Author Archive: Jersey Jazzman

Massive Norcross Hypocrisy: Competition Is Good For Schools, But Bad For Me

Jersey Jazzman posted this at his own excellent site just before the weekend. Yesterday, Camden parents protested the undemocratic privatization of their schools as personified by George Norcross. I thought this post was in order – Rosi

Sometimes I wonder why my head doesn’t just explode:

With 300 people filling a shiny new auditorium for speeches and cheers, the ribbon-cutting held yesterday at the new KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy in Camden at times seemed as much a precursor of the city’s educational future as it was a celebration of the opening of a school.

The event marked the opening of the first new “renaissance school” built under the Urban Hope Act of 2012 that brought the hybrid charter schools to New Jersey and, specifically, Camden.

The speakers were familiar names in Camden circles: Mayor Dana Redd; U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, who authored the Urban Hope Act when he was a state senator; and Susan Bass Levin, president and CEO of Cooper Foundation.

Sitting in the front row was George Norcross III, chairman of Cooper University Health Care and the chief driver of the school’s rise from a vacant lot next to the hospital. [emphasis mine]

Because it’s now standard operating procedure in America to throw everything down the memory hole, a little history is in order:

The vacant lot that this KIPP school sits on today was supposed to be for a public district school. The state promised that it would build the school to serve all of the students in the Lanning Square area. And as the city school board waited for the state to fulfill its promises, it rebuffed an effort to bring KIPP into Camden, perhaps motivated by the fact that KIPP had already tried and failed in the city years before.  

News Roundup and Open Thread for Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christie ’16 (as if):

Yesterday, six Republican candidates, including Chris Christie, talked education policy in a series of interviews with Campbell Brown, the former CNN host turned incoherent, anti-union, anti-teacher tenure crusader.

Christie, predictably, spent his time bashing teachers unions. He told Brown he hated working with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, on the contract for the Newark Teachers Union. Funny, back in 2012 he was happy to go on national TV with Weingarten (and Bradley Cooper – seriously) and crow about the deal (which, of course, he has completely reneged on).

To be fair, the other candidates at Brown’s little fest were happy to slam teachers unions as the greatest threat to America’s children evah. None, of course, bothered to point out America is systematically defunding its public schools, and inequities in funding between affluent and poor districts continues to increase. Even New Jersey, which used to be a leader in school funding equity, has retreated from its commitment to fairly fund schools under Christie.

For those who don’t follow education policy carefully: the intellectual godfather behind the “money doesn’t matter” argument espoused by the Republicans (and far too many Democrats) is a economist named Eric Hanushek. Rutgers’ Bruce Baker recently debunked his malarky; his post is worth reading if you want to know where this mendacity got its start.

Other News

– That was some rain yesterday, huh? Looks like more is on the way.

– The Star-Ledger takes Senator Robert Menendez to task for opposing the Obama administration’s Iran deal.

– Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had an anti-violence rally last week. But the city just saw four people die in a single day.

PolitickerNJ announces their “30 Under 30” up-and-coming political personalities.

– We now have the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

Senator Steve Sweeney discusses his Sandy transparency bill.

American Dream is going great! No, really! It’s different this time, we swear…

Clear Water Action wants the Legislature to start showing some backbone and stop giving in to Christie’s destruction of NJ’s environment.

– Hey Phillies: why not just cancel the rest of the season? Spare us all a lot of agony…

Stay dry!

News Roundup and Open Thread for Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Jazzman here, pinch hitting for Rosi again. Sorry we’re late today; let’s get to it:

Tragedy in Warren

Yet another senseless murder with a high-powered weapon. Warren is an affluent little suburban town where these things never happen… until they do. Of course, in other parts of the state, gun violence occurs much more regularly.

I fear we’ve hit the point where we treat these incidents like hurricanes: like they’re somehow out of our control.

Chris Who?

As the Christie campaign continues to stall out, word comes that he will reimburse the state for one — one — helicopter flight. Of course, the state continues to pick up the cost of his security as he travels around the nation on his increasingly futile presidential bid.

Meanwhile, Christie whistles past the graveyard.

Non-Christie News

So they had their tunnel meeting, and they’re all committed to building another tunnel. Just a few pesky details to work out…

Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop gets tough with PSE&G.

Paul Mulshine continues to polish the turd that is Donald Trump. All Trump has to do at this point is pretend global warming is a myth and Mulshine will go into a swoon.

Jersey politics: super classy.

A grateful nation thanks you, Emma Didlake.

NJ Spotlight (I write regularly for them) takes a couple of weeks off this time each year. But they run a Summer Reading Series that’s worth checking out.

When You Punch Teachers Unions, You’re Punching Teachers

Cross–posted with Jersey Jazzman.

Fortunately, I was outside of the country when Chris Christie sank to his latest new low:

The New Jersey governor was on CNN on Sunday, where host Jake Tapper asked, “At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?” (Why would Christie get that question? Because he has made it known he likes to deal with bullies by punching them in the face, an approach that would work well in the Oval Office, no?) According to this story by my Post colleague Lyndsey Layton, Christie did not hesitate with a response: “Oh the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.”

If you’re at all shocked or surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention to Chris Christie. The man insults teachers as easily as you and I breathe.

