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, June 29, 2012

NJDOE: Broadies? What Broadies?

If you can square these two stories, there's probably a job at the NJDOE waiting for you!

Story #1 (6/29/12):
State education officials are denying that they had any role in the Jersey City Board of Education’s decision to select as its new superintendent a Delaware woman who graduated from the same controversial superintendents academy as acting state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf.
The board voted 6-3 Thursday night to begin negotiating a contract with Marcia V. Lyles, a schools superintendent in Delaware’s largest school district, to become the city’s newest chief school administrator.
Opponents of the move, including two BOE members, believe Lyles’ association with The Broad Superintendents Academy, an education training ground set up by billionaire Eli Broad, amounts to evidence that Cerf, also a Broad graduate, had a hand in her selection.
Barbara K. Morgan, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said the state has been “following” the BOE’s search process, but denied the state played a role in tapping Lyles.
“The selection of a superintendent is a local one being directed by the Board of Education,” Morgan said. [emphasis mine]
Story #2 (12/28/11):
Some 40 people were stuck on the outside looking in for more than an hour on Dec. 22 when acting state education commissioner Christopher Cerf met with the school board in a closed session to discuss the ongoing superintendent search.
Cerf and board members conferred at a special meeting in the board’s central office on Claremont Avenue. The closed session received mostly negative reviews from the citizens present, a group made up of primarily parents and community activists. Some criticized the board for not allowing residents the chance to address the commissioner — the public-comment portion of the meeting was scheduled for after Cerf’s appearance.
Seriously: do they think we can't Google this stuff? How can the NJDOE claim they had no role in the search when the ACTING Commissioner met in a closed-door session with the board!
As for the closed portion of the meeting with Cerf, Board President Sterling Waterman originally estimated it would last about 45 minutes. Yet Arnold B. Williams, a harsh critic of the commissioner who says he’s organized a group to support the district against the state, said his cellphone clock showed Cerf kept residents waiting about 90 minutes.
An impatient Williams and others occasionally peered through the windows of the board’s first-floor conference room to mark the time. Williams periodically displayed his phone clock from behind the window, trying to remind the participants they were far exceeding Waterman’s original estimate.
The focus of the meeting stemmed from a controversial Dec. 2 email Cerf sent Waterman in which he claimed the board was ignoring his efforts to offer input in helping find a successor to departing superintendent Charles Epps.
Cerf also wrote in his email that the board needs to act in a way which assures the next superintendent will bring “transformational change” to the state’s second largest school system. In an email sent before the meeting, Cerf’s spokesman Justin Barra declined to elaborate on what the acting commissioner meant specifically, telling JCI he would do so in the closed session.
“The commissioner is meeting with the board tonight to discuss his thoughts,” was all Barra would say.
Further, Cerf wrote in the email that it is his “obligation to explore all the options the law empowers me with” to defend the interests of city schoolchildren. This statement has caused some to fear the commissioner might be looking into trying to reassert the state’s authority by retaking full control of the school system. While the state retains its power over approving personnel and curriculum matters, the board has regained control of governance issues. The latter allows it to search for its own superintendent.
Upon leaving, Cerf did not rule out coming to Jersey City for a community meeting to address questions, but told JCI, “I’m going to follow the board’s lead on that.”
When he was told that some residents felt he deliberately wanted to avoid hearing them, the acting commissioner seemed unconcerned, saying, “If that’s their opinion, then go ahead and report it.” [emphasis mine]
If you can say with a straight face that meeting in a closed-door session and asserting authority over personnel matters doesn't qualify as "having any role" in a superintendent search, you have a promising career ahead of you as an NJDOE spokesperson!

Only the truly naive would believe that ACTING Commissioner Cerf hasn't exerted pressure on the Jersey City BOE during this search. Only the most gullible of the gullible would think it was a happy coincidence that a fellow Broadie wound up with the job.

It's bad enough they want to work in the shadows. But do they also have to insult our intelligences?

Uh... forget you saw this, OK?

ADDING: Another happy coincidence, I'm sure:
For the past month there has been speculation that Cerf and others at the state Department of Education were lobbying behind the scenes for Lyles to be selected. At a June 28 Board of Education meeting school trustees seemed to confirm these allegations.

Waterman said that people from Cerf's staff had contacted some board members and made clear, "pick Lyles, and the school board will regain control from the state." The selection of Brathwaite, Waterman stated, would mean the state would continue to monitor the local school district.

The fact that Lyles tendered her resignation from her current job in December also suggested to some, including Valentin, that she was promised the superintendent job in Jersey City. Of the eight semifinalists who were considered for the job, Valentin said, only two did not apply for other vacant superintendent jobs around the country: Interim Superintendent Franklin Walker, who has been the acting super for the past school year, and Marcia Lyles.
Sure, people quit their old jobs all the time before they get their new ones! Why are you people so suspicious?

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