You'd think that the spectacular failure of Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. would be a cautionary tale for politicians who think it is a good idea to put woefully unprepared people into important school leadership positions. But, as Jon Pelto reports, this is part of a nationwide trend: Paymon Rouhanifard's appointment in Camden is remarkably similar to Paul Vallas's in Bridgeport, CT, in that both are uncertified and would not be able to serve in more affluent districts that, by law, must have experienced, well-trained superintendents.
New Jersey's laws and regulations on administrative certification are quite clear: graduate study and experience are required to hold a School Administrator Certificate of Eligibility. Back in 2011, however, Chris Christie's cronies on the NJ Board of Education approved new rules that would allow uncertified superintendents in "failing" school districts.
It's worth noting that more affluent communities demand more during a superintendent's search than just that the candidates meet minimal eligibility requirements; they insist that their voices be heard. Take, for example, Bridgewater, NJ, a large town in Somerset County that is currently looking for a new superintendent:
Look at all that community engagement; look at all that transparency! Just like in Princeton:
Does anyone think the good people of Bridgewater and Princeton would put up with the governor coming into their town and forcing an uncertified, barely-experienced superintendent on them without any community input?
So why is this acceptable in Camden? What makes Camden so different from Princeton and Bridgewater that Chris Christie feels he can appoint whomever he wants to run the schools, no matter how inexperienced and ill-qualified?
Chris Christie: "Paymon has a proven track record..."