NJ on the Short BusAugust 19, 2008
Large NutsAugust 24, 2008
Local school boards and DOE mandates continue to collide as the Jersey papers wax on about limits on superintendent perks and, the latest, administrators who get hefty pay raises by listing degrees from diploma mills on their resumes.
So we have stories this week like the Star-Ledger’s update on James Wasser, Superintendent of Freehold Schools, who got a $2,500 raise after buying a Ph.D. from Breyer State University.
Breyer State University, also called Breyer State University-Alabama, is an unaccredited distance education university with an office in Birmingham, Alabama. It has been described by The New Republic magazine as a diploma mill that used a “claimed official-sounding accreditation to attract hundreds of people to obtain degrees”. Breyer State University disputes this categorization.
In June 2008 Breyer State’s license to operate in Alabama expired and was not renewed. The Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education reported that the school had moved to Idaho.
In response, the Home News quoted Senate President Richard Codey, who fumed, “it’s completely and utterly ridiculous that people at the top of our educational system are being paid — rewarded, in fact — for a degree that for all intents and purposes comes from a fake university.”
To add a tad more tsuris to our beleaguered NJ administrators, the local media is pelting the New Jersey Administrators and Supervisors Association for suing the State on the grounds that attempts to limit their compensation are “arbitrary and unconstitutional.” According to the New Jersey Record,
The suits come in response to new state Department of Education regulations that allow for more oversight of top school administrators’ contracts, setting limits on payouts and allowing state officials to rein in excesses. The day before it was filed, the Department of Education released new data on the six-figure salaries and perks of New Jersey’s school administrators, with packages ranging well past $200,000 and even $300,000 among the best compensated superintendents in Bergen and Passaic counties.
These stories highlight the inequities inherent in a the NJ public school system, which slices up education into 603 districts that range from elite to impoverished. The Record continues,
As one might expect in a state with more than 600 school districts, each figuring out its own way, the data revealed considerable chaos. Superintendents running tiny districts are making as much as those responsible for 10 or 20 times as many students and staff. The lack of even a loose correlation between district size and superintendent salary is a sign that there’s little logic behind the pay packages being set by many school boards.
We’ve got a headlong collision of home rule and State governance, worthy of a Hollywood action movie. Local school boards hire superintendents and negotiate salaries and benefits. But as the State takes on a growing role in setting standards, both academic and financial, the long history in NJ of local control is undermined. Add the federal mandates of No Child Left Behind and, well, just picture a Corvair and a Humvee in a crash derby. Is Ralph Nader in the house? And which is the lemon?