The Star-Ledger wants us to vote for a man it calls a catastrophe and a fraud. No, thanks.

Christie mug shot on the cover of Time
Christie mug shot on the cover of Time

What is extraordinary about  today’s Star-Ledger editorial endorsing Chris Christie  is that it invites readers to follow an immoral—or, at least, amoral—path: To vote for a man its anonymous author points out is “hostile to low income families” by raising their taxes and “sabotaging”  affordable housing. The writer asks us to vote for a man who is a “catastrophe” for the environment and “fraudulent”  in his budget. The newspaper concedes he is destroying our independent judiciary.  New Jersey’s largest daily further asks us to embrace someone who is at least borderline corrupt because he made sure a friend won a no-bid state contract.

The newspaper fails to mention other failures, including the loss of $400 million in federal education funds,  the blunder of canceling the tunnel project, his opposition to Obamacare, and his support from the Koch brothers, men who are destroying democracy as we know it.  Typically for this newspaper, it finds Christie’s uncivil and obnoxious behavior “entertaining.” It’s not. It’s beneath the dignity of a great state. Anyone who suggests taking a bat to a woman or calls a critic a “jerk” or “numbnuts” does not deserve serious attention much less high office. He deserves to be sent back to Morris County for another try at the freeholder board.

Most of the argument for Christie—in fact, all of the argument for him—is a rant against Barbara Buono who is guilty of the sin of offering support for, and receiving support from, teachers and their unions. This is typical of The Star-Ledger’s editorial obsession with  school privatization, its invention of “studies” that somehow prove charter schools are better than conventional public schools, and its hero worship of political bosses turned educational entrepreneurs like George Norcross and Steve Adubato.

This is utter nonsense.  Anyone  who knows anything about New Jersey schools—and I wrote about them for nearly 50 years—knows at least two things. The first is that the state’s schools are among the best in the nation. I spent a lot of time writing about selective college admissions. I ran a scholarship program for New Jersey’s best high school graduates. No state has better public schools. Admissions directors at Ivy and similarly selective colleges will say it. Tests prove it.

The second is that the exception to this record of excellence is found in New Jersey’s cities that are severely racially segregated and steeped in cruel poverty.  Teachers alone—no matter what their training, not matter how they are evaluated, no matter what union they belong to—cannot overcome the state’s historic record of shame in locking up the poor and people of color in cities like Newark, Paterson, and Camden. Tenure has nothing to do with the achievement gap between rich and poor and black and white—that is a bald-faced, hypocritical, slanderous lie.

This governor—not Barbara Buono—was responsible for the state-operated urban schools for the last four years; he owns their failure. This governor—not Barbara Buono—is trying to destroy fair housing in New Jersey; he promotes racial isolation. This governor—not Barbara Buono—has done nothing to alleviate the problems of  our cities. This governor—unlike Barbara Buono—cares not a whit about the poor and the minority. He has even all but bragged about how  his family left Newark in a hurry when the nature of the city’s demographics changed.

What charter schools do is exacerbate the segregation of children by race, by wealth, by language,  and by achievement. Those who, like this editorial’s writer, believe charters and voucher schools should replace conventional public schools are this generation’s equivalent of  southern segregationists. Remember this—after Brown vs Board of Education, voucher schools sprung up across the south.  That’s happening in New Jersey, too, but the motive is a greed that is simply too alluring to worry about warehousing the neediest children  in resource-starved public schools.

Privatization makes money for enterpreneurs and those who slop at the trough of foundation money from people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Eli Broad. Private businessmen are not creating profit-making charter management companies because they want to improve education. They are doing it because that’s where the money is—some $700 billion nationally. Charters and voucher schools are about greed, not learning.

Frankly, in such an atmosphere, public school teachers need more aggressive unions than they have now.  They need stronger, not weaker,  job protections because they are under assault—led by a playground bully of a governor who referred to them as “drug mules.” Zuckerberg, Gates, and Broad are billionaires buying up politicians who run entire states—and I am supposed to care that teacher unions want to protect their members, as they are legally required to do?

Teacher-bashing and union-bashing are in the DNA of Star-Ledger editorial writers and are probably linked to the resentment they felt when teacher unions refused to go along with Christie’s demand for a wage freeze.  At that time, Star-Ledger employees were facing agonizing insecurity. But, damn it—I wish I had a union then that might have protected me from the consequences of pay cuts, furloughs, increased insurance costs, eventual  layoffs, and a pension freeze.

Why is it okay for billionaires to keep their profits and buy politicians but not okay for working people to want to hold on to a salary that helped them get into the middle class? Christie could have raised taxes on millionaires. Instead, he blamed public employees and, with the help of traitorous Democrats like Steve Sweeney—he cut pensions and benefits.

And Barbara Buono is “deeply flawed”?

The worst of this editorial is the smarmy line about “our duty is to the readers, and our goal is to help them decide which button to push.’’

No thanks, Mr. Editorial Writer. The ethical, the moral, thing to have done, given the arguments you yourself used, was to say we endorse no one. Otherwise what you are doing is urging  a vote for someone you have proven beyond doubt is, in your words, a fraud and a catastrophe–and unworthy of high office.

