Archives for category: Newark


Cory Booker has been a devoted promoter of charters and vouchers for many years.

He worked closely with Republican Governor Chris Christie and together they persuaded Mark Zuckerberg to pony up $100 million to promote the charterization of Newark. He often boasts about what he accomplished by privatizing public schools.

But now that he wants to be president, he has suddenly decided that he will be a champion for public schools, not charters or vouchers. 

Could it be that he did the math and realized that 85-90% of students attend public schools. Only 6% attend charter schools. And he may have noticed that despite the efforts of his former dear friend Betsy DeVos, voters don’t like vouchers. They don’t want public dollars to underwrite religious schools.

Some of his allies are not at all happy about the new Cory.

It just goes to show where the wind is blowing: in  favor of public schools, not charters or vouchers.



Jersey Jazzman seems to be in an endless battle with New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, or at least with the writer of its editorials. He went to the trouble of getting a doctorate in statistics so he could persuade that editorialist to understand how the charters produce high test scores. It is called creaming, picking the best and excluding the rest. 

This article explains how in works.

Creaming has become a central issue in the whole debate about the effectiveness of charters. A school “creams” when it enrolls students who are more likely to get higher scores on tests due to their personal characteristics and/or their backgrounds. The fact that Newark’s charter schools enroll, as a group, fewer students with special education needs — particularly high-cost needs — and many fewer students who are English language learners is an indication that creaming may be in play.

If you understand how creaming works (as in skimming the cream from the milk bottle when it rises to the top—a phenomenon unknown to people below a certain age), then the charter claims of superiority are unimpressive.

If you don’t understand, and you refuse to try, then you will find the Newark Test Scores to be “incredible,” as the Star-Ledger did. Parse that word: Incredible. Not credible.









Jersey Jazzman, aka Dr. Mark Weber, teacher, scholar, and blogger, brings the facts about the Newark schools up to date.

He does so in part because of Senator Cory Booker’s campaign, which has prompted news stories about the “Newark miracle.”

Bottom line: Don’t believe in miracles, at least secular miracles.


Whenever anyone mention an education “miracle,” scoff. We had the “Texas miracle,”  the “New York City Miracle” (that lasted only as long as MIchael Bloomberg was Mayor), and countless others.

Now that Cory Booker is running for President, we will hear about the “Newark miracle.” Don’t believe it.

To understand the statistical legerdemain, read Jersey Jazzman’s explanation here about Newark.

JJ is a teacher who became so frustrated with false claims that he went to Rutgers and earned a doctorate so he could master statistics and put paid to lies.

Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat reports here that the forces of privatization are spending big in Newark to squelch local independent candidates.

Mayor Ras Baraka, who once railed against charter schools, has now joined forces with their funders, which gives him access to their money and power.

Wall writes:

The top spender in Newark’s school board race is a special-interest group with ties to New Jersey charter schools, according to campaign filings reported ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The group, Great Schools for All PAC, has already spent about $46,000 supporting a team of three candidates backed by Newark’s political establishment. By contrast, a rival team has reported spending less than $3,300 so far.

Last year, the group spent nearly $147,000 on the board race — more than three times the amount shelled out by the next-biggest spender.

Great Schools for All is an independent group that can raise and spend unlimited amounts in elections, but cannot coordinate with the candidates it supports. It has paid for online ads, direct mailings, phone banks, and canvassers to promote its chosen candidates, according to the filings.

The group’s chairman is Kyle Rosenkrans, the former CEO of the Northeast Charter Schools Network who was recently an official at KIPP New Jersey, one of the state’s largest charter school networks. The group’s donors include the political arm of a group that wants to expand charter schools across the country and another group co-founded by a KIPP board member.

Great Schools for All is just the latest charter-affiliated entity to spend heavily on Newark school board races. In 2016 and 2017, a pro-charter advocacy group called the Parent Coalition for Excellent Education, or PC2E, spent a combined $380,000 supporting candidates, according to campaign filings.

The spending is part of a trend across the country where national funders pushing a vision of education change that usually involves more charter schools are playing an ever-greater role in local school board elections.

