Cerf: “This Is The Moment. The Biggest Risk as We Go To Local Control Is That Lurking In the Background Is a Real Transactional Mentality.”

Last week in The 74 I analyzed the legacy of Chris Cerf’s tenure in New Jersey, both as Commissioner of Education and, more recently, as state-appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Part of my analysis came from a conversation we had last month and I wasn’t able to work all the content into the article. So, in the interest of completeness, here are some of his answers to other questions I posed to him. Waters: …

Great News! Lakewood Board of Education and Michael Inzelbuch Threaten to Resign

“Tell the state we’re not to be messed with,” Board of Education lawyer Michael Inzelbuch boomed into a microphone inside the high school commons last week, prompting cheers from hundreds of athletes. That’s yesterday’s Asbury Park Press capturing the tone of a meeting masquerading as an athletic banquet that was really Lakewood Public Schools’ roll-out of the big artillery in its quest for more state cash. Why does Lakewood need more money than anyone else? …

A Fiscal Realist Responds to David Sciarra’s Innumeracy

David G. Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, wrote an editorial last week in NJ Spotlight slamming former Governor Chris Christie for not spending enough on schools, creating a “false narrative of public school failure,” and a variety of other sins. But redemption is near, Sciarra rejoices, because new Governor Phil Murphy magically will fully fund the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), expand free Pre-Kindergarten, and restore funding for facilities costs in Abbott districts. …

Lakewood Fiscal Monitor: “This Entire District, When it Comes to the Staff, I Would Say It’s a Culture of Fear.”

Once again Lakewood Public Schools has failed QSAC, formally known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum. That’s a mouthful but it’s pretty simple: every three years districts are rated — both by themselves and the state — on five areas of competency: Instruction and Program; Fiscal Management; Governance; Operations; and Personnel. In order to pass, districts have to get an 80 percent on every section and if they meet that mark they are categorized as …

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 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 …

“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 …

Anyone Have Some Dragonglass?

Superintendents aren’t going to advocate for eliminating their jobs. School business administrators aren’t going to advocate for eliminating their jobs. School boards are not going to want to just get rid of their power. That’s Newton Township Mayor Wayne Levante acknowledging that his proposal to consolidate Sussex County’s 25 school districts has as much chance of gaining support as Brienne of Tarth slipping into Melania Trump’s stilettos. Those 25 districts, by the way, have a total …