Never, in 50 years of newspaper work, have I seen such contorted logic and such  breathtaking cynicism. Shame on you.

(A note about the ad. If you click on the Garden ad and then go to promotions, you’ll see a coupon for 15 percent off. I’m usually there on weekends. Ask for me–Bob)

  1. Chris Christie is not a man of integrity. Instead, he is a cheat and a liar, making unclear and untrue statements; half truths that lead people to assume that he is working for their best interest. But look at his record and you will know that he is depending on strength of apathetic voters to put him back into office. He is a bully. His blowhard tactics of insults and with name calling, reveals that he is also very immature, not an intelligent, thinking man, but a knee jerk reactionary who is blind to the consequences of his greed and short-sightedness. I don’t understand how he got into office the first time. but if you live in Union Beach, or any of the shore communities that are not being repaired by Sandy money because it’s going to Seaside Park to repair their businesses. You may want to reconsider putting this liar back in office.

  2. Thank you Robert Braun for once again speaking the truth clearly. Vote for Barbara Buono!

  3. As a retired NJ teacher -who taught for 30 years – I have always been so very appreciative of BobBraun’s wisdom concerning all issues – but most especially educational matters. Thank-you so very much for telling it like it is concerning the Star Ledger’s endorsement of Christie. The Editorial as written contradicts itself – how could anyone pull the lever for Christie after reading that “endorsement” ?? I sure do miss Bob’s enlightening columns. I had stopped receiving the Star Ledger & now I am glad I did.

  4. Thank you, thank you. As a retired urban teacher who has been made the scapegoat for all of Jersey’s ills while watching my state-mates accept the insult, lies and abuse of this governor rather than risk his ire as well, It is so refreshing to see someone publish the truth about the “machine.” Thank you for your support of public education…for facts and truth..and your support for the common man. You are a rare fellow sir. Now you I would vote for….

  5. Good editorial, Bob!

  6. That was a great article and spoke the truth of the matter.

  7. Chris Christie is very much an intelligent adversary for ‘everyone else’ in New Jersey. His ability to manipulate the voting tendencies and the political ineptitude of the middle class wanna be’s has gotten him into office, and perhaps, will keep him there. I love this State?

  8. What about Charter Schools like the JP Holland school in Paterson, NJ? I do not see that as Braun suggests in his article, as I was completely impressed by the staff, teachers, and students, all of whom were predominately African American and Hispanic, and were getting excellent teaching and behavioral skills. Many public schools in NJ are crap due to the inefficiencies of the system (Administrators make lots of money, teachers are forced to cut their time with students because of union politics) and everyone fails to see the real issues: poor K-12 education. As someone in higher ed in NJ, I see the results when major remedial programs are necessary to solve the problems of K-12 in NJ. But, you are all “for the children” NOT is all I have to say. Go Christie.

    1. Maybe, Dawn, if you spend every day like I do in an URBAN PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL, you would have more appreciation for the work that is being done there. I invite you to contact me and spend at day at my school, with my colleagues and meeting my students and see if you still have the same opinions of NJ public schools.

    2. Braun doesn’t say that charter schools are bad, just that the studies purporting to prove they are better than traditional public schools are flawed or skewed and mean little if you are really looking to see what is happening.

      There are charter schools that do a good job, and there are traditional public schools that do a good job. There are charter schools that close in the middle of a school year due to finances, and there are no public schools that do the same.

      And in the end, charter schools in New Jersey have actually scored slightly lower — despite all their advantages — than traditional public schools.

    3. “Forced” to cut our time?! I’ve NEVER turned down a student willing to take the time to improve his or her own self based on union rules, nor have/would my constituents. Those outside of the realm of education literally voice their opinion based on imagination. You have NO IDEA what you’re talking about.

      1. Of course not. Teachers are as susceptible to dedication as journalists. Just as reporters ignore the clock when they are in hot pursuit, so do most teachers I know–but every night, or almost every night.`

      2. Unfortunately, the one thing Christie has been successful at is his attack on teachers. People actually believe all his accusations and feel teachers are living the good life and just passing time in order to collect a pension. Nobody in their right mind would pass time in a classroom with 25 to 30 kids that you have to motivate, teach, nurse, mentor, regulate, etc. It takes a great deal of dedication and sacrifice to deal with everything a teacher is expected to do. As a consultant who goes to 9 different schools a week, I have the opportunity to see many teachers who do their job with heart and soul. NO ONE can really imagine unless they see it first hand. BULLY is the best term to describe Chris Christie!

    4. “As someone in higher ed in NJ, I see the results when major remedial programs are necessary to solve the problems of K-12 in NJ. ”
      Dawn, why are institutions of higher education accepting students who clearly aren’t college material? Not everyone is cut out for college, but that is not the fault of the K-12 schools. If a greedy college is willing to take the money of those students who probably should not have been accepted in the first place, well I think it’s pretty clear who is at fault…. For the sake of your community’s future, stay home on November 5.

      Bob Braun says: The ellipse in the message above represents editing to eliminate a personal attack. This is not The Star-Ledger and I will not allow these comments to be used for abusing others. This is particularly true when, like here, the writer seeks anonymity to hide behind personal attacks.

