D.O.E. Bait and SwitchApril 17, 2009
High Anxiety: School Board Elections TomorrowApril 20, 2009
Mercer Technical School Broke:
The Times of Trenton reports that the Mercer County Technical schools, six training centers in central Jersey, are “falling apart.” Superintendent Kim Schneider is begging for the cash for basic repair to facilities and may lay off up to 125 employees.
How Will Our New Super-Superintendents Affect Budget Votes?:
The school elections on Tuesday will be the first year that our 21 Executive County Superintendents have exercised line item vetoes on district budgets. Will voters have more faith in proposed spending plans? Does the public even know that our superheroes are on the job? Can we gauge anything in this queer year? Richard Vespucci of the D.O.E. thinks the ECS’s will give the public more confidence in the process, reports the Star-Ledger, and gives the example of South Brunswick, where the state appointed-ECS told the district to cut an additional 25 jobs from their first budget draft.
Dems Out-Foxed by Union Pros?:
Jay Greene, a Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, deconstructs the politics of the school voucher—charter-school—teacher union triangulation in the Wall Street Journal. His view is that the Democrats expressed lukewarm support for vouchers, specifically in D.C., as a kind of animal sacrifice to the Union Gods in hopes of getting the NEA to back off their opposition to charter schools. Bad strategy, Dems. Writes Greene,
But these reformers are starting to learn that appeasement on vouchers only whets unions appetites for eliminating all meaningful types of choice. With voucher programs facing termination in Washington, D.C., and heavy regulation in Milwaukee, the teachers unions have now set their sights on charter schools. Despite their proclamations about supporting charters, the actions of unions and their allies in state and national politics belie their rhetoric.
School Choice In NJ Timelag:
Lucille Davy, Commissioner of the D.O.E. explained to the state Board of Education this past Wednesday that her ability to expand school choice is stymied by the Legislature’s failure to renew the state statute. The Atlantic City Press reports that
The current code, based on a 1999 law, allows just one school in each county to accept students from other towns as a choice school. That law, which set up a five-year pilot school choice program, expired in 2005. The choice program has been frozen in place since then, with about 870 students attending 16 choice schools.
A bill was introduced to the Assembly Education Committee to establish a permanent school choice program (sponsors: Assemblywomen, Mila Jasey, R-Essex, and Joan Voss,
D-Bergen) but is stuck somewhere in committee purgatory.
Asbury Park Cover-up:
Adrienne Sanders, President of the Asbury-Park-Neptune NAACP and Reverend John Bradley, President of the Asbury Park-Neptune Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, take the Asbury Park Board of Education, Lucille Davy, and the DOE to the woodshed over “the biggest cover-up in the history of education.” In an editorial in the Asbury Park Press, they itemize a series of poor decisions by the offenders that came to light during a recent board meeting:
Also at that meeting, parents were asking why we were still paying for two superintendents. Antonio Lewis’ salary is $188,000 per year. He has been suspended for more than two years with pay. Since that suspension, the board paid Kathy McDavid about $88,000 to be an interim superintendent. She resigned abruptly, leaving the board without a superintendent, which, by law, they could not be without for more than 48 to 72 hours.
The current interim superintendent is being paid his normal $115,000 per-year salary plus a stipend of $200 per day. Also being paid is an interim vice principal to cover the interim superintendent’s regular position. This has become a great math problem, at which the taxpayers have to solve for “y.” The Board of Education pulled this same stunt back in 2006, costing taxpayers an estimated $907,666 to date, not including the salary of the fiscal monitor or interim vice principal.
Want More Teachers? Have a Recession:
The Star-Ledger reports that a record number of new teachers in New Jersey come through alternate route certification.