Archives for category: Cerf, Chris

Montclair, New Jersey, has long been proud of its fine public schools. But these days, not even good schools and good districts are exempt from the corporate reform steamroller. At present, a substantial part of the community is at war with the school board and the Broad-trained superintendent. A group of dissident parents, who happen to be among leading scholars of education —–including Ira Shor, Stan Karp, and Michelle Fine—wrote the following description of the turmoil in Montclair.

PREFACE FROM MONTCLAIR CARES ABOUT SCHOOLS:

Montclair, New Jersey is a progressive town with highly-regarded public schools noted nationally for successfully desegregating through a districtwide magnet system. Kids of all colors go to all schools; families of all colors, classes, and sexual preferences are welcome here.

But the town now has a renegade board of education issuing subpoenas to uncover names of critics posting anonymously on blogs and websites. And we have a schools superintendent, hired by the board in fall 2012, who lacks state certification but was trained by the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy. The superintendent, Penny MacCormack, came to Montclair from the NJ State Department of Education run by Christopher Cerf, another Broad graduate. Liberal Montclair, which voted overwhelmingly against Republican Governor Chris Christie, now has a superintendent from his administration.

Our school board, appointed by the mayor, took a destructive turn a few years ago by embracing austerity, cutting effective programs and essential classroom aides, ending services needed by students, while piling up multimillion-dollar budget surpluses year after year. The board also tried closing two successful and integrated schools, a plan it abandoned only after sustained parent protests.

Things went from bad to worse after MacCormack’s hiring following a secretive search. In true corporate-reform fashion, the board and MacCormack have restricted comments by the public and the local teachers‘ union president at meetings. Community management not public dialogue is its stock in trade. MacCormack hurriedly declared that Montclair was woefully behind on adapting the Common Core standards; she pushed a new “Strategic Plan” with a new layer of quarterly skills tests in every grade. After some of these new district assessments somehow got onto the Internet in the fall, the board launched an investigation and issued its subpoenas – including to a fellow board member – the only one to publicly question the superintendent’s policies- and to Google and a local online news site in an attempt to find out the identities of a local blogger and online commenters critical of the district leadership.

The ACLU of New Jersey sued on behalf of the blogger and following public protests, including from the Town Council, the board has withdrawn the subpoenas seeking identities of online critics. But the board’s subpoena against its own board member is still live and demands him to turn over emails and phone records, in fact, virtually all records of everyone he talks to in the community. You can see the subpoena here.

Our group, Montclair Cares About Schools, came together last spring out of concern over the destructive direction in the schools. We speak at board and Town Council meetings, hold public forums and workshops, send letters to the editor of the town paper, and have an active and popular Facebook page.

In December, Montclair Cares About Schools presented to the board and residents a timeline of how we got to this sad point in our district. An edited and abridged version is below.
_____

Timeline of a Debacle: “Just Six Months Ago…”
(issued Dec. 16, 2013)

Just six months ago, Montclair Cares About Schools asked the board to please slow down their plan to impose a new layer of quarterly, district-wide tests. Had the board listened to MCAS instead of ignoring our suggestion, the costly and divisive events since last June 23 could have been avoided.

June 2013: MCAS posted a petition online asking the board to slow down implementation of the planned quarterly assessments. Within 48 hours, 370 parents and community members signed online and another 40 signed a hard copy. Since then, online signers have grown to 560. At the board meeting that night, Montclair High School students presented their own petition signed by about 578 students also asking to slow down implementation of the new assessments.

The board refused to respond to the pleas to slow down. Instead, it rushed ahead recklessly.

It rushed ahead even though the new quarterly assessments and related curricula changes mandated by Superintendent MacCormack would come in the same year as a complex and burdensome new teacher evaluation system imposed by the State.

July and August 2013: The district recruited more than 100 teachers to develop the new quarterly assessments for every K-12 class. The superintendent maintained the new tests were necessary to get students ready for the upcoming state PARCC exams scheduled to begin in 2015.

>The public was told that the district would generate open-ended assessments, attuned to the unique characteristics and concerns of our high-performing district.

>By summer’s end, despite great cost and rush, only the first-quarter tests and lessons were ready, not the whole-year curriculum. School started in September with teachers not having the yearlong curriculum ready for them to plan their lessons.

>Teachers also learned that the assessments would have to be graded on a Scantron-ready metric. Our school curricula were being dumbed down to make them computer-friendly for the new PARCC testing en route to all classrooms.