      1. Point taken, Bob. I also consider the following a personal attack on “many” public school employees:

        “Many public schools in NJ are crap…”
        Perhaps that should be edited for its insulting nature, as well. Value statements, especially those presented with very little evidence, are an affront to the educated. They are meant to shock and often can be (and most often are meant to be) taken as insults. Christie is masterful at this practice. I make no apologies for how I feel in regard to this poster’s rhetoric. Public schools do not have the option to deny entrance to students like colleges can. It would behoove all involved in education to think logically and critically before belittling those who work in “many schools” by describing these as “crap.”

        Bob Braun: You’re right, but I’m trying to find a balance here. Your comment was an attack n a person; the “crap” comment as a criticism, crude as it was, on an institution. I want the discussion to be robust but not personal.

        1. Many apologies…it indeed was reactionary, and I would never want your website to reflect practices that go against your principles.

          I suppose I was appalled at the commentary since I normally hold employees in higher education to a very high standard of logic. Perhaps I incorrectly assumed that the poster in question holds professor credentials. I can see how my comments could come across as insulting to someone whose position in college is one where logic need not be applied after all. I will be far more careful if I indeed am permitted to post in the future.

        2. Post Script: I found the attack on public school institutions to be very personal. There was no attack on the buildings themselves as buildings have no personal feelings–the insinuation was that the people who work in such institutions, as representatives of “the system,” are providing “crappy” service. I take offense to that. However there is little use in fighting fire with fire.

    5. I’m not comfortable with your logic. It is sloppy to let charter school exceptions, accomplished and noble as a few may appear, dictate your conclusions.

    6. Poverty is a strong predictor of educational success. Compare our schools to those of a country like Finland whose poverty level is around 1% and you will see that Finland’s schools appear to perform higher. The US poverty level is closer to 5%. The fact that the poor tend to be crammed into the cities like Newark and Camden exacerbates the the problem. How did our cities become overwhelmingly inhabited by the poor? To understand the problem you have to understand the concept of red lining. Those who could, left the cities including Christie’s family. Those who could not leave are left. What we have in our cities is a social problem and blaming the schools’ will not solve it. No politician, certainly not Christie or political party has shown the foresight or the guts to attack that problem. Robert Braun has not always been a friend of public schools but he was objective. When he saw a problem he reported it. His firing by the Ledger only demonstrates how the monied interests in this country can control the media.

      Bob Braun: I was not fired by the Ledger. I agree with everything else you wrote.

    7. Dawn D: If you are in higher education, I pity the students in your institution. You speak from ignorance and it shouts from your unsubstantiated statements. Have you ever been in any of the city schools in NJ? Have you ever talked to the teachers and administrators? I doubt it.

  9. I agree with every word of the editorial EXCEPT the actual endorsement. I cannot in good conscience vote for either major candidate, and for the first time in my life I am going to write in a candidate — something the Ledger should have endorsed doing. I invite others to join me.

  10. Thank goodness!! Bob Braun-a voice of reason is back!!!! (However briefly)- Thanks for the great writing…you are missed and you say what is on my mind 99% of the time!!!
    Be well.

  11. bob

    not surprised you disagree with, but am surprised by all the indignant personal insults. isn’t it just possible we are just two people who arrive at different viewpoints after a good-faith review of the facts?

    any case, here is the study showing significant progress in newark charter schools, from standford university’s, credo. as you may recall, they did a study several years ago showing outcomes at charters were worse. they came back and found signs of significant progress. to dismiss this is just nuts. i don’t care about the ideological clash as much as i care about results.

    as for the charter advocates being driven by the desire to make money, that strikes me as conspiracy thinking, and pure nonsense. dave tepper is the biggest one in new jersey. he has $6 billion in the bank, and earned nearly $2 billion last year. does it remotely make any sense that he would go thru years of hassle, give away millions, in the hopes that someday he can establish a for profit school and earn a good return? why would he need that? what is the evidence of that? isn’t it possible he’s trying to help, and that he read things like this stanford study?

    anyway, to say endorsing christie is somehow immoral is just nonsense. in my view, christie is bad and buono is worse. disagree, fine, but spare me the moral superiority.


    Note: Mr. Moran is chief editorial writer for The Star-ledger.

    1. But, have you considered the fact that Ms. Buono is much more pleasant to look at than Governor Chub’s scowling face??

    2. Mr. Moran,

      CREDO is not part of Stanford University. It is part of the conservative Hoover Institute, which happens to have space at Stanford University. That is a significant distinction.

      CREDO is also not a research organization. It is a charter advocacy group. As such, it is hardly neutral. Mother Crusader has done impressive investigative journalism on this issue:

      The NJ CREDO charter study was very methodologically problematic. Jazzman pointed you to some of Professor Bruce Baker’s concerns. I also would encourage you to read the critique I wrote, which raises other concerns:

      The only distinction between charter schools and traditional public schools is that charters are publicly-funded and regulated but privately managed. Do you really believe private management is inherently better?

      Mr. Moran, isn’t it possible that you have allowed your own ideology to overwhelm your journalistic obligations?

    3. Moran – you are naive

      If you want to understand Tepper’s motivations, go back and watch the movie “Chinatown”.

