Author Archive: Marie Corfield

NJ FY16 budget: education death by a thousand cuts

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

                                        ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

On June 30th, Gov. Christie will no doubt sign the FY16 budget which includes this:

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Having already violated the state’s School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by underfunding NJ schools to the tune of $6 billion over the past 5 years, the governor, with the approval of the Democratic-majority state legislature, will once again pull precious resources from public schools to give to charters.  

Fixing NJ’s pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Last week dozens of NJEA members rallied outside the state house to protest the State Supreme Court’s ruling and Gov. Christie’s refusal to fully fund the pension system. The rally/lobby day (there are two more next week) was part of NJEA’s efforts to push the legislature to do something – anything – to stave off impending disaster when the fund runs dry in 12 years.

When the NJEA members drowned out the voice of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who was addressing a small group of Americans for Prosperity counter protesters, he responded with this:

“Do you want to yell at me or do you want to have a discussion? Because quite frankly, if we’re just going to yell, we’re not going to get anywhere.”



“This is the type of ignorance and screaming that gets us nowhere. … You have to make a real plan that’s sustainable so, long term, we can take care of our dedicated workers, make sure that the pensions are there, make sure that in two or three or five years from now, it doesn’t fall apart. Screaming, ‘just make the payment,’ doesn’t get me $2 billion.”
(emphasis mine)

Look, I get it, no one wants an angry mob screaming and yelling at them, and when people are pushed, they kinda tend to push back. I’m not attacking Asm O’Scanlon. I have never met him, nor do I have extensive knowledge of his voting record and/or history with public employee unions. From his Twitter posts (more below), he seems like a reasonable guy who is willing to communicate with constituents in an open forum. His altercation with NJEA members is but a snapshot in the larger pension crisis picture.  

Dear President Obama

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi

Barack ObamaWelcome to the Garden State. I hope your visit to Camden is successful.

This letter is a long time coming. I have drafted it in my head many times as I lie awake at night wondering how much longer I can afford to remain in my profession and still keep my integrity, passion, drive, and yes, my home. And now you’re here, so here goes:

I openly wept on election night 2008 as you gave your historic victory speech to a nation of adoring supporters of all races who waited generations for that moment. I have been awed by your unyielding composure over the past seven years as Congress has behaved like-well-spoiled, rich, white men who couldn’t handle the fact that someone not like them was now Commander in Chief. I have willed you on to make the right decisions, to move this country forward in the face of tremendous odds, and dig us up out of the Great Recession because I knew that you knew in every fiber of your being, because of your history, because of your place in history, that if the poor and the middle class couldn’t make it in America, no one could.

Is the NJ pension crisis Christie’s Waterloo?

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

It’s the 15th of the month, and once again, along with thousands of other public employees across the state, I made my legally-required pension payment. How about you, Gov. Christie? No? I didn’t think so.

If you live in NJ, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know about the pension battle raging in Trenton. And if you’re reading this, you also know that this debacle is decades old with Democratic and Republican governors being equal opportunity offenders as one after another raided the once-flush fund to plug budget holes and prop up their pet projects. (Bonus points for alliteration!)

So, what can public employees do to fix this mess? Nothing. We didn’t cause it and we can’t cure it. The only thing we can and should do is demand nothing less than full funding of the pension system as required by the law Gov. Christie touts as his signature, bipartisan ‘reform’. Because while he was busy cutting deals with certain Democrats to ‘fix’ this fiasco (translation: public employees work more, pay more and get less in return while the super wealthy and corporations get tax breaks) he was also doing this-with the blessings of the NJ Democratic Party Machine and GOP legislators who have been too afraid to stand up to him:

Gov. Christie’s pension battle: “Weird NJ”

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Governor/Presidential Candidate Christie tours the country touting bipartisan pension and health benefits reform as the signature accomplishment of his administration. Part of that reform was his legal obligation to make regularly scheduled contributions in order to get the system off life support. (See here for CliffsNotes on the long history of the state’s underfunding of the system.)

Today, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will hear arguments in the ongoing pension battle between the state’s public employee unions and the Christie administration because the governor has decided he can’t come up with the full, legally obligated payments that he signed into law.  