>Although supposedly every Montclair student would be subject to the new layer of assessments, Advanced Placement students were exempt, making these new Scantron tests directed at only certain students, in a district where fairness and equity matter.

>We also have no evidence that any accommodations were planned for students in special education taking the new tests.

September 2013: At the start of school, students throughout the district were given ‘surprise’ pre-assessment tests. Many were on material not yet taught. We have a copy of a memo telling teachers to make these assessments difficult so that teachers could demonstrate students’ improvement on the next round of tests and to NOT share the pre-assessments or how students performed on them with students or parents.

Based on these unannounced, unprepared, and unnecessary pre-assessments, students were pulled out of regular classes for math and English language arts support, often without any notification or explanation to parents. This disturbed parents, frustrated those children pulled out of classes, and in many cases altered the racial makeup of classes.

October 2013: On Friday, October 25, the district learned that at least 14 of the district’s 60 first-quarter assessments suddenly appeared on an unprotected website on the Internet. Teachers were supposed to administer these tests the following week.

Three things happened in the wake of the online publication of the assessments:

1. Suspicion about how the assessments got online landed immediately on people who were publicly critical of the assessments, the board and the superintendent.

2. As copies of the published assessments began circulating among parents, the cover was blown off the Superintendent’s and board’s claims that these assessments were creative and teacher-generated. Many were canned short-answer tests, a low standard for assessment. Some had been copied verbatim from model state exams and some were clearly developmentally inappropriate for their grades. So much for the high-quality, teacher-generated assessments promised to the public.

3. The true cost of the assessments became known: $490,000. A half-million dollars of our taxes wasted by the board to get us into this mess, with a huge legal bill to follow.

October 28 or 29: According to Baristanet, a local online news outlet, the District filed a police report about the unauthorized publication of the assessments around October 28. As we understand it, the police did not pursue this case because they judged that no crime had been committed.

November 1: The board held a hastily called meeting to vote to hire its own attorney for what it claimed would be an “independent” investigation into the online publication of the assessments.

The board attorney was quoted in news reports that he would “cast a wide net” and would be issuing subpoenas to “blogs and websites.” At that same meeting however, board Pres. Robin Kulwin told reporters that she believed the “leak” was internal.

Why, if the board president believed the leak was internal – that is, caused accidentally or deliberately by someone who works for the district – did the board authorize its attorney to cast a wide net with subpoenas directed at outside parties? This key contradiction has never been explained. Why a big dragnet for a local problem with no evidence of criminal behavior presented?

December 4: The ACLU of New Jersey sued the board to quash subpoenas that the ACLU said were defective and beyond the limited investigative authority of a local school board. The ACLU had previously approached the board asking it to withdraw the subpoena to its client. But unlike other school districts in New Jersey approached by the ACLU on similar matters, our board refused to stop hounding its critics.

December 5: A state judge acknowledged the merits of the ACLU’s claims by granting a temporary restraining order against the board to prevent it from issuing any more subpoenas or taking further action on the ones issued.

December 9: The Montclair Township Council voted to refuse a school board request to investigate a computer network server shared by the town and school district. The council resolution declared that the investigation “is contributing to divisiveness and strife among the people of Montclair,[and] is resulting in the diversion and expenditure of substantial funds.”

December 16 board meeting: We ask the board, how much money has been poured into this punitive and pointless investigation for which you have provided no evidence of criminal activity? Why are you targeting your critics?

We propose that evidence points to the following scenario:

• The assessments had been placed by the district placed on an unprotected site (as confirmed by the board’s own computer network coordinator).

• The assessments were found on GoBookee, a “spider” or scavenger site that retrieves documents from the Internet and then tries to sell them online. Considering this and other Montclair school documents are on this site, we think it likely that this is how the assessments got online.
• We believe no one “leaked” the assessments but that they were poorly secured on the web portals open to teachers. Given the rush and lack of care in this entire process of creating and mandating these new assessments, this is not surprising.

No crime was committed here, and we think the board knows it. The only offenses have been by the board by engaging in a witch hunt – an investigation of parents, educators and community members critical of the board. This investigation has violated freedom of speech rights, embarrassed this respected town, and most likely, as the ACLU asserts, broken laws.

The township council has spoken, parents have spoken, educators have spoken. Enough.
The superintendent and board leadership should take responsibility for any security breach, apologize to the community and cease this destructive investigation.

