Ronnie Greco, who is leader of the Jersey City Education Association, joins our honor roll of heroes of public education.

Ronnie refused to sign Jersey City’s application for a Race to the Top grant for $40 million.

Ronnie quickly figured out that not a penny of the $40 million would solve any problem that Jersey City public schools have.

It would not be used to improve teaching and learning conditions.

It would not be available to reduce class size.

It would be used to impose merit pay, which has never worked anywhere.

It would be used to find and fire “ineffective” teachers, based on unproven test-based measures.

It would be used to implement top-down mandates devised in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Department of Education.

The issues in Jersey City are no different from the issues that led to a strike in Chicago.

It is tough for a union leader to say no to a big federal grant because the media will blame him (or her) for turning down “free” money.

But Ronnie figured out the trap.

The money comes with strings that get fashioned into a noose for teachers.

The money will not reform the schools of Jersey City.

The money will not help the children of Jersey City.

The schools of Jersey City have been under state control for 23 years.

For 23 years, the state of New Jersey has failed the children of New Jersey.

The teachers of Jersey City work under difficult conditions.

They are heroes.

And their leader, Ronnie Greco, joins our honor roll for his courage, insight, wisdom, and conviction–all qualities in short supply today in our public life.