Paterson would gain control of its public school system for the first time in 21 years under legislation introduced by Democrats that also would limit future state takeovers to five years, lawmakers announced Friday.How do you think the unelected Commissioner of Education feels about this?
"It's time for the state to admit that the prolonged takeover of a local school district is a failed experiment, and it's time to return the school districts that have languished under state control back to the people in those school districts," said state Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, who has sponsored the bill with Nellie Pou, D-North Haledon.
Newark and Jersey City are also under some level of state oversight — a program that has frustrated leaders in all three cities, particularly as urban schools continue to struggle despite decades of intervention by the Department of Education. Paterson has been under state control since 1991 and continues to have six of the lowest-performing schools in the state.[emphasis mine]
At a public meeting in February, Irving asked state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf to cease state control in seven months if the board met certain benchmarks.Well, we wouldn't want to deprive the Commissioner of a chance to enjoy his finely honed sense of "irony," would we?
But Cerf brushed the appeal aside. He said such a rapid transition would harm students while acknowledging that the board should ultimately be in charge of city schools.
"There is, at minimum, irony in asking a board to demonstrate its competence, and then disable it from exercising its competence," Cerf said at the rare meeting in Paterson.
The real reason Cerf wants state control is that it allows him to hire fresh-faced, inexperienced interns on Eli Broad's dime to come into Trenton and hatch schemes to remake public schools into private enterprises. This makes it far easier for favored privatizers to come into Jersey's cities and set up schools that will inevitably segregate children.
So any notion that the Christie administration will willingly give Paterson its schools back is a fantasy. Same with Jersey City and Newark. Camden, you're next. And from there...
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Because Cerf understands that he went too far when he tried to shove charter schools down the throats of the Jersey 'burbs, home of the most successful schools in the nation. He told Senator Loretta Weinberg that his attempt to circumvent local control in her district wasn't his "finest hour"; he's quite sorry that he tried to take over the schools in communities that make up Governor Christie's base.
But the cities, which overwhelmingly vote Democratic? Yeah, they can't be trusted to run their own schools. Democracy is apparently only for the right people, if you know what I mean...
Thurston, I do hope the Commissioner doesn't allow those people to have control of their schools like we do!