______

Epilogue: As 2014 begins, Montclair Cares About Schools continues its fight to expose and stop the damage to our good schools caused by this board’s and superintendent’s top-down, test-focused management and by its failure to tolerate public dialogue about our public schools. Our group endeavors to show alternatives. We hold public forums, workshops, living-room meetings for parents. We invite everyone interested in public education to visit our Facebook page.

********************

In addition to this joint statement, Ira Shor wrote the following letter to the editor of the Montclair Times to complain about the influence of the Broad Foundation in Montclair:

Dec. 29, 2013

Is Billionaire Eli Broad Running Our Schools?​

Why is the District refusing to release items regarding the Superintendent’s relation to the Broad Foundation? On October 31, 2013, I filed a request under NJ’s Open Public Records Act(OPRA) for documents regarding Supt. MacCormack’s financial disclosure that she received “more than $2000” in 2013 from the Broad Foundation. We need to know how much “more than $2000” Broad is paying her and for what services. Contrary to OPRA law, Mr. Fleischer, her COO, provided no requested documents and did not explain why he refused. OPRA requires district officers to meet legal requests in 7 business days or explain in writing why not. Mr. Fleischer had 35 days but provided no Broad items and explained nothing.

What is the Superintendent hiding? Who does she work for–Montclair’s families or billionaire Eli Broad and his campaign to standardize public schools? She attended the unaccredited Broad Academy whose “grads” follow Broad’s playbook, imposing one-size-fits-all curricula, endless bubble-tests, and high-priced consultants and testing technology. We have a right to know if she answers to Broad or to us.

The Superintendent and our Board have recklessly disrupted our good schools and squandered taxes on ridiculous subpoenas, while refusing to spend yet another huge surplus on things our kids need: smaller classes, foreign language, aides in all classes, librarians in all schools, instrumental music, and after-school mentoring for at-risk kids. Listen to our over-tested kids reporting fear and stress; listen to our under-supported teachers at monthly Board meetings; then, you’ll agree we should roll back the Broad agenda and its assessment train wreck. The refusal of my OPRA request joins other illegal refusals from Mr. Fleischer and the Supt.’s office. Stop hiding from those you should be serving. Open your books and files.

Ira Shor
302 North Mountain Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043
973-337-6783

New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf has the good fortune to be leader of a state with some of the best schools and school districts in the nation. New Jersey also has some districts with high concentrations of poverty and racial segregation, where test scores are very low.

But New Jersey–inspired by the example of Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top–will attempt to raise test scores by imposing a teacher evaluation program. Will this address the root cause of poor academic achievement? Of course not.

In theory, it will identify the “best” teachers and the “bad” teachers so that the latter may be fired.

In reality, such statistical models have not worked anywhere because there are so many confounding, unmeasurable, and unknown variables.

But Commissioner Cerf is quite certain this plan will work, despite all the pitfalls and lack of evidence.

Jersey Jazzman explains here in detail why Cerf’s certainty is faith-based.

What is predictable is that teachers will be demoralized as they see their profession turned into a testing game, teaching to the test will become the norm, and teachers will figure out how to game the system. In time, teachers will avoid the high-risk students to preserve their jobs.

This teacher-evaluation-by test-scores is junk science.

What we really need is a way to evaluate our policymakers and hold them accountable for the damage they inflict on students, teachers, schools, and communities.

Jersey Jazzman studied the teacher evaluation system devised by State Commissioner Chris Cerf and concludes it is an unmitigated disaster.

Like it or not, teachers will be forced to teach to the tests. Teachers will be fired because of the test, using a system whose designer said it should not be used for this purpose.

The state, now one of the highest performing in the action, will be turned into a dreary testing factory.

Nothing like foisting unproven, demoralizing methods on unwilling teachers.

Some reform plan.

Mark Zuckerberg paid out $100 million to fix Newark’s schools. Millions have been spent on consultants. Probably lots more charters too, free to push out kids they don’t want.

But couldn’t some of Mark’s millions be spent to clean this high school and bring in an exterminator to get rid of vermin?

Remember that a hot new superintendent was hired by the state to overhaul Newark’s schools? Why can’t she guarantee a clean, safe school to the kids?

How could it happen that New Jersey officials cut the ribbon at the opening of a new charter school facility in September, but the school just lost its nonprofit status?

