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

Monday, May 7, 2012

King Christie

Chris Christie will take as much power as he can grab:
But on his education agenda at least, the governor is also finding he can move on some key issues without the legislature’s full consent, creating tensions along the way but with, so far, no one stopping him.
An example came last week when Christie announced a new plan for high school testing that would effectively do away with the current High School Proficient Assessment and replace it with yearly exams in language arts and math, as well as possibly other subjects. 
When asked whether it would need approval of the legislature, Christie said Monday that most could be done through state code and the State Board of Education, of which he will have appointed its majority by the end of his term.
“I think most of it we can do regulatory,” Christie said on Monday. “If it needs some clean up, we can talk to [the legislature] about it, but nothing that will be a foundation of the policy.”
However, overlooked was the fact that the state’s current high school testing is indeed written into state law, providing some wiggle room for the administration but still a benchmark that will need to be addressed.
The law requires a high school test in 11th grade, as is now administered in the HSPA. Another provision also requires a similar test in 8th grade.
See, if Chris Christie wants more useless tests, all he has to do is say so. He doesn't have to justify his position; he can just do what he wants. Who does this remind you of?

The tensions were on display when Christie’s acting education commissioner, Chris Cerf, went before the Assembly’s budget committee to defend the governor’s education budget for next year.
Much of the discussion centered on state aid to districts, always a contentious topic, but some of the most pointed questions came around Cerf’s reorganization of his department that includes the creation of seven regional achievement centers, taking some of the functions of the department’s existing county offices.
The reorganization was approved by the state Board of Education last year, as is its responsibility over department operations. But in the Statehouse, the point of contention is those county offices and the executive county superintendents who head them are a creation of legislation in 2007 that sought to bring more efficiency to school districts, including a push for consolidation. The county offices were to lead those consolidation efforts.
But after some initial study, those efforts have all but stalled, Cerf conceded. Now just 10 of the 21 county superintendent positions are filled, with no nominations on the table to address the vacancies.
State Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) pointed out that the legislature held a special session to address school funding, including the new organizational structure.
“The work of the legislature means something, a deliberative body of 120 individuals who are trying to reach conclusions, education being an issue that is very important,” Burzichelli said.
“There was a legislative process that concluded we should have these executive county superintendents in place for a reason,” he said. “We think we have set a course, and find the course has been abandoned.”
Cerf said it was not abandoned entirely, and that a more efficient system of public education remained a goal.
“You offer a very powerful reminder that we need to reengage on that,” Cerf responded to Burzichelli. [emphasis mine]
ACTING Lord High Executioner Cerf has "not abandoned entirely" the law. Well, that's nice to hear; I suppose that's why less than half of the county superintendent positions have been filled.

They will, of course, continue to do whatever the hell they want until someone in the Legislature stands up and demands that they stop. But no one seems much inclined to do so, which means these guys will continue to push their unproven, ridiculous, profiteering schemes:
Last week, it proposed a sweeping change to the state’s procedures for approving and reviewing charter schools, including some options for the state to stop short of closing them outright if they are not performing.
In addition, the new proposed code would lower a chief barrier for online charter schools, a concept that was not envisioned when the state’s existing charter law was enacted.
The changes would allow for charter schools to serve communities that are necessarily contiguous, a nod to online schools that could enroll students virtually anywhere.
Whether or not the changes go through, the Christie administration has nonetheless approved four new online charter schools, at least two planning to open this fall.
You know, if virtual schools are freaking great, why do we need to make them charters? Let's just have one non-profit, state-wide virtual school, run by the state BOE. Economies of scale and all that.

Of course, the profit margins for the corporate reformists wouldn't be nearly so great, would they? But unless and until someone in a seat of power points this out and demands that these schemes be subject to the elected representatives of the people and not just an unelected, unappointed, unconfirmed corporate reformist...

Well, until then - it's good to be the king.

CEO, Let Them Eat Cake Charter School, LLC

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