UPDATE: The entire original post is included below as posted. After this report, Regina Tuma wrote a letter to the editor of the Montclair Times denying that she is AssessmentGate. You can read that letter here. We’ve since posted a response to that letter which you can view here. We’ll take Tuma at her word that she isn’t the word one who has posted the materials as AssessmentGate, but the emails detailed below leave no doubt that she is the one coordinating the attacks.
We’ve also updated the post below to reflect the comment about the district test files made by the commenter. However, addressing the rest of their comment, Tuma’s denial not withstanding, the evidence included below does suggest that Tuma is in fact behind the attacks.
After the public records release of Michelle Fine’s emails by Montclair Kids First, we dug in and started reviewing. There’s a ton there, but the biggest news is clearly records that show that MCAS activist and Michelle Fine ally Regina Tuma is the person behind the AssessmentGate leaks.
This blog is reporting this information for the first time.
AssessmentGate leaked district test files, costing the district thousands of dollars in additional expenses and prompting a large-scale investigation, both by the district and by the state’s Office of Financial Accountability and Compliance. The OFAC report concluded that,
The initial “release” of the assessments that allowed posting to a site accessible to the general public could only be accomplished by an individual/s possessing a district issued user name and password.
If the party or parties responsible are identified, the district should consider appropriate disciplinary action.
As we wrote last fall, the investigation was held back because the town council – led by Sean Spiller and Bob Russo – acted to shut down access to the records in a move that now looks even more ethically dubious.
In this email, sent Sept. 17, 2014 at 2:51 PM, (available here in the 2014 disclosures) Michelle Fine sent a post from our blog about AssessmentGate’s attacks on school breakfast, in which we referred to AssessmentGate as “MCAS/MEA Attack-Dog AssessmentGate”. Details on the recipients and part of the subject line were redacted, but the redaction is imperfect, and if you look closely at an enlarged image, you can read that the email was sent to Regina Tuma, Maia Davis and Stan Karp.
More importantly, the subject-line in full reads “regina, you have been promoted!” The very clear implication there is that Regina Tuma is behind AssessmentGate, the ‘promotion’ being a reference to us referring to it as their “Attack-Dog”.
Here’s the original email:
Here’s an enlarged image of the subject and address fields:
The conclusion that Tuma is AssessmentGate is confirmed by other pieces of evidence in the email as well. For instance, in this email exchange, Fine emails Cary Chevat and Regina Tuma about posts being made under a pseudonym on ShareMontclair. She’s worried that it is the superintendent’s assistant, Matt Frankel, who is posting, but it turns out it is AssessmentGate, who replies directly to her email.
It’s unclear why she includes Chevat, although it’s possible that there is more than one person posting under the account. Nonetheless, between this and her reference to Tuma as AssessmentGate above, it’s pretty compelling evidence that it is Tuma, under Fine’s direction, who is behind AssessmentGate, which means it’s basically just another blog name for MCAS.
This, of course, stands in stark contrast to what Tuma has said elsewhere. We posted before on the hypocrisy of her claims to support open dialogue (and the disappointing way the Montclair Times carried it uncritically), but here’s a recap of some of the things she’s said about discourse:
- “are delighted to offer to collaborate with them to help move our district forward through a healthy, democratic and engaged community process,” Tuma said.
- “MCAS seeks to inform the public about issues we believe are important and to encourage open public dialogue on these issues,” Tuma said.
- saying that the group has “always stood for an open, public dialogue in which all points of view are heard and respected.” “High-quality public education depends on community dialogue, debate and serious community discussion,” Tuma said.
On the issue of anonymous public education advocates such as MSW, MKF and Assessmentgate, Tuma said the group does not know the identity of Assessmentgate other than as “a person [who] questions the policies of public officials, not the speech of private citizens.”
But now we know that isn’t – at all – true. In fact, the reporter she lied to should be interested to know that she is actually AssessmentGate. It’s her (and MCAS) who oppose the district’s efforts to provide school breakfast, and who have waged a scorched earth campaign against the district’s leadership.
We’re already turning up lots of other interesting revelations in these emails, and it’s clear that while this is pretty big news – and hopefully will give OFAC and the district the material they need to re-open their investigations – this is just the tip of the iceberg. MCAS/AssessmentGate, under Tuma, Davis and Fine’s leadership, has been waging a destructive, relentlessly negative campaign, and those tactics will be embarrassing to anyone affiliated with the group. It’s time for folks like Cummings, Mernin and de Koninck who have been associated with them to condemn them and distance themselves from their activities. Short of that, they’re continuing to endorse these tactics.