All our children need good schools. Nobody disagrees with that. So why can’t we have a civil, rational discussion about how to reach the goal for all kids? Why do we end up twisting statistics in a semantic duel?

The latest bad example is chronicled in Bob Braun’s column yesterday [Monday, 2/21]. Now, Bob Braun has never left a good fight and he has a defined point of view.  But he’s never been one for a cheap shot.  For the Acting Commissioneer to call his request for data “silly” is highly regrettable.

It’s all the rage these days to ask for data driven decision making. And it’s a good idea to look at the data, all the data.

The data requested by Braun and the Star Ledger does exist. The State of NJ data base NJSMART has data that distinguishes students who are eligible for free lunch from those who are eligible for reduced lunch. It’s data districts collect and report to both the state and federal governments each on October 15. It’s data used to allocate resources within schools and districts.  It’s data that helps support the NJ State Department of Education. So why doesn’t the Commissioner want to look at it when we look at school performance comparisons?

Our decisions must be more than a matter of faith [or ideology]. We ought to be data driven using all the data.  What do you think?

For ALL the kids,

Irene