Last week, ACTING Commissioner Chris Cerf of the NJ DOE had to explain to the legislature how the state could afford some hefty consulting fees:
More than a little, I'd say; especially since this isn't the only recent instance of the state pushing tax dollars toward school consultants. Take a look at what's happening in the state-controlled district of Paterson:In documents provided to the OLS in its budget review, the department disclosed consultants on the Cerf’s school funding proposal made as much as $1,000 or even $2,500 a day.“That’s certainly an interesting amount,” said state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Passaic) of the latter figure. “Imagine if that went a full year, that would break all records.”One assistant commissioner, Penny MacCormack, was hired last fall for three months at $1,000 a day until she could be confirmed by the state Board of Education as a permanent hire in January. She is now earning a salary of $135,000 a year, officials said.Cerf defended the extra pay, saying MacCormack was a critical hire and the consultants on the funding report – including some notable national names in the school funding debates – were invaluable.“This level of talent and expertise comes with a price tag,” he said.Nonetheless, Sarlo asked Cerf for a full list of the per diem and consultants hired. The chairman said afterward it remained a curious stretch for an administration quick to criticize the pay of teachers and other school employees, including caps on superintendents, that is well below what it is paying consultants.“A little hypocritical, isn’t it?” Sarlo said in an interview.
Yes, over the objections of many of its citizens, Paterson remains under state control. So they brought in a superintendent all the way from Colorado for a substantial price (I don't understand how a working superintendent can spend so much time consulting in other places, but the NJ DOE apparently has little problem with that). Which leads me to wonder: what is it about folks like Penny MacCormick and Mike Miles that makes them worth all this extra dough?
And, of course...
The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2004
New Jersey Department of Education
The Broad Academy is not an accredited academic program affiliated with a university; it is a "pipeline," designed to get like-minded, business-oriented people into school leadership positions. And being an alum is obviously a nice way to pick up some state-funded scratch here in the Garden State.
The tale of Eli Broad's meddling into the Newark schools has been told over the past year. But it seems that the California billionaire's influence is now all over the state, starting at the very top of the education food chain:
Broad may indeed be generous - but the state of New Jersey is just as generous with his graduates. Nice little world they've created for themselves, isn't it?Some of the livelier questioning was about outside consultants and other staffing of the department under Cerf, a point of controversy since he took the job more than a year ago. Cerf, a former deputy chancellor of New York City schools, has past ties with private foundations and for-profit education companies that continually are brought up by his critics.For Democrats yesterday, it was a combination of things. For one, the department has several current and former employees connected with the Eli Broad Foundation in California, a pro-reform organization that has come under fire from teachers unions and other public school advocates.Cerf himself is a former Broad Fellow and said he has a handful of senior staff also from the Broad, some being paid in part by the foundation. Yesterday, the commissioner found himself defending the foundation, calling Broad a “lovely and generous man” and saying there have been no conditions to the funding.
I think it's time to update this...