In Newark, both PC2E and Great Schools for All have backed teams of candidates endorsed by Mayor Ras Baraka and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos. The teams — originally called Unity, and now dubbed Moving Newark Schools Forward — have swept each election since the once-rival politicians and charter school advocates joined forces in 2016.

Defenders of the coalition say it has eliminated the divisive political battles and clashes between supporters of traditional and charter schools that once defined the city’s school board elections. But critics argue that the alliance and the outside money flowing into the election have made it nearly impossible for independent candidates to win seats on the board.

Denise Cole, a Newark parent and education activist who is running on a grassroots team called Children Over Politics, said the special-interest group has “smothered” the voices of Newark residents vying for seats on the board.

“School board elections are for the people and the people’s voice — not for outsiders to come in here and take over our schools,” said Cole, whose teammates include Saafir Jenkins and Leah Owens…

Rosenkrans’ new nonprofit is bankrolled by The City Fund, a national group planning to spend nearly $200 million to push cities to expand charter schools and give district-run schools more autonomy. An offshoot of The City Fund dedicated to politics and lobbying gave Great Schools for All $25,000 to spend on the Newark board race, according to campaign filings.

Great Schools for All received another $15,000 from Better Education for New Jersey Kids Inc., which grew out of a group established in 2011 to support education policies favored by then-Gov. Chris Christie and opposed by the state teachers union. The co-founders were New Jersey hedge fund managers David Tepper and Alan Fournier, a KIPP New Jersey board member whose foundation donated $1 million to KIPP schools in Newark.

To cut to the chase, a national organization–The City Fund–is bankrolling the slate of pro-charter candidates in Newark. The eight non-funded candidates have raised a total of $5,900. The point of this operation is indeed to “smother” the voices of local residents, unless they want to give their public schools to a corporate charter chain like KIPP.




Bob Braun is one of the keenest investigative reporters in the nation, who worked for New Jersey’s leading newspaper—the Star-Ledger—for half a century. Now, retired, he keeps watch over the corporate privatization of New Jersey’s public schools, especially those in Newark. That city, it’s schools, and it’s children have been in a Reformer Petri dish for decades.

The schools were taken over by the states in the 1990s. At last, the state has restored an elected board, but the politicians are maneuvering to gain control of the board.

Sadly, Mayor Ras Baraka is leading the effort for a takeover by the charter industry, after running as the anti-charter candidate for mayor.

There is a school board election in Newark on Tuesday.

Read the latest story here. 


Bob Braun was an investigative reporter for the New Jersey Star Ledger for many years. After he retired, he began blogging and is a reliable source for exposes of the inner workings of the state and the city of Newark.

Read this one. 

Braun tells the story of the Newark public schools, with accounts of back-scratching, lavish contracts that produced nothing, well-paid consultants and a revolving door of officials. You will encounter familiar names. Chris Christie. Cami Anderson. Chris Cerf. Michelle Rhee. TNTP (The New Teacher Project.) It feels like a rerun of a very bad movie, the one where the bad guys take the money and run and they don’t get caught.

Lots of money for everyone.

And what about the children? Oh.


It’s about time. A story in the Los Angeles Times notes that those Democratic candidates who supported charters (and still do) are facing a backlash by their party’s voters. The wave of teachers’ strikes have brought into sharp relief the fact that most families enroll their children in public schools, not charter schools; that charter schools are a priority for Republicans, Wall Street, and far-right libertarians like Betsy DeVos; and that support for public schools is a bedrock principle of the Democratic Party.

The candidate who was most outspoken as a supporter of both charters and vouchers was Cory Booker. He worked in alliancewith anti-union Governor Chris Christie to bring chartersto Newark. He worked closely with Betsy Dezvos and gave a speech to her organization. He was honored by the rightwing Manhattan Institute for supporting school choice. He wanted to turn Newark into the New Orleans of the North, with no public schools and no teachers’ union. He still defends that record.

