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

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You Don't Get Much for $500,000 Anymore

Cory Booker's "State of the City" address was yesterday:
6:43 The state's acting education commissioner, Christopher Cerf, appeared moments ago but declined to answer a reporter's questions before taking his seat in the auditorium.
Cerf and Booker made headlines last week, when it was revealed that Booker used a $500,000 grant from the Broad foundation to fund a diagnostic on public schools. The firm, Global Education Advisors, was founded by Cerf but he claims to have severed his relationship with the firm in December when he was named as Gov. Chris Christie’s nominee for the schools post. Cerf said he had no role in developing the plan that was obtained by The Star-Ledger last week.
But the lack of transparency surrounding private dollars in public schools has led Booker to promise that every donor will be named and every dollar will be accounted for publicly. Booker did not provide specifics on how that process will work.
In a curious choice of seating arrangements Cerf was seated only one seat away from power broker Stephen Adubato, who takes an active role in Newark School Advisory Board races as well as Newark schools in general. The two shook hands but did not speak further. 
And then...
7:15 Booker begins by emphasizing the city's need to continue to reform the city's ailing school system after a history of "false starts and failed initiatives."
"What we must do is have the courage to boldly act," Booker said.
Some reforms, Booker said, have already given many students a "blue ribbon educational experience."
Baraka arrives. 
7:30 Booker listed several specific areas of focus to improve public schools, including:
Rigour: "Our children have to work harder if we are to get better resuilts," he said. 

Teachers: Non-performing teachers must be weeded out.
Principals: They must be held accountable for performance, while at the same time given more discretion in running their schools.
He said it was time to stop treating charter schools differently than regular public schools. They should be held as accountable as regular public schools. What matters is not whether a successful school is a charter, Booker said. Rather, it is the most successful people and practices that should be highlighted and duplicated.
"It's not the model," he said.
Wow, how innovative. The kids need to work harder. We need better teachers. Give principals freedom but make them accountable. Make charters accountable.

I'm sure this bold new agenda will turn the Newark schools around right away. How "courageous" for the World's Greatest Mayor to push such a controversial plan. That $500,000 really steered him toward some exciting ideas...

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