Proud Teachers Are Banned In New Jersey #ProudToBeAParsippanyTeacher

Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman
How dare these unionized teachers express pride in their profession!
Teachers Ordered to Remove “Proud to be a Teacher” Signs
“Pride in Parsippany”, boasts the great township sign at the intersection of Rt. 46 and Vail Road. The teachers of Parsippany’s public school children however, are not to be afforded the opportunity to exhibit that pride according to an edict issued today by the school district’s chief administrator. Teachers have been ordered to remove a simple black and white sign that says only “I am Proud to be a Teacher” in plain block letters, followed by a smaller tag line, “Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association”.
The message, uniformly printed on standard white printer paper, had been posted on classroom doors in all district school buildings for several weeks before acting superintendent Nancy Gigante issued a directive that they be taken down. Gigante cited Board of Education policy forbidding political actions or statements on building premises as the reason for ordering the removal of the signs.
“We view this statement as a positive message to both students and parents”, said Joe Kyle, PTHEA president. “ We have always been proud of our role as teacher, coach, counselor and guide to the children of Parsippany, and we never intended for the sign to be anything other than a declaration of that pride.”
Kyle went on to say that the PTHEA would be challenging the validity of Gigante’s interpretation of the Board policy in question. “Our members were proud to go out of our way to willingly bail out the Board after the recent Middle School disaster, and so we are astounded that a printed declaration of that pride is deemed a political action statement”. PTHEA members worked diligently to restore a workable schedule in both Central and Brooklawn Middle Schools, going above and beyond their contracted duties. [emphasis mine]

A little history is in order here:

Way back in 2010, at the start of NJ Governor Chris Christie’s War on Teachers, Christie decided that the biggest problem New Jersey faced was overpaid school superintendents. It was all a distraction from his chronic underfunding of New Jersey’s schools, fueled by his tax giveaways to the wealthiest citizens of the state. Christie needed a villain to blame for his failure to fund schools according to the state’s own law; he found one in Parsippany superintendent Lee Sietz.

Seitz, you see, had the temerity to expect that someone who was doing a decent job ought not to take a huge pay cut just because Chris Christie says he should. So Christie launched a disturbingly personal attack against Seitz for daring to making a low six-figure salary while running a large, successful suburban school district. Christie used Seitz to justify imposing a superintendents pay cap that has since chased talented school leaders out of the state.

Unfortunately, Parsippany has suffered from Christie’s nakedly political ambitions. Seitz’s replacement came into the district and immediately decided his top priority was to make sure his teachers were wearing the right sort of pants while at work.

No, I am not making this up. Click through — I dare you.

When the Parsippany Board of Education announced Seitz’s replacement would be resigning this year, there was actually applause. That’s how bad things had become in Parsippany: this past year, the district’s middle school was in complete chaos because the administration couldn’t even generate basic school schedules.

So now Parsippany is currently operating under the “leadership” of an acting superintendent who appears to spend most of her time correcting the mistakes of her predecessor. You would think this acting superintendent, Nancy Gigante, would have larger concerns than worrying whether her teachers were proud of their chosen profession.

You’d be wrong:

Here are Parsippany’s teachers, following orders and throwing simple signs declaring their pride in their profession into the trash.

This is what you’ve come to, America: your teachers aren’t even allowed to express pride in their profession in their own classrooms.

This is exactly the sort of school “leader” Chris Christie wanted to replace the experienced, professional superintendents he chased out of this state: petty bureaucrats who share his bullying tendencies. This is where public education is headed…

Unless we all stand up and say: “Enough.” Stay strong Parsippany. On behalf of teachers across New Jersey and the nation: thanks to Joe Kyle and our colleagues in Parsippany-Troy Hills for taking on this fight.

Send this around and let everyone know that you are:


ADDING: It’s worth pointing out that Scott Rixford, the superintendent who replaced Seitz and spent his days checking teachers’ pants before resigning this past fall, was one of the top lieutenants in Christie’s Department of Education when it was being run by Chris Cerf. Rixford was the executive director for one of the Regional Achievement Centers (RACs), Cerf’s brainchild. The RACs, fueled by reformy billionaire Eli Broad’s money, were supposed go into “failing” schools and turn them around with superior managerial knowhow.

Think about it: a guy who couldn’t even produce a schedule for a middle school was the guy Chris Cerf and Chris Christie put in charge of telling schools how to improve.
Heckuva job, fellas…

Comment (1)

  1. Too Serious

    This war on teachers and the attempts to frame use of public education as shameful must be understood as a consequence of our brain-dead trade policy. But its a secret hiding in plain sight by the obscurity of the trade deals arcane language and what appears to be a tacit agreement by both current US parties to hide these huge changes they are negotiating for the corporate lobby, which will likely be the worst mistake this country has ever made. Since the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services in the 1990s, (which was also responsible for the 2008 World Financial Crisis – you know, when Americans lost a quarter to a third of their equity) the US has been pushing an agenda of “progressive liberalization” (which is anything but progressive, and anything but liberal, its also coercive and it cannot be reversed. Ever. By design. “Progressive Liberalisation” is basically a one way street to global privatization and higher profits, combined with lower wages for working people in both developed and developing world, a situation that may drive a great many skilled workers to trade places, against their will, both making far lower wages than they should be. But extreme levels of hierarchy will be preserved against all odds. really means globalization and privatization of services so that those jobs can become bargaining chips in a global trading game, we trade jobs for “national treatment” in foreign markets, things like being able to have a presence there and be treated like a local company. The only losers are the workers in the developed countries, people like us. Everybody else makes more money. To gain that “our” corporations “have to” “give up” something, and its likely to be something that isn’t theirs, other people’s jobs. (This is called “Mode Four” and its a balancing factor that can be traded for Mode Three concessions like “National Treatment”. How would it effect schools? They would be privatised and globalised, with the winners of the contracts likely to be global firms that specialise in those areas. Similar to todays global prison firms, some of which are also managing health care marketplaces. We can expect to see a shift from formerly public education to a concession model wherein gradually all public education will be shifted to a for profit model, with means testing for public schools being required to prevent public education from being seen as too attractive and thereby “trade distorting”. Notice how there has been a shift with all public services, with formerly public healthcare now being treated like a welfare benefit. This process has already done much of this with health care. This privatization has been one of the main accomplishments of the Obama Presidency. Privatization is being locked in by trade agreements with no expiration date, and provisions that would make any reversal impossibly expensive because of the need to compensate the owners. Both parties agree on these changes, which will ensure that drugs and health insurance become more and more profitable . This is so it wont “unfairly compete” with private for profit education. The core of this strategy is the two lines of Article I:3 (b) and (c) in the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services which is also explicitly used as the definition of “services” in the Trade in Services Agreement now being negotiated in secret in Geneva (This can be illustrated by by the reference to it in the EU negotiating goals document quietly “published” on the EU website in the spring. Shhh!)


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