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 firstname.lastname@example.org.