Jim O’Neill, interim superintendent of West Orange, New Jersey, did something remarkable, something we expect from retired educators, not those in the field. He spoke up. He denounced the failed reforms of the Christie administration whose purpose is not to improve education but to open up the school budget for privatization. For his courage and candor, based on experience and wisdom, he joins the honor roll as a hero of public education.

Time for an investigation, he writes:

“The Bridgegate investigation led from Fort Lee to Hoboken, the Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office, Sandy ads, Sandy funds and the ARC tunnel. After four years of being intimidated by the crass talking intimidator-in-chief, our elected representatives and investigative journalists have their mojo back and should hurry to investigate the highly touted education reforms in NJ. Articulated and spearheaded by a private school advocate clothed in the powers of state education commissioner, the soon to be departed Chris Cerf leaves NJ teachers and students suffering from a debilitating hangover.

“Cerf learned from our governor that, if you say the same thing often enough, say it forcefully enough and demonize all those who raise a hand to disagree, you will attract attention and true believers. The naysayers were painted as out of date fat cat public employees only interested in themselves and not the health, welfare, or academic well-being of the students in our schools. Fortunately for the parents of over one million students in NJ public schools, nothing could be further from the truth.

“The reforms foisted on NJ and other states lack intellectual credibility because the advocates refuse to entertain alternate ideas or facts. The “we know we are right” attitude confirms an insular mentality and a deep-seated insecurity, which also blinded those in the governor’s circle of trust. Platitudes about closing failing schools and all children succeeding are the public catch phrases of a political agenda masquerading as education reforms.”

Read on.