By Sue Altman and Julie Borst. Promoted by Rosi.
Unbelievable. When will we learn that rich golf course developers are not automatically qualified for important public service positions?
NJ’s new State Board of Education Vice-President Andy Mulvihill (a Christie appointee), owns a golf course and amusement park real estate company (which he inherited from his father, the politically well-connected, Eugene W. Mulvihill, founder of the country’s most dangerous amusement park), and has zero public education or policy background at all. During a policy discussion at Board retreat, he has publicly questioned why all schools aren’t just charter schools.
Further, since Mulvihill’s appointment in 2011, his attendance at State Board of Education meetings has been sporadic, at best. When Andover’s Andrew Mulvihill does attend a meeting, he has famously been seen on his iPhone surfing the web during public testimony. And yet, this morning, he was voted Vice President of the State Board of Education.
New Jersey is home to some of the most qualified education experts in the country. There are thousands of career educators in this state. Hundreds of college professors who research public policy. Dozens of lawyers who specialize in education law. Many advocates, bloggers, writers, and reporters who are specialists in this rapidly-changing field. And yet… we choose a resort developer to be VP of our State Board of Education? An entity that directs policy for millions of students and their families? That controls billions of dollars?
And, believe it or not, since Mulhivill’s appointment in 2011, the process around appointees has worsened. In response to pleas for all SBOE nominees to be interviewed publicly (which they were not), State Senator Bob Smith hailed three State Board of Ed nominees as “not schlubs” because they had some background in education. So we should be pleased at least they aren’t as unqualified as Mulhivill?
Mulvihill has no business sitting on that board, let alone serving as its VP.
Why are we trusting our State Board of Education to a wealthy real-estate mogul who treats public education as a hobby instead of a lifelong educator, parent advocate, or public policy expert? What are we doing to NJ’s education system, once the envy of nearly every state?
This is cronyism, alive in well in the Swamps of Jersey. It’s time to clean this mess up.