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

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bob "Hoover" Ingle Update

It's been a while since I've checked in with Chris Christie's favorite suck-up, Bob "Hoover" Ingle:
Should public school districts be allowed to use tax money for lawsuits that seek to keep charter schools from opening? As charter schools increasingly go from urban to suburban it's a question that needs the public spotlight.
The Princeton International Academy Charter School seeks to bring attention to the issue by suing three public school districts, contending that for two years Princeton Regional, South Brunswick and Plainsboro-West Regional districts have spent at least $44,000 in tax money for legal fees and other expenses in a "calculated and continuing campaign with the objective of ensuring that PIACS never opens its doors."
PIACS was approved by the state but needed two extensions before opening; it is scheduled to start in the 2012-13 school year. The suit was filed with acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who has kicked it to a state administrative law judge.
That's a significant milestone for the charter school movement, said Carlos Perez, president and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association: "It's unfair that a startup charter school is forced to spend its limited resources fighting a public school district instead of using that money to educate children."
Moreover, there is a process in place for districts to participate in the evaluation of charter schools. They can appeal a charter school's approval.
Yes, they can appeal to... charter cheerleader Chris Cerf! Think that'll work well?

If anyone is having their rights stomped on and due process denied to them, it's the citizens of the Princeton area. They are having this charter school shoved down their throats by unelected bureaucrats whether they want it or not. The school board - their elected officials, whom they picked to represent them on education - have no say in approving this charter.

Now, these same officials are expected to just to hand over taxpayer money to these guys without any due diligence. What happens if the charter school - like charters in Philadelphia, and California, and Texas, and all over the country - is run by a bunch of crooks who scam the citizens out of their money? These boards have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure the taxpayers aren't being bilked; they will answer to their own communities if they don't, and they know it.

You'd think a self-styled crusader like Ingle would appreciate that. You'd think he's be put off by things like this:
The charter school isn't mounting its case on the cheap, either. It has hired one of the state's preeminent law firms, as well as a well-known public relations shop to defend its cause. Block said it was being entirely funded by private individuals, although he refused to disclose who they are. [emphasis mine]
No, "Hoover" couldn't care less about that. Just like he couldn't care less about interviewing the hundreds of people who showed up to object to PIACS at a zoning meeting in April that required the police to enforce fire-code restrictions on occupancy.

See, "Hoover" is "baffled" by their objections:
The other side of the debate comes from Save Our Schools NJ, which wants the law changed so that local residents have more say about charters opening in their communities.
That baffles me. If the public schools are doing such a great job, parents won't want to send their kids to a charter school and it will close. If the public schools are failing, competition is what they need to get them up to speed.
Either way, monopoly is never good and forcing kids into a failing school based on their ZIP codes is right up there with wasting tax money on lawsuits when the courts have ruled school boards can't take advocacy roles.
"Hoover" thinks it's "choice" when bureaucrats from Trenton come to your district and force you to fund a school that has no track record, whether your community wants it or not. He thinks it's a good idea for taxpayers to roll the dice on the off chance this school will "succeed," and if the kids who actually go there wind up getting a crappy education for a few years and have to transfer when the school closes - well, that's life.

The fact is that there is no "choice" when a charter is forced on your community. That charter will not take the kids who are hardest to educate; the ones who cost more to educate. No, that expense will be left for the district, which will not be able to count on economies of scale when some of the "average" kids leave for a charter. The taxpayers won't have a "choice" but to fund the now disproportionate number of special needs children with program cuts or tax increases.

That's not "choice," Hoover, no matter what that man you keep sucking up to says...
My "choice" is to keep sucking up to the bestest guv EVAH!

ADDING: Hoover just can't help embarrassing himself, can he?
Derrell Bradford runs Better Education for Kids (B4K), a new advocacy group based in Newark which is financed by hedge fund managers. The status quo types who think the Abbott schools decision is the answer, even though in 30 years it has changed little but costs a lot, want us to think there is something amiss about that. Bradford is one of the most dedicated people I’ve run across. He believes in looking out fore the kids but also rewarding the good teachers.
Let's see some of that "dedication," shall we?

Hoover, if Bradford is "one of the most dedicated people I’ve run across," you need to hang out with some new people.


Anonymous said...

Having a local school board approve charters is like forcing Apple to ask permission from Microsoft before it can make a new product.

Duke said...

Well, if Apple was funding its new product's development with Microsoft funds - yeah, I'd say they should have to ask permission.

And if I was a Microsoft stockholder and they just gave money to Apple without determining whether it was in my interest to give them them, I'd be pretty pissed.

Wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

That's the problem right there: you think public schools have their own money and it's wrong for taxpayers to ask them to give it to anyone else. Whereas I think it's the taxpayer's money, and if taxpayers want to spend it on a different type of public school, the traditional public schools should just suck it up and not expect to have a veto.

Duke said...

I'm calling for the taxpayers to have a say in how THEIR money is spent. If the people of Princeton don't want a charter school, why should they have it shoved down their community's throat? Why should Millburn have to have a charter if they don't want it? Who are you or Chris Cerf, the unelected and unconfirmed Commish of DOE, to tell those people how THEIR money should be spent?

You remind me of people who say: "I don't want to pay for a military! I believe in peace!" Yeah, we all do, but the majority of us voted in representatives based, in part, on the idea that we need a strong military. You don't get to opt out just because YOU don't want one - that's how democracy works. Sometimes, you don't get your way. Adults understand this.

What you're calling for is taxation without representation. You want my tax money to pay for someone else's "choice," and I don't get ANY say in it, and my elected representatives on the school board don't get ANY oversight into how that money is spent.

That's not a "choice." As I've said, there is a place for charters, but not if the people in a community don't want them. If they do, they should elect people to their school boards who follow their wishes. That real "choice."

Of course, the good people of Newark don't have that "choice," do they? I wonder why...

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I don't know how charter funding works in NJ, but in most states, charter schools get only the state funding, not local funding. So taxpayers in the locality don't have any interest at stake at all, except to the same extent as all taxpayers in the state.

And it's silly to say that Princeton would get a charter shoved down its throat. No one is forced to attend a charter (did you not know that?). If the "people of Princeton don't want a charter," then they won't attend the school, the school will immediately go out of business, and life will go on.

Anonymous said...

As I've said, there is a place for charters, but not if the people in a community don't want them.

Translation: there is a place for charters, but if only some parents in the community want to attend a charter while special interest groups are able to mobilize against them, the special interest groups should be allowed to win.

Suzanne Libourel said...

I don't see how there is a place for charters in public education. If parents want a different type of program, lets say Chinese language immersion, they should pay for it. I don't want funds from my local public school shunted to a charter that is not a necessity. Nor do I want government (local, state or federal) given to a religious school.

Sometimes people say, well, I can see why a charter school isn't appropriate in a successful district, but how about in those 'failing' schools? To that I say, how about the investors backing those charters (more on why they are doing this in the next paragraph) put all that money into extra resources for those district? Doesn't it seem like they need help? Instead of taking money away from a struggling district, let's lend them a hand.

Now as to why private investors are flocking to put their money into charters .... it's not to help students, or parents, or anyone but themselves. Did you know investors get massive tax breaks? Check it out.



Anonymous said...

"If parents want a different type of program, lets say Chinese language immersion, they should pay for it"

That's a kind of totalitarian view. Why should so many people locked into what the government in its beneficence provides them?

Duke said...

Anon, if you think about this very carefully, what you are advocating for is a system of financing and implementing education where the only people who have a say are the parents.

You say the people of Princeton don't have to attend the charter (yeah, "I didn't know that" - come on...). If a small group do, however, they are not taking THEIR money - they are taking ALL of the taxpayers money.

Everybody gets to vote for a school board, whether they have kids in the schools or not. Everybody gets a say in the system, whether they have kids in the schools or not. Anybody can run for a school board.

Why? Because a school is a civic institution, not a commodity. If it were, we should shut down all public schools and move to a voucher system for poor people who can't afford to pay full tuition. Is that what we want? Only the most radical glibertarians seem to think so.

All I am asking is that the people who pay the freight have a say in their community's schools. Who could possibly be against that? Isn't that the American way? Didn't our Founding Fathers throw tea into Boston Harbor exactly because they were denied this basic function of democracy?

Suzanne: I think charters are fine if they are true laboratories of experimentation, or offer some unique perspective on learning. We aren't seeing much of that lately, IMHO.

Suzanne Libourel said...

Anonymous, your critique of my post is ridiculous.

JJ, I think that charters that are true laboratories of experimentation, etc should be MAGNET schools. They would operate within the district, not outside it. They can offer a different perspective, a program focused on a particular aspect of education, but they would be part of the total package offered by the district. Unfortunately, it seems that the average NJ taxpayer doesn't WANT to PAY for innovative programs.

Years ago, in my work district (then my home district), we had such a program; Science & Technology, Arts, and International Studies. It won awards, NJ Star School, etc.

What happened to it? It was costly to move all the students around and the community voted the budget down every year for 10+ years. Each year that the budget was voted down, more was removed by the town council, and programs were cut. A charter school opened in our district a few years back, was approved, funds sent and even less $$ was available for the district schools. Now my district doesn't have band at the elementary level, no late bussing for after school programs, no bussing at all for children who live within 1.5 miles of their school (regardless if that distance is on highway-speed roads), leaky buildings, buildings with non-functioning air-conditioning .... I could go on. So, when people start hollering for charter schools, I think of what happened in my district and I shudder.

Anonymous said...

This anonymous poster doesn't like to get caught up in "facts." I suspect it's Bradford himself - sounds like his paper tiger style of arguing. When the realm of peer-reviewed research and fundamental principles of democracy enter the picture, it becomes, "You must hate children." No, it's that your proposals will ultimately be destructive to the fabric of American democratic society. All the research indicates that more charters in NJ will cause more segregation. All of it - where is your peer-reviewed research that says otherwise?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about NJ, but segregation research shows little impact from charter schools nationwide. So there.

"All I am asking is that the people who pay the freight have a say in their community's schools."

Charter schools don't come out of nowhere. If they're approved and paid for by the state, then the people who pay the freight have exactly the "say" that they deserve, and no more: the ability to elect and influence state-level policy.

But giving local school boards the right to block charter schools is giving the fox the key to the henhouse. No one likes competition, especially the typically stupid and small-minded exclusionary people who are on local school boards.

Duke said...

"So there." Sources? I've listed mine. I'd genuinely like to see yours.

"typically stupid and small-minded exclusionary people who are on local school boards." Wow. Generalize much?

I think we're done here.

Anonymous said...

Well, to be fair, I don't think charter school boards should be given control over public school operations either. Whether the people are small-minded bureaucrats or not, it's fundamentally stupid to ask one group of people to decide whether they're going to have competition or not. No one likes competition, because it makes your life harder -- you actually have to work, rather than depending on a guaranteed customer base that has to patronize you no matter how unhappy they are.

(You didn't cite anything about segregation, so I don't know what you're going on about.)

Anonymous said...

Derrell, this is exactly why you are wrong on these issues - you assume that people in this world are not incentivized to work for any reason other than compensation. Yes, we all work to survive - but the vast majority of teachers teach BECAUSE WE WANT TO TEACH. We will make do with the low wage. We will make do with disrespect from outsiders. We love society, we love children, and unlike you, we do the actual work of educating children, instead of flying around the country and talking talking talking. In this case, you assume that people get onto school boards for what reason exactly? An ascent to power? Control? Or maybe, just maybe, they do it out of a sense of both responsibility and genuine interest.

This is why you are destined to be an exemplar of failure in this battle - because you lack a fundamental understanding of what it means to be an educator.

Anonymous said...

"In this case, you assume that people get onto school boards for what reason exactly? An ascent to power? Control? Or maybe, just maybe, they do it out of a sense of both responsibility and genuine interest."

Gag. That's what everyone says, but please don't be so naive as to think that anyone is immune from engaging in power struggles. (I'm not Derrell, whoever that is.)

Anonymous said...

SURE you're not Derrell. You're just commenting on a thread ABOUT HIM, defending his positions in language he would use, and then claiming you've never heard of him. In that case, why are you commenting on this thread? Why would you comment on a thread about someone you don't know or have never head of (based on your statement, "whoever that is.")

In such an unlikely case, your comments here become even more nonsensical, as you admit outright to commenting on a thread about which you are uninformed.

Keep going, dude.