Month-By-Month Tally of NJLB’s Top Posts in 2019!

Happy New Year, dear readers. As we close out 2019 (phew!) here are NJLB’s top posts, month by month. I’ve tried to balance the most popular posts with those I see as most pertinent in exploring the state of public education in New Jersey. Do you have other choices? Put them in the comments section!

January: Phil Murphy hearts NJEA.

This is not how Murphy’s triumph was supposed to unfold. He’s blowing it, riding a streak of unforced errors that threaten any sort of progress.  Much of his calamitous tenure can be tied to a series of education decisions that are unstrategic and poorly-conceived, wild pitches thrown in deference to the state’s primary teacher union, NJEA. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/01/four-unforced-errors-committed-gov-murphy-hail-njea-remedial-suggestions/)

(Runner-up: “When I saw recent press on Deputy Chief of Staff Deborah Cornavaca, everything fell into place like pieces in a game of Tetris. Duh.” (://njleftbehind.org/2019/01/just-deeply-murphys-agenda-influenced-njea-heres-clue/)

February: DOE Shenanigans

You get the idea. Asbury Park got slammed and was ordered by the DOE to “publicly review and discuss the findings in this report at a public board meeting no later than 30 days after receipt of the report.” Repollet, according to sources was angry. And so when he assumed his post as Commissioner, he, per the email above, cancelled the required audits.(https://njleftbehind.org/2019/02/nj-doe-watch-doe-commissioner-repollet-cancelled-school-audits-feds-dont-like-will-gov-murphy-take-action/)

Runner-Up: “Question of the day: How did NJEA spend its revenues of over $125 million in 2017? The bottom line is NJEA set new spending records, largely due to exorbitant salaries and benefits lavished on its central office staff, who now make 19.1 percent more than they did in 2015.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/02/peek-njeas-finances-teachers-school-staff-may-not-like-see/)

March: Setting the Record Straight on Newark

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial that poses as journalism. Either that or the paper really needs to beef up its fact-checking department. In the interest of clearing up this false narrative about Cory Booker and his charter school legacy in Newark (first described incorrectly in Dale Russakoff’s The Prize), here are eight substantive items that the LA Times got wrong.  (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/03/seven-corrections-error-ridden-story-cory-bookers-education-legacy-newark/)

Runner-Up: “Today Gov. Phil Murphy gave his 2019 budget address. He’s proposing, as part of this 38.6 billion spending plan, an additional $351 million as the first step in his campaign promise to “fully fund” New Jersey’s school funding formula known as the 2008 School Funding Reform Act… Now, if Murphy’s budget passes, almost half of all state spending — $15.4 billion — will go to K-12 public schools. Equity is us, right? Wrong.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/03/murphy-gives-budget-address-ignores-school-funding-inequities-well-want-administration-gives-95k-job-doe-minor-league-baseball-coach/)

April: Unveiling the Charter-Segregation Scam

I’m tired of this duplicity: Why can’t we just be plain-spoken about our intentions?  [Pashman Stein, Education Law Center, NJEA] bemoan the dismal lack in school integration borne from housing patterns, demand politically implausible promises (consolidate districts! Bus white rich kids to inner-city schools! Expand magnets, despite the fact that they are more segregated than the rest of NJ schools!) that would require a panacea for NJ’s narcissitic fetish for local control. Only then — in both the North Jersey article and the lawsuit —  do they arrive at their true goal, halting charter school expansion. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/04/lawsuit-pressed-anti-charter-gang-sheds-light-presumptions-white-privilege/)

Runners-Up: “It all points to a disturbing pattern of leadership that undermines the academic trajectory of children with disabilities.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/04/heres-leaked-memo-nj-assistant-commissioner-directed-special-education-asbury-park/) and the still-popular “King Repollet Goes to Ghana” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/04/king-repollet-goes-to-ghana-and-other-misadventures-of-the-new-jersey-education-commissioner/).