      Jake (Jack Nicholson) asks billionaire developer Noah Cross why he’s so greedy – what more does he want?

      Control of the future.

      That’s the ideological project at the root you seem to reject.

    4. When I was a kid I proudly delivered the Star Ledger door to door and read it every day. I looked forward to it.

      Times have changed.

    5. Perhaps careful consideration that the CREDO study did not assess school quality should be a factor. See the link Professor Baker cites about CREDO. There are many charter school experiments, which simply don’t bear out the fact that they are better in any way. In the meantime, we’re depriving our public schools at the expense of charters–even when they’re not needed or wanted(East Brunswick). Here is a link from Professor Baker’s analysis….

    6. The idea that someone with a lot of money would not be driven by anmotive to make more seems naieve in the extreme. Mark Zuckerberg made over 2 billion dollars last year alone in personal income, but shows no inclination to stop looking for new avenues to generate revenue. There seems to be too much a dearth of healthy skepticism in your worldview to serve your profession properly.

    7. Tom,

      I give you some credit for responding here.

      And I agree with all of the negative things you had to say about Governor Christie…in fact I dare say you were WAYYYYYYYY to easy on the man.

      You know as well as anyone that Christie is just one more NJ machine pol. He has a great line of BS…but you also know that he’s all about advancing his own ambition, career, agendas and ego.

      You are aware of the over thirty DMV points he’s racked up over the years most of which whole he held high office. You are aware that he would likely have had many more violations had he not had the powerful positions hes held. You know how he drove up a one way street, hit a motorcyclist and got off without so much even one ticket….and how he bought off the victim with cash.

      You know that Christie was lying and that Bret Schundler was telling the truth.

      You know that Christie is an obnoxious bully who gets off on his petty power trips.

      You know that I am only scratching the surface here and that many hundreds of pages could be filled documenting all tat is wrong and all that smells wrong about Christie.

      You know that people are attracted to poweful bullies tat appear to be “winners”. Hell, John Gotti was a big hero in his own neighborhood.

      You know how dirty and how corrupt New Jersey’s entrenched system of machine politics and bossism are……for BOTH parties!!!

      You know that Barbara Buono is an honest decent compassionate progressive smart and competent Senator who would make a great governor……but you ALSO know that all the “smart money” says she hasn’t a chance of winning.

      Sorry Tom, I don’t buy the critiques of Buono you made….she is no where NEAR being “worse” than Christie. My sense is that the Ledger is intimidated by Christie and is giving him this weak grudging endorsement because you are afraid of him.

      The truth is that Christie is just one more New Jersey pay to play pol.

      The truth is that Christie bought his job as federal prosecutor by raising lots of early cash for Bush Jr.

      The truth is that when many other federal prosecutors were let go for trying to do their jobs with integrity…..Christie made the cut and stayed on.

      The truth is that Christie manipulated our electoral system to divide the Democratic vote and wasted 24 million taxpayer dollars to advance his own re-election.

      The truth is that Christie manipulated Sandy funds to promote his own persona/brand.

      The truth is Christie is wrong on the question of anthropogenic global warming/climate change.

      The truth is that Christie turned down a chance to get more funding to promote Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in NJ…and that he refused the funds to set up a state exchange…..all of which means fewer people covered and the likelihood of more pain, suffering and death for want of medical care.

      Tom you could write a couple of books outlining with great specificity all that is wrong with Christie…and that’s without even doing any real investigative journalism.

      Christie may be the de facto Emperor of New Jersey………but he’s still naked. No one in any position of power has ever called him out in any sharply effective way… the spell of this con man goes unbroken….not you and not even his opponent in this race.

      You had he chance to speak truth to power in a way that could have mattered…and you chickened out. Shame on you….and shame on all of us who haven’t done everything we could have to wake people up to the reality of who and what Christie truly is.

      Christie is a New Jersey version of Ted Cruze….but far more slick…and Cruz is pretty oily.

      1. Nick your response is just about as good as the article.

        1. I agree.

    8. And the reason America is in the state it is in is because the sheepish citizens continue to vote for “the lesser of two evils”. Evil is still evil.

    9. Mr. Moran,
      Just to clarify, it’s not just bloggers, advocates and professors here in NJ calling CREDO’s methodology and credibility into question. A Louisiana blogger independently reached the same conclusions.

      The fascinating thing about his criticism is not only is he a former Louisiana DOE employee, he was in charge of their data, and was the one responsible for turning over the data to CREDO for their biased study.

      You should really read his blog post for confirmation that CREDO’s charter studies are far from reliable:

      He too noted that CREDO did not account for selective admissions, attrition, or severity of learning disabilities in their LA study. He asked CREDO to respond to his criticisms, but they have refused.

      “I would say that this study finding borders on the criminal and strongly caution parents not to pay attention to this finding. Charter schools do not take on the more significantly impaired students. Even though the CREDO folks had access to the severity of disabilities, the CREDO study relied on the most basic of Special Education indicator for their study. SPED = Y/N. This indicator also included gifted “Special Education” students in many years. Most of the disabled students charter schools do accept are the mild/moderate classification with speech and hearing impairments, not the severe profound students that may even be hospital bed bound that traditional schools must serve.

      I sent multiple questions to CREDO for a detailed explanation of how they accounted for these issues, the charter schools that filter students based on high test scores, the SPED indicator, the disparity of severity in SPED enrollment, but they have refused to reply to me to date.”

      He concluded:

      “CREDO is simply not credible, they are not a research institution, they are pro-charter propaganda churner and should be classified as such by anytime anything they produce is quoted in an newspaper or news program that claims to be unbiased and impartial. If you are a parent, please do not pay CREDO any more attention than you would a miscellaneous propaganda pamphlet handed out at neighborhood grocery store, or stuffed under your front door handle. You can see CREDO as a joke, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a PR firm or a charter school pimp, but an independent research organization they are not.”

    10. Did you seriously just ask why Billionaire Tepper would want to make more money by investing in charter school ventures, as opposed to doing it because he “wants to help”? Then why has an entire half of our two party political system, with backing and money from those very people, devoted itself to this exact goal – via tax cuts for the, deregulation for their businesses, etc., etc.? They never have enough, and seem to exist only to get more. And you expect us to believe they do it “for the children”? That stupid phrase is used against critical thinkers of my political persuasion all the time…when the reality is, it should be used against those allied with you.

      1. That should read “via tax cuts for THEM (or the obscenely wealthy, if you prefer). Sorry.

    11. When the Star-Ledger finally folds — and let’s hope it does soon because it is a rag — Tom Moran will need a job. And since Moran couldn’t cut it in corporate America, he is hoping that “Governor” Big Mouth will demonstrate his gratitude for this endorsement by rewarding Tiny-Minded Tom with a cushy communications position in the administration — just like so many other Ledger reporters who took buyouts and now work as mouthpieces for Christie. Perhaps Moran is even foolish enough to believe the White House is in Christie’s future. (That will never happen, of course. But Moran can dream, can’t he?) And that is the reason behind this hideously shameful endorsement. So very sad. Oh, and nice work, Bob!

      1. If The Star-Ledger closes, it will be a tragic day. It is not a rag. It is a newspaper with a proud legacy where scores of devoted journalists still work hard every day despite insecurity and a lack of resources to put out a good product. Every time a newspaper closes, our culture, our society, our freedoms are diminished. Like most newspapers, it has been devastated by changes in communications technology and economics. I cannot begin to explain the motivation behind an editorial that has become an embarrassment to the newspaper nationally. But I can tell you that very few of the people who took coercive buyouts or were laid off were hired by the Christie administration. Many were unemployed for a long time. You may be upset by the mindless rantings of the bully we have for a governor but it does not excuse or justify your own cruelty to men and women with families who have suffered for years because of the newspaper’s problems. Don’t become the person you want to defeat.

    12. not surprised you disagree with, but am surprised by all the indignant personal insults.

      Didn’t read any Mr. Moran.
      Here’s one though, you must be a graduate of those sucky public schools you like to rail against.

  12. […] my boyfriend is kind of an asshole, I know. But he’s not a bad guy.  Bob Braun has the answer to the […]

  13. I, too, was bewildered that the S-L didn’t choose the rather less unbalanced option to not endorse. But I’m really not too impressed with this paper sometimes.

    I’m fairly certain Mr. Braun has retired, but certainly did work for the S-L for 50 years:

    People who advocate for charter schools are not understanding the whole situation. This is understandable, but if you’re not qualified to speak on a subject, don’t.

  14. Reading Moran’s hero-worship of legalized thief and union-buster David Tepper and incompetent Queen of Tenure Janine Caffrey nearly made me physically ill. This disgusting and spineless endorsement of Christie is the final straw for me, and after sticking with and mostly enjoying the ledger over 4 decades, I will never touch this fallen fishwrapper again, not even to wipe.

    1. Remember, it was Tom Moran’s article that started the troubles for “Dr.” Caffery. Tom thought the piece would showcase her talent: rather, it exposed, in a way none of her foes ever could have, how incompetent she was (insubordination and letting an employee show up to work high on drugs!) Tom was the perfect fool there as well: sunk her career. Too bad his endorsement here will not have the same effect.

  15. I am a teacher in a public school teacher and I am proud to say we serve all children. Not just the cream of the crop and the best behaved ones. Not just English speakers and those without disabilities. We teach them all. I am a public school teacher and I am proud to say that Christie touts our successes on his website. Of course, he doesn’t say teachers did it but we did. Anyway, how about these for stats? 8th graders in NJ rank number 1 in writing, 3rd in reading, and 3rd in math in the nation. 4th graders rank 2nd in reading and 4th in math. That data is according to the NAEP. We have the highest AP scores in the nation according to the College Board. And we have better AP scores than private schools. We also graduate more high school students than any other state. So it seems like the big, bad teachers and their evil unions actually care about children and have the results to prove it. Look up Tennessee and see how far they have fallen since they have become privatized. One should not advocate for what one would never advocate for one’s own children, Mr. Moran. Our children are not a throw away generation that you should get to experiment with because even Gates acknowledges that we may not know if it will work for maybe 10 years. Our children matter as much as any other children. When my children were born, I thought they were miracles, too. Our children matter.

  16. Dear Tom Moran,

    You have a limited understanding of what actually happens in charter schools (I did four years hard time at one, so I can actually attest to what goes on there) and have not a clue how the business – yes, business – of standardized testing has ruined public education. I’ve had to read article after article from your drab “newspaper” applauding charters, tenure “reforms,” and the destruction of the NJEA.

    Considering that a newspaper is written for the average 4th grader in terms of comprehension, you hide behind the facts on many an occasion on both topics, pandering your comments to sway an uninformed, lesser-educated audience. So it’s rather LAUGHABLE that you’re now coming out of the closet to endorse a candidate who is neither fit for his current role, nor should be entertaining one beyond that and using your paper as his platform to do so.


  17. Congrats Mr. Braun!
    I could never have said it as well as you have. You have covered all the based and hit a home run.
    Unfortunately, in a country that elected George Bush TWICE, there are few who will listen to you. They have proven that they appreciate sideshow antics much more than their own best interests

    1. Good to know that I’m not the only one that lost hope after a 2nd term for Bush!

  18. My name is David Santee and I am a retired hedge fund trader who worked for Dean Witter Reynolds/Morgan Stanley from 1982-2009. I am writing this in response to Mr. Tom Moran’s comment….apparently he is hard to contact during normal business hours. I take exception to his statement that David Tepper is “trying to help” the education process. David’s main focus in professional life was to make money for his customers, and make even more for himself. He is not in it “to help”. As a portfolio manager from 1987-2009, I was responsible for the managment of emerging companies and industries. Both Kaplan and Apollo Group were companies that were part of David’s spectrum. Apollo is the owner of the University of Phoenix, the world’s largest for-profit university. Kaplan is the naiton’s largest test prep company. Both companies are extremely profitable…and David has shared in that profit. Whatever plans David has for “education” has only one goal in mind….to make David even more wealthy. You failed to mention another former hedge fund director from FL who is now the state’s Superintendent of Schools…Christopher Cerf. Mr Cerf made quite a pretty penny when he was managing the Edison Group, the owners of the Edison Schools. Because Cerf’s name and background were brought up during a criminal indictment in Central Florida, he is no longer able to hold a Securities license in either FL or NY State. I do not know if there is a reciprocity agreement in NJ…apparently so, since his name does not turn up on the SEC list.

  19. Wonderful, wonderful piece. It’s so sad that this truth will be buried and the Christie lies will continue. At least that 8-?=3 code to get on this website will keep the Christie people from commenting. They won’t be able to figure out the answer.

  20. Thank you, Bob.

  21. Dear Tom,

    You’ve actually read the CREDO report, right? I mean, you have a copy of it, yes?

    Turn to page 16. What is the “learning gain” for charters in NJ? That’s right: 0.06 standard deviations in reading, and 0.08 standard deviations in math. Do you understand just exactly how small that is?

    Statistically significant? Sure. PRACTICALLY significant? Come on; at most, it’s a couple of items more answered correctly on the NJASK. And remember: around half of the charters in NJ were excluded from the study.

    As for the special, magical Newark charters (a quarter SD – yawn…), read Bruce Baker:

    We are most likely looking at a large peer effect due to policies of segregation and attrition, higher front-end teacher salaries which translate into a longer school day/year, and a data set that isn’t finely disaggregated enough to allow meaningful comparisons between “matched” students. In other words: the “success” of Newark charters is almost certainly NOT replicable on a large scale.

    Bob rightly calls you out for that “duty to our readers” line. But you know what your first duty to your readers is?

    Knowing what the hell you’re writing about.

    As to the “Tepper defense,” I’ll make sure to repost later this week a scan of the lovely graphic that accompanied your first hagiography of the man: a drawing of Tepper, looking trim with his sleeves rolled up, squaring off in a boxing ring with a large gorilla wearing a red Speedo with the initials “NJEA” embroidered on the waistband. Classy.

    Bob has you dead to rights, Tom: hatred of teachers and our unions is embedded into your genetic code. I suggest you see a specialist ASAP.


    P.S. Please don’t try pulling out that “months of learning” jive either:

  22. So it has come to this, then? That the man who advances a moral argument is acting in a “superior” manner, while a man who advances an amoral argument is, well, merely pragmatic? That’s not a difference of opinion — it’s a difference of values. Star-Ledger readers, take note.

  23. Nice piece Bob. I found it odd the Ledger would point out just how flawed and dishonesty Christie is and where he has gone wrong, then endorse his re-election. It would have been more of a service to readers to list the failures and misguided policies of his tenure and advise them to vote for who they think can best serve New Jersey residents. Christie might still win re-election by a landslide, but it wouldn’t be aided by that embarrassing endorsement. That the charter schools and attempts to weaken the teachers unions would carry such weight is surprising but not shocking. The Ledger editorial policy has long favored that part of the Christie agenda. But an honest assessment of the Christie years, I think, would have concluded the governor has done more harm than good and cautioned that a second term is a frightening thought as Christie moves to make his presidential candidacy more palatable to the far-right cabal that seems to have the Republican Party in its stranglehold.. Anyway thanks for a thought-provoking piece (that even got a rise out of Mr. Moran). Carry on with the good fight Bob.

    1. Stanley Terrell raises an important point. With his eye on the GOP presidential nomination, the second-term Chris Christie will have a strategic opportunity to skew his administration further to the right, and why not? He can never run for governor again. That The Star-Ledger endorsement did not address the issue of Christie’s presidential aspirations is disingenuous, at best.

  24. Thank you, Bob Braun! It broke my heart to see the S-L’s endorsement. It may be too much to wish for a Christie loss, but I hope his margin of win is small to damage his presidential ambition. NJ is better than this man.

  25. Thank you, Brother Bob!

    I would take your superb analysis one step further by noting that the corporate greed that is driving the privatization of schools, is working hand in glove with a cynical and ideological political project.

    A very old political project at the heart of democracy, regarding the class war between economic elites and the rest of us.

    The elite oligarchs – the Republicans and their corporate backers – view the New Deal as basically a patronage scam by Democrats to buy the votes of the parasites.

    Thus the war on social safety net programs and all things “public” – including environmental, public health, consumer and worker health and safety regulations of corporate behavior.

    These corporate greed heads and economic elites see education as the next front in that war on unions and the public sector, who they view as not only blocking their path to greed, but as the base of the Democratic party.

    Drive a wedge in unions (public v. private), cultivate racism and resentment of working class white – and crush the Democrats and gut the New Deal.

    The stakes are so huge, which make the Ledger and Sen Sweeney and CO. betrayals so inexcusable.

  26. Tom Moran has clearly demonstrated an antagonism towards teachers and their unions as well as a clear disinterest in the facts of public education. He has dishonestly pushed his privatization agenda from Star-Ledger editorial page for years now, this blunder of an endorsement is just the latest example of Moran’s ridiculous opinion on a subject he obviously knows little about.

    Given Moran’s disgust for unions and working people it seems highly appropriate and warranted for working people to not buy the Star-Ledger until their editorial page is less hostile and violently opposed to their interests.

    Boycott the Ledger until Moran is gone.

    1. I agree with this except to the extent you call for a boycott of The Star -Ledger. For the last six years, some of the best, hardest-working journalists, young and old, suffered the consequences of pay cuts, loss of benefits, unpaid furloughs, often coercive buyouts, pension freezes, and, eventually layoffs. The future still is uncertain for the few remaining and I would do nothing to harm them. Speak truth, call out the lies, demand accountability. Don’t hurt workers who never had protections provided by unions.

  27. Mr Moran,
    The Star Ledger endorsed Chris Christie.
    Mr Braun wrote a rebuttal to the Star Ledger’s endorsement.
    You answered him above by stating “in my view, christie is bad and buono is worse.”
    I guess the standard for an endorsement is very low at the Star Ledger.
    One can’t help but feel morally superior when you make statements like that.
    Let’s face it…you, your staff and your newpaper didn’t have the nerve to endorse neither candidate.
    For the record I am voting for Bouno, basically because Chis Christie is everthing you say he is…I hope you do the same.

  28. Great piece. And then there’s this: The Attorney General’s office doesn’t kill indictments against a governor’s political allies on its own. The AG is appointed by the Governor, serves at the pleasure of the Governor, and takes direction from the Governor.

  29. […] Star-Ledger wants us to vote for a man it calls a catastrophe and a fraud. No, thanks. (Braun) […]

  30. […] A former editor rebuts the Star-Ledger’s Christie endorsement on educational grounds. (Bob Braun) […]

  31. Among the many reasons NOT to endorse Christie has to do with two themes that come together both in Bob’s column and in many of the comments: the connection between educational opportunity (and achievement) and affordable housing.

    In Sunday’s NY Times, a column, “Here Comes the Neighborhood”
    ( debunks the myths about what happens when affordable housing is built “in your neighborhood” and challenges the views that are stoked by the governor. Towns should not fear affordable housing at all. On the contrary, the affluent are unaffected and those occupying the affordable housing not only have a good place to live, their children are more likely to benefit in significant ways.

    In “Climbing Mount Laurel,” co-written by the Princeton sociologist Douglas S. Massey and several colleagues, we learn that families with incomes as low as $8,150 — one-third of the poverty level — have been living in a town where the median income is 10 times higher for a family of four. This affordable housing has had zero impact on the affluent residents of that community–crime rates, property values and taxes have moved in step with nearby suburbs–while the lives of the poor and working-class families who moved there have been transformed.

    Those who didn’t secure housing there or in similar settings–a “control group” if you will–report that their neighborhoods remain pockmarked by violence. But the families who came to Mount Laurel settled into a tranquil world. With less stress and better job opportunities, these families have done much better economically than the nonresidents who remain in the cities. Two-thirds are working, compared with just over half of the nonresidents, and a third as many, 4 percent, are on welfare. The sizable earnings gap, $19,687 versus $12,912 from wages, helps push the tenants living in the new housing out of poverty. The longer they stay in Mount Laurel, the better jobs they get and the more economically independent they become.

    Their youngsters have also fared better. They study twice as many hours and spend more time reading. That extra effort is paying off — even though their schools are more academically rigorous, they earn slightly better grades.

