Tag Archive: Chris Cerf

Ed Reform 101: Summary Edition

Ed Reform 101So. What have we learned?

Standardized testing is generally bad for students, expensive, unreliable and biased. It is a terrible tool for evaluating teacher effectiveness. No parent would ever want their child’s entire academic identity to be boiled down to one single test on one single day. Who even likes these tests? Not the administrators. Not the teachers. Not the students. But despite that, stacks of bubble sheets, in all of their irrelevance, should be used for making staff decisions in our schools? Even though the folks who design the tests explicitly say that they should not be used for that purpose? And what about those who teach art, music or physical education? The question itself is arbitrary and absurd: “What percentage of teacher evaluation should be based on standardized test scores?” The clear answer for any serious educator or statistician is “zero.”

The EduScam So Far: A Primer for the New Jersey Press Corpse

With few exceptions the New Jersey Press Corpse has been playing dead and not covering “education reform” (school privatization). But now that former lobbyist for the for-profit education industry Governor Christie is coming out and openly calling for New Jersey to sell its nose to spite its face we here at Blue Jersey would like to help the New Jersey Press Corpse come to life.

                                 Photobucket

           (Death could just be the beginning for the New Jersey Press Corpse)

Over the Pond and Across the Hudson with Joel Klein

Those of you who watched the Murdochs bob and weave at questions thrown at them by members of Parliament might have noticed a familiar face seated behind the Murdochs. It was that of Joel Klein, a Board Member of News Corp. Rupert Murdoch more recently appointed him to“provide important oversight and guidance” in the British investigations of this growing media scandal.

We do not yet know what the the FBI’s investigation into News Corp will reveal, but there  is the possibility that this American company through its British subsidiary may have violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the process of bribing English police. Also there is a NY police officer who alleges he was offered money to provide phone numbers of 9/11 victims and family members – a crime which could involve New Jerseyans.  Both Senators Lautenbeg and Menendez were active in calling for the FBI investigation.

Klein is perhaps best known in New Jersey as the former boss of Acting NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf when Klein was NYC Education Chancellor and Cerf was Deputy Chancellor. Klein joined News Corp initially to spearhead the company’s entry into the “education industry,” and in that capacity he oversaw Wired Generation which held the expensive consultant contract in the Race To The Top grant fiasco. He is also on the Board of  the Broad Foundation which provided $500,000 to Global Education Advisors (GEA) to prepare the secretive Newark education report advocating charter schools.  GEA’s incorporation address was Chris Cerf’s home.

This British imbroglio has already crossed the pond and had an impact in the US. Les Hinton, CEO of News Corp.’s Dow Jones division which includes the Wall Street Journal, was the first American executive to lose his job as a result of the scandal. Hinton formerly was in charge of News Corp’s News International, parent company of the now infamous News of the World. Also Bloomberg News reported today that News Corp acknowledged at a 2009 trial over hacking that computers at the company’s U.S. marketing arm were used to access a rival’s password-protected website.

We will have to see if this investigation will yet take further root in America and if it will cross the Hudson River to 9/11 family members. We will also have to see how consiglieri Joel Klein might handle a US Murdoch media crisis. According to Politico, during the testimony before Parliament when an individual attacked Rupert Murdoch with a shaving-cream pie, it was Murdoch’s wife who lunged at the assailant. Klein barely budged.  

NJDSC Week in Review for April 22nd

Each week, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee compiles the Chairman’s week in review, recapping the news of the past 7 days. You can subscribe by email, view on our website or find and share on social media. In this week’s installment,  we highlight:

  • Debunking Christie and Republican Millionaire’s myth
  • The State Conference is Just Around the Corner
  • Christie is a “bully” and the “biggest hypocrite in the statehouse”
  • Responding to Christie’s latest attempt to Blame Someone Else
  • Seeking Answers on Privatization
  • Calling to Halt Closure of the Vineland Developmental Center until impact can be determined
  • Congressional Corner looking at our members of Congress and their work fighting for New Jersey
  • The Roundup from Under the Dome in Trenton with Legislatiom and news.
  • Upcoming Events around the state

You can view this week’s review here. Feel free to tweet, post on facebook and share this with your friends. As always, thanks for all you do. You can keep updated with the NJDSC on the web, facebook,  twitter and youtube.

