Besides New York, no other state spends as much per pupil with the exception of New Jersey. Per the films research spending can exceed $400,000 per classroom, and yet only 39 percent of the state’s eighth-graders are proficient or advanced readers, and only 40 percent of its eighth-graders are proficient or advanced in math. Also in the state’s community colleges there are almost 80 percent of students who are requiring remediation. That is right parents you can pay for remedial classes for the stuff they never learned in K-12. Oh yeah, and the kid doesn’t get college credits for these courses either. And of the money spent per classroom 10 cents per dollar goes to the teacher and the other 90 cents per dollar goes to other expenses. As a matter of fact there were two teachers in the movie theater who stood up and admitted that all this money taxpayers are paying is not trickling down to the classroom.
The film speaks about PISA scores:
“In 2006, the average U.S. score in mathematics literacy was 474, lower than the OECD average score of 498. Thirty-one jurisdictions (23 OECD jurisdictions and 8 non-OECD jurisdictions) scored higher, on average, than the United States in mathematics literacy in 2006. In contrast, 20 jurisdictions (4 OECD jurisdictions and 16 non-OECD jurisdictions) scored lower than the United States in mathematics literacy in 2006.”
The movie also reflects upon the kinds of severance pay and pensions that superintendents are walking away with. For instance they site the Keansburg super who was suppose to walk away with $741,000 in severance pay plus a pension over a $100,000 a year. (I know that after the movie was shot this case was since then settled in litigation but the state and the Keansburg school board did provide her with $50,000 to help cover the legal fees and she is still entitled to accrued vacation and sick time of more than $184,000 plus an annual pension of about $104,000).
In the movie they also compare New Jersey to another small densley populated state. Delaware has 24 school districts as compared to New Jersey having 616. But was more intriguing was that the students handled in a ONE Maryland school district would be FIFTEEN N.J. school districts. With that said they said this would eliminate 14 superintendent positions per district. Then they also talk that this isn’t even speaking about the assistant superintendents, directors of curriculum, etc….
The movie also exposes the School Construction Corporation that was set up here in N.J. and could not account for one billion dollars. Yes, one billion dollars taxpayer money. In any event, the money could not be accounted for and nobody was endighted on criminal charges. I actually found a report from the Office of Attorney General today when I was looking up some of the stuff that the movie discussed. The link is:
They also talk about teachers punished for speaking out, principals who were fired for trying to do the right thing, and bureaucrats who block new charter schools. It reflects on NJ Board Members who took bribes. It cites numerous scandals in N.J.. And it points out, This is just the stuff we know about.
The film also shows us teens who can’t read, parents who are desperate for change, and teachers who struggle to do the right thing.
There was a part of the movie that videoed a charter school lottery for inner city kids and shows a little girl in tears who did not get a spot. That part made me cry as I know that kind of pain of getting in the right school.
Of course, in this movie alot of scenes take place in our inner cities but it is an independent film so the producer does not have Hollywood dollars backing him. That said they always film the buiding that is almost burnt to the ground rather then the building that only have a few floors on fire. Would be great if he could do a sequel on surburban communities but again it takes money.
Another interesting part is when they show what happens to charter schools who are failing. Well the answer was they shut them down. However, what happens to to public schools that are failing? Well we give them MORE MONEY. I do know that I saved an article that showed The Unity Charter school in Morris County had the highest state testing scores in the county. I also know they only get like 90% of the funding that the public schools get. I actually even visited that school and know that they do not have all the bells and whistles of public school classrooms yet they outperformed students in public school here in Morris County. The movie cites other scenarios like this too. Oh, and they showed even one church who started a project that teaches kids using curriclum books that were thown out by the public schools.
In a scene with an NJEA interview they (the NJEA) claims there is no proof or research that the voucher system works yet the movie also points out that yes there is research. One specific person who has researched and agrees that the voucher system works is Paul Peterson from Harvard.
Oh, and they talk about tenure. They cite that Bergen county has had no tenured teachers fired in a decade. Newark has only gotten rid of .037% of their tenured teachers. They went to the NJEA with these figures and they said, Well the public should be happy that 99.7% of their teachers are so good. The audience got a good chuckle.
So one huge point made is that tenure may make us get rid of new great teachers while having to keep tenured ineffective ones.
Oh and they showed this story about a tenured teacher named Corcoran who managed to make it through school, college and 17 years of teaching before taking classes to become literate.
My take is that this movie focused on more money causing patronage jobs and of course the big theme was school waste, administration costs, corruption, pensions, the NJEA almost being mafia like. And of course the fight to provide school choice.
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT