By Sue Altman and Melissa Tomlinson
On Wednesday March 7, 2018 the New Jersey State Board of Education will hold yet another hearing about whether the state should recertify the use of the PARCC assessment in our schools.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium featuring six states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Educational Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education, that together deploy a standard set of K–12 assessments in Math and English, a standard they say is based on the Common Core State Standards. The PARCC consortium was awarded Race to the Top assessment funds in September 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education to help in the development of the K–12 assessments
The Education Law Center recently released a report that gives a very clear picture about the future of our graduating classes if PARCC remains the main, and soon to be only, pathway to graduation. With only 27% of the students in 2017 earning their diploma by passing PARCC at the predetermined cut-off scores, the future potential of high school graduates can be severely limited. In a state that is currently ranked as number two in the nation for it's public education system, this is alarming. We cannot allow the use of an invalid test that only offers a snapshot picture of a child's potential as as a way to determine if a student has the potential for future success.
Parents, educators, and students have repeatedly stated over and over again that we reject the idea that PARCC is an effective tool. It has been proven that PARCC is not a valid research-based test and inappropriate for making educational decisions. Our children are more than a score!
We are disappointed that Governor Murphy, after his campaign proclamations that declared an end to PARCC, has not yet taken the step to get PARCC out of our schools.
This must be the end of PARCC and the beginning of a much needed conversation about authentic assessment and education. We call on Governor Murphy to make this decision to end PARCC for the children of our state, once and for all.
We urge you to join us in attending the March 7th State Board of Education public testimony hearing at 2pm.
Please show your support for the many parents and educators that will be speaking. If you cannot attend, or cannot speak in person, please submit testimony electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Summer Maher
When I enter my school in the morning, I expect to be annoyed. I expect to be exhausted and pissed off and ready to go home before homeroom even begins.
When I enter my school in the morning, I do not expect to get shot.
A school shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida marks the eighteenth school shooting in America in 45 days. In 9 of these, high school students were shot and killed.
When I walk into my math class, I don’t expect to see a dead body.
I’ve never paid much attention to the debate about gun laws, at least not until recently. Recently, 17 year olds have been walking into schools with semi-automatic rifles, entering classrooms, and opening fire. Recently, 15 year olds with full knowledge of the school’s layout and lockdown procedures have been strolling into schools with handguns tucked into their waistbands and shooting their fellow 15 year olds while they hide under desks.
There is nowhere to hide in a classroom.
Enough is enough. Every politician in the country tonight will sit on his comfortable couch, grab his phone, and tweet out how surprised and shocked he is. He will send his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims. He will promise that he will work to make sure this never happens again. Then, he will have dinner with his family, with his kids. He will go to bed. And when the time comes to vote for stricter gun laws and protection for the 15 year olds hiding under their desks, he will vote no. Because he feels safer knowing that while a sophomore can become a murderer, and that while the kids under the desks in math class don’t have guns to protect themselves, he does. In case the shooter comes to his house, to his office, to his family. Then he’ll have the gun.
But guess what? So will the sophomore.
You can pray, send your thoughts, and promise all you want, but until I know that there is no chance that my lab partner will be able to get a rifle and shoot me in the head, I really don’t care.
Because I’m fifteen years old, and I don’t want to die.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are gathering 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Treehouse Cafe, 120 W. Merchant Street in Audubon. Feel free to bring family members, children, and friends.
The time to act is NOW.
You can also visit https://www.sandyhookpromise.org to get involved in ending gun violence in schools today.
by Alissa Wolf
During the recent second annual Women’s March, a great many conservatives once again worked overtime to disparage and belittle the marchers. For days on end, the largely male naysayers peppered social media with a myriad of scathingly misogynistic threads and comments that ranged from laughable to downright belligerent.
Among the examples that I took note of during hours-long observations of Facebook included:
“Get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich.”
“Hundreds of thousands of cats are being neglected today.”
