difficult to get a job unless you are connected and when you do you better cough up and buy the fundraising tickets that they come to your class peddling. It's called the non-tenure teacher tax. If you don't buy you won't get re-hired. I know.
All I'm hearing so far are synonyms for privatizing the school system, i.e., shoveling more taxpayer money into the gaping corporate maw.
It comes down to the parents and if they care about education. All the money in the world cannot change that.
Despite the bluster, compared with most other states, NJ's schools actually rate pretty high. Other states spend a lot less on schools/students, Texas, or Alabama, for example, but their low national rankings show that you get the results you pay for. Would the commissioner want to trade places with them?
We should scrap every so-called "innovation" introduced into the US educational system since 1968! We should bring back rote learning, memorization, student disciplining, and more "shop" vocational and commercial courses. All of this was taken out by the pedagogical Left pushing their collectivist, "constructivist" agendas.
We should STOP this "everyone should to to college" mania, and finally accept the fact that not everyone wants or needs a heavy RWR (reading, writing, researching) academic curriculum. That many prefer to work with their hands and make things and need a venue where they can learn to do so from people who have actually worked with their hands, and not just with their heads. We should learn from the German educational system.
Are we talking about the same school system here? As someone close to city schools, what he is describing has absolutely no resemblance to the system I know.
I would like to hear Acting Commissioner Cerf's comments on charter schools in thriving suburban districts. My district already sends children to two charter schools, one of which is a Hebrew Charter Elementary school in East Brunswick which we had no say in. We are now facing yet another Hebrew Charter, this one a high school, which would take additional funding from our budget.
We have collected 2100 petition signatures and 600 letters of opposition from our community which have been delivered to the DoE. I want to know if Mr. Cerf intends to listen to the parents and residents of my district or continue to make decision against our will using money from our budget.
Mr. Cerf himself has acknowledged that what he called "boutique” charter schools, such as those offering language immersion programs, might not be needed in suburban districts that are “humming along.”
Governor Christie himself said yesterday at the Iowa Education Summit that charters "are not needed in every district in New Jersey and wouldn’t add much to the education offered there"
I look forward to hearing Acting Commissioner Cerf's comments on this topic.
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