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NJEA Calls Out Christie For ‘College Ready’ Comment

“A slap in the face to hundreds of Camden graduates”

Published on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

GraduatesNJEA President Wendell Steinhauer today took strong issue with Gov. Chris Christie for suggesting that only three students in Camden were ready for college last year.


In yesterday’s State of the State address, Christie said: “How bad is it in Camden? Last year, only three students graduated ‘college ready’,” giving the false impression that the city’s schools do not send students on to higher education, Steinhauer said.

Christie’s statement was based on an arbitrary SAT cutoff score chosen by the College Board, publisher of the SAT, to market its for-profit product. It takes no account of students’ grades, scores on other tests, success in Advanced Placement courses, or other measures of learning and academic success.

In fact, large numbers of Camden high school graduates are attending college, and the proof is on Christie’s Department of Education website.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse, which collects college enrollment data from 95 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, shows that 16 months after the 2011 graduations, the following percentages of graduates from Camden’s four public high schools and its public charter high school were attending institutions of higher education:
◾Camden High School – 34% (full report)
◾Brimm Medical Arts High School – 79% (full report)
◾Met East High School – 69% (full report)
◾Woodrow Wilson High School – 42% (full report)
◾LEAP Academy Charter School – 100% (full report)

“Gov. Christie’s claim that only three Camden students graduated from high school ‘college ready’ is deceptive, disingenuous and a slap in the face to the hundreds of Camden public school graduates currently attending college and succeeding in their studies,” said Steinhauer.

“We call on the governor to personally apologize to every Camden graduate currently enrolled and succeeding in college,” said Steinhauer. “It will take him a while, because it’s a long list of capable, successful students. But every single one of them deserves an apology for the governor’s thoughtless insult to their hard work, intelligence and success.

“It is alarming and disheartening that Gov. Christie is once again reducing students to nothing more than their score on a single standardized test to advance a political agenda that is hostile to public education,” Steinhauer said.

“The governor’s unwillingness to acknowledge the hard work and success of Camden’s successful graduates, many of whom have risen above very challenging circumstances in remarkable ways, is an example of petty politics at its worst,” said Steinhauer. “We should applaud Camden’s successful students, hold them up as role models, and use their example to help current students see a better future and believe they can achieve it.

“Camden’s public schools face many challenges, and deserve our full attention. But no twisting of data for political purposes will diminish the commitment of Camden’s teachers and school staff, nor the hard work and demonstrated successes of their students,” he said.

“The adults charged with educating Camden’s children, from the Governor, to the superintendent, to administrators, to the classroom teachers and every other school employee, must work together to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to provide Camden’s children with a great public education. Where we have fallen short, we must work together to improve, and where our students have succeeded, we must learn from that success so we can emulate it throughout the district,” said Steinhauer.

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