Tag Archive: cherry hill

On Progressives Fighting Progressives (and the call for “unity” in Collingswood and Cherry Hill)

Every word of this is important. And if you disagree, we want to hear from you, too. The struggle for a better New Jersey Democratic Party, and local parties, is real. – Promoted by Rosi Cross-posted at the Local Knowledge Blog. …
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Barbara Buono Rally in South Jersey

The atmosphere was electric when Barbara Buono’s car pulled up to the Camden County Democratic Headquarters tonight. Every time Buono appears in South Jersey, she is treated like a rock star. Buono addressed a meeting of the Camden County Democratic Women’s organization and was enthusiastically received in the epicenter of Norcross country.

After the event, I asked her what message she would like to covey to Democrats who support Chris Christie.

Big Education Stories Brewing in NJ

Looks like the Garden State is taking center stage in the education world. Two of the biggest stories in the nation around schools are happening right here.

Start with this astonishing story in Cherry Hill:

After receiving reports that his son had become prone to violent outbursts, Stuart Chaifetz sent autistic 10-year-old Aikan to Horace Mann Elementary School with a recording device.

Akian came back with 6.5 hours of tape filled with verbal and emotional abuse from his classroom aide and teacher. Stuart Chaifetz documented the tape and published it in a YouTube video.

According to Collingswood Patch, Chaifetz replays portions of audio with his son’s special education teacher Kelly Altenburg and aide Jodi Sgouros. In the recording, voices tell Akian that he is “such a bastard,” order him to “shut his mouth,” and tell the child “no” when he asks for reassurances that he will see his father soon.

Stuart Chaifetz has started a website, a Facebook page, and placed a petition on Change.org asking New Jersey legislators to enact a zero tolerance policy for bullying by teachers or educational staff. “I’ve gotten dozens of emails from parents in smiliar situations,” he said, according to babble.com. “Special needs adults are contacting me about teachers bullying them in school.”

Cherry Hill Public School District spokesperson Susan Bastnagel said that the incident is a “personnel matter that the district took seriously and handled appropriately,” according to the Huffington Post. The aide was reportedly fired, but Altenburg was moved to another class.  

According to Fox 8, Chaifetz has no plans to sue, but he would like to see the teachers in the video make a public apology and resign. Recent early research suggests that more than 60 percent of American children with autism spectrum disorders have been bullied, and 47 percent of students from fifth-grade have faced bullying.

Akian Chaifetz has been transferred to another school and is doing quite well, according to reports.

I listened to the audio on Chaifetz’s YouTube post, and it is disturbing. It’s hard to see how any of what’s posted could be justified. But the Cherry Hill school district has given what I consider a measured and reasonable response:

NJ Charter School Mess: How Deep Does It Go?

Some truly outstanding reporting from blogger Darcie Cimarusti this weekend lays bare the absolutely hopeless state of the charter school approval process in New Jersey. Conflict of interest, political favoritism, and incompetence run rampant in the latest chapter of the sage of Cherry Hill’s Regis Academy. Is this the first of many charter school scandals waiting to be exposed?

You may remember that the founder of Regis Academy, anti-Marriage Equity crusader Pastor Amir Khan, is a frequent guest on stage with Chris Christie at his town halls in South Jersey. Christie, however, has disavowed any knowledge of Khan – even when the man was sitting right behind him!

Khan won approval for his charter school to open on the grounds of his church this fall. Khan admitted that the church was counting on the money that the Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Lawnside, and Somerdale school districts would have to pay the charter school – even though these are outstanding districts that do not want nor need a charter.

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What Are We, Chopped Liver?

This past week, we’ve seen a lot about the impact of congressional redistricting and the positioning of candidates in North Jersey for the upcoming election. Congressman Steve Rothman has declared that he will move and challenge his colleague Bill Pascrell in a primary rather than face incumbent Republican extremist Scott Garrett. Whether or not Rothman’s decision is a good one, it hurts me to see two Democrats spending a million dollars to knock each other off when the money could be better spent in an all-out effort to oust Garrett, one of the worst members of Congress.

It also bothers me that the Fourth Estate has virtually ignored the important race in the Third District. Another member of the “worst congressman’s club” is former NFL bad boy and current congressman Jon Runyan. Runyan’s voting record is as bad as Garrett’s, and over time if Runyan builds up seniority in the House, his impact will be just as deleterious.