Diane\'s Blog

Salvatore Balsamo

Ms. Ravitch,

Thank you for all of your hard work in exposing the myths of modern school reform. I am a history teacher at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ. Monday will be my fifth anniversary there. We now have our third Superintendent, chosen by the state, in that time. Each year that I have been there we undergo a new and different school model, every year a new initiative different than the previous year. There is no continuity for students. We are a nine-year failing school, so now we risk being shut down. We also lose our highest achieving students every year to Passaic County Tech, and eleven other academies in town. Now the governor has approved a new charter school. I don’t know how we can be expected to succeed in such a scenario.

I don’t know why I’m writing you, but I want to be more active and I don’t know if my union or political reps are fighting it as hard as they ought to. If we voucher or charter our best students out of public schools we’ll have no positive peer role models left for the average student. And each year we’ll be held accountable to raise scores for all the students that get counseled out of private or charter schools. Your review of Waiting for Superman and your op-ed in the Wall Street Journal were wonderful to see and inspiring. We need that message to get out more in my state and turn the discourse back to reality. Here in NJ we’re the entire reason that the state is broke and we’re lazy and no good. Well, we also have one of the top school systems in the country too, but no one sees that.

I look forward to more of your articles and any advice you can offer.

Thanks again,
Salvatore Balsamo