I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, February 28, 2011

Daily Cerf Report

Seems like the story on Cerf changes with the tide (Get it? See, the tide... Cerf... surf... never mind). Bob Braun's got the latest Cerf report:
NEWARK — Let’s not rush to judgment. Christopher Cerf, chosen by Gov. Chris Christie to run New Jersey education, co-founded a profit-making, private firm hired by a private Newark entity seeking to change Newark’s schools. He worked on the project and Cerf’s firm — how much it was paid is not yet known — produced a document calling for a controversial reorganization of the schools in the state’s largest city.
Looks bad.
So for now, let’s grant him the benefit of that doubt. Maybe something will come out later that wouldn’t justify that, but right now — with the little that’s known both about him, his company called Global Education Advisors (GEA), and the Newark schools plan — let’s take him at his word that he’s not profiting privately from his public position.
Those who believe public education is an enterprise worth saving have something to ask in return. The same thing: Let’s not rush to judgment. Let’s not assume the answer to education’s ills is privatization — charters or vouchers — without a clear-eyed, independent, objective look at all the facts.
"I am so disappointed to hear that Cerf had anything to do with a private firm that might be recommending charters as a solution to problems — or any kind of solution," said Gordon MacInnes, a former assistant education commissioner.
"It just tells us he will not stand up to ideological assault on the public schools."
Stand up to it? Look at his career - he's LEADING the assault.
Some simply don’t have a problem with Cerf at all. "We have every confidence that Chris Cerf can make unbiased decisions that are in the best interest of New Jersey’s children," said Bruno Tedeschi, spokesman for the New Jersey Charter Schools Association.
And Bruno Tedeschi is merely a concerned citizen who just happens to be a professional charter school shill who impugns the integrity of respected scholars at the drop of the hat. But, you know, he vouches for Cerf, so it's cool.
But Paul Tractenberg, a Rutgers law professor and expert on school law, says Cerf’s involvement, whether or not it’s a conflict, shows New Jersey is heading for a privatization of public education. He says many groups and firms pushing for charters and vouchers are run by people with long histories on Wall Street — including hedge fund managers and the like.
"There are two possible narratives here. Maybe, the very wealthy want to help education because they’ve made their fortunes and just want to give something back," said Tractenberg.
"Or, maybe, they’re looking at the $600 billion spent annually on public education in this country and want a big piece of it. Who knows?"
I know.

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