More PARCC drivel from the Star Ledger

Cross-posted from my blog, Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Oh my! The NJ DOE shill Star Ledger editorial board is at it again. This weekend’s propaganda piece is about Education Commissioner Hespe’s proposed punishments for school districts that don’t hit the 95% participation rate on PARCC, the magical test that can determine if your third grader will get into the college of their choice (it just won’t help you pay for it).

The exam is like an MRI for education. It can tell us where kids are failing and help diagnose the problem, even when it’s hidden in an otherwise well-performing district. But because parents in more affluent communities have become increasingly suspicious of the state test itself – not unlike the overwrought side-eye given to childhood vaccines – what’s now at risk is funding for kids who are most vulnerable.

WHAT?! “An MRI for education”? Vaccine refusers? Government more concerned about students not taking a deeply flawed and harmful test than they are about children not getting life-saving vaccinations? Did somebody put Crazy in the water?! I’m sorry, please excuse me while I clean up the coffee I just spit out, and adjust the antenna on the tin foil hat Tom Moran accuses me of wearing. I’ve simply got to find the comedy channel source of his claim.

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The Star Ledger’s Tom Moran is absolutely right!

Meant to feature this a couple days ago, but breaking news got in our way. From our friend Marie Corfield, cross-posted with her blog – Rosi.

Last week broke some kind of record. The Star Ledger started the week with a front page expose on the cost of the PARCC exam (no one really knows), and then, not one, not two, but three pieces of ‘reformy’ education propaganda appeared on its op-ed page.

Education blogger Stephen Danley made mincemeat of the third one even before it hit the presses. More Camden schools are being closed and turned over to charters, and the good people of that city have no say because the Camden Advisory Board of Education is “accountable to one group, and one group only: our children.” Lucky for them because if they were accountable to the taxpayers, things would be very different. Please read and share Stephen’s excellent piece. We must continue to expose the denial of democracy in that city.

But back to the first two…

Jersey Jazzman, Ani McHugh and I have called out Tom Moran on his blind faith in education ‘reform’ numerous times, but for whatever reason, he refuses to take off his rose-colored glasses. So, I am throwing in the towel. I surrender! Tom Moran is absolutely right. “This hysteria about the PARCC exam needs to stop.” This test will save humanity! Corporations, hedge fund managers and billionaires really are altruistically trying to save America’s public schools (the ones their kids don’t attend). There is no profit-making going on. It’s all a conspiracy theory. We’re all ‘tin foil hat’ crazies. Dear God, how could I not have known?

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WAKE UP, PEOPLE! THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY!

Can God save the children from #PARCC?

The prolific Diane Ravitch picked this up as well, asking her national readers if they had anything to top it. Promoted by Rosi. Cross-posted with Marie Corfield

This is the worst PARCC story I’ve heard:

A friend of mine who lives in one of New Jersey’s many wealthy suburbs with excellent schools and parents who routinely hire tutors for their children as early as first grade was with her daughter at a children’s Stations of the Cross event at her church.

The 14 Stations of the Cross are specific locations or ‘stations’ throughout the nave of a church where small sculptures or paintings depict the Passion of Christ starting with his condemnation to death and ending with his body being placed in the tomb. To ‘do the stations’ one moves through them chronologically, praying or reflecting at each stop. Every Catholic religious instruction program teaches children how to do this during Lent.

In this particular program hands-on activities were set up at each station. Children could write notes about any number of things as they related to the stations: people they needed to forgive; people from whom they needed forgiveness; things for which they were sorry; things they wanted to do better; etc.  

My #PARCC refusal letter

A Central NJ parent I know, has already written and sent a letter like this one. But she also asked her own children to write an essay to their principals explaining their own reasons why they didn’t want to participate in the tests. Her 7th-grader – Anna, 13 – concluded her essay with this: “PARCC is a waste of time for parents’ worried minds, students’ exhausted brains and teachers’ valuable time.” – Rosi

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield.


Readers, feel free to modify this letter to suit your needs.

February 25, 2015

Dear ——————,

We are writing to inform you that, as per our parental rights under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, we are refusing to allow our daughter, ————-, to sit for the PARCC PBA and EOY.