This caught my eye:
One assistant commissioner, Penny MacCormack, was hired last fall for three months at $1,000 a day until she could be confirmed by the state Board of Education as a permanent hire in January. She is now earning a salary of $135,000 a year, officials said.
Cerf defended the extra pay, saying MacCormack was a critical hire and the consultants on the funding report – including some notable national names in the school funding debates – were invaluable.
“This level of talent and expertise comes with a price tag,” he said.
So I looked up who Penny MacCormack is. She’s moving here from Connecticut where she’s been working in education for a while. And joining other people from around the country jetting in to reshape NJ’s education system.
It used to be that part of conservatism meant knowing a place well and being skeptical of outside big ideas. But now it means being part of a shadowy national Koch Brothers funded network that tells each state what to do.
Ms. MacCormack might be a fine person for all I know, and I don’t mean to cast aspersions on her personally. It’s just that there is a lot of value in knowing a place well. States, and communities, are different from one another. Yet so many of Christie’s ideas, especially on education, are much more one size fits all – like the idea that charter schools are always better even when local communities don’t want them.
Looking at big ideas too often misses that different things work in different places. Here is perhaps my favorite story (outside of NJ) about this – a school reform effort that looks NOTHING like what everybody thinks should work but is getting results.
We need more outside the box thinking from the ground up and fewer national “experts.” Unfortunately, Christie is not someone who gets that – unlike, say, Tom Kean, who did an amazing job building a talented, homegrown staff. And our state is the poorer for it.