The New Jersey State Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Monday to vote on Gov. Christie's selection for Camden superintendent. Paymon Rouhanifard, 32, of New York, was announced Wednesday as Christie's pick for the next Camden school chief. The state board is expected approve the selection.
Since it is a state-run district, the state board will also set Rouhanifard's salary. One state board approval is complete, Rouhanifard will begin his job as head of the most troubled district in the state.
Rouhanifard, as we reported today, will have a mentor assigned as he learns the ropes of being superintendent. He will also have a large support staff sent in by the state. In addition to the 14-employee Regional Achievement Center, which was created last year to help turn around the district's 23 failing schools,between 15 to 20 consultants are also helping with the transition to a state-operated district. Among those brought in to help: three former New Jersey superintendents; a former Chief Financial Officer of the New York City Public Schools, a former partner at KPMG Consulting, and the state’s Assistant Commissioner for Talent.
Monday's board meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the state Department of Education, 100 River View Plaza in Trenton. [emphasis mine]Let me get this straight:
Christie is appointing a very young man to the toughest school leadership job in the state -- a man with a grand total of only six years experience in education. Rouhanifard only taught for two of those years, and spent the other four as a central office bureaucrat; he has never run a school, let alone a district. He has no administrator certifications or advanced degrees that would qualify him to run a New Jersey school system unless (thanks to Christie) it is designated as "failing."
And we have no idea about Rouhanifard's views on school funding, charter school oversight, collective bargaining, or any of a host of critical issues for Camden's community.
But the state BOE will vote on his appointment this Monday morning, which gives the Camden community, the teachers union, career staff and administration, and students no time to properly vet him, hear his opinions, or simply meet him.
Furthermore, the state thinks so little of Rouhanifard's abilities as a leader that they are sending in 15 to 20 consultants, including three former superintendents, to "help" in the process. What does this say about the state's own views on Rouhanifard's qualifications? Why won't they let him select his own staff to run the district?
I ask you again: would the parents, teachers, students, and community members of any suburban school district in New Jersey stand for this?
I have come to the conclusion that Paymon Rouhanifard is not the right man for this job; however, I fully understand that others may disagree. That's fine...
But shouldn't the good people of Camden and all of New Jersey have a full vetting of this man before he is placed into what is arguably the most difficult school leadership job in America?
This is the email address for the State Board of Education office:
If you think the confirmation of Paymon Rouhanifard should not be rushed through without a full vetting and meetings with the teachers, students, parents, and citizens of Camden, let the state board know - politely, of course.
Chris Christie: "Paymon has a proven track record..."