I subscribe to a number of sites which support public education such as Save Our Schools NJ and Network for Public Education. The other day I got an email asking me to sign a petition to have our State Assembly vote against ACR215/SCR132. This legislation would overturn the regulations approved by the NJ State Board of Education last year that made the PARCC test a graduation requirement. I am not writing today to discuss both sides of the legislation, but to explain what happened. I’m still shaking my head.
I signed the petition, included my contact information and it was sent to every Assembly member in NJ. On Sunday morning I got a personal response from an Assemblyman who does not represent the district where I live. Here was his message:
Thanks for your comment, I’m looking at the articles below as well. Why don’t you take a look and tell me what you think. This is a difficult decision, I want what’s best for the children.
Assemblyman <his name here>
So I clicked on the links he sent me. The first one was a commentary from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research titled Reason to Rethink Social Promotion. The article is dated October 1, 2006. The second article is from the New York Post dated November 22, 2009. The article is titled A diploma I can’t read.
As someone who has done research and understands not only the timeliness of research, but also the credibility of data sources, I was appalled this gentleman was relying on outdated information – and an article from the New York Post. I mean no offense to the Post, but if you’re researching to potentially overturn a piece of legislation which would impact graduation, as well as truly “want the best for children” I’m thinking you should be digging a bit deeper than the Post. Perhaps his staffers are of the ‘google’ generation and a quick search yielded these sites. But to consider outdated and uncredible sources for such an important decision? I’m left shaking my head.
There is a great deal of peer-reviewed research available on high school graduation requirements. I did a quick scholar.google.com search and found these: scholar.google search. While this is only a small list, it is a few steps further than the Post article, and an outdated policy institute commentary. I am astounded that a man in a position of voting power would rely on such uncredible sites. He and his staffers have the same access as the rest of us to do to the Internet to research the issue. But, at the very least I suppose I should be encouraged he is doing his homework in an effort to make an informed decision. But the Post???
Here’s my response to him:
Graduation requirements are essential. PARCC as that assessment? Ineffective. The articles you sent- one is a commentary, and the other is an article from the NY Post. There has to be some non-partisan data-driven studies which would be a much better read. May I suggest you also talk to educators, parents, administrators, and students. That, sir is the BEST research you can do.
I received a quick response which promptly ended our exchange.
Thanks for your comments. All the best, <his name here>
So if you want to know what’s best for the children, pick up the Post.
These are my reflections for today.