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, January 20, 2012

Charter Schools: Spreading the Hate?

Sometimes it all comes together, and we are allowed a clear, unfiltered look at the truth. Case in point:

My favorite new blogger, Darcie Cimarusti, made a great catch today:
An Asbury Park Press reporter detailed a heated exchange between Governor Christie and one of those four vocal residents, Alan Erlich of Cherry Hill about the Governor’s relationship to Kahn:
But after Erlich charged the charter school’s approval was a favor for a Christie supporter, the governor denied the claim.
“Who are you talking about?” asked Christie, who went on to say he does not know Amir Khan, a pastor who is organizing the school at a church complex in the Ashland area. “I haven’t given one friend a charter school.”
  The exchange is already memorialized on YouTube, like so many other clashes between Christie and audience members.  

What may make this one particularly interesting is that just after Governor Christie says he doesn’t know who Amir Khan is, the camera pans back, and who is sitting behind Governor Christie on the dais?  Amir Khan.  Sitting right underneath the “Jersey Comeback” banner.  Here is a still:
The woman sitting to Khan’s left is his wife; pastor Aughtney Khan, also a founder of Regis Academy.  

The pastors Khan, founders of the Regis Academy Charter School, sitting not just in the audience, but on the dais behind the governor, makes it awfully hard to believe that Regis Academy was not one of only four approvals in September because of pastor Khan’s connections to Rev. Jackson, the Black Minister’s Council and Governor Christie himself.   Especially with his repeated pronouncements yesterday that not only does Cherry Hill not need a charter school, he has told Acting Commissioner Cerf that charters should be focused predominately in failing districts.  Oh, and let's not forget, he has no say in what charters do and don't get approved?  Then why was Regis Academy approved in Cherry Hill?
Truly brilliant from Darcie - but that's not the entire story...

You see, Pastor Khan has more on his mind than privatizing education. He's also worried that two people who love each other might be able to enjoy the same rights all married couples have:

This video is courtesy of the controversial but intrepid tweeter @DefeatNJBullies. I haven't always agreed with @DefeatNJBullies, especially when it comes to his/her harsh criticism of teacher unions. But he/she is a passionate defender of teachers in New Jersey, and he/she made a great connection.

Because when you go to 2:47 in the clip, you'll see a woman stand up and shout "Hallelujah!" followed by tears of joy at the defeat of the 2010 marriage equality bill in the NJ Senate. Who is this woman?

None other than Aughtney Khan: the co-counder of Regis Academy and wife of Amir Khan, the man sitting directly behind Chris Christie.

Immediately following is a clip of Amir Khan himself, reveling in the joy of denying all people the opportunity to enjoy the most basic of all civil rights:
"Feels great! Feels like, you know, I just finished a wrestling match and they just picked my arm up and said 'you won!' (laughs)"
These are the people who are now entrusted with the education of the young in New Jersey. People who are so enthralled at the thought of denying marriage to gays and lesbians that they lead the campaign to stop any attempt at marriage equity.

This college dropout will now have the opportunity to take the $2.8 million the good people of Cherry Hill and other towns set aside for the education of their children and use to it to educate kids however he sees fit. What lessons do you think will be imparted on these youngsters? What values do you think these charter-schooled children will hold once Khan is done with them?

The privatization of education is not merely about profit - although that's a big part of it. It is also about destroying the American values of tolerance, plurality, and mutual respect. The people who buy into the reformy agenda dream of a world where those who like GLBT people send their kids to one school, and those who would rather not bother their beautiful minds with such things send their kids to another place.

It's disturbing and disgusting and chilling. And it's forcing us to make a decision:

Are we one nation, or not?


Mother Crusader said...

Disturbing, disgusting and chilling just about covers it Duke. I can only hope that this is the thing that can be used to keep that money in those district schools. If they allow Regis Academy to get their final charter after this has come to light I will be horrified.

I have let my folks in Cherry Hill and Voorhees know. They are on it.

Duke said...

You, my friend, are fearless and tenacious. That's how you will win.

I'll be honest though: it bothers me that this clown may be told: "You can't teach in the 'burbs, but let's give you the kids in the cities!"