Jersey Jazzman here reviews the nonstop administrative incompetence of the New Jersey Department of Education in relation to its failure to provide adequate oversight.

He concludes:

“I don’t think I’ve even covered it all, but you get the point: New Jersey’s oversight of charter schools under Chris Cerf has been a disaster. He brought in people light on experience – both in education and in New Jersey – and the state’s children have paid the price for their incompetence.

“And it’s not just the turnover at the NJDOE that’s caused this train wreck; it’s the infestation of inexperienced ideologues, paid for by California billionaires who bad-mouth New Jersey’s students and schools. Their arrogance and intransigence have turned the state’s charter approval and oversight processes into a bad joke.”

Pedro Noguera, an urban sociologist at New York University, took the lead in crafting a comprehensive plan for education reform in a group of public schools in Newark’s central ward. Modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Global Village Zone was heralded as thoughtful and bold when it was introduced in 2010. But things went wrong, and Global Village did not survive.

I invited Pedro Noguera to describe what happened. He generously responded.

The End of the Global Village

In the fall of 2009, I was invited by an organization called America’s Promise Alliance, associated with General Colin Powell’s national anti-dropout initiative, to deliver a keynote address in Newark, NJ on how to prevent and reduce the dropout rate. In my address took the position then as I do now, that genuine and sustainable progress could only be achieved if a systemic approach were taken, one that addressed the social and economic roots of the problem and strengthened the capacity of schools to meet student needs.

To my surprise, Governor Jon Corzine, who had spoken just before I took the stage, stayed for my entire presentation. Afterwards, he leaned over and said “we need to talk”. During the break he told me that he was interested in taking the approach I described statewide because several districts were in need of major changes. I told him that it would be better to start with one district that could serve as a pilot, and that if we made progress, the strategy could be applied elsewhere. We both agreed that Newark would be the logical place to undertake this work because it was led by an energetic mayor, Cory Booker, who cared deeply about education, and the district had just hired a new superintendent, Clifford Janey, who had a reputation for innovation.

Conversations ensued shortly after that initial discussion, at first primarily involving state officials from the Attorney General’s Office, the Commissioner of Education, and the Governor’s office. Early on we were able to enlist support from the Ford Foundation, which liked the approach we proposed to take, and agreed to serve as the lead funder of the initiative. After a short time we got support from a wide variety of local agencies and funders, including the Prudential, Victoria and Shulman Foundations. We also received the blessing of Mayor Booker who, though an ardent advocate of charter schools, recognized the benefit that would be obtained if we succeeded in improving public schools.

The strategy we envisioned drew on many of the tenets associated with a larger national initiative called the Broader and Bolder Approach (BBA) (www.broaderandbolderapproach.com). I was one of three national co-chairs associated with BBA (Helen Ladd, a professor of Economics at Duke University and Tom Payzant, the former Superintendent of Boston, were the other co-chairs), and thought of the project in Newark as a way to demonstrate and reinforce the national policy advocacy work of BBA. Drawing on the resources and expertise of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University (I am the Executive Director of the center), BBA began working in the spring of 2010 to implement a school reform strategy that would place issues like expanded access to early childhood education, health care, community engagement and extended learning opportunities at the center of the work. Our hope was that we could transform teaching and learning within schools while simultaneously addressing the external conditions related to poverty – poor health and nutrition, crime, housing instability, etc., that often undermine reform efforts.

After some preliminary meetings with Dr. Janey, it was decided that seven schools in Newark’s central ward would be selected for the pilot. Re-named the Global Village Zone (GVZ), the project sought to adopt some of the strategies utilized by the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Children’s Aid Society and the Comer Model (pre-school, extended learning opportunities, expanded access to healthcare, etc.) and include a concerted effort to engage and organize parents. We also envisioned that over time career academies would be developed that would provide students with training in fields where we anticipated jobs would be available such as energy conservation and healthcare. Unlike the Harlem Children’s Zone, the GVZ would focus on improving public schools (HCZ sponsors two charter schools) and rely largely on public resources to insure sustainability.

