Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Linda Darling-Hammond in Newark

LDH came to NJ last week to spread her nonsense – this time, claiming that NJ is doing great and closing the achievement gap:

The lecture by Linda Darling-Hammond, a former Camden teacher who rose to become a prominent professor at Stanford University and educational adviser to President Barack Obama, was laced with good news about progress in New Jersey's public schools.

"If the rest of the country follows New Jersey's lead, if New Jersey follows its own lead in years to come, we will see continued progress,'' said Darling-Hammond.

…"Parity funding has brought up achievement among the lowest performing schools," Darling-Hammond said. "No other state has done that.''

She listed measures of success in New Jersey — higher graduation rates, higher test scores, higher national rankings. Darling-Hammond drew gasps of appreciation by noting that, on one national exam, the average scores of black and Latino students in New Jersey were as high as the average scores of all students in her home state, California.

California, she noted, ranked 49th on another measure of educational success — and New Jersey ranked fourth.

"New Jersey is well on its way to closing the opportunity gap,'' she said.

In fact, if you've seen The Cartel (which I'll give you 1,000,000:1 odds that she hasn't – and never well), you'll understand that NJ is a basket case for low-income, minority kids, with some of the worst school systems in the country DESPITE the highest per-pupil spending in the country.  It's case study #1 on why pouring more money into the system, without any reform, not only does no good, but actually does harm by enriching, empowering and entrenching the status quo.


Following in Ravitch's footsteps, LDH cherry-picks some bogus statistics to make her case.  Fortunately, Derrell Bradford of E3 rebuts her:


With all due respect...and acknowledging that New Jersey does have some very good schools, parity will have produced genuine progress when Mr. Sciarra is ready to send his children, or the children of those close to him, to school in an Abbott district. Until then...smoke, mirrors.


New Jersey's school success narcissism is built on a series of lies, said often enough that they have become "truth." About 11,000 students annually fail New Jersey's high school exit exam, three times, but get their diploma anyway, falsely inflating the state's graduation rate.


Early literacy gains—which the status quo loves to cite as proof Abbott is working—are predicated on an assessment that, until last year, fourth grade students could pass by answering just 42% of questions correctly. In 2008, fewer than 100 4th graders scored advanced in Newark on this test...the cut score for advanced proficiency is a 71%.


Newark, which spent more than $1 BILLION last year on its schools, has 42 of the state's lowest performing 205 public schools. Every non-magnet high school is on that list.  40% of Newark seniors overall fail the high school proficiency test...which you can pass with a 50%...and which a former commissioner described as "middle school level."


Does this sound like "progress" to you?


The ELC and its chief patron, the NJEA, have one interest: money. To that end...they must promote and protect the myth that our kids are getting what we're paying for.


They're not.


President Barack Obama's educational adviser points out N.J. schools' success amid budget cuts

By Bob Braun/Star-Ledger Columnist

April 29, 2010, 5:30AM

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