“You are nothing but a pathetic bunch of fat, ugly, man-hating feminazi bitches who are just pissed because Hillary lost.”
Many women also expressed outrage toward the marchers. A number of them commented that those who participated are a disgrace to the female gender. “You make me ashamed to be a woman!” huffed one sanctimonious Trump supporter.
Meanwhile, a great many men marched alongside women this year. Upon attending the Philadelphia event, I noticed that at least one third of the participants were males who were there to support their wives, girlfriends and female relatives, and to express their shared political views. But the critics claimed that the guys were just there to "pick up chicks," although they opined that the pickings must have been slim because only unattractive women attend these events.
In a nutshell, the overall erroneous perception among the detractors was that those who marched were just a bunch of homely, bitter, crazy cat ladies who aimlessly marauded through the streets donning vagina costumes because we had nothing better to do.
For me personally, the most disheartening and maddening misconceptions were that those of us who participated didn’t even know what we were marching for, and that women in the U.S. in particular have all of the rights and privileges that we could ever hope for.
So I am here to set the record straight about why we marched, and what we truly stand for.
What SJWPC Stands for, and What We Do
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is just one of the many liberal political groups to form within the last year in response to the current disquieting political climate.
As we explain on our website, “Formed in 2016, SJWPC is an 8,000-member action network for intersectional grassroots advocacy and activism, open to all who identify as female or were assigned female at birth. Our work focuses on ensuring strong democratic processes and racial justice, as well as progressive policies in education, the economy, healthcare, housing and the environment.” You can view our core platform here.
And we don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk via our many coalitions, programs and events through which we address and take action in regard to issues within our platform.
In a nutshell:
We support like-minded candidates who run for office, and hold those who are already in office accountable by attending freeholder meetings, town halls and other political gatherings where we make our voices heard. We also host Meet the Candidate events via our Political Engagement activities.
In addition, SJWPC is very active in immigration and racial justice reform. For one, our Racial Justice Action Group hosts monthly study groups to determine solutions to overcoming racial oppression. Our Immigration Action Group supports legislation that aids beleaguered immigrant communities, among other activities.
These are just some of the many things we stand for and what we do.
Marching to the Polls and Into Office
One aspect of the 2018 Women’s March that really resonated with me and many other like-minded women and men was an increased emphasis on getting out the vote via the movement's #Power to the Polls agenda.
The 2018 flagship march held in Nevada marked the official kickoff of national voter registration and mobilization drives geared toward encouraging more people to get to the polls during all elections, registering new voters and turning swing and red states blue.
One dramatic example of the difference women can make at the polls was the December 2017 special Senate election held in Alabama. Alleged pedophile and openly racist Republican Roy Moore was roundly defeated when he ran against progressive Democrat Doug Jones in this deepest of deep red states. This stunning upset was largely attributable to the record turnout of progressive black female voters.
In addition, the movement encourages women, men and marginalized people who share our values to run for office, and tirelessly supports progressive candidates. In fact, a record number of women have run for office in the year since the first Women's March. According to a report in Time magazine, in 2017 an astounding 26,000 women reached out to Democratic women's advocacy group Emily's List to inquire about running for office, compared to 900 in 2015 and 2016.
So we and other groups that share our values and visions are very much aware of the power we have at the voting booth and via running for office. And we work diligently to harness that power on an ongoing basis.
'What Rights Don't You Have?'
Another frustrating misconception shared by many conservative men and women is that American women have nothing to complain about, because we enjoy unlimited freedom and rights.
However, women in this country still make less money than men for the same work. Plus, our reproductive rights are currently under siege due to the vociferous Christian conservatives' pro-life movement, which seeks to severely infringe upon our bodily autonomy when it comes to abortion and general health care.
Last but certainly not least, progressive activists have given rise to the powerful #MeToo and Time's Up movements, which for the first time in history has forced our society to address sexual harassment and assault, and harshly deal with the perpetrators.