    The problems of the inner cities cannot be solved by opening up the suburbs, that’s clear enough. As “Climbing Mount Laurel” points out, “those mired in substance abuse, criminality, family violence and household instability” need more support than simply “a decent home in a peaceful neighborhood with good schools.” Still, millions of families, trapped in terrible neighborhoods, would jump at the chance to move to a place like Mount Laurel.

    “I wish other places could learn from our example,” says Mr. McCaffrey, the former mayor of Mount Laurel, but that hasn’t happened. Affordable housing is still too rare in suburbia, as zoning laws continue to segregate poor and working-class families. Despite the track record in Mount Laurel and the promise it holds for neighborhoods around the country, it’s hard to imagine that “the suburban drawbridge will be lowered anytime soon.” Still, at least, we ought to understand that the promise of affordable housing has been realized. There is no legitimate defense against it, despite the rants of this governor.

    The author concludes:

    “It is a truism that fear and prejudice are not readily ousted by facts.”

    Anyone who trashes court rulings and undermines our best efforts to improve the prospects of those who have few options, indeed, who tries to thwart court rulings and confiscate affordable housing funds from municipalities, hardly merits a second term.

  32. A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil…

  33. The article written by Bob Braun sums up exactly the motivation and true values of The Governor…and his many policy failures which in most situations would not get him an endorsement by any rational organization. I use to have the highest regard for the SL editorial staff. They blew it this time. !! Thank you Bob for the truth..

  34. Thanks, Bob Braun for not only telling the truth, but clarifying it. Yes, Shame on the Star Ledger. ‘

    This election requires that Democrats and independents across the state vote for Barbara Buono. Imagine that: there are more Dems than Repubs… It’s that simple. Democrats and Independents must not fall for the party bosses flocking to Christie. That is a sham and the people of NJ know better than to fall for that. I would love to see “Upset”” as the main headline on Nov 6th!

  35. Bob, it’s so good to know that you are still your brilliant self. When I saw the headline on the front page telling me that I would be surprised at the SL endorsement, my heart sank. And when I actually read the editorial, it sank deeper. We get inured to the arguments from the right, but this was doublespeak of an incredibly high and disturbing order. I wish your piece could have run alongside! What say you, Tom Moran?

    1. I asked Moran for an opportunity to rebut Gov. Christie’s claim during the last debate with Buono that he was “proud of his record” on energy and climate change and that NJ already had met climate emission reduction goals.

      I’ve written Op-Eds in the Ledger before and they gave me a column at (before they yanked it).

      And I didn’t even get a reply from Moran to my request.

      They are in the tank for Christie – critics need not apply.

      1. Your work would be welcome here.

  36. […] The best takedown is from former Ledger columnist, now blogger, Bob Braun. Simply put, Braun has the Ledger’s number. Quoting: “Most of the argument for […]

  37. […] blog by former Star-Ledger staffer Bob Braun is going viral. The blog takes the Ledger to task for endorsing Chris Christie for governor while […]

  38. Thank you Mr. Braun for setting the record straight. It is a shame you have to explain to journalists the true intent and affect of charter schools and voucher programs. They should know that we see through their hypocrisy.

  39. […] The Star-Ledger wants us to vote for a man it calls a catastrophe and a fraud. No, thanks. […]

  40. Great job Bob! I’m familiar with Mr. Moran’s work and those who have similar points of view. I always wanted to ask them, because they are in a position to shape opinion, if they really think that the problem with under-performing schools across the country is really poor human resource departments. That is because they always seem to say that the poor results are because of poor teaching and schools. That must mean that students in wealthier suburban districts with dramatically different challenges must have great human resource departments. And I deliberately use the term under-performing because they use “failing schools.” These schools aren’t failing. They never fail to open their doors to children and learners of all abilities and circumstance or their time in this country. They never fail to find the time to continue to educate while conforming to the ever increasing state mandates. Even a teacher in a “failing” school would be able to point out the importance of capitalization and punctuation.

    1. It is a lot easier to criticize teachers than to face the reality of a society where income is cruelly maldistributed. Poverty and underperformance have been welded like steel since memory runneth not to the contrary. Because it is useless to expect the rich to tax themselves and because failing to say anything about achievement gaps make no sense, the lemmings attack the people who work for the schools.







  42. Mr. Braun’s response to the SL’s endorsement has restored my faith that truth and facts will awaken the voting public. As a target of this bully in office, I can only hope that his political future is short.

    Bob Braun: Ms. Fulton, twice president of the NJEA, is a member of the state school board.

  43. Thank you Bob Braun. I just can’t believe the endorsement….though I bet my wife it would happen. The coverage by the Ledger has been fair to Barbara and they have exposed the problems with Christie for the last 3 years, and been especially good at focusing on the political bosses in NJ. That is what makes the editorial so incomprehensible. We all miss your coverage of our teachers, unions and education. Keep on writing the truth! Bob Russo, Montclair

    Bob Braun: Thanks, Bob. But you don’t have to miss me. I’m not dead yet. Visit me often at Bob Braun’s Ledger!

  44. […] written a few stinging pieces about the editorials found at his former home, including a beaut that excoriated the S-L for endorsing Chris Christie in the last […]

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