Further note from the Legislative Update yesterday afternoon at the NJSBA convention. (See below if you’re just jumping in.) Michael Vrancik, Director of the Governmental Relations Dept. of NJSBA was moderating the panel and brought up that-which-shall-not-be-named to diehard public school traditionalists: charter schools. (Add your Halloween sound effects here. More dignified school board members made do with grimaces and a couple of low-register boos.) Said Vrancik to Charlie Rose, Arne Duncan’s Chief Counsel, Race To The Top guidelines put great emphasis on the expansion of charter schools. “But students [when they transfer from traditional public schools to charters] in New Jersey take 90% of the funding stream with them! Is that really the intent of Race To The Top?”
Replied Rose with equanimity,”Our focus on charter schools is pretty fundamental.” The US DOE is looking at charters as an “overall educational plan for the community,” and local districts should treat charters as partners.
National School Board Association’s Michael Resnick jumped in: The DOE’s approach to the expansion of charter schools is “overzealous.” His view seems to be that charters are treated by the US DOE as, well, a teacher’s pet, given unfair advantages in flexibility and accountability.
Rose: “What NCLB did well was focus on the achievement gap. What it didn’t do well was set a clear standard for this country. We have 50 different goalposts and a one-size-fits-all accountability system.” NCLB (or ESEA) was “loose on goals, tight on means. We need to flip that and lay a foundation for common standards that are college and career-ready and internationally benchmarked.”
Senator Whelan: N.J. is in the top 5 for achievement (presumably referring to recent NAEP results). “But if you go to the international scene, that will place us in the middle of the pack.”