A big part of our frustration in watching the debate around our Montclair Schools play out is how detached the attacks made by folks like MCAS, Michelle Fine*, Ira Shor, etc. are from the realities of the issues the administration and board face in actually running the district. The core indictment has basically been about common core and the PARCC, and the district’s participation in these systems.
Say what you will about either of those policies, but they weren’t born in Montclair. They’re mandates that – like many other mandates on the district – the district is obligated to comply with and implement. Even if the district disagreed with those policies they’d still be the law. It’s important to keep in mind that insomuch as MCAS seems to have an agenda locally (outside of their national political efforts) it’s to stop those policies from being implemented. Which would mean the district flouting the law. Their gripe isn’t really with Penny McCormack or the school board, it’s with Trenton and – really – the White House. The district is adopting PARCC tests because that’s the statewide education policy – and law – that the administration is obligated to implement.
What the advocacy seems to amount to ultimately is that the administration should oppose/flout the law itself, a relatively radical political position, and a serious distraction from the business of actually making our schools run well. If that’s the issue, their attentions should be focused on lobbying elsewhere, rather than attacking the administration all of the time.
All of this is on display in a post we noticed on the MCAS facebook page this week, where they note board president David Deutsch’s op-ed against charters (which we highlighted previously), and then use it as an excuse to talk about their hobby horses which don’t have much of anything to do with the topic – or the day to day business of making the schools work well.
As Board President David Deutsch writes editorial vowing to protect Montclair Schools, he better heed warning coming from other states far ahead of NJ in adopting standardized tests for accountability. Fact is, PARCC is based on flawed logic of one-size fits all–the very opposite of our diverse magnet school system. Here is interesting editorial from Fairfax, Virginia. Standardized tests do not improve education–it is expensive way of telling us what we already know. And worse–it leaves too many children behind. And guess who those kids are?
We welcome David Deutsch’s views and hope this marks the beginning of a more activist Montclair Board of Education that sees through superficial language of test reforms (and anyone selling these reforms) and mandates from the state that are now known to reinforce status quo for our most vulnerable kids–while putting what is good about Montclair Schools at risk.
Substantively we don’t make much of it except to say that we would have thought they would agree with Deutsch (and us) about charters. But they’re so myopically focused on their attack/distract tactics that they are unwilling to view things reasonably, at all. There are real issues to be addressing in Montclair, but their attacks have served as a distraction from actually getting things done. Given that much of MCAS’s support actually comes from national activists and teacher union operatives, that’s not entirely surprising.
We were once accused of being in the business of distraction, but when it comes down to it, that’s their entire agenda and game plan. Attack, distract, attack, distract – whatever it takes to advance their own political agenda in their “national battle”. Even if it comes at the expense of our schools and our kids.