May: The 64 Floor—Asbury Park and Statewide

A primary reason for The 64 Floor is because Repollet doesn’t trust teachers. He says straightforwardly that they “weaponize grades.” It’s “a power thing,” he says. If a teacher doesn’t like Lamont, he or she will give them a zero. So the 64 Floor protects Lamont from bad teachers who abuse power. Why does our Commissioner have such a low opinion of teachers? Do NJEA leaders have any comment on this disrespect? (ttps://njleftbehind.org/2019/05/breaking-news-repollet-confirms-the-64-floor/)

Runners-Up: “Here’s my question:  Are NJEA and Governor Phil Murphy engaged in a pay-to-play scheme?” ( https://njleftbehind.org/2019/05/is-njea-the-ventriloquist-and-governor-murphy-the-dummy/ ) and “Governor, halting educational freedom for low-income Black and brown families is not progressive. Ignoring corruption in your DOE — which primarily hurts this same constituency — is not progressive. Emulating Bernie Sanders’ marriage to institutions like teacher unions is not progressive.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/05/an-open-letter-to-gov-phil-murphy-which-side-are-you-on/ )

June: NJ’s Pension Disaster, Brought to You By NJEA

Why may our state have to close? Short-term it’s because Murphy and his fellow Democrats are at a budget impasse, in part over the millionaire’s tax and in part over the feud between Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney. Long-term it’s because, as Mike Lilley puts it, our public pension and benefit system is a  “looming disaster that threatens the future of our state.” The reason for this crisis is that NJEA executives, representatives of a special interest group, “deliberately constructed a pension system that permitted maximizing both salaries and pensions while minimizing contributions.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/06/as-goes-lakewood-so-goes-new-jersey-lakewood-as-a-microcosm-of-the-garden-state/)

Runner-Up: “It’s a problem as impossible to solve as New Jersey’s pension crisis, one built up over decades because legislators lack the political will or courage to fight back against special interests. In Lakewood, the special interest is the Vaad, a group of 11 ultra-Orthodox men who control, well, everything, including voting.  For pensions, the special interest is NJEA leaders.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/06/what-do-njs-pension-crisis-lakewood-public-schools-and-the-murphy-sweeney-feud-have-in-common/)

July: When Brown v. BOE is Misused to Stymie Choice

“Blaming charters for school segregation is galling,” said Amy Wilkins, a vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and a longtime advocate in Washington for racial equity in education. “What Brown v. Board of Education did was say that government can’t tell black parents which public schools they can and can’t send their kids to. [Those who oppose charter schools are] telling black parents, who overwhelmingly support charters, that they can’t send their kids to charters anymore.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/07/njea-and-education-law-center-listen-up-new-jersey-charter-schools-have-no-impact-on-segregation/)

Runner-Up: “He tells the Board he’s invited me to Lakewood and repeats, ‘Dear Ms. Laura, come visit us, you’ve been asked, come look, you’ve been told, and stop writing your hate-filled blog.’ Inzelbuch has a short memory. We’ve actually had two email exchanges, one in 2017 and the second in 2018, about meeting in Lakewood. Here they are in full. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/07/this-is-what-you-need-to-know-about-lakewood-public-schools/)

August: “I Don’t Need White Fairy Dust For My Kids.”

Look, the formula to calculate the area of a square is the same in the books in Millburn and in Newark. I don’t need any white fairy dust for my kids to learn. I’m a mechanic, a problem-solver. If you get rid of charter schools, you’re just taking away my options. How does that help me? Go ahead, let them sue the counties to open up all the schools to all kids. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/08/voices-from-the-parent-summit-an-interview-with-ruthven-haneef-auguste/)

Runner-Up: “Why do Asbury Park Public Schools spend over $42K per student per year? The wanton spending falls into five categories: A top-heavy administration, excessive staff travels, the purchase of property even as enrollment shrinks, payment for private programs that don’t address Asbury Park students’ dire academic needs, and a curious relationship with the textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Let’s look at them one at a time.” ( https://njleftbehind.org/2019/08/why-asked-a-tweeter-is-asbury-park-public-schools-cost-per-pupil-over-40k-heres-my-answer/ )

