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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Due Process for Me, Not For Thee!

My eyes were watering so badly this morning, I couldn't even read the Star-Ledger's editorials. First time I've ever been grateful for having allergies! (Oh, come on, it's a joke! I kid because I love...)

So I missed the latest brouhaha about celebrity superintendent Janine Caffrey:
The school board in Perth Amboy is preparing to make a costly mistake by firing Superintendent Janine Caffrey, an energetic leader who seems to be ruffling feathers by doing her job with integrity.
Caffrey says the friction began when the board president, Samuel Lebreault, and another member pressed her to give district jobs to their friends and she refused. And while those two deny it, another member of the board says he believes it is "absolutely" true.
Worse, Caffrey says Lebreault is angry because she has cooperated with an investigation into his application for reduced-price lunch for his children.
Like I said, I am not terribly sympathetic toward the BOE in Perth Amboy, because they hired Caffrey, a not particularly well-qualified candidate, in the first place. I have no knowledge of what happened, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if something is not kosher.

But the S-L editorial board is hardly an impartial observer in all this. Tom Moran turned Caffrey into a folk hero when the ink on her contract was barely dry. Twice, she graced the pages of the S-L promoting the end of tenure, saying it was critical for her district's success. The problem is that she hadn't even been an administrator in New Jersey for a year, and her experience before that was spotty at best. Why did the S-L insist on making Caffrey the Queen of Tenure when there are literally hundreds of other superintendents far more qualified to discuss the subject?

Probably because Caffrey is very good at self-promotion; she learned the art when selling herself as a speaker, consultant and author (not that there's anything wrong with that - it's what speakers, consultants, and authors do. But superintendents?). Last Friday, she was on Jim Gearhart's show on NJ 101.5, defending herself.

Is this the best way to resolve this matter? In the press?

Well, guess who the S-L wants to swoop in and save the day?
Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf needs to jump into this mess and mediate. He is impressed by Caffrey’s work and wants to prevent this pointless and expensive fiasco. He has our best wishes.
Well, fine: this is what ACTING Commissioners do. But does anyone see the irony here?

Caffrey insists she shouldn't be fired, because she's the victim of a political witchhunt. The Star-Ledger - which wants to gut tenure for teachers - is insisting that an outside authority come in to adjudicate the dispute and give her due process.

If Caffrey were a teacher, we'd call that "tenure": due process before an outside authority prior to dismissal. It is precisely what the TEACHNJ bill eliminates - the bill the S-L champions.

Under TEACHNJ, a teacher can be fired without cause if she receives an "Ineffective" rating and doesn't improve. She doesn't get a chance to appeal outside her district; she doesn't get to challenge either the revocation of her tenure or the evaluation that led to the revocation - an evaluation based in large part on subjective observations.

What the S-L is asking for Caffrey is more than they are willing to give a teacher in her district. Apparently, it's good to be the queen.

It's good to be the king... er, queen!

ADDING: More from Gannett. Guess she's going to fight this in the press.


Deb said...

And not for nothing, but the thought of relying on Cerf to resolve any conflict as the SL suggests, is horrifying given all the other decisions we see him make on a regular basis.....

Deb said...

You are right on the money when you say Ms. Caffrey is probably not qualified for the position she holds! Did anyone up there bother to look at her background. Ask some of us parents that had their children enrolled at a private school she started here in Florida. Mysteriously, the school ended up being 200k short in funds. She started a "stock" program where parents could buy "stock" in the school. Only problem, no stock holder meetings, reports, etc. That is only the tip of the iceburg. Someone up there may seriously want to dig a little deeper into Ms. Caffrey's past. Writing a book doesn't make you honest or a leader.