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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Democracy Dies In Camden

And so it finally comes to this:
Gov. Christie plans to announce Monday that he is taking the extraordinary step of putting the educational and fiscal management of the Camden School District under state control, The Inquirer has learned. 
As part of the takeover of what the state considers the worst-performing district in New Jersey, Christie will appoint a new superintendent and leadership team, shifting the school board to an advisory role, according to administration officials briefed on the plan. 
The Republican governor's move nonetheless has support from at least a few school board members and key Democratic leaders in the South Jersey political establishment, some of whom are expected to join Christie at the takeover announcement Monday in the city, officials said. 
Camden will become the fourth urban district under state control, after Paterson, Newark, and Jersey City. This is the first takeover initiated by Christie, who will add the severely challenged district to his education portfolio less than eight months before his reelection bid. [emphasis mine]
Let's be clear: Paterson has been under state control for 24 years, Jersey City for 22 years, and Newark for 18 years. Golly, what do you think all these places have in common?


And so the plan is clear: take over the schools, starting where there aren't many white kids. Starve them of funds, then declare them "failures," and install your cronies. The takeover of Camden's schools has been in the works ever since California billionaire Eli Broad installed his puppets into the NJDOE. Tomorrow is simply the culmination of a long-term plan.

But has anything improved? Has disenfranchising the people who live and work in these cities done anything - ANYTHING - for their beautiful, deserving children? What has been the legacy of state control for those who live under it?
“The state operation, what I call an experiment, has not worked,” said Paterson Advisory School Board President Christopher Irving. “It has proven to be inefficient. It has proven to be ineffective, and so to try the same method over and over again is just insanity.” 
The state’s three largest school systems — Jersey City reps had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t join the event — have been under state control for decades. Paterson was taken over in 1989, Jersey City in 1991 and Newark in 1995. For educational leaders, who note that the systems have continued an overall decline under state control, the sense is that the state is less interested in improving education and more interested in controlling the combined $2 billion represented by the system’s budgets. Newark’s share of that is $800 million. 
It’s an easy way to get $800 million — almost a billion dollars — worth of resources in this school system, to divvy up and give up to whoever they want to give it to,” said Newark Councilman Ras Baraka, who is also principal of Central High School. “This is an opportunity for them to come in and break the school system down.” [emphasis mine]
That is exactly right. There is a whole cast of characters waiting to pounce on this, licking their chops at the thought of the lovely taxpayer money that will come their way so long as they keep feeding the coffers of politicians who push a "reform" agenda.

If anyone has any evidence that disenfranchising local citizens and local parents leads to better school outcomes, please let me know, so I can debunk it as a load of crap. No school district ever got better by taking the local community out of its decision-making process. It's shameful that Chris Christie, a tool of the ruling class, dares to tell the parents of Camden that he knows better than they do what needs to be done for their children.
Sen. Ron Rice, who authored the law that created QSAC, told the audience that the state needed to hear from residents. “The state takeover is no longer about a takeover,” he said. “It’s about occupation, and so our schools are really being occupied by folk who want to promulgate privatization.” [emphasis mine]
Of course, the media calls heroes like Ron Rice "wackos" for daring to point out the obvious. In the new, brave, reformy world, it's just wrong to stand up and object while democracy dies.

Let me take a moment to talk to my fellow white suburbanites: You need to get off the bench and get into this fight now if you want to save your children's schools! 

Do you really think these pirates will be content with taking over the cities where children of color live? The cities are their beachhead: once they get settled, they are coming for your schools next.

Never say I didn't warn you. Tomorrow's coup d'etat is as much about Haddonfield and Bernards and Glen Rock as it is about Asbury Park and Passaic and Camden. You're fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

First Camden - then the rest of you!

7 comments:

sandinbrick said...

It been a while Duke, we need to get rid of Christie, Hope you are pushing Senator Barbara Buono for Governor. I hate corporate education. Something has to be done. Thanks for all you do. Have a good day tomorrow. You are so needed for the kids.

Karen Foster said...

The plan is to force them to PURCHASE canned curriculum from even more cronies. Cerf has even admitted as much.

Mrs. King's music students said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

"Democracy Died in Camden?" I'm sympathetic to some of the argument, but how well did it work for Camden's kids before? And why can't Christie's form of democracy (I know, I know) serve them better? Best wishes,
Frank Popper

Sandy said...

Genuine democracy would mean a radical redistribution of the wealth from the top down. In that sense, the working people of Camden, NJ, and the US must now establish it.

Julia said...

Frank,

How can democracy be imposed by an overlord?

And as to efficiency, seems like the old "Mussolini made the trains run on time" argument, only in this case, Cerf is unlikely to accomplish even that.

One example of his incompetence: he approved Camden Community Charter School to open this fall. The school is run by the same for-profit firm that runs Chester Community Charter school, which bankrupted the Chester, PA school system and was found to be cheating on standardized tests.

The truth is that Cerf is already running Camden schools. This just ensures that an elected Board of Ed (which was on the docket for November) can't get in his way going forward.

Ajay Srikanth said...

I found this piece of reformy evidence from last week claiming that mayoral control has improved student achievement and improved school funding. Will be useful to debunk...

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2013/03/22/56934/mayoral-governance-and-student-achievement/