News Roundup and Open Thread for Monday, August 10, 2015

Jazzman here, sitting in for Rosi on this late round-up (had hard time shaking off the jet-lag this morning — see below). Let’s get to it:

Christie Debate Fallout:

There were two big Chris Christie moments in the clown show that was the Fox News Republican debate:

– Christie was not actually appointed US Attorney on 9/10/01 as he claimed in the debate. Politifact, as usual, thinks it’s critically important to parse the meaning of the word “appoint.” Personally, I think it’s a minor issue: the governor has lied about so many other things that are so much more important (“Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor.”).

– Christie mixed it up with Rand Paul once again, this time over the NSA’s phone logging program. Did anyone else find it hilarious that Christie’s retort to Paul included admonishing him for putting videos of himself on YouTube? No politician in America has exploited viral videos like Chris Christie, and all at the expense of the NJ taxpayer.

Paul’s acolytes, meanwhile, apparently like to ruminate about these issues in cartoon form.

– The Asbury Park Press is searching for a Christie comeback, but it doesn’t look good. The Record points out Christie’s many lies about his record, including the absurd claim he closed the deficit. John Reitmeyer at NJ Spotlight wonders if Christie will finally have to answer for the economic mess New Jersey continues to find itself in.

Non-Debate News

– Maybe someone ought to tell Christie he’s supposed to be running the state: “Gov. Chris Christie has now spent nearly 55 percent of the year outside of the state, according to an updated tally of his time traversing the country.”

– Can Christie’s numbers go any lower?

– Jersey City Mayor Stephen Fulop has hired a new spokesman, fueling speculation he is gearing up for a gubernatorial run.

SHARK!!!!!

– David Wildstein’s sentencing for his part in Bridgegate has been pushed back. More incentive for him to pony up at Bill Baroni’s and Bridget Kelly’s trials? Meanwhile, Bill Sapien, Christie’s former campaign manager, is dropped from a Bridgegate civil suit.

– I’m so old I remember when you couldn’t miss Monday Night Football or you wouldn’t get to see the highlights from the past weekend around the league.  But Frank Gifford was a great player before he ever became the face of sports broadcasting in the 1970s. RIP.

Confirmed: Education Policy Is Entirely Political for @GovChristie

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

Chris Christie, 2013 [all emphases mine]:

“We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I have agreed more with the President than not. And with Secretary Duncan,” Christie said at 2013 conference for KIPP Public Charter Schools. And he hasn’t been shy about criticizing others in his party for opposing the standard. “I think part of the Republican opposition you see in some corners in Congress is a reaction, that knee-jerk reaction that is happening in Washington right now, that if the president likes something the Republicans in Congress don’t. If the Republicans in Congress like something, the president doesn’t.”

Chris Christie, May 28, 2015:

The governor, speaking at Burlington County College in Pemberton, declared Common Core is “simply not working.” Christie wants to assemble a team to develop a state-based group to develop “new standards right here in New Jersey, not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.”

The speech is Christie’s first policy speech delivered in New Jersey and his fourth such speech since taking concrete steps toward a presidential campaign. The first three speeches – which included topics such as national security and economic growth – were given in the early presidential voting state of New Hampshire.

“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted and the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie said.

“It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents and has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work,”
he said. “Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones.”

Cerf’s Up in Newark, and That Means More of the Same For Its Schools

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

Remember haters: Bob Braun broke the story first:

Gov. Chris Christie and state Education Commissioner David Hespe have announced the resignation of Cami Anderson as state-appointed superintendent of the Newark schools. She will be replaced by Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner.

Here’s the official announcement:

Trenton, NJ – Commissioner of Education David Hespe today announced that Cami Anderson will be stepping down as State Superintendent of the Newark Public School District.

“Superintendent Anderson has worked tirelessly over the last four years to implement a bold educational vision for the students and parents of Newark,” said Commissioner Hespe.  “Under Cami’s leadership, the Newark school district signed a landmark teacher’s contract, implemented One Newark, and increased flexibility and support in virtually every school in Newark.  We know that these positive educational reforms will continue to benefit the students and parents of Newark for years to come.”

Superintendent Anderson will depart the district by July 8, 2015.  By July 8, 2015, Commissioner Hespe will recommend to the State Board of Education the appointment of Chris Cerf to the position of State Superintendent for the Newark Public Schools.  Mr. Cerf will be recommended for a three-year contract consistent with initial contracts in other state-operated districts including most recently Camden. [emphasis mine]

Yes, that’s right: Chris Cerf, the former Acting Commissioner of Education for the entire state, won’t just be an interim superintendent for the state-run district; he’s going to be the permanent replacement.  

NJ Supreme Court to NJ Public Workers: Screw You

I’m posting this today on behalf of our super-busy Jazzman, who posted it at his own excellent site yesterday afternoon. The breaking news is a few hours old. But the outrage still feels fresh. – Rosi

I think I’ll call Comcast later today and tell them I’m not paying my cable bill any more: I just can’t afford it. Same with Verizon and my cell phone. Oh, and my mortgage company, too.

I mean, why should I? Sure, I may have signed contracts with all of them, and I may have already used their services, but the NJ Supreme Court [yesterday] just confirmed that contracts in New Jersey don’t mean squat: