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, March 3, 2013

UPDATED: Camden's Schools: It's All Going According to Plan

UPDATE: I have been told on Facebook that this post may read as if the layoffs have already happened. As the quote says below, this is a "tentative" budget. So nothing, apparently, is set in stone.

My fellow teachers, I will help in whatever way I can. But the first step is knowing what's happening; that's why I do what I do. If you have further info, send it to me, and I'll get it out there.

As far as the NJDOE is concerned, it's all working out perfectly in Camden:
With the aid numbers now released, the Camden City Board of Education unanimously approved its tentative 2013-14 budget Thursday night. The $369 million budget includes 88 staff cuts, 45 of which were teaching positions, as well as 15 administrative positions, 10 vice principals and five guidance counselors.
District officials said staff cuts were necessary due to declining enrollment, a direct result of local charter schools. Some classroom sizes in the city district have dipped down to 10 students.
“Enrollment keeps dropping and we don’t need all this staff,” said the district’s fiscal monitor, David Shafter. [emphasis mine]
No, you don't! So just keep cutting those unionized teaching positions while we continue to shift more kids into charters that have anti-union histories - even if those same charters are underperforming. Keep bringing in charter management companies that have a reputation for high rates of teacher turnover.

And keep disenfranchising the community while converting Camden into a two-tiered school system: one for the "educable," and one for... well... the rest.

Remember: this was all part of the plan:
The intervention proposal, which was obtained by the Courier-Post, was written by Department of Education employee Bing Howell. 
He did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment. 
Howell serves as a liaison to Camden for the creation of four Urban Hope Act charter schools. He reports directly to the deputy commissioner of education, Andy Smerick.
Howell’s proposal suggests that he oversee the intervention through portfolio management — providing a range of school options with the state, not the district, overseeing the options. He would be assisted by Rochelle Sinclair, another DOE employee. Both Howell and Sinclair are fellows of the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation. [emphasis mine]

• Control the school board by taking away members’ ability to vote for at least six months, plus adding three state-appointed members. Place all hiring and firing decisions in the hands of the state Board of Education
• If a superintendent vacancy happens during state intervention, the commissioner would recommend a replacement with confirmation by state board. 
• Increase charter schools and attract charter management organizations such as those run by the KIPP chain. Send Camden students out of district to choice and vocational schools. 
The proposal also calls for passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a proposed corporate tax credit scholarship bill. This would be used to send children to religious schools and private schools, including boarding schools.

Howell also said the state should partner with Teach for America, Knowledge is Power Program and The New Teacher Project . The three programs have or had links to Broad Foundation board members Wendy Kopp (TFA), Richard Barth (KIPP) and Michelle Rhee (formerly of TNTP and a TFA alumna). [emphasis mine]
Camden's public school system is crumbling, the big charter operators are coming in, the NJDOE and its Broadies are taking over governance, unionized teachers are being could be RIF'd...

Dr. Evil couldn't have planned this out any better.


Mrs. King's music students said...

Now those 45 teachers who get cut are all going to be bottom of the barrell types who don't come to work, don't teach when they get there, and contribute little or nothing to the learning environment of the school right? And not, for example, last one in first one out even if you are the 'Second Coming' in the hearts and minds of students and colleagues? I'm just asking because I'm not seeing how throwing out the wheat with the chaff or cutting teachers of content areas that we think are too fancy for poor kids can deliver on the promised 'reforms'. I guess I'm just old fashioned that way.

Mrs. King's music students said...
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