It's also worth noting the firm that got the contract to install the system hired the brother of the board attorney and the son of one of the board members. Golly, what are the odds?
We'll have to see how this all plays out, but the charges against Mignone stink of retribution. Had he not had tenure, he would have been fired on the spot, quite possibly becoming toxic enough that he would have to leave the profession altogether.
This is the side of tenure publicity hounds like Campbell Brown don't want to talk about: tenure isn't just teacher protection, it's taxpayer protection. Brown would have us believe that there are scads of "bad" teachers everywhere. What she and her ilk never seem to acknowledge, however, is that there are plenty of districts, like Belleville, where tenure is perhaps the only thing that is keeping the entire system from sliding into chaos and corruption.
Here's another example: Elizabeth, NJ.
According to a 2011 investigation by the Star-Ledger, this is quite typical for Elizabeth's schools.
Patti Gallante, a teacher now retired from the Elizabeth public school system, said only one thing about her job ever scared her: the school board.
Through e-mails and political mailings to her home, Gallante said she would constantly get solicitations from members of the city's board of education, asking for money. There were dinners, cocktail events, testimonials and tables of tickets to be bought and sold. It was a nonstop stream of beseechings.
To Gallante — worried, as many teachers were, about promotions and prime school assignments — the implied threat was clear. "You buy the $125 ticket because you are scared," she said.
The Elizabeth Board of Education, with more than 23,000 students and a $402 million budget largely subsidized by Trenton and another $20.5 million in federal aid, is one of the New Jersey's largest and, to some, a top urban school district.
But a four-month investigation by The Star-Ledger, drawing on interviews, lawsuits and internal documents, shows it can also be a relentless political machine fueled by nepotism, patronage, money and favors, using its nearly 4,000 employees as a ready-made fundraising base.
Internal documents show friends and relatives of board members scattered through the payroll.
Teachers and other employees, who kick in tens of thousands of dollars in donations, say they feel pressured by supervisors and board members to buy tickets to fundraisers. They say they are reminded that attending campaign events is in their best career interest.
Testimonial dinners are held to honor the superintendent and president of the board of education — not to raise money for scholarships or education, but to funnel more into campaign coffers.
Can you imagine how much more out of control this would be if teachers didn't at least have the protections of tenure and seniority? Carmen Southwood can.Campaign finance records also show lucrative contracts go to vendors who support the board at election time. [emphasis mine]
All of you reformy types who are so hellbent on gutting tenure have been getting away with weak arguments for your position. Vergara has changed that; the conversation is now shifting over to what an actual tenure-free world looks like.
It's time to start answering some hard questions. How will you tenure bashers assure taxpayers that districts without tenure won't turn into nests of corruption and nepotism?
Careful! Cartoons like this can get you fired: ask Ted Rall.