NJEA and the Politics of Resentment

N.J.’s big education news is our kids’ sharp rise in proficiency levels on this past Spring’s state standardized test called PARCC — districts will release scores tomorrow —  but you’d never know it by looking at the papers. Instead of focusing on improvements in student learning, the trending topic is NJEA leaders’ desperate attempt to unseat Senate President Steve Sweeney because he acted in a statesmanlike manner and made the astute decision to pull back …

“I Am a Proud Public School Teacher But I Am Ashamed of My Union Leadership at NJEA”

I am a proud public school teacher, but I am ashamed of my union leadership at the NJEA. I implore fellow public school educators and NJEA members to disregard the dishonest junk mail and see what’s really going on here. We pay a considerable amount in dues from our relatively modest salaries to fund a handful of NJEA ‘leader’ salaries in the neighborhood of $500,000 a year. Think about that. They get paid close to/more …

President of Camden Education Association Goes Off the Rails

What’s this? On the 16th anniversary of the September 11th  attacks, Keith Benson, the newly elected president of one of NJ’s largest teachers unions, published an inflammatory and disrespectful Facebook message claiming the largest terrorist assault on American soil was a government conspiracy As the NJEA looks to gain credibility and attract voters to its candidates ahead of November’s election cycle, perhaps it should think twice before supporting the head of the Camden Education Association. This …

Chris Cerf Unplugged: Charter Schools, Phil Murphy, NJEA, and Save Our Schools-NJ

In an interview in today’s Star-Ledger, Newark Superintendent and former New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf discusses the threat of a charter school moratorium, his views on “boutique” charter schools in leafy suburbs, why NJEA leaders and Save Our Schools-NJ fight so vociferously against public charters yet give discriminatory magnet schools (and their own access to school choice) a pass, the impending governorship of Phil Murphy, and how Newark charters are incubating new ideas …

NJEA Battles Student Advocate Steve Sweeney on Teachers’ Dimes

I don’t know what you’re doing this afternoon from 4-6 but if your calendar is empty and you want to endear yourself to NJEA leaders, put on some black clothes, drive to  Woodbridge, and join NJEA’s “Death of the Amendment Rally.” No joke. NJEA is actually organizing a rally against its current whipping-boy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, because he declined to bring to the floor a proposal for a public vote that would have gone …

The Grown-Up Version of PARCC: Can We Measure Up?

The New Jersey Department of Education just released our children’s 2017 scores on the state standardized PARCC tests in language arts and math. The news is good: students improved in both subjects. And, yet, the news is hard to hear because scores aren’t as high as we’re used to seeing on our older tests, ASK (grades 3-8) and HSPA (the former high school diploma qualifying test).  After all, unvarnished appraisals of student achievement are hard …

Lakewood’s Biggest Fan: Save Our Schools-NJ Supports the Tyranny of the Majority

Occasionally I check Save Our Schools-NJ’s Facebook page to keep tabs on the anti-choice/accountability crowd. Topping the newsfeed yesterday was an indignant post about the approval of five new charter school applications. Typical pablum, right? Charter schools cost money and so they are bad.  Charter schools don’t have to hire NJEA members (unless the teachers choose to unionize) and so they are bad. Charter schools threaten the traditional school monopoly because, among the best ones, …

A Hope for the Heart of Phil Murphy

The big news story today, of course, is U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s failure to summon enough votes to bring to the floor a bill that would decimate the Affordable Care Act and throw 22 million Americans, mostly low-income, old, or disabled, off the insurance rolls. The New York Times Editorial Board, for example, writes that “the bill is a cruel hoax that would help the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poorest.” And, as …

NJEA’s Toxic Strategy Against Steve Sweeney

Those following New Jersey education politics are probably aware that NJEA, in a confounding lapse of judgement, has declared Senator Steve Sweeney Public Enemy #1. (See here for background.) If one were measuring NJEA leaders’ level of vindictiveness towards the long-time Senate President, it would be higher than Reince Priebus’ blood pressure. Why? Because in 2011 the Senator shepherded through the Legislature a health benefits/pension reform bill and last year refused to bring to the …

Charter Parent: With Adults, It’s All About Money; This Is Supposed To Be About Children

As you can see from the post below, I had an informative visit with Ms. Dreya Teel, her son Jared, and staff members from KIPP NJ’s Life Academy. That post was all about Jared, but towards the end of the day Ms. Teel, a long-time Newark resident and single mom of four boys, and Farida Mallah, Jared’s teacher, shared with me their thoughts about New Jersey charter school politics. Newark remains the epicenter of New …