Monthly Archives: May 2015

Chris Christie: New Jerseyans should make their own educational decisions–unless they’re from Newark

New Jersey is getting new academic standards, primarily because former Common Core cheerleader Chris Christie cares deeply about local control in education:

I want New Jersey parents and teachers to be the driving force behind the establishment of these new standards. I want New Jersey business partners, New Jersey school administrators, and New Jersey school boards to work together in this important effort.

I have heard from far too many people – teachers and parents from across the state – that the Common Core standards were not developed by New Jersey educators and parents. As a result, the buy-in from both communities has not been what we need for maximum achievement. I agree. It is time to have standards that are even higher and come directly from our communities.

This statement is, of course, taken from the governor’s May 28th remarks to an audience at Burlington County College in Pemberton. Many of my initial reactions to Christie’s Common Core about-face have already been documented by New Jersey parents and educators (see here for Marie Corfield’s round-up of relevant posts and articles) who recognized the move as political pandering to the worst degree. This morning, however, Christie gave everyone who’s watching more material to work with.

And, not surprisingly, it isn’t pretty.

See, Future Presidential Candidate Chris Christie wants us all to think he believes that that parents and educators are the ones who know what’s best for children–and that the government, starting with President Obama, should stay out of decisions that should ultimately be made locally.

But today, Christie reiterated his belief that there are some people in New Jersey who can’t possibly be trusted to know what’s best for their own schools–and those people live in Newark.

A little background: on May 22nd, thousands of Newark students walked out of school in protest of the reforms Chris Christie and his ilk have imposed on the city’s public schools. Students ultimately made their way to City Hall, where they demanded fair funding for the district and a halt to the turnaround program that will affect eight city schools.

At an appearance in Belmar this morning, Christie was asked about the students’ protest–and this was his response:

It’s really shocking to me that students walked out in a protest on a sunny Friday afternoon. When they start walking out on a rainy Tuesday, maybe I’ll take it a little more seriously. They can walk out and protest as much as they want. […] No, I’m not changing my position on this.

That’s right, folks: Future Presidential Candidate Chris Christie is listening to his constituents (ask yourself “which constituents?”) about the Common Core–specifically because “the standards were not developed by New Jersey educators and parents.” But when thousands of students organize a protest (and I can’t be certain, but I’m guessing they can’t take credit for making sure it was sunny on Friday) against the reforms of which they say they’re victims every single day, Governor Christie makes a joke about their motivations and then admits that he did not take their actions seriously. (What was that he said about “buy-in” being important for “maximum achievement”?)

In other words: You matter, Not-From-Newark-New-Jerseyans. Chris Christie is listening to you. Your opinions count. You are best equipped to direct the eduction of the children in your state and in your community.

But if you live in Newark, Chris Christie won’t even *think* about taking you seriously unless you demonstrate your dissatisfaction for state control of your schools by walking out during a rainstorm. On a Tuesday.

Mark that one on your calendar.

Because those people don’t know what’s best for their community. Chris Christie does.

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“I don’t care about the community criticism. We run the school district in Newark, not them.” —Governor Chris Christie, 9/3/13

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Parent groups speak out on Senator Teresa Ruiz’s refusal to protect our children

A coalition of grassroots parent groups fighting for high-quality public education is asking New Jersey Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz to allow a vote on three very important bills that limit standardized testing – S2765, S2767 and S2768.

“These bills have incredible support,” said Julie Larrea Borst, a parent from Allendale. “All three bills were overwhelmingly approved by the New Jersey Assembly, with two receiving unanimous approval.”

Tens of thousands of parents and other voters have asked their legislators to support the bills. In fact, 3,500 constituents contacted their State Senators in just one weekend.

A bi-partisan majority of the Senate has committed to vote YES on the bills and more than a quarter of the State’s Senators are co-sponsoring them.

New Jersey parents are taking this action because, despite the incredible levels of support, Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz has so far refused to post the three bills for a vote in the Senate Education Committee.

Instead of allowing a vote on S2765, which requires districts and charter schools to inform parents about all standardized tests given to their children, Senator Ruiz introduced a stripped down version of that bill. Senator Ruiz’s version denies parents the right to know how their children’s standardized test results are used, whether the tests must be taken on a computer or with paper and pencil, and how much the tests cost. “We have a right to that information as parents and taxpayers,” argued Sarah Blaine of Montclair. “Why would anyone want to hide it from us?”

Senator Ruiz also has refused to allow a vote on S2767, which protects children from “sit & stare” and other punitive measures imposed by school districts and charter schools when their families refuse standardized tests. In place of S2767, Senator Ruiz introduced a nonbinding resolution asking the NJ Department of Education to develop guidelines for how districts should treat such students.

“The NJ Senate should not be pleading with the Commissioner of Education to protect our children,” said Jacklyn Brown of Manalapan. “They should follow the NJ Assembly and pass S2767, ensuring that our children are not being mistreated.”

Renee Simon Wagner of Hope Township agreed. “S2767 is common sense and very much needed,” said Ms. Wagner, whose 13 year old daughter was forced to sit and stare for the duration of the March PARCC test and the week of make-up testing. “That kind of child abuse has no place in our public schools. Why won’t Senator Ruiz allow a vote on S2767?”

Christina Cunha-Moreira of Elizabeth was very concerned by Senator Ruiz’s refusal to allow a vote on S2768, which freezes the use of PARCC scores for three years. “The PARCC tests are brand new and may not be reliable or valid,” said Cunha-Moreira. “Yet, without this legislation, districts and charter schools will be able to use results of the experimental PARCC tests to make decisions about class placements, admission to gifted and talented and remedial programs, and even whether children receive special services. We need S2768 to keep our children safe.”

Frankie Adao of Newark spoke for tens of thousands of parents in urging Senator Ruiz to “please allow these bills to have a vote. We want our democracy to work,” said Adao.

Below is a list of New Jersey parent groups that signed on to this statement:

Allendale Parents of Children with Special Needs
Bernards Cares About Schools
Chatham Cares About Schools
Collingswood Cares About Education
Community for Princeton Public Schools
Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey
East Brunswick Parents Against PARCC
Elizabeth Parents and Students Care
Freehold Township Cares About Schools
Hanover-Florham Park Cares About Schools
Highland Park Cares About Schools
Howell Cares About Schools
Jackson Cares About Schools
Lawrence Cares About Schools
Manalapan-Englishtown Cares About Schools
Marlboro Cares About Schools
Metuchen Cares About Schools
Middletown Township Cares About Schools
Monroe Township/Jamesburg Cares About Schools
Montclair Cares About Schools
Mount Laurel Cares About Schools
Neptune Cares About Schools
Newark Parents Union
No More Common Core – Moorestown
North Plainfield Cares About Schools
Ocean County Parents Against Common Core
Ocean Township (Monmouth County) Cares About Schools
Red Bank Area Cares About Schools
Ridgewood Cares About Schools
Save Camden Public Schools
Save Our Schools NJ
South Brunswick Cares About Schools
Toms River Cares About Schools
Verona Cares About Schools
West Windsor – Plainsboro Cares About Our Schools
Westfield Cares About Schools


This statement appears on the Save Our Schools New Jersey Facebook page. Any groups interested in signing the statement should send an email to info@saveourschoolsnj.org.

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