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, March 5, 2012

Christie Does the Twist

He's the new Chubby Checker - twisting those facts:
Christie has said that the state’s school-funding formula sends too much money to low-income districts that continue to underperform, while suburban systems are shortchanged. He proposed raising school aid by $213 million in his budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and seeks changes that would give more money to districts according to their enrollment of poor children.

Task Force

The governor said he signed an executive order today creating a panel that will find and eliminate fraud and abuse in the school-lunch program, and determine the best method of measuring student poverty.
New Jersey’s $198 million lunch program, which is mostly funded by the federal government, provided free or reduced-price meals to 428,000 students as of May 2010, according to a June 27, 2011, report by the state auditor’s office. As many as 37 percent of the program’s recipients may have been ineligible, the report found. [emphasis mine]
 That is most definitely NOT what the report found. I'll let Politifact NJ explain:
Each year, according to state and federal officials, schools are required by the federal government to audit three percent of the total number of the school lunch applications they receive. They are instructed to focus on the ones that are within $100 of the household income that qualifies children for a free or reduced-cost lunch. The logic, state and federal officials say, is that since there are 428,000 kids in the program across New Jersey, you can't check them all. So concentrate on the ones that seem close to the income limit.
In 2010 the state auditor looked at the three percent analyzed by each school and found that 37 percent did not actually qualify for the program, which translated to 2,723 erroneous applications.
There was never an attempt to analyze the entire 428,000 so there is no way to know what the real number of improper applications actually is.
"I stand by the accuracy of my statement," Doherty told us.

But the state auditor, Stephen Eells did consider what the overall number of erroneous applications might be.
In his report, Eells projected that 58,000 of the 428,000 students may be ineligible, if the results of the analysis conducted by his office are reflective of all approved applications.
That works out to about 13%; but think about this a minute. According to the audit, a "fraudulent" application could be within $100 of the monthly eligible income. So if a family made as much as $10 more each month than the qualifying amount, their application, according to this audit, would be considered "fraudulent." This is a big problem?

Further, as the audit itself says, most of the ineligibility comes from applicants failing to submit supporting documentation (I'm just so shocked that poor people aren't amenable to turning in paperwork that proves they're poor!).

This isn't about "fraud" -  it's really about the ongoing war Christie has on the poor. He's hoping he can cast enough doubt on the school funding formula that so he can withdraw hundreds of million of dollars from the former Abbott districts and give it away to the wealthy folks who fund his campaign. And he will even sell out his cronies to do it:
Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, in a Feb. 23 report, cited possible fraud or error in the program and recommended that participation no longer count as part of the funding formula. He also questioned whether low income was an accurate gauge of students’ potential.
In September, the president of the Elizabeth school board and two others were charged with falsifying income information so their children would receive the subsidies, at a cost to taxpayers of $7,000 over five years, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
As I reported at Blue Jersey, the Elizabeth BOE is chock full o' cronies - all Christie's.

There's the president, Marie Munn, front and center with you-know-who. On Christie's left is Rafael Fajardo, Munn's predecessor and member of Christie's Educational Effectiveness Task Force.

Well, this is what happens when you side with a guy like Chris Christie: he'll use you as a political prop whenever it's convenent. It's how he rolls. In any case, Munn's awful behavior is hardly proof of wide-spread, systemic corruption in the free lunch statistics.


Anonymous said...

I agree that stating that "as many as 37 percent" is a stupid statement, because it is wrong -- could be more. 'as many as" is not a smart statement -- should have just said there is evidence of rampant ineligibility.

By way of example, I suspect Munn is not in that $100 audited window.

I am glad to see you source PolitiFact, though, since they are the ones that reported that only four tenured teachers in ten years had been fired for incompetence.

Duke said...

You didn't read the Politfact report, did you? Or my link to the audit?

Because Munn has NOTHING to do with the people who were audited. And those people are within $100/mon of the eligible income, which is the most important point.

And I know you haven't read the many, many sources I have given here that show that many teachers are counseled out without gong through the tenure process.

Anonymous said...

I stated my assumption that Munn is outside the "window" that the audit picked. And she was busted long before.

The issue isn't how many people are "counseled out" (now you state that as a positive by those hated administrators). And it wasn't how many didn't get tenure. It was tenured teachers removed for incompetence. Four in ten years. Outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Hiya Opie! Duke, ignore your troll. He's only posting here because no one answers him on nj.com anymore.

Anonymous said...

lol....no, I don't post there, but an obvious sign of checkmate.

Duke said...

Anon - people counseled out is EXACTLY the issue. As I have shown here time and again, the 17 out of 100,000 figure is deceptive, because many more "bad" teachers leave the profession. That is completely germane to this discussion.

As to the free lunch corruption: just because a Christicrat abuses the rules doesn't mean there is widespread corruption of that level of deception. The auditor presented no such proof.

This is not a game. People's lives will be ruined if this stuff goes through: NYC proves this. The schools will lose good teachers.

You may think playing with people's lives is like playing chess; I don't.