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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Splitting Hairs

I'll get back to this article by Al Doblin later, but let me just weigh in on this:
Last week, Governor Christie and I went back-and-forth on public education during an editorial board meeting with The Record. The governor corrected me when I said the state was constitutionally required to provide a thorough and efficient education. New Jersey must provide a thorough and efficient system of public education, he said.
Can I just point out that this rhetorical splitting of hairs is just about the stupidest aspect of our ongoing education debate here in New Jersey?

Is anyone saying that the NJ Constitution allows a child to get an education that isn't thorough and efficient, as long as the system is thorough and efficient? Do you think this distinction was very important to the writers of this clause?

Pundits like Paul Mulshine love to use this distinction to denigrate the Abbott decision. Leave aside the fact that Abbott isn't even an issue anymore; attaching importance to whether the word "system" is in the quote is simply ridiculous.

A thorough and efficient system provides a thorough and efficient education to all students. How hard is it to figure that out?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In answer to your final question, the language is crucial when you're trying to contruct a red herring. The fact is that Christie and Co. are desperate to keep the discussion limited to abstracts like "system" wherein they can make any claims they want.

Once they have to deal in "though and efficient" for the children, they're faced with unfortunate numbers like NJ's NAEP ranking, NJ's AP stats, and NJ's spectacular success with closing the achievement gap.

We can't have those stats being publicized. That only puts our Commissioner of Education in the uncomfortable position of claiming that such stats "don't matter."

I wish I could say that such logical fallacies were the "new reality," but they were standard operating procedure for the Bush admin under Karl Rove, and it's clear that Christie learned his lesson well under Rove's tutelage.

All you can do is call Christie out for his attempts to shift the conversation from topics he doesn't like.