Michael Bloomberg was a big supporter of charters in New York City and favored them over the public schools he took control of. He’s now out of the race, so no need to worry other than that he will find a Democratic DeVos to fund. He despises public schools.

Michael Bennett of Colorado supported charters when he was superintendent of schools in Denver. Governor Hickenlooper appointed Bennett to the Senate.

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State did not stand up to Bill Gates after the Washington State Supreme Court decided that charter schools and not entitled to receive public money. Gates persuaded his friends in the legislature to give lottery money to charters, and Gov. Inslee neither signed nor vetoed the law, allowing Gates to get state funding. Not a profilein courage.

The election of 2020 will be a deciding moment, when Democratic candidates are asked to declare whether they support the public schools, or the privately-managed, scandal-ridden charters that enroll 6% of the nation’s students.






Nowthat Cory Booker is running for the Democratic nomination for president, expect to hear a Big Liesabout the transformation of the Newark’s hoops when Booker was Mayor.

This study by Bruce Baker and Mark Weber of Rutgers University is a useful antidote.

Cory Booker has launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The stories in the mainstream media focus on his charm, his charisma, his theme of “love” and bipartisanship.

But they all miss one point, which Eric Blanc stresses: Cory Booker hates public schools.

Sen. Cory Booker (NJ–D) announced his presidential campaign last week. There’s plenty about Booker’s record worth examining, from his extremely cozy relationship with pharmaceutical companies to his bizarre public defense of Wall Street. But nothing in Booker’s past is as damning as his record on schools.

For close to two decades, Cory Booker has been at the forefront of a nationwide push to dismantle public education.

According to Booker, the education system is the main cause of our society’s fundamental problems, rather than, say, inequality and unchecked corporate power. As he explained in a 2011 speech, “disparities in income in America are not because of some ‘greedy capitalist’ — no! It’s because of a failing education system.”

Public schools, Booker continued, are also responsible for mass incarceration and racial injustice. To combat such evils, Booker has openly praised Republican leader Betsy DeVos’s organization American Federation for Children for fighting to win the final battle of the civil rights’ movement.

Scapegoating underfunded public schools for deeply rooted racial and economic problems makes little sense. But it’s been a ticket to the top for Cory Booker. In fact, it was by hitching his star to the corporate-backed “education reform” movement that Booker first rose to prominence.

The son of wealthy parents who were among IBM’s first black executives, Booker’s big political break came in September 2000, when he was tapped to give a keynote speech to the archconservative Manhattan Institute. Calling the Newark school system “repugnant,” Booker claimed there was “great evidence” that large groups of children “cannot succeed in the public school system.”

Yet rather than improving this system by increasing school funding or building public “community schools,” Booker made a hard case for charter schools as well as school vouchers, i.e., state funding for parents to pay for private schools. To give this pitch a social justice veneer, he quoted Frederick Douglas — “power concedes nothing without force” — and steeped his arguments in the language of racial justice.

Booker’s eloquent advocacy of corporate antiracism quickly caught the eye of wealthy hedge-fund investors interested in pushing privatization. In Dale Russakoff’s The Prize, a detailed account of philanthropic efforts to reform Newark’s public schools, Booker notes that though he “became a pariah in Democratic circles for taking on the Party orthodoxy on education,” his 2002 mayoral bid was boosted by “all these Republican donors and donors from outside Newark, many of them motivated because we have an African-American urban Democrat telling the truth about education.”

One of Booker’s main financial backers, Whitney Tilson, was honest about the profit motivations for large hedge-fund investors like himself. Charter schools, he explained to the New York Times, are the ideal philanthropic opportunity for such business leaders because “[h]edge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital.”

While the over $3 million in campaign contributions Booker received from his school reform sponsors was not quite enough to buy him the 2002 election, Booker’s 2006 mayoral bid was victorious. Due in large part to his zealous commitment to privatization, Newark has gone from having less than 10 percent of students in charters in 2008, to over 33 percent today; by 2022, 44 percent of the city’s students are set to be schooled in these publicly financed but privately run institutions.

If you blame public schools for all of the ills of our unjust society, Cory Booker is your guy.