Home Rule ExodusOctober 17, 2008
Mandatory VolunteerismOctober 21, 2008
The Asbury Park Press reports on some bickering spawned by the public outcry over the Keansburg superintendent who ended up with a huge retirement package. At a State Senate Education Committee meeting this past Thursday, Ramsey Board of Education member Richard Snyder tangoed with Senator Shirley Turner, the Chair of the Committee. Snyder testified against new legislation that would reduce local control over superintendent contracts and argued that market forces should drive compensation packages:
“My very educated opinion, and I say this respectfully, sees the current legislative focus and the Department of Education’s micromanaging as doing more harm than good,” Snyder had said earlier. “There is so much indignation about the abuses of the very few. . . . We know that there are a few bad apples in every barrel.”
“I am sorry,” shot back Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, the chairwoman of the committee. “I have to . . . disagree with you. . . . We want greater accountability and transparency when they are writing these contracts enabling administrators to have these golden parachutes.”
Ah, the buzz words of the day, “accountability and transparency.” The argument Senator Turner makes here is an inverted kind of populism: that the residents of New Jersey need the State bureaucracy to ensure that the very representatives of the people – local school board members — behave ethically and responsibly. The motivation for this bizarre equation is that home rule, or in this case the delegation of local school systems to residents, is equivalent to the loss or misuse of local power.
Bob Ingle, Trenton Bureau Chief for Gannett New Jersey newspapers, is outraged by the inefficiencies of local governance. He notes in this blogpost,
Then Snyder fell back on the old tried and true, “It’s for the children.” He said, “This does more damage to our children and our taxpayers than the few who take unfair advantage.” Give me a break. School boards are resisting the move to have oversight of the taxpayer financed perks and goodies the 615 local boards hand out. It’s the public be damned. The committee senses the public sentiment better than Snyder and fellow travelers. It passed the bill unanimously.
So let’s get this straight: locally-elected board members thwart the public will and the State legislature has to step in to protect the great unwashed. There’s a wonderful irony here. We now have state senators promoting a vaguely tautological argument that the local control of schools, typically associated with direct representation, i.e., neighbors electing neighbors, leads to the kind of corruption and abuse we associate with higher levels of government. We need the State Senate, the opposite of local control, to protect the mechanics of local control.
You gotta love New Jersey.