The Star-Ledger’s alternative universe–and the reality in Newark

John Abeigon--NTU president
John Abeigon–NTU president

If you read the state’s largest newspaper or its digital version, NJ.COM, you will expect that. on Tuesday, thousands of angry teachers will march together into the next meeting of the Newark school board. Of course, that will not happen. But in the alternate universe populated by The Star-Ledger’s chief editorial writer, the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) is “a potent political force in town”–and that “potent political force” has called for a massive demonstration against state-appointed superintendent Christopher Cerf.

How NJ teachers rescued children from Pearson’s PARCC computer crash

It's a good things teachers were around to save Pearson from a worse disaster
It’s a good thing teachers were around to save Pearson from a worse disaster

Teachers were the unheralded heroes of New Jersey’s statewide testing disaster. State education commissioner David Hespe called the screw-up “unacceptable” but his day was pretty routine. Ditto, the high-priced executives at Pearson, the test-publisher. Just a glitch, as the main stream media called it. But many suffered–and many teachers drew on their professional training, experience and mother wit to get hundreds of thousands of children through a really bad day.

Newark voters go to polls to elect a school board. Sort of.

Follow the money backing the charter schools in the election.
Follow the money backing the charter schools in the election.

Newark voters go to the polls Tuesday to elect three members to the city school board, officially known as the “Newark School Advisory Board.” That’s about the last simple, commonsensical thing that can be said about the election. It all goes south from here–starting with knowing the school board has little power to do anything.

Good-bye, Mary Jo Patterson: New Jersey loses a great journalist–and I lose a friend.

Good-bye, Mary Jo.

Good-bye, old friend.
Good-bye, old friend. (Star-Ledger photo)

It was a crazy idea, I knew, and so did she–but it was the sort of crazy idea that drove young people like us to a profession like no other. Mary Jo Patterson and I, then both 31 and reporters at The Star-Ledger, would pose as young lovers in the New York neighborhoods haunted by the so-called “Son of Sam” killer. Be bait for the homicidal maniac and, in the process, snare a story like no other.

Silence of the lambs–or, whatever happened to the Newark Educational Success Board?

Baraka and Christie meet at the State House.
Baraka and Christie meet at the State House.

The Newark Educational Success Board (NESB) was created as part of the deal between Gov. Chris Christie and Ras Baraka, the city’s mayor, that ended months of increasingly militant demonstrations against state control of New Jersey’s largest school district. The NESB has operated in almost total secrecy since its creation June 26, 2015–and major developments affecting the panel have not been made public. Members of the board agreed to impose a gag order on themselves and not speak publicly about its primary mission–a return of local control.

POISONED CHILDREN: Hey, Newark–why are you letting Cerf game you?

Cerf and friends
Cerf and friends

Newark, a city with a reputation for grit and defiance, has allowed a white, effete fop from Montclair–Christopher Cerf–to both fool its political leaders and cover up his own culpability in the negligent poisoning of the city’s school children with lead.  It doesn’t surprise me he can con the mainstream media, which loves to  give him consoling hugs in print–but it’s nothing short of art how he can game so many in a city that has suffered so much at his hands.