What I fail to understand is why Christie is so hellbent on getting a hearing for Cerf. The ugly truth is that the ACTING Commissioner is likely to be asked some very pointed and embarrassing questions at a confirmation hearing. For example:
- Why was your tenure as President of Edison Learning such an unmitigated educational and financial disaster?
- How did you wind up using money exclusively from the Florida teachers pension to fund a white knight for Edison? How was Jeb Bush involved in the deal?
- What was your personal take from the deal? Will you release your personal tax returns to confirm your account?
- How is it possible you were not aware of the New York score inflation controversy while you worked at the NYC Department of Education?
- You graduated from the Broad Superintendent's Academy in 2004; what further contacts have you had with the Academy and Eli Broad? What do you think about the questionable track records of other Broadies like Jean-Claude Brizzard of Rochester and Maria Goodloe-Johnson of Seattle?
- If you believe standardized test scores should be used in teacher evaluations, why didn't you inform all of the teachers you were using them in a program in New York City in 2008?
- Why did you hold an interest in Edison Learning - a clear conflict of interest - several months after you were appointed to your position at NYC DOE? Why did you wait until the day before you were about to be outed by a parents' group to divest yourself?
- Why is the report into your Edison stock scandal and a subsequent quid pro quo donation so heavily redacted? Do you agree with the report that you violated the law?
- Were you personally in charge of the NYC DOE "truth squad" that taped and kept research files on critics like Diane Ravitch? Did you feed the information from those files to the press? Are you keeping such files on your current critics now? Will you release any information you've gather freely or will an OPRA request need to be filed?
- Will you apologize to Dr. Bruce Baker of Rutgers for your mischaracterization of his views?
- What qualifications do Derrell Bradford, Shelley Skinner, Kim Chorba, and Josh Pruzansky have to judge charter school applications? Why did the NJ DOE want to keep their names secret? Did your deputy, Carlie Bolger, say she would "go to the mat" to protect their identities?
- Why did you give a consulting contract to fellow Broadie William Cox instead of drawing up an RFP from established people in the field? Did you vet Cox's ties to McGraw-Hill, a major standardized testing company?
- Why did you ask the Star-Ledger not to publish a story about your ties to Global Education Advisors (a company you founded), which received a $500,000 contract to push charter schools in Newark, funded by the Broad Foundation? (I guess this one kind of answers itself...)
- What is your brother Randy's connection to Global Education Advisors? Is he the CFO? Why would he say he had no knowledge of the company if he was listed as an officer on its website?
- This year, you publicly defended Rupert Murdoch, who is the boss of your former NYC boss, Joel Klein. Do any of Murdoch's businesses have current or pending contracts with the State of New Jersey?
- Do you believe it is appropriate for Larrie Reynolds, Mt. Olive superintendent, to also be president of Sangari Active Science, your former company? Do you think it's appropriate for him to solicit business for a private for-profit alternative education provider? Do you have any current financial ties in Sangari? When did you divest yourself from that company?
- Why has it taken so long to get data about charter school performance released?
- Why did you appoint an expert for SFRA review who makes up graphs that have no connection to actual data?
- Did you think it was appropriate for Deputy Commissioner Smarick to serve on the board of 50 CAN, a "reformy" advocacy organization, while employed at NJ DOE?
I'm sure I've left quite a few things out. And I haven't even addressed Cerf's highly questionable ideas about education. Or his ridiculous "pilot" on teacher evaluations. But this will do for a start.
Looking at this list, I'm tempted to ask Senator Rice to drop his hold. Let's get all this out in the open, once and for all. I think the people of New Jersey would like to get to know their ACTING Education Commissioner a little bit better, don't you?