Jason Springer is Communications Director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee

Chris Cerf: How New Jersey is putting its children’s education in the hands of profiteers

Follow the money.

It’s impossible now to take Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf at face value. There are too many questions, only the latest to surface is news of the last few hours, that Cerf is being provided a $60K consultant – William Cox of Cresskill – to help Cerf during his “transition”.

The first question that comes up: Why does somebody operating at the professional level Christie says Cerf is, somebody he says he trusts to overhaul all NJ’s schools, need an “advisor”? What does that say about his real  

So Is The “Magic” Beginning to Wear Off?

Nothing like a dose of the truth to shine the light on the fact that the Emperor really wears no clothes.

1.  New Jersey Loses Jobs: 13,000 of them according to the state DOL. So much for all those tax cuts to make NJ welcoming to business. So much for the Governor’s veto of the Legislature’s job creation bills.

2.  Property Taxes Increase: A 2010 increase averaging about 4.1% vs. an average increase of about 3.5% in the years 2007 thru 2009. So let’s see – the “tough budget” Governor Christie has increased property taxes more than that “wimpy budget” Governor Corzine.  mmmmm?

3.  The Straight Talking Governor: apparently doesn’t always talk so “straight and honest” – read the New York Times article unmasking Governor Blunt Speaking who seems to embellish  the truth just a little.

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Educator and Prevaricator Chris Cerf Meets His Comeuppance

         Acting Commissioner Cerf prevaricates. He may be here now, but he can’t stay forever, and he will not be permanent at this point. The governor will have to find someone else.” – Sen. Ron Rice (D- 28)

Sen. Rice, whose district includes Newark, has for some time questioned the truth about Chris Cerf’s statements regarding his involvement in the controversial, secretive plan for school education in Newark. Initially Rice used the senatorial prerogative of blocking Cerf’s appearance before a Judiciary Committee meeting that would vote on whether or not to recommend the appointment to the full senate. Rice now says he is invoking his senatorial privilege no matter what Cerf does because Cerf misled him. Rice’s action makes sense for Newark and for New Jersey as a whole.  Governor Christie should seek a new nominee for Commissioner of Education.

In a late February Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf gave a revised account of his ties with Global Education Advisors (GEA), which prepared the secretive school education report for Newark. Cerf acknowledged he had been more involved than he first indicated. In fact GEA’s lead employee, Rajeev Bajaj, is also President of Sangari Global Education, for which Chris Cerf previously served as Chief Operating Officer. Cerf had used his home address to incorporate GEA, and he had contributed to the Booker campaign.

Furthermore GEA’s Newark consultancy gig was funded by the Broad Foundation with a grant of $500,000 to Newark. Cerf had not mentioned publicly his close ties with this foundation. While Cerf was Deputy Chancellor of NY City Schools the Broad Foundation awarded $2.5 million in grants to  expand charter schools in the city. Cerf’s then boss Chancellor Joel Klein serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broad Center, an educational arm of the foundation.  In effect, secretively and behind the scene, Chris Cerf played a role in obtaining a grant for Newark to fund GEA, and he placed a colleague of his as the head of GEA. Not surprisingly such actions resulted in the type of report he might then approve later as Commissioner of Education – actions which raise questions of forthrightness, judgment and conflict of interest.

Such actions are not what one should accept from a person nominated to be a commissioner. Cerf’s approach did not benefit Newark and would not benefit the State of New Jersey. Congratulations to Ron Rice for his principled stand. More sadly our governor’s mismanagement of New Jersey education continues unabated.  