September: How Low Can We Go? Standards & Assessments

If we follow the current student assessment plan — revert to something like our old ASK and HSPA tests which deceived residents into believing that 90% of our kids are ready for college — then we’re back to that perversion of equity. And this, by all accounts, is the goal of the Murphy Administration. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/09/new-jersey-students-are-1-too-bad-murphy-njea-repollet-are-working-on-a-regression-plan-bonus-internal-doe-email/)

Runner-Up: “Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet is angry. Yesterday the State Board of Education postponed a vote to approve his plan to take his Asbury Park 64 Floor statewide by lowering standards and lying to families about student academic progress. Now he’s threatening to ignore the Board’s oversight.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/10/repollet-demands-the-state-boe-take-the-64-floor-statewide-will-they-stand-up-for-students-or-kneel-to-the-king)

October: When Regression Masquerades as Progressivism

That’s where Governor Murphy is taking us — not forwards, but backwards, after only 18 months in office. Why? I’m no psychic but I’d imagine he’s just following his well-worn script of claiming progressivism while enacting regressive policies to please lobbyists and grease his skids to a Cabinet post if a Democrat beats Trump. (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/10/murphy-manages-to-deliver-what-nobody-wants/)

Runner-Up: “Federal and state laws on the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are clear. (For NJ’s explanation of your rights, click on this link; it is available in multiple languages.) When district staff violate these rights (often by orders from their supervisors), parents and children become victims of that deceit. So let’s start a conversation and begin with 10 statements parents have heard from Child Study Team members.” ( https://njleftbehind.org/2019/10/ten-lies-that-parents-of-special-needs-kids-often-hear-know-your-rights/ )

November: How Democrats Get It Wrong on Choice

Yet in this state, led by a Democratic governor who considers himself “progressive,” 35,000 children, largely low-income and of color, sit on charter school wait lists enduring a seemingly endless moratorium on the DOE’s authorization of new charter schools. The parents of these children, like Sarah Carpenter says, “want to do is be able to choose where our kids go to school.” So why are our leading Democratic candidates — Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and Biden, all white and rich — determined to betray them? (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/11/top-democratic-candidates-disrespect-for-parents-of-color-has-me-wondering-if-i-fit-into-this-party-anymore/)

Runner-Up: “It’s too late for Booker but I’d like to imagine that if he had stuck to his authentic education platform from the start he’d be closer to the center of the stage. Perhaps the winner will have the smarts to be the true progressive who does more than pay lip service to our most disenfranchised Americans (maybe with Booker as VP?).” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/11/i-spit-out-my-coffee-when-i-read-cory-bookers-op-ed-nine-theories-that-explain-his-change-of-heart/ )

December: AFT/NEA Ignores Parents of Color; Democratic Leaders, Stand Up!

“I don’t know why NEA/AFT — let alone the aspiring nominees — think that ignoring Black and Brown parents who comprise an essential portion of the Democratic base is a sound political strategy or even a defensible ethical stance. Here’s what I do know: I’ve never been so disappointed in my Party. I’ve never been so proud to call members of the #PowerfulParentNetwork my friends. And I maintain hope that Democratic leaders will see past the the lure of union dollars and look squarely at the faces of Sarah Carpenter, Vesia Hawkins, Gwen Samuels, Sharif El-Mekki, and all the members of this growing movement.” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/12/heres-what-happened-yesterday-when-aft-and-nea-locked-out-black-and-brown-parents-from-a-candidate-forum/)

Runner-Up: “Stop the madness! But we don’t because Sweeney’s proposals-–shifting plans from platinum to gold and requiring third-party audits of all healthcare claims— are non-starters for NJEA top brass. Said NJEA President Marie Blistan last Spring, ‘Proposals to further raise costs or slash benefits will irreparably harm our profession and our schools, and NJEA members will join as one to fight them.’ Meanwhile, how do I get in on free (for me!) $700/hour accupuncture sessions?” (https://njleftbehind.org/2019/12/njea-execs-demand-continuation-of-700-hour-accupuncture-sessions-on-your-dime/)


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