The Votes Are In: New Jersey’s Teachers Union Really Blew It

The leaders of New Jersey’s primary teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), have egg on their faces. In a triumph of vindictiveness over intelligence, the leadership of the richest lobbying group in the state decided to spurn State Senator Steve Sweeney and back a Trump-loving, climate change-denying, xenophobic, little-known councilman named Fran Grenier. On Tuesday, Sweeney, running for re-election in New Jersey’s District 3, beat Grenier by 18 points. Why would union leaders …

The Lakewood Vaad Says, “Vote For Murphy, He’s a Mensch”

To no one’s surprise, the Lakewood Vaad, a group of eleven ultra-Orthodox men who control all educational, political, budgetary, and construction activity in this rapidly-growing city, has endorsed Phil Murphy for governor. (See here and here for background.) According to the Asbury Park Press, this announcement comes two weeks after Murphy visited Lakewood for a fundraiser and  “mixer” with 50 ultra-Orthodox men. I’ve printed the endorsement below. First, a few comments. The Vaad, which typically …

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 …