Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Not even a real degree"

Cerf said that only 22 percent of incoming high school freshmen in Newark ever graduate with a diploma, and even then "it's not even a real degree."
Addendum (April 13): This was a misquote by the Asbury Park Press--the 22% refers to those students who graduate within 4 years and passed the HSPA, our state exam.

Central High School, 2008--Bill Cosby spoke

We have a problem.

Newark has a long, proud, and complicated history. Newark Bears, Ballantine Ale, patent leather, Sara Vaughn, Steven Crane, Melba Moore, Redman, Paul Simon.

And the riots.

I've worked many years in Newark, briefly in Port Newark, mostly in the projects and the hospitals and shelters and clinics. I've treated children destroyed by lead, by AIDS, by asthma, by violence. I've seen a lot of people (and I'm on the list) make a decent living treating people who had no hope of the same.

And through it all, I saw resilience. Children still smile, parents still bust their butts making the rent, and students still get themselves to Weequahic and Technology and East Side and Shabazz and West Side and Central and Science and University and Arts and  Barringer High Schools, many of whom have climbed over mountains to get there.

And now they hear our State Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf say their diploma "is not even a real degree."

I'd like to know the source for the 22% graduation rate--I hope Cerf was misquoted.


Mary Ann Reilly said...

As you know, I too worked for Newark Public Schools overseeing literacy for the city. While I was there the passing rate on writing kn the HSPA rose from low 30 percent to 71%. That improvement was felt across the comprehensive high schools. Change in oerfromanxe can be made. The work was done with English supervisors, high school teachers, outside partners like the NUA, and of course the kids.

Why doesn't changes hold in Newark?

Every time somehing good gets started, someone with power comes along either waving $$$ or programs and good work gets stopped. This is the story of urban education.

Newark doesn't need charters. It needs continued leadership and fidelity to work that is started. Mistakes need to be understood in the broader context and dips in performance along with gains should be expected, not acted upon.

I know literacy rates can rise ink significant ways in NPS. Students can earn standard diplomas. ReadIn difficulties can be prevented. This was being done there before school reform and it's programs moved in.

Tracy Rosen said...

Shame on him.

I don't know much about the Newark school system or its politics but to publicly tell its students that the degree they work their butts off for isn't even a real one?

Shame on him.

doyle said...

Dear Mary Ann,

Newark doesn't need charters. It needs continued leadership and fidelity to work that is started.

When I worked in medicine, there were grants to be had for innovative programs--but less money to continue programs once started, no matter how successful.

There's are reasons people in Newark distrust "outside" help. I hope that this time around, with all the money available and with the national attention it's getting, the NPS gets a huge lift.

Those looking to save Newark need to do their homework.

Dear Tracy,

I am hoping that Cerf was misquoted (always a possibility) and a retraction is made, or just misspoke (which happens, and can be corrected).

He may have been referring to the alternative ways to get around our state testing, and the journalist may have gotten confused.

I'll keep looking.