Sunday LeftoversSeptember 13, 2009
Wasser Goes Off-LineSeptember 15, 2009
on why union members should vote for Corzine instead of Christie. Among the key issues: Corzine “does not support [merit pay] because it creates a system of winners and losers among the people who educate our children,” and Christie “wants to require all new state employees to contribute to their health insurance costs.”” Also, Christie “supports vouchers, which use public tax dollars to subsidize private and religious schools,” while Corzine “opposes vouchers, tuition tax credits, and urban scholarship schemes.”
Interestingly, there’s nary a mention of charter schools. Race To The Top eligibility demands expansion of charters and urban parents in N.J. are lined up on the 11,000 pupil waiting list. Perhaps that’s why NJEA finds it difficult to publish Christie’s fiery support and Corzine’s tepid advocacy. (See here.) Instead “Where The Gubernatorial Candidates Stand” limits itself to bluster on voucher “schemes.”
The politics of charter schools puts Corzine in a bind. NJEA, despite the cone of silence imposed on the issue in campaign literature, sees charter schools as a threat to their fundamental platform: life-time tenure and opposition to merit pay. (Here’s a great piece by Matt Yglesias where he argues that merit pay already exists: merit is defined as having advanced degrees. We also define merit as longevity — salary scales go up for every year of employment — so it might be helpful for everyone to acknowledge that we already have a system of merit pay — we’re just at odds over what constitutes “merit.”) Charter school availability is not so much an issue in New Jersey’s suburban areas (which may decide the election) because the schools tend to be better, but traditional Democratic supporters in urban areas crave alternatives to failing public schools. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that Martin Perez, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance, is holding back his endorsement of Corzine (whom he’s endorsed in the past) because of the Governor’s lack of support for charter schools and voucher programs in cities.
So Corzine and the Democratic Party in N.J., — and the leadership of NJEA, or at least the writers of their propaganda — start looking like advocates for rich white people instead of the urban poor. And Republicans start looking like a reasonable alternative to low-income families, at least in regard to education issues, because they’re, um, pro-choice.
Update: Here’s a piece from Alan J. Borsuk of Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel (hat tip to Eduwonk) who asks, in the context of the fight for mayoral control of Milwaukee Public Schools, “What does it mean to be a Democrat when it comes to education?”