NJ Spotlight Exec Director on Education and Hyperlocal Media

Steve Adubato sits down with John Mooney, Executive Director and Education Writer, NJ Spotlight, to discuss education policy in New Jersey and the importance of hyperlocal journalism in today’s news cycle.

1/25/2020 #331






"We are pleased to be joined by John Mooney, executive director and education writer, New Jersey Spotlight. John, tell folks the connection between Spotlight and the larger public television family. Thanks Steve. As you know, Spotlight's been around for about ten years. We are actually celebrating our tenth birthday pretty soon. But we were acquired by WNET, Channel 13 in New York, to be a partner with NJTV News in New Jersey, to be their digital arm, and we think it's a wonderful marriage. And really, I think the biggest beneficiary is our viewers and readers who will get really more complete coverage of public affairs in New Jersey. And to that end, check out NJTV News every night, and see exactly what John's talking about. John, let's get to some of the key issues. Education issues. Where are we with this thing called the PARCC test, as we speak on the 3rd of October, 2019? It's evolving? Yeah. It is definitely evolving to say the least. I mean... Standardized tests? Yeah. Standardized tests aren't going anywhere. And it's gonna be online. PARCC is being phased out. It, obviously, was controversial. Just its name is controversial at this point. It'll be phased out. They will... it'll ultimately be replaced by a very similar test with a different name, but where we're evolving right now is, how much testing we want our kids to do. And, you know, how often? And right now, there's a big debate, especially around high school, in whether we require testing every year in high school or at least ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade. The Murphy Administration is pushing to scale it back, as he's long promised to do. There are some forces out there that want to maintain it. They think that it's really valuable in ensuring that students are... there's some accountability for students. And the less testing, the less you know about how the kids are doing. Yes, schools do a lot of their own testing, obviously. But there's real questions of whether they're really living up to their promise either. So it's a big debate. A philosophical one. It's... Also a practical one? I'm sorry for interrupting John. There are a lot of questions that people are asking. And we've had a lot of educators come on and say, "Listen, I love teaching. I don't love teaching to the test to the degree we do." A fair argument? Yeah. Sure. Sure, it's fair. But where's the accountability? I mean, I think... You gotta have it somehow? You gotta have it somewhere. And if it's not that, then what? Yeah. Exactly. And so, that's a big question. And it comes... what comes into it is graduation requirements, and all those kinds of things, and whether a test should be required for that. These..."