So not only do we know why we march and what we stand for, we stand up and fight for the rights, liberty and well being of all people who share our values and visions. And we don't just do so one day a year via taking to the streets. We do so all year long, with powerful results. To our detractors, I say, "We will not be silenced. And you ain't seen nothin' yet!"
By Amy Durr (Photograph: Daniel Hedden)
At the very end of Christie’s second term as governor, prison reform advocates received good news: the State of New Jersey is planning to close two of the three juvenile correctional facilities located in the state. Both the New Jersey Training School for Boys (Jamesburg) and the only prison for girls (Hayes) are slated to be closed.
Perhaps that because the state’s youth prisons are largely empty. The New Jersey Training School for Boys has a maximum capacity of 330 youth and currently houses 140 young people. The Female Secure Care and Intake Facility, the only youth prison for girls, housed only eight young women, approximately 17% of its maximum capacity of forty-eight.
The Murphy Administration now has the opportunity to make major reforms to our juvenile justice system and we can play a role in helping to reimagine the supports we offer to young people as they struggle to deal with what has often been a lifetime of trauma for generations.
One of the leading voices in juvenile prison reform in New Jersey is the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, which launched their 150 Years is Enough campaign on June 28, 2017. The goal of the Campaign was “to transform New Jersey’s youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care by closing two youth prisons—the New Jersey Training School for Boys (Jamesburg) and the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (Hayes)—and investing in community-based programs.”
Now that the first goal is accomplished, the next step is to envision, design, and build a new youth justice system in NJ according to best practices. SJWPC will organize with NJISJ on a county-based strategy, undertaking actions to build awareness on the issue of juvenile prison reform in NJ and support best practices such as: providing culturally sensitive, developmentally-appropriate, and trauma-informed care; ensuring sustained family engagement; and building new youth rehabilitation centers which are small, cottage-like, holistic, child-centered, treatment-focused, and imbued with wrap-around services.
Join the Racial Justice Action Group on February 13th as we learn about the next steps in the #150YearsisEnough campaign and how the Institute would like SJWPC advocates involved.
Event: The Bordentown School: Building the Prison-to-School Pipeline
Sponsor: New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
When: February 13, 2018, 5:30 to 8:00 PM
Where: The Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County (803 Smithville Rd., Mt. Holly)
More information on juvenile prison reform:
By Melissa Tomlinson
Black Lives Matter at school...We know this. We accept this. We want to highlight this.
Educators across the country asked themselves the same question for years. Attempts at reforming a system that has continuously whitewashed history, overlooked disparities in resources, disciplinary procedures, special education classification, identification of gifted students and ignored the push-out of teachers of color have met with minimal success.
Springboarding off of the previous work that the Caucus of Working Educators in Philadelphia and the Seattle Education Association had done around highlighting the fact that Black Lives Matter at School by incorporating thirteen Guiding Principles of the Black Lives Matter belief system, teachers across the country formed a committee to create and implement a campaign to start off this year’s Black History month. This committee chose three demands that they felt to be alignment with the Guiding Principles:
1) End zero tolerance discipline, implement restorative justice
2) Hire more Black teachers
3) Mandate Black history/Ethnic Studies, K-12
Unions and associations across the country have joined this educator-led call to action to endorse the national week of action. Currently endorsements have been issued from:
In New Jersey, the coalition members wanted to make sure that the union was not only willing to endorse the work of these educators, but also to put action into place to make sure that the work would continue. A new business item was brought before the NJEA Delegate Assembly for a vote.
No. 2 Date: January 20, 2018
Topic Black Lives Matter at School
Submitted by Melissa Tomlinson
County (or unit) Atlantic
I move that NJEA join the national call for Black Lives Matter at School Week, to be held Feb. 5-11, 2018, to help mark the celebration of Black History Month.
In support of this motion, NJEA will:
Updates, links to curriculum resources and contact information for those that wish to get involved can be found on the facebook page The National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Our Schools.