For the next three years, we worked assiduously at building the GVZ infrastructure and improve the schools. It wasn’t easy. We were under staffed and were working with seven schools that had a long record of under-performance. We took on several of the functions normally carried out by district officials such as providing professional development for teachers and administrators, and conducting workshops for parents. Nonetheless, with a small staff headed by Dr. Lauren Wells, we accomplished a great deal. We signed an agreement with the Newark Teachers Union to allow for a longer school day, we implemented a free book drive to insure that children had access to reading material over the summer, we held summer institutes for staff on instructional leadership, and gradually began to create the zone we had envisioned. Despite our limitations, we had an enormous amount of buy-in and support from the leadership and staff of the seven schools, the parents and the broader community. Our greatest progress was achieved at Central High School, which in the spring of 2010 had been designated chronically under-performing by the State of New Jersey and received a School Improvement Grant to support turnaround efforts (SIG). After its first year, student test scores in language arts increased 32.5% and 25% in math. State officials told us that the progress being achieved at the school under the leadership of Ras Baraka the principal, was unmatched by any other turn around school in the state (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/06/newarks_central_high_school_se.html).

In January of 2011 we learned that Clifford Janey’s contract would not be renewed and a search for a new superintendent was launched soon thereafter. Cami Anderson, an educator whom I knew and supported based on her work with some of the most disadvantaged schools in New York City, was named the new superintendent in May of 2011. Though she and I had spoken on the telephone prior to her appointment about Newark’s schools, after her appointment our contact was minimal, and we only met in person on only one occasion. It’s not clear that she ever fully understood what the Global Village Zone was or what we were trying to accomplish. In the spring of 2012 she announced a major overhaul of the school district that would result in the closure of several under-enrolled, low performing schools, three of which were located in the central ward. She did this before approximately 1,000 parents in a large auditorium at Rutgers University, and after making her announcement, exited out the back door without taking any questions from those assembled.

With so much change underway and with a growing recognition that the BBA work with the Global Village Zone needed to be aligned with the district’s goals, we applied to become an Education Management Organization (EMO) in the hope that this would provide us with the funding and district level support we needed to carry out our work. Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of 100 million dollrs to support school reform in Newark, there was considerably more private money available for school improvement. We hoped that with district support we might gain access to some of these resources in the central ward. However, our proposal was rejected twice based on concerns that we lacked the capacity to carry out the work we proposed to do. At this point our funders were becoming increasingly concerned that the GVZ could not be viable if the district did not support its goals. With great reluctance, we decided to suspend our work with the GVZ schools because we lacked the resources to continue and because it was clear that the district did not support our efforts.

I am reluctant to say that the BBA work is dead. In all likelihood, a new superintendent will come to Newark in the not too distant future and perhaps the next leader will be more inclined to resume the work we began. I am especially reluctant to say that the work is over because we raised the hopes of so many parents who embraced our vision, supported our efforts to take a holistic approach to reform and who now feel bitterly disappointed. Newark is a city where unfulfilled promises have been a constant for many years. I hate BBA and the Global Village Zone being seen as yet another example of raised expectations that failed to materialize.

I accept part of the blame for the suspension of our work. Early on we created an advisory board comprised of civic leaders from Newark for the explicit purpose of insuring that our work would be protected because it was supported by a broad array of stakeholders. I am not a novice at this type of work; I knew from experience that political instability frequently undermines good work in urban schools. Janey had served as the ex-officio chair of the advisory board. When he left we hoped Anderson would take on the role but she was not interested in it. We should have asked someone else to take on the role such as a respected clergyman or community leader. In retrospect, a strong board might have provided us with the political support we needed to keep our work in the Central Ward going.

It is also true that BBA was based at New York University, and though we hired staff from Newark, including Lauren Wells the project director, we were still outsiders from New York City. Ideally, the work should have been led by a local non-profit based in Newark. We realized this and even tried to create one because none existed. This is one of the reasons why I believe we were unsuccessful in our attempt to secure a planning grant from the federal government’s Promise Neighborhood initiative.

However, I still believe that the plan we developed and the vision we organized the schools and parents around is one that had a good chance of succeeding, if we could have stayed with it long enough. Several communities across the country are now engaged in similar work that can be described as a more integrated and holistic approach to school reform. It’s taking place in the Dudley neighborhood of Boston, the Morningside neighborhood of Fort Worth, TX, in Tulsa, OK, in East Durham, NC and Camden, NJ. I know about this work because I know the people doing the work, and I am frequently called upon to provide advice and support. What impresses me most about this work is that even without federal funding or the support of hedge fund managers, these local actors are moving forward to support their schools by creating partnerships with non-profits, universities and hospitals to address the needs of children that schools lack the resources to respond to on their own.

