Bob Braun gets it wrong. Really wrong.

I’m a Jersey boy.  Remember the end of the opening scene of The Sopranno’s? That was me; walking down the driveway, getting the newspaper.  That newspaper was The Star Ledger.

There are legends that write at the Ledger.  Reporters that you look forward to reading.  One of them was Bob Braun. Bob covered everything and anything.  A staple of New Jersey culture, politics, and championing the little guy.

Maybe I liked Bob more because his wife taught my younger brother and I at Connecticut Farms in Union. Maybe I liked Bob more because he always took the time to dig deep and be thorough.  Maybe I liked Bob more because he was no-thrills.

Bob, I have to take it back now.

I’m so disgusted with the story you published on your blog earlier this week talking about how one of the Assistant Commissioners of Education, Bari Erlichson, is the reason why NJDOE & Pearson (the cultivators of the PARCC test) are so tight. Bob, through shoddy reporting and attempted parlor tricks, tries to correlate Assistant Commissioner Erlichson’s husband (a software developer) to why / how the PARCC test is here today.

While the story is simply ridiculous, Bob thought it was necessary to place her address, taxes, and a plethora of other personal, irrelevant information in the story.  The attempt to make the Erlichson’s look like the 1% failed; the whole article failed.  Well, to be fair, it succeeded in solidifying that Bob needs to retire… for real this time.  Such a callous article really makes me want to reach out to Mrs. Braun and ask her to remove Bob’s keyboard and enjoy the sunset that you both worked so hard to do.

Look at some of these facts:

  • All of the Pearson contracts are public
  • Of those contracts, none of them list MongoDB (Bari’s husband’s company) as a subcontractor
  • Pearson sold this company approximately 15 months before NJDOE contracted with them
  • Bari had nothing to do with the selection process; that’s not her area.
  • The house was purchased way before Bari’s husband even worked for MongoDB – roughly four years

For the past three weeks, there has been article after article, demonizing everyone who has something remotely nice to say about the PARCC test.  Some folks have taken it so personal , they’ve made flat out threatening statements.  I heard one story where someone was told to ‘watch their back, you never know who’s driving behind you’ and heard of another story where a Superintendent was threatened with a pipe bomb.  A PIPE BOMB! Really?!  Over a test?

This is just a test!  It’s going to show how our teachers are teaching and how our learners are learning.  It’s not the test in India or China that determines the rest of your life.  There’s going to be kinks, and there’s going to be mistakes. Have kinks and mistakes not been made before in other assessments? The PARCC is promising more data with a speedier return.  When have we not wanted information that more efficient and customized to the learner? Students are no longer cattle getting a one-size-fits-all assessment.  It’s 2015, and there’s no reason not to get it today like this.

I’m assuming some folks will automatically assume that I’m writing this because employees at the NJDOE are my bosses.  Newsflash – they’re not.  I don’t report to the NJDOE county office,  any NJDOE official, or even the Commissioner of Education.  I report to the locally elected Board Of Education members.  The NJDOE can suggest I do things, just like the BOE, but they can’t tell me what to do.

So, going full circle, back to the Pearson / NJDOE coziness.  There isn’t any.  Get over it, Bob.  Get back to being the awesome reporter you are, or retire the keyboard and let people reflect on you for being that awesome reporter you were.

Onward.

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