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, May 11, 2012

Massive Tenure Hypocrisy, Moran Style!

Tom Moran, Op-Ed Editor for the largest newspaper in New Jersey, continues to dig a deeper hole for himself:
It was a relief when acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf came to the rescue of Perth Amboy’s embattled superintendent, Janine Caffrey, by reinstating her to her job.
The school board was way out of line in removing Caffrey in the first place. To get the flavor of this fight, know that the man leading the charge against her, board president Samuel Lebreault, is under investigation because he applied to get free lunches for his kids in school, even though he knew he didn’t qualify. Caffrey says he also repeatedly pressed her to make patronage hires and was furious when she refused.
Let's leave aside the journalistic ethics of claiming Caffrey is telling the truth and Lebreault is lying on the basis of Caffrey's word alone. Let's leave aside Moran's obvious disdain for "innocent before proven guilty." Let's leave aside the fact that Lebrault claims, and no one has yet disputed, that his kids don't get free lunches (is it really a crime to fill out a form accurately?).

Tom says it's a "relief" that the ACTING Commissioner - a third party - intervened in a case where an (allegedly) politically motivated school board unfairly fired an educator. In other words, Tom Moran supports due process in firing school employees, the very essence of tenure.

But in the very next paragraph:
One more snippet: One of the board’s complaints against Caffrey is that she wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Star-Ledger outlining how the state’s antiquated tenure law hurts students. So it seems that speaking your mind on a public issue is, for this school board, a firing offense. [emphasis mine]
From that very piece by Caffrey:
The overwhelming majority of Perth Amboy’s — and, indeed, New Jersey’s — teachers are honest, hard-working people of great integrity who have kids’ best interest at heart. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the very few who don’t show up for work or who shouldn’t be around kids. Because of the current tenure process — one that can take as long as three years and cost more than $100,000 in legal fees to remove a teacher — I must engage in a rarely successful process to remove these individuals.
No district should have to bear that burden. And most, as a result, do not challenge tenure. Even if we make our case thoroughly and successfully, and a judge agrees to let me dismiss a teacher, he or she can still appeal to the commissioner of Education, the state Board of Education, the Superior Court of New Jersey and, potentially, the state Supreme Court.
Proponents of tenure will tell you that any school or district can remove a teacher by the due-process system that the tenure law affords. That may be the intent of our tenure law, but it certainly doesn’t work that way. [emphasis mine]
Again: Caffrey appealed to the ACTING Commissioner when her own job was threatened. But she decries this same ability to appeal for the very teachers she supervises. And, as much as Tom tried to weasel his way around it, Caffrey isn't calling for "reform" of tenure; she wants to ban it outright:
So for Caffrey, small reforms simply won’t do. She wants to end tenure, to pull it out by the roots and to spread salt over the patch of earth where this weed once grew so that nothing like it can rise in its place, ever.
“I don’t understand why people who work in public schools have greater rights and protections than other people,” she says. “The people we should be protecting are the children. It should not be about protecting adults.” [emphasis kine]
To recap: Moran approvingly gave Caffrey a platform multiple times to call for the removal of due process before a third party for teachers. Now, he approves when she uses those same protections to save her own job.

Folks, I have been thinking about this for days. I can honestly say I've never seen such blatant hypocrisy in my life.

I'd say that both Caffrey and Moran should be deeply embarrassed; but at this point, I'm not sure either is capable it.

ADDING: For what it's worth, everyone agrees the tenure laws need to be changed, including the NJEA. So Moran's weasel words about "the state’s antiquated tenure law hurts students" are the stuffing for a straw man: no one disputes that tenure cases take too long and are too expensive.

The simple solution, easily implemented, is to cap the time and costs of hearings and put them before qualified arbitrators. But if we did that, Caffrey, Moran, Chris Christie, B4K, and all the others wouldn't have nearly as much to complain about, would they? All of them would actually have to start thinking about the real causes of the "achievement gap."

But we can't have that, can we?


Norma Ray said...

I don't know which is a more blatant example of hypocrisy: this or the closing of the Emily Fisher Charter School. Why isn't Moran writing about that? How can the same newspaper have two diametrically opposed writers—Moran and Bob Braun? Do they ever talk to each other?

Anonymous said...

When my son's school sent home the forms, they asked that ALL parents fill out the forms regardless of whether or not they would qualify. I believe it's a federal regulation that schools have a certain percentage of forms on file.

Duke said...

Norma: I haven't written much about EF, but I will try to this week.

Way too long name: I seem to remember this with my kids' school as well. Stand by...