Author Archive: DSWright

Cerf’s Up: How Privatization Will Wipe Out Public Education in New Jersey (Part 1)

Damn. Read this all the way to the end – promoted by Rosi

“When someone says ‘it’s not about money’, it’s about money.” –    H.L. Mencken

Earlier, as the overt push for privatizing New Jersey’s public schools was just getting started, I wanted to bring attention to some of the strange theories and characters who were spearheading the effort. I was under the impression that they were promoting a justifiably unpopular vision based on pure conviction and that when confronted by the force of democracy would be defeated. The privatizers claimed it was about the kids and their way was superior to the tried and true system that works in the wealthier parts of the state. I thought this was a genuine contest of ideas.

I was fundamentally wrong. This is not about ideas, this is about money.  

That truth was made clear when Christopher Cerf was named acting Education Commissioner. Cerf is, without a doubt, a businessman posing as a public servant. Jack Grubman, a former securities analyst for Salomon Smith Barney commenting on corruption on Wall Street said that “what used to be a conflict of interest has now become a synergy.” In that case, Cerf brings a lot of “synergies” to the position of State Education Commissioner.  

A Word or Two for John Adler

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”

– Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

John Herbert Adler was man of the arena; sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always valiant and daring. He never feared a fight and constantly hurled himself into the brutality of the public eye to serve the causes he believed in and the people he represented.

I, like I imagine many who had worked on John’s 2008 congressional campaign, was shocked and deeply saddened to learn yesterday of his untimely death. Only 51 years old, he leaves behind a wonderful young family and a seemingly limitless potential born of study, ability, and conviction – a tragedy on every level.

Politics, of which John was an active and thorough participant, has a great many limitations. Chief among those limitations is its treatment of time; a constant obsession with the future, a mild dwelling on the present and a perpetual disregard for the past. The arena has little interest in what came before and a manic devotion to “what’s next.” So before John’s passing is swept from view in order to make way for whatever is next I would like to submit a word or two for John Adler…

Christie’s Strange Education Reform Team (VIDEO)

Wow. – – promoted by Rosi

Governor Christie's determination to bust the teachers unions in order to privatize education is well known. Before becoming Governor, Chris “the Trenton outsider” Christie was a registered lobbyist. One of his biggest clients was Edison Schools Inc., a company seeking to transform public education into a private business. Christie also lobbied for University of Phoenix Online and represented Charter Schools in cases before the State Supreme court to protect their right to receive public funds. It's a thorough conviction, the problem with public education is it's public.

This is not an illegitimate or sinister view, it's just not a view most New Jerseyans agree with. So in order to get his way Christie has proceeded to bully people at town halls, insult union officials and sabotage federal applications. If that's not bad enough, now he's recruiting the most intensely callous and to a large degree ridiculous characters to work his agenda from the inside.

Derrell Bradford is one such character. He was recently appointed to Governor Christie's Education Effectiveness Task Force which according to the Star Ledger will “overhaul teacher evaluation rules without input from the state's largest teachers union.” Here is what Derrell brings to the table: (I'll break this all down for you … after the jump).

Goofygate: Questions Remain

promoted by Rosi

While the snow from last week's blizzard may be melting away, the scandalous behavior of New Jersey's Executive Branch remains frozen in time. This is partly due to the remaining questions and the reportedly false answers given to other questions.

“Goofygate” seems to be the predominant meme from this story, at least as I hear it around Trenton and beyond. This is obviously a reference to the lovable Disney character that Christie visited in sunny Florida while his fellow New Jerseyans were stuck under up to 30 inches of snow, but it also could refer to the Friday press conference where Governor Christie blamed…everyone (but himself) for New Jersey not having a constitutional officer during a state of emergency.

On Friday Christie Blamed:

1. His children/Wife (“I would have been divorced”)

2. His Scheduler

3. The Lieutenant Governor and family

Christie and staff made another goofy argument by saying that they did not release the details of the Lieutenant Governor's father's illness because it was a private matter and should not be politicized – which they proclaimed in a press conference heavily charged with politics (“yaaaaaaa-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooey!!”).

Putting aside for the moment the trite emotional appeals to a father's promise and sick relatives, the facts simply do not support Christie's version of events.

In Friday's press conference he claimed:

1. He was in contact with Acting Governor Sweeney constantly and therefore his physical presence was not necessary (apparently coordinating with state departments and agencies between Space Mountain and the Hall of Presidents)

2. There were no commercial flights available to get back to New Jersey from Orlando, Florida (Disney World).

Both of which, reportedly, are not true. Which raises the two fundamental questions about this entire scandal:

  1. What did Christie know?
  2. When did Christie know it?

more below the fold

Goofygate: Questions Remain

While the snow from last week's blizzard may be melting away, the scandalous behavior of New Jersey's Executive Branch remains frozen in time. This is partly due to the remaining questions and the reportedly false answers given to other questions.

“Goofygate” seems to be the predominant meme from this story, at least as I hear it around Trenton and beyond. This is obviously a reference to the lovable Disney character that Christie visited in sunny Florida while his fellow New Jerseyans were stuck under up to 30 inches of snow, but it also could refer to the Friday press conference where Governor Christie blamed…everyone (but himself) for New Jersey not having a constitutional officer during a state of emergency.

On Friday Christie Blamed:

1. His children/Wife (“I would have been divorced”)

2. His Scheduler

3. The Lieutenant Governor and family

Christie and staff made another goofy argument by saying that they did not release the details of the Lieutenant Governor's father's illness because it was a private matter and should not be politicized – which they proclaimed in a press conference heavily charged with politics (“yaaaaaaa-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooey!!”).

Putting aside for the moment the trite emotional appeals to a father's promise and sick relatives, the facts simply do not support Christie's version of events.

In Friday's press conference he claimed:

1. He was in contact with Acting Governor Sweeney constantly and therefore his physical presence was not necessary (apparently coordinating with state departments and agencies between Space Mountain and the Hall of Presidents)

2. There were no commercial flights available to get back to New Jersey from Orlando, Florida (Disney World).

Both of which, reportedly, are not true. Which raises the two fundamental questions about this entire scandal:

  1. What did Christie know?
  2. When did Christie know it?

The people of New Jersey deserve a full accounting of the events that took place that put both constitutional officers out of the state during an emergency leaving the full power of the Executive Branch in the hands of someone who was not elected by the entire state.

But let's briefly return to Christie's “first responsibility”, as