These communities are not waiting the right superintendent to be appointed or the right governor to be elected. They are taking action now because their children can’t afford to wait.

That is no less true in Newark today, and even if the current leadership does not embrace this approach I remain certain that there are leaders and activists in Newark that do. The Newark public schools have been under state control for seventeen years, and despite all the talk of accountability from Governor Christie and his Commissioner Chris Cerf, there has been no accountability on the state of New Jersey, which has not delivered a better education to the children of Newark during the period that it has ostensibly been in charge. Eventually, I believe the people of Newark will come forward to take control of their schools and their children’s futures. When that happens we will be ready to resume our work.

Big political contributions have poured into a local school board race in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Donors in California andColorado are supporting a slate of school board candidates in that small New Jersey district.

As Jersey Jazzman explains here, the school board in Perth Amboy has been trying to oust the district’s divisive superintendent. Acting Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf has protected her, preventing the board from getting rid of her. The election provides an opportunity to fire the board and install one that will defend Chris Christie’s agenda: anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-tenure, pro-privatization.

As Jersey Jazzman writes:

It seems absurd, and yet it’s true: four wealthy Californians and one wealthy Coloradan – heavy hitters in the tech, financial, and health care sectors – have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a slate of candidates running for the school board in Perth Amboy, a city of 50,000 with a majority Hispanic population.

“According to New Jersey election records, the slate of candidates calling themselves “Better Schools Now!” has collected $64,700, mostly from sources outside of Perth Amboy. In contrast, an opposing slate, “New Vision, New Voice” has collected $7,005, with all of its donations over $300 coming from within the city.”

There is a clear pattern emerging here and elsewhere around the country: a small number of extremely wealthy individuals are pouring huge amounts of money into elections, state and local, to buy the result they want: privatization, budget cuts, anti-union policies, a compliant school board.

It happened last year in Denver and last spring spring in Louisiana; its happening now in Perth Amboy, New Orleans, Idaho, Santa Clara County (CA), Washington State, Georgia, and elsewhere.

This is not haphazard. These are takeover targets.

Time for an investigative journalist to find out who is coordinating this subversion of democracy.

New Jersey is unquestionably one of the two or three highest performing states in the nation on NAEP. Given its extremes of wealth and pockets of dense poverty, it may well be the highest performing state.

As is obvious by now, Governor Chris Christie and his helper Chris Cerf hope to privatize as much of he state school system as they can while they can.

Jersey Jazzman is predictably wary of the Newark contract. Here is his take on the deal, which is funded in large part by private and non-recurring money.

I don’t understand all the details of the deal reached by the Newark Teachers Union and the Christie administration. The final details were hammered out by Randi Weingarten, NTU president  Joseph Del Grosso, Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, Acting State Commissioner Chris Cerf, and perhaps Governor Chris Christie as well.

Some people (and I include myself) worry that the deal includes merit pay tied to “performance” (test scores). I don’t think that is ever a good idea. It produces perverse incentives for cheating, narrowing the curriculum, and gaming the system.

But the odd thing about this agreement is that there is so much money for almost every one of Newark’s 3,100 teachers. There are retroactive raises; there are bonuses for working in low-performing schools; there are bonuses for working in high-need subjects like math, science and special education. There’s lots and lots of money, enough for all, and in addition, there is peer review added in at almost every stage.

A big chunk of the financing is coming from private sources, including Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark.

Nothing about layoffs; nothing about firing the teachers whose students left for Newark’s rapidly multiplying charter schools.

I am beginning to wonder if Randi and Joe walked away with Governor Christie’s shirt and trousers and he didn’t even notice.

To keep this act going, Mark Zuckerberg better pony up another $100 million for other districts.

More such “victories” like this for Christie and Cerf, and the teachers of New Jersey will be laughing all the way to the bank.

 

 

New Jersey blogger Jersey Jazzman has written a brilliant and funny essay on “America’s Most Invasive Species: The Wonk.”

This is the kind of article that reminds you how serios humor can be.

He noticed that wonks thrive at conferences. At these conferences, panels of wonks deliberate what to do about issues in which they have become experts without actual experience.

Wonks are not to be confused with scholars, who devote themselves to deep study. Nor should they be confused with practitioners.

Their rise to power and prominence may suggest a parallel with hedge fund managers, who have financialized the economy via buying and selling, the manipulation of paper, not by producing anything.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114,378 other followers