These people shouldn't be allow to open a school for any child. Period.

Rwm531 said...

This just enforces what my neighbors and I have been dealing with for over a year now since Solid Rock moved onto the former Holy Rosary complex. Nothing thatt you are saying about them has come as a surprised to me.

My neighbors and I (I live 3 blocks from the complex) have endured all sort of strange happens in our neighborhood since they moved in. From housing a man who lived on the complex who robbed 5 houses in our neighborhood, to an increase in robberies in the area (they run the Nehemiah Group which is a ministry for ex-offenders corporate offices on the complex), and tossing a statute of Mary, the blessed Mother, in the trash.

This just adds to the reason why I am fighting against the Regis Academy Charter.

Norma Ray said...

Duke & Darcie, thanks for shedding light on this. Keep up the good work! The triple whammy of an unwanted charter school opened by a homophobic VIP that the governor denies knowing even though he is sitting right behind him should be shouted from the mountaintops!

Anonymous said...

I am a supporter of Cherry Hill defeating charter schools but I feel if the focus is on what they will be teaching the students, you may have lost. I say this because children entered into the charter schools have applied to be accepted. The parents are OK with allowing the charter school to teach their child. If those parents do not feel our issues are important, they will continue to support Mr Amir. Yes, he is disgusting and yes he is more about money and profit over the wellbeing of children. I also know that the smaller districts involved with Regis Academy are in the dark! The residents of Lawnside have no idea about this charter school and how it will affect them! Maybe the BOE isn't letting them know where their education funding will be going if Regis opens! They are a small community that certainly cannot afford monetise to be taken away from their education. These are just a few points! Thank you to all those who are fighting against Regis!

Anonymous said...

It is horrible and chilling that someone like that would be entrusted to any role whatsoever in the moral upbringing of any children.

Oh, wait, that was Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who Obama plopped his daughters down in front of in the church Obama helped underwrite with a $20k+ check. I wonder where Rev. Wright stands on the causes on 9-11?

Darn, these games of six degrees of separation on issues get confusing sometimes, huh? Well, at least those Obama kids are going to a nice cushy private school now.

Duke said...

Anon, if you thought you were visiting a knee-jerk, pro-Obama website, you've really not read my work.

Type "Arne Duncan" into my search engine and see what comes up. See if I think he's been a good Sec of Ed.

Obama has a terrible education policy. Race To The Top is a horrendous piece of work. And you bet: I am greatly bothered by those who send their own kids to private schools that emphasize small class sizes, individual instruction, and a broad curriculum while pushing policies on public schools that increase class size and narrow the curriculum.

That could be either Obama or Christie, who also aren't that far apart on things like teacher evals using standardized tests.

I think I've been very clear about this. Read my work before you troll me.

Anonymous said...

Mz.S says: I just checked out the website for "Regis Academy". Someone needs to pay attention to spelling. They misspelled "achievement" and "ours" on page 1. Really??? How much tax money are they receiving?

Deb said...

They are getting 90% of the per pupil cost of every student that enrolls. And they will be able to preach intolerance and hate if they want because it is quite clear that the DoE is no better at oversight of operating schools than they are at vetting applications. If they could properly evaluate applications, without handing out political favors, this school would certainly not have been approved. Or so I would like to believe.

Duke has hit the nail on the head once again. This comes down to very fundamental issues of how we educate our youth, what we are committed to as a democracy in terms of education for our children, whether we are willing to be pushed into a new kind of educational segregation - which may have a new form but should be just as repugnant as segregation we have seen in the past - and what we are willing to do to defend public education and our democracy.

When I raised these issues with now Commissioner Cerf in a meeting some time back, he dismissed these issues as immaterial to the issue of school choice and charters. He was either unwilling or unable to see this. That's when I knew we were in real trouble. We need to fight, fight hard and fight loud.

Anonymous said...

Why does gay marriage have anything to do with education? It is a social issue that enjoys at beast 45 public support if you look at the national polling numbers. What social issue is next as a litmus test for you?

Parents should have school choice. It is a very emotiona and civil right. Do you have kids, Duke?