Memorial Day: It’s about not forgetting, even 50 years later

Dick Riley

Before New Jersey bought the property in Union as the site for Newark State Teachers College, the land was a farm owned by the Kean family. The Keans were from South Carolina but, in the 18th Century, one of them married a Livingston– Livingston, as in Robert Livingston, the first governor of New Jersey.  All of that is unimportant except for this: I met Dickie Riley on what we called Kean’s Farm and he became my friend. He was my friend until he was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam  50 years ago. October 24, 1968.

Newark schools: An illusion of local control, an illusion of democracy, an illusion of reform

Johnnie Lattner–an independent Newark school board candidate

The Newark school board election is scheduled for tomorrow–but the results already are already  in. Two winners: Ras Baraka, the city’s mayor. And the other winner–Christopher Cerf , the charter school champion,  Chris Christie pal, and former city schools superintendent and state education commissioner whose snake oil consulting show continues to play–and pay–in Newark.


Gov. Phil Murphy (photo WHYY)

Gov. Philip Murphy’s rejection of  the appointment of Paula White as assistant state education commissioner was the right decision for the public schools of New Jersey. She is an avowed proponent of school privatization, the former head of an organization that promotes charter schools. She was named to a top position in a department already overloaded with ideological partisans  of charter and voucher schools who flocked to New Jersey during the eight years of former Gov. Chris Christie’s  misrule.

Watchung Hills High, once focus of PARCC controversy, now faces cheating scandal

Elizabeth Jewett, Watchung Hills superintendent

Watchung Hills Regional High School in Somerset County’s Warren Township–one of New Jersey’s academically strongest public high schools–is embroiled in an extensive student cheating scandal that could involve, according to one teacher, “hundreds” of students who obtained testing and other materials from a website and elsewhere.

A cruel afternoon at the Motor Vehicle Commission

I’ve had root canals. I’ve had gum surgery. But, when I went to get my driver’s license renewed recently, I knew real pain.

I had no choice but to appear in person. The letter I received from the state Motor Vehicle Commission contained a number of “skip the trip” urgings but they were countermanded by a contradictory warning superimposed on the renewal form: If you want your license, you had to do this thing live.

A different kind of American–a real one–looks at Haiti and sees love

Megan Coffee

Eight years ago today, an earthquake struck Haiti and killed more than 200,000 people. I was sent there twice by The Star-Ledger to write about what happened. While there, I renewed my acquaintance with Dr. Megan Coffee from Maplewood, who, 12 years earlier, had been named a Star-Ledger Scholar, a program I helped run to recognize the brightest New Jersey high school graduates. Instead of pursuing a career that would make her wealthy, she became a healer in the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. It seems especially appropriate now, on this anniversary, with this national leadership, with the sickening language we’ve heard and read in the last 24 hours, to recall there are Americans who look at Haiti and see love. Here is an article I wrote about Dr. Coffee for The Star-Ledger in the summer of 2010: