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Gov. Murphy announced the nomination of three new members for the State Board of Education (SBOE), Mary Bennett, Dr. Kwanghee Jung, and Dr. Claudine Keenan. All three are from the higher education community, which we suppose is fine, but we were sad to see Andy Mulvihill, a successful businessman and longtime board member, leave. Sunlight believes that a diverse set of opinions makes for a stronger board, and Mulvahill added a businessman’s perspective, which we believe served the SBOE and the state well.
NJEdReport reported that three Republican legislators believe that Murphy is excising dissenting views, and that the three board members who were removed were the three who spoke out against New Jersey’s controversial sex ed guidelines. In so doing, Murphy once again appears to be doing the bidding of his biggest political supporter, the NJEA. The NJEA has hailed the new sex ed guidelines and is running a political campaign to fight parents who are challenging them, including trying to defeat them in this fall’s school board elections.
Sunlight also finds it revealing that the governor’s official press release prominently quoted NJEA President Sean Spiller, who indicated the NJEA’s strong support for the nominees. The NJEA was the only outside group quoted (Murphy and Sen. Vin Gopal, chairman of the Senate Education Committee were the only other persons quoted). No quote from the School Boards Association or the Principals and Supervisors Association, just the NJEA. After reading the press release, one is left with the keen sense that the NJEA played a central role in the selection of these nominees as well as the three departing members.
To Sunlight, it sure looks like another Murphy quid pro quo for the NJEA. In exchange for $20 million in political support, the NJEA gets to stack the SBOE with sympathetic members. New Jersey needs a SBOE that is looking out for the interests of the kids, but Murphy apparently prefers to cater to his political pals. Once again, under Murphy, the special interests win and New Jersey citizens lose