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, August 6, 2012

NJDOE Denies Their Secrets Are Secret

Last week, the Education Law Center published a series of "confidential" documents from the NJ Department of Education detailing a "turnaround" plan for schools, paid for with private monies, that would remove schools from local control, negate collective bargaining agreements, and bring in private charter school management companies.

This is the latest chapter in the tale of the Broad Foundation infestation of the NJDOE. But the audacity, scope, and secrecy behind this plan still stunned many observers. How could the NJDOE justify developing such a radical proposal behind closed doors with private monies and no public input?

Simple: pretend the proposal had already been made public.

But the N.J. Department of Education contends it has never tried to hide its plans and that the documents released are just proposals.
“The Commissioner has been vocal about his goal of turning around the lowest-performing schools,” said Barbara Morgan, a spokeswoman for the department.  “It’s unfortunate that instead of the working with us on what would presumably be a shared goal, the ELC reverts to PR ploys about ‘secret plans’ and ‘privatization efforts.’”
Morgan says much of what was released by the ELC was in the state's No Child Left Behind [sic] and approved by the US Department of Education. [emphasis mine]
Yeah, that last sentence is awkward. But it's obvious to me that what the reporter means to say is that the NJDOE is claiming that much of the turnaround proposal is to be found in the state's NCLB waiver application. New Jersey applied for a waiver from the law this past year, and received the waiver later in the spring. The application is a large document full of plans for "reforming" New Jersey's schools through current and proposed regulation and law.

Well, here's the waiver application; I went back and took another look. No where could I find:

  • Any proposal for an "Achievement School District" similar to such districts in Louisiana, allowing the state to take over individual schools separately from their home district.
  • Any proposal for "freeing" a school from its collective bargaining agreement; to the contrary, much is made in the NCLB waiver application about honoring such agreements until they expire.
  • Any mention of pending legislation that would create an "Achievement School District."
So, no Ms. Morgan: the most controversial parts of this plan were not in the NCLB waiver. And it's totally disingenuous for you to imply that they were.

Try as they might to deny it, the NJDOE has become a shadow operation; they will keep their secrets as long as they can. And like all good clandestine operators, when their schemes are revealed, they'll deny they were ever secret in the first place.

Barbara Morgan, NJDOE spokesperson (artist's conception)

2 comments:

Walt S. said...

""turnaround" plan for schools, paid for with private monies, that would remove schools from local control, negate collective bargaining agreements, and bring in private charter school management companies"
What a surprise!!!
walt sautter
http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/

Deb said...

In the world of the NJDOE denying their secrets are secrets, we are on week 3, or is it 4, of waiting on an OPRA request for correspondence between NACSA and NJDOE on the stellar (um, not) Performance Framework that NACSA was contracted to write for the NJDOE (because high paid DOE employees could not come up with THAT on their own???). Another extension request today. Gee, what is it they are trying so hard NOT to hide??????