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, October 3, 2010

Ledger Logic

A big, heaping handful of Star-Ledger "reasoning" comes fresh to your door every Sunday. What have we got this week?

Let's start with a little public worker union bashing:
The real challenge is passing tough new laws to help mayors and school districts control costs, especially labor costs. Without that, the tax cap will force massive layoffs of teachers, cops and firefighters.... 
Civil service reform — allowing towns to opt out and softening rigid job protections — is needed, too. 
So, to avoid public worker layoffs, we need to... soften the ability to lay off public workers.

(Thinking like this on a Sunday morning is why Bloody Marys were invented...)

And, again, are labor costs our real issue?

via Paul Krugman - national numbers, but still...

I also notice the editorial board is still following an apparently time-honored dictate from the S-L publishers: we must never, EVER bring up that maybe we could help property tax payers by shifting revenues away from property taxes on to other forms of taxation, especially since we are already ranked 40th for spending as a bite out of total state income.

Bet you didn't know that last one; probably because you read the S-L.

Then we have our two august former governors weighing on on education:
Q: Is there reason to believe Christie and Booker have better answers for Newark schools than previous administrators?
KEAN: You couldn’t do much worse. Newark schools have been failing kids for three or four generations, and the more money they get, the worse the problem becomes. We’re spending more per child than ever, and getting more meager results.

 We’ve been doing this column for years, Tom, and every year we say we haven’t had the answer but maybe now we have it.

 The problem isn’t that we don’t have the answers; the problem is we don’t implement them. We know what to do, we just don’t do it. In my mind that’s educational child abuse.

 I think that’s a glib way of saying we don’t have an answer.

 We do. The research is in. You start with early childhood education, get better trained teachers, evaluate them on a regular basis, reward the best so they’ll stay and remove those who can’t do the job. You train and evaluate principals and find a superintendent who believes there’s no reason why Newark can’t have the best system in the country — and then creates it.
Well, that sounds easy. We'll just tell the governor, who promised to cut pre-school in the campaign, not to do it. Hey, it's not like he hasn't already broken his promises.

And I'm sure we'll get better teachers once we cut their pay by what's becoming at least 8.5%, as well as cutting their pensions, and letting all future teachers know any retirement promises made can be voided with the stroke of the guv's pen.

Oh, and I'm sure those superintendent cuts that are barely saving any money will be bringing in the best of the best to run Newark's schools.
BYRNE: But what you’re proposing is for inner city schools. It already works for Millburn, but that’s the best system in the state.

 I’m not concerned with what you do for wealthy districts. I’m worried about the kids in our poor cities. They’re the ones we have to do something for.
So let's destroy the best state-wide education system in the country because we want to say we care about poor kids; let's impose all these union-busting, pay-slashing, promise-wrecking "reforms" on the suburbs in the name of helping the cities. It's a lot easier than getting the kids in Newark what the kids in Millburn already have: good jobs for their parents, safe neighborhoods, decent health care, solid infrastructure, community services.
BYRNE: So the missing word is “motivation.” 

 The public has to care enough to demand change, to vow they won’t allow the present system to continue because it’s not fair to kids. We’ve doomed three or four generations of kids to unfulfilled lives. Shame on us. Research shows personal income is tied more and more tightly to one’s level of education.
First, here's the "doom" imposed on NJ's kids - Grade 8:

Oh, yes, we should be ashamed...

Second, if personal income if tied to education, might it work both ways? Might we get better learning results if we increase people's personal income? Give the kids we want to succeed a better home life by increasing the money their parents get to keep?

And might it help with that goal if we stopped taxing poor people more than rich ones?

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