Tag Archive: seniority

Are the Open Congressional Seats A Good Thing?

promoted by Rosi

Just wondering if all these resignations of House members in New Jersey is such a good thing.  It’s a quarter of our delegation with some pretty good seniority (except Runyan) and committee seats.

So while it’ll be great to have a shot at adding a Democrat to the mix, the loss of experience and position may be an issue for us.

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.”

Ed Reform 101: Merit Pay, Seniority & Tenure

Blue Jersey’s Ed Reform 101

Part 3 – Myths about Merit Pay, Seniority & Tenure

Ed Reform 101As with so many other parts of the corporate “reform” agenda, adherence to merit pay and abolishing tenure is more a matter of faith than reality.

The truth is that there is no evidence that radically changing how we fire, layoff, and pay teachers will have any positive effect on student learning. There are, however, many reasons to believe that instituting merit pay and getting rid of tenure will harm students and the interests of taxpayers.

We also know that the difference between high-performing and low-performing schools is not whether they have merit pay schemes, or tenure, or lay offs based on seniority; why impose these changes on schools that are doing a great job educating kids?

What you should know about merit pay, seniority & tenure:

  • “Pure” merit pay experiments in schools have failed every time they’ve been attempted.

  • Merit pay, as conceived by corporate “reformers,” is rare and limited in scope in the private sector.

  • Experience matters, and senior teachers should not have to fear for their jobs simply because they’ve followed the decades-old tradition of making more money later in their careers.

  • Teachers are fired or counseled out of the profession regularly.

  • Tenure is necessary not just to protect teachers, but to protect students and taxpayers from cronyism and corruption.
  • Money and Power in Congress

    It’s all a tale of money and power. Roll call is out with a new tally of the wealthiest and most senior members of the Congress. Here’s what they had to say about their compilation of data:

    The table below lists the minimum value of the assets and liabilities of Members of the House of Representatives as reported on their 2009 financial disclosure forms (covering calendar year 2008). Assets include stocks, bank accounts, rental properties and other income-producing holdings; liabilities are most frequently mortgages and other bank loans. Assets and liabilites are reported in broad ranges; this table uses the minimum of all reported ranges and subtracts liabilities from assets to produce a minimum net worth. See story for details.

    Seniority is each Member’s ranking in the House, as reported by the Clerk of the House.

    The total wealth of all house members exceeds $1 billion. Our most senior member in the House is actually Congressman Chris Smith who comes in at 24. Congressman Frelinghuysen is our wealthiest official and is actually ranked 14th in the entire Congress at over $18 million net worth. And how does that compare to the rest of the delegation:

    Frelinghuysen, who belongs to a political dynasty that dates back more than two centuries, has nine times the minimum net worth of the next richest member from New Jersey, Steve Rothman (D-Englewood).  

    Rothman has a minimum net worth of $2.1 million, followed by Bill Pascrell (D-Parterson) with $1.85 million, Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) with $1.59 million, Rush Holt (D-Princeton) with $899,000, John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) with $702,000, Donald Payne (D-Newark) with $346,000, Frank LoBiondo (R-Vineland) at $270,000,  Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) with $113,000, Albio Sires (D-West New York) with $87,000, Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) with $88,000, Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) with $80,000 and Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) with $31,000.

    Here are the complete New Jersey numbers: (The Assets, Liabilities and Minimum Net Worth are in $ thousands )





    Minimum Net Worth


    Lance 403 1,593 0 1,595
    Pallone 51 113 25 88
    Holt 191 1,499 600 899
    Pascrell 166 1,858 0 1,858
    LoBiondo 131 370 100 270
    Andrews 65 46 15 31
    Payne 57 461 115 346
    Rothman 169 2,099 0 2,099
    Adler 377 712 10 702
    Garrett 259 80 0 80
    Smith 24 113 0 113
    Sires 319 97 0 97
    Frelinghuysen 124 18,153 0 18,153


    Although every senator gets one and only one vote, some senators are more equal than others thanks to the seniority system. This is mainly important in the committee system, so ranking in your own party may be more important than your overall ranking.  Wikipedia has a  complete list of Senate seniority, so I thought I would look into where our senators stand and what their prospects are.  

    Currently New Jersey’s senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, sits at #61 overall and #36 for Democrats based on his start date of January 3, 2003. The only benefit from his years of prior service is that, in a tie-breaker worthy of the NFL, he is put ahead of the five other remaining members first elected in 2002. (If his previous service counted, he would be somewhere in the neighborhood of #13-18 and in charge of a committee instead of Joe Lieberman. By the way, I’m including  Lieberman as a Democrat because his seniority counts in the caucus.)  

    The junior senator, Bob Menendez, sits at #74 overall and #38 for Democrats. (Yes, he’s only two behind Lautenberg in the Democratic caucus: The elections of 2002 and 2004 were not good for our party.) This is actually a pretty good rise:  In only three years, Senator Menendez now is ahead of a quarter of the other senators overall and a third of Democrats. That’s thanks to many Republican retirements and defeats in 2006 and 2008, the triumph of the Obama-Biden ticket, and Obama’s appointments of senior senators to Cabinet positions.  Below the flip, we’ll see how the future looks.