OPINION: Rev. Jackson Decries Treatment of Urban NJ Children

From Rev. Reginald T. Jackson writing in NJ Spotlight:

I recently read, with great dismay, the summer screed of Gordon MacInnes on the state of education, education reform and school choice in New Jersey. Aside from his continued opposition to school choice, his fatalist view on the ability of teachers as change agents for children utterly depressed me. When assessing his assault on hope for our children, and the power of great teachers, one must begin and end with a simple idea: things can and should be different than they now are.

…And Statistics

MacInnes cites the state’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), where New Jersey scores well nationally, as proof that “things are fine and nothing needs changing.” But only 39 percent of New Jersey students test at or above proficient on eigth grade reading. Is it truly a sign of excellence when 61 percent of our students cannot demonstrate basic proficiency on this national assessment? And only three states have larger achievement gaps between their low income and wealthy students on eigth grade reading and math than New Jersey, despite school spending that dwarfs that of almost all other states.

MacInnes goes on to embrace that old buoy of the status quo, the state’s inflated graduation rate, to ballast his sinking point. It is so widely known that there are thousands of children who receive, and have received, diplomas through the state’s bankrupt alternate route to graduation, once called the SRA and now the AHSA, which grossly inflates the state’s graduation rate, that his citation only affirms how little there is to defend the current system.

And as for declining enrollment in private schools, private school consumption is decreasing, particularly in urban areas where children are being ruined by failing schools, because of economics, not school quality. Parents are choosing “free” public schools over the heavily subsidized tuition they would pay at private and parochial schools because times are desperate; so desperate parents must make a near life-or-death decision about whether to feed their children or brave the tumult of their locally assigned school. These are day-to-day realities that shape the existence of our lowest income families and their children.

Read more here: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/11/0906/1548/