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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Mess In Perth Amboy

And the battle between the Perth Amboy school board and Superintendent Janine Caffrey grinds on and on...

First of all, others would take exception with Caffrey that the opening of schools was "incredibly smooth":
Chiera and other union members said some high school students had schedules that didn’t match the academies where they were assigned. She also heard reports there were nearly 500 students at Shull Middle School who didn’t have schedules and had to stay in their homeroom all day. She said the schedules were never put into the district’s system.
Caffrey said this year the district wanted to create more individualized schedules, especially for middle school students. And the creation of those individualized schedules is more than district older-style computer system is able to apparently handle.
“The system can’t do all that we need it to do,” said Caffrey, adding that the district is looking to get a more updated system.
Chiera said some teachers didn’t get their assignments until two days before school started and others were assigned to teach classes they have never taught before, even though they are certified to teach those classes.
There are, of course, two sides to every story. Like Caffrey's charges against the board; what are they? Caffrey says it's before the NJ School Board Ethic Commission, and she can't get more specific than saying the board is interfering with personnel decisions.

But then she says this (3:05):
"So I believe the school board at this moment in time has a real decision to make: do they want to stand with me, stand all together, and move toward educational progress? Or do they want to get caught up in bitter politicking?"
Wait a minute: Caffrey says she's brought charges up against them for being "incredibly unethical." Why in the world would she want to stand with them? Shouldn't she instead want to see them sanctioned and removed from the board?

This isn't a situation where she gets to say, "Well, I'll drop my changes if you drop yours." If the board is "incredibly unethical," they need to be punished. Caffrey's implication all along has been that the board is punishing her for standing up to their unethical behavior. Well, if they are, it isn't enough for her to simply walk away from her allegations if she is reinstated. And if they aren't, it begs the question: did Caffrey simply make her charges as a means of defending herself?

I don't know what happened in Perth Amboy, but Education Commissioner Chris Cerf - who has broad and wide-ranging powers - most certainly should have gotten to the bottom of this by now. He owes it to Caffrey, the board, and the students of Perth Amboy to end this as quickly as possible. Dragging the conflict out until the school board elections should not be the plan.

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