Chris Cerf Should Withdraw his Nomination as Education Commissioner

In a Thursday article the Star-Ledger staff stated that Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf gave a revised account of his ties with Global Education Advisors (GEA), acknowledging he had been more involved than he first indicated earlier this week. It is GEA’s controversial, secretive report which recommends that some of Newark’s public schools be replaced with charter schools. Throughout the week there have been twists and turns to this story. In addition to what the media have reported, we can now also document Cerf’s unacknowledged ties to the foundation which funded GEA.

On Tuesday Cerf said he had a hand in the creation of GEA but had done little more than lend his address for GEA’s incorporation papers, and he asked the Star-Ledger not to publish its story. On Wednesday in his revised account, he admitted he had been involved more directly with GEA, and he did not dispute the Ledger’s finding that he contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Newark Mayor Booker who hired GEA. In fact as PolitickerNJ pointed out, “GEA’s lead employee, Rajeev Bajaj, is also President of Sangari Global Education, for which Chris Cerf previously served as Chief Operating Officer. It appears now all the clearer that Cerf was considerably involved with GEA, appointed a colleague to head it, and that shortly afterward Mayor Booker hired GEA to quietly generate the report.

Because Cerf was involved in instigating this report, and if approved by the Senate as Education Commissioner could then implement the report’s recommendations, questions of judgment and conflict-of-interest arise. Cerf engaged in the dubious practice of trying to prevent publication of information about his involvement, but such has not stopped further details from being unearthed.

More on why Cerf should not become commissioner below the fold

Who is Chris Cerf? An investigation

Thanks for this info, ellington – promoted by Rosi

This month, the NJ Legislature will hold confirmation hearings on what is arguably Chris Christie’s most important appointment to date: Commissioner of Education. Given the embarrassment of the disgRace To the Top application and his public feuding with the previous commissioner, Bret Schundler, Christie has a lot riding on his choice: Chris Cerf.

So far, the NJ press has shown cautious optimism about Cerf’s nomination. Noting his work in the private sector as an education services provider, and his time spent working under Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Schools, editorial boards and columnists are inclined to hope that Cerf will help to repair the massive damage Christie has done to relations with both the NJEA and teachers themselves.

What the press hasn’t done, however, is take a long, hard look at Cerf’s career. If they did, they would find little cause for hope: Cerf, like Christie, is a political creature who has consistently let corporate and elite interests dictate educational policies. He has pushed ethical boundaries to the limit, enriching himself and others with actions that are not in the public’s best interest.

If anything, his career suggests that his appointment by Christie is not a harbinger of change; instead, it foretells of more of the same.

I have published a series of posts at my blog, Jersey Jazzman, that look deeply into the career of Chris Cerf. I offer these posts to both the staffs of the Senators who will question Cerf at his confirmation hearings, and to the NJ press as an aid for their vetting of Cerf:

The Chris Cerf Story – Part I

The Chris Cerf Story – Part II

The Chris Cerf Story – Part III

The Chris Cerf Story – Summary

Some highlights:

Chris Cerf: Healing, Constructive Leader or Harmful, Destructive Follower?

       “Other than the legislature, the only policymaker in the state

       is the governor. Therefore, my mission is the governor’s mission.”


       Chris Cerf, Education Commissioner-Designate

On Monday Governor Christie introduced former deputy New York City schools chancellor Christopher D. Cerf as his choice to become the state’s next education commissioner. Christie called Cerf, 56,  of Montclair, someone whose “record of reform and innovation…is well known” and whose “philosophical approach in many areas of education is in line with mine.” Cerf who now is CEO of Sangari Education, a global math and science technology company, would take on this turbulent position following the RTTT $400 million debacle, Christie’s unrivaled, vicious attacks on the NJEA, the dismissal of former Commissioner Schundler, the weakened tenure of Acting Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks, demoralization within the Education Department, a time of State financial hardship, and when education policy is at the cross roads. Needed for this task is the ability to stay in step with a bullying governor, find accommodation with the NJEA, and provide the leadership, innovation, and direction to assure continued excellence of one of America’s great school programs.

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