New Jersey’s Pension Crisis is Largely the Fault of NJEA Leaders: Here’s Why.

(This is a guest post by Michael Lilley,  former executive director of Better Education For NJ Kids (B4K) and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. For his five-part deep dive into NJEA’s political clout and how it drives N.J.’s pension crisis, click here.) Democrat Phil Murphy won the New Jersey gubernatorial election last week with the support of many of the state’s public-sector unions, including the powerful New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Now Murphy …

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 …

Five Maxims for Phil Murphy

At a town hall in Montclair this past weekend, Phil Murphy held forth on the four New Jersey school districts — Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, and Camden — that over the last twenty-four years have been taken over by the state.  “In every  case, 100 percent of cases, state takeovers are of communities of color — that’s a fact, whether it is the school district or the entire community. And,” added Murphy indignantly, “ I …

“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 …

Follow the Money All the Way to Lakewood; Or, Kneel to the Vaad

This just in from Matt Rooney of Save Jersey, who speculates how Governor-to-be Phil Murphy so easily secured the Democratic nomination. Says Rooney, “he bought it, Corzine-style,” but with one difference. [W]hereas Corzine did it the old fashioned way (donating HUGE sums of cash to Democrat county organizations who decide the nomination), Murphy spread the cash around through various front organizations over the course of years. Rooney is dinging Murphy here. I’m not; it’s de …

Fact Check for Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver

Last week AFT President Randi Weingarten hosted teachers from Newark, Perth Amboy, North Bergen, and Garfield for a meet-and-greet with gubernatorial shoo-ins Phil Murphy and his lieutenant governor running partner Sheila Oliver, reports Tapinto.  The purpose of the meeting was to give teachers opportunities to “share ideas for improving education and to voice their concerns regarding the current state of public education.” Great. Except for this: our future state leaders need a little educating themselves. …

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 …

Phil Murphy Perfects the Pivot

“Pivoting” is an essential political skill when faced with a question you don’t want to answer. While I am eager to hear a non-pivot on this question asked by West Orange residents at a neighborhood block party, one can’t help but admire Murphy’s graceful evasion, via NJ Spotlight. Does he believe charter schools and vouchers for parochial schools will help improve outcomes in low performing school districts?   Murphy said he would improve K-12 schools …

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 …

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 …