Gov. Chris Christie, arguably the most powerful man in New Jersey, yesterday ridiculed a high school senior for asking a perfectly reasonable question: Why won’t he come to Newark to hold one of his “town hall” meetings? He dismissed the question as “ridiculous” and then mocked the student for asking it.
The Newark public schools have been stripped of their assets by the state. The city’s children have been resegregated through a process of selection that leaves the neediest behind in the schools with the least assets while skimming the less needy students for charters. The people of the city have been stripped of their power to do anything about it and the ability to make change has been left in the hands of an incompetent superintendent and a megalomaniac governor who, once again, spit in the faces of city residents by saying he didn’t care. Chris Christie told popularly-elected mayor Ras Baraka—elected almost exclusively on school issues—that “I am the decider and you have nothing to do with it.”
The deeply flawed state school reorganization plan known as “One Newark” faces a federal investigation. In response to a detailed request for a probe from PULSE New Jersey, a parent activist group founded by Johnny Lattner and Sharon Smith, the U.S. Department of Education will determine whether the plan–which has confused the lives of thousands of city children and their parents–violates the civil rights of Newark parents.
We have been using public money to prop up private, for-profit colleges, while their students acquire crushing debt and questionable credentials. And, more than half of the students default on their loans.So, why, why are we doing this?Our Congress, the one that doesn’t want to spend money (well, on certain things anyway), has no hesitation in letting the dollars flow to these outfits. After all, Congress does care a lot about creating wealth for shareholders of corporations, and these “education corporations” receive 80 percent of their revenues from us, yes, the nation’s taxpayers.
The problem with the compromise reached between the Christie Administration and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) over the uses of high-stakes testing is this: The teachers’ union, rightly concerned about inappropriate uses of test results to evaluate teachers, won valuable, if temporary, protections for its members. However, the union, which has, for months, promoted a partnership with parent groups and others concerned about the damage the tests would do to students achieved no protections at all for children.
Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to a two-year delay in fully using the results of new standardized tests to evaluate New Jersey public school teachers, according to Statehouse and other sources. He also will reduce, from 30 percent to 10 and then 20 percent, how much the scores will count in future teacher evaluations.He will not, however, agree to delaying other uses of test results pending the work of a special study commission that would have at least two years to study the new testing program. The compromise, expected to form the basis of either an executive order or newly proposed regulations to be issued by Christie this week, is likely to make teacher unions and legislators happy but ignores the demands of less powerful parent groups.
The Star-Ledger has hired a former Hollywood celebrity gossip blogger to be the senior political correspondent who will cover Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign, according to social media sources.
In the wake of “Bridgegate,” press coverage shifted from near adulation of Chris Christie to embarrassed incredulity; the artful politician, poised to become a presidential contender, was reduced in a heartbeat to a tarnished pretender. The phrase, “He can’t lose,” morphed into “He can’t win.”
For the first time in nearly two centuries, Newark–the largest city in the eighth largest state in America–will not be home to a daily newspaper. After Sept. 8, The Star-Ledger will move its operations to Woodbridge and Edison, leaving the city newspaperless for the first time since the Daily Advertiser opened in the city in 1832. That’s a big story but government-controlled media in New Jersey won’t allow a discussion of it. NJTV News–your public broadcast station–chickened out.
Newark’s leadership and its people face an extraordinary challenge in the next few weeks. They either will collapse in the face of Chris Christie’s wily plan to divide the opposition and save his phony reputation as an educational “reformer” in time for the presidential primaries–or they will stand strong and united and use whatever means are necessary to force the state to return local control to Newark, to end “One Newark,” and to dismiss Cami Anderson, the inept, arrogant, and disrespectful agent of Christie in the city.