It Was A Very Long Day, Part 1, 2 & 3
Part 1: Every month I try to make it to the State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting. While reading the agenda gives an idea of what's going to happen, there is nothing like being there in person to witness the depth of privilege and echo chamber-ness in that room. I want to be very clear about the criticism in this piece. NJDOE has some really great, hard-working people within its ranks and my thoughts on this are not about them. This is about leadership, or rather, the lack thereof. Their willingness to remain well seated in their echo chamber and the arrogance with which pronouncements are made. And, the SBOE and their unwillingness to "dive deep" and ask hard questions and expect good, true responses, and their seemingly endless inability to know the difference between a real answer and a false one. Their job is not to sit there and nod in agreement with statements that are so patently false it would be hilarious if wasn't so damned serious. And yet, that is what we have. The November meeting was no different.
Chris Cerf was in to deliver his annual report on Newark schools. Good news is graduation rates are up. Bad news is he's still the state-appointed superintendent and it's still state-controlled. He made a great show of saying charters and public schools should be working together and no one should be paying attention to what is said on social media. All he wants is for everyone to get along for the sake of the kids. He's not wrong about doing things for the sake of the kids. What and how things get done are the issue.
It would also be great if we could also get some acknowledgment that charters don't serve the same demographics and are costing districts, like Newark, a fortune for a parallel and unequal system whose basic management is kept far, far out of the sunshine. There is nothing "public" about charter schools except the money which primarily funds them. Too bad if you don't like that little piece of reality from "social media."
Cerf did manage to give a nod to poverty, and then, unbelievably, continued with qualifications, like new immigrants want to get out of poverty, but people who have experienced multi-generational poverty "resist the ladder" out of poverty. In the context of the conversation, education, it's doubly astonishing when talking about a district that has been under state control for more than 20 years. The lack of state funding, the lack of tax base Education Lessons From A Sparkly District: It Was A Very Long Day, Part 1, 2 & 3: