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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Please, Sir, Can Newark Have Democracy?

Apparently, (Acting) Commissioner Chris Cerf has decided that the good people of Newark aren't ready for democracy:

The Christie administration’s refusal to cede state control of Newark public schools, at least for now, has set off a political chain reaction that could land the continued takeover of its largest school district in court. 

The latest development: The district's local advisory board has scheduled a special meeting tonight to weigh its options, including possible legal appeal.
Last month, New Jersey’s acting education commissioner Chris Cerf informed the district that despite meeting certain thresholds outlined in state law for returning a district to local control, Newark had not shown "sustained and substantial progress" or the level of overall student achievement that would warrant the state giving up its full oversight.
"While the district has succeeded in achieving an increase in its [monitoring] scores since the last review in spring of 2010, much remains for the Newark School District to ensure that every student receives a high quality education,” Cerf wrote in the July 15 letter.
"We have obtained the highest scores ever achieved, and I'm personally proud of that," Jeffries said last night. "But on the heels of what the governor said a couple of months ago, there seems a real resistance on the part of the state."
"Well, folks like me believe that democracy matters," he said.
Jeffries was referring to Gov. Chris Christie's comments in May at the appointment of the latest Newark superintendent, Cami Anderson, that the state would retain control of the district for the foreseeable future.
The state has held control of the district since 1995, exercising virtual veto power on major decisions.
Oh, you poor, naive people of Newark. Don't you understand that you're just not ready to have a say in the lives of your own children? Don't you get that Chris Cerf knows better than you do what your community needs? So what if you live there and he doesn't? He used to be CEO of a company that regularly drove urban schools into the ground - he has WAY more experience at failing schools than you do!

Besides, the state's been running the schools for 16 years now. OK, Chris Christie says they are a failure,  but if we just get a couple more charter schools up and running, and pass out a few more vouchers for private schools that don't exist, everything will be fine. Just give us one more chance...

In the meanwhile, go yell at some greedy teachers unions. Everyone knows they're responsible for the crime rate, and poverty, and lack of infrastructure, and drugs, and racism, and unemployment, and...

UPDATE: Maybe democracy will return to Newark when its citizens decide to take it back.

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