Next Steps in Newark: Superintendent Chris Cerf Responds to Dale Russakoff’s ‘The Prize’
The book was considerably more balanced than the book tour. As it got out there and in dozens of presentations on the radio and in bookstores around the country, it became a very reductionistic, simple story that was distorted in a number of important respects. Probably the biggest casualty was the failure to acknowledge the many successes that have occurred over the course of the last several years.
The Newark Public School graduation rate is 70 percent this last year. That is up from the high 50's four years ago. It has been up every single year for the last three years, and the 5-year graduation rate is now nearly 73 percent. That should be an above-the-fold, banner headline.
BEATING THE ODDS
When you disaggregate the data and you really look at the numbers, you'll see that the percentage of African-American children who attend public schools in Newark that beat the state average has doubled, and that is combining traditional schools and charter schools, but you see a substantial increase in both.
A recent study put out by the Center on Reinventing Public Education out of the University of Washington entitled Measuring Up: Educational Improvement and Opportunity shows that 40 percent of Newark students are enrolled in so-called "beat the odds" schools, as compared to the average across the country of 8 percent in other cities.
Newark is by far the best performer among every city in the country in terms of the percentage of beat the odds schools. I think an excellent reference to this is a piece on NJ Left Behind called Getting Past False Dichotomies.