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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Jersey's Shameful Superintendent Double Standard

If you're like me, you're probably still stunned that Chris Christie recklessly put the future of Camden's schools into the hands of a 32-year-old with a grand total of six years of education experience, no advanced degrees of any kind, and no experience running a school, let alone a district.

You'd think that the spectacular failure of Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. would be a cautionary tale for politicians who think it is a good idea to put woefully unprepared people into important school leadership positions. But, as Jon Pelto reports, this is part of a nationwide trend: Paymon Rouhanifard's appointment in Camden is remarkably similar to Paul Vallas's in Bridgeport, CT, in that both are uncertified and would not be able to serve in more affluent districts that, by law, must have experienced, well-trained superintendents.

New Jersey's laws and regulations on administrative certification are quite clear: graduate study and experience are required to hold a School Administrator Certificate of Eligibility. Back in 2011, however, Chris Christie's cronies on the NJ Board of Education approved new rules that would allow uncertified superintendents in "failing" school districts.

It's worth noting that more affluent communities demand more during a superintendent's search than just that the candidates meet minimal eligibility requirements; they insist that their voices be heard. Take, for example, Bridgewater, NJ, a large town in Somerset County that is currently looking for a new superintendent:
The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District Board of Education has begun the process of finding a new superintendent for the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. Former BRRSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Schilder retired on August 1, 2013 and Mrs. Cheryl Dyer, Assistant Superintendent, is currently serving as Acting Superintendent. 
The BRRSD Board of Education values a transparent process in its search for a new superintendent and will be using this page to keep the public fully informed on the timeline and all relevant information. Please check back for updates on the Superintendent Search Calendar.

A comprehensive search process is being implemented under the guidance and consultation of Jane Kershner, Director of Field Services for New Jersey School Boards Association.  Mrs. Kershner will be facilitating public input sessions, collecting and compiling survey data, developing search criteria and interview questions, and providing assistance to the Board throughout the process of finding our district’s next leader.
We believe it is critical to seek public input into the superintendent search process and we are providing mechanisms for all community and district stakeholders to do so. There is a BRRSD Community & Staff Input Survey which will be available online from August 15th through September 30th.
This is an anonymous survey and all respondent’s comments will be sent directly to Mrs. Kershner’s office at the New Jersey School Boards Association.


In addition, several Public Input Sessions, facilitated by Mrs. Kershner, are scheduled for interested community members, staff, and administrators. Please note the following schedule:
  • September 11, 11:30-12:30 for administrators
  • September 11, 2:30-4:00 at the High School for staff members
  • September 18, 3:30-5:00 at Eisenhower School for staff members
  • September 23, 1:00-2:30 at the Wade Building for community members
  • September 23, 7:00-8:30pm at the High School for community members [emphasis mine]
Look at all that community engagement; look at all that transparency! Just like in Princeton:

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education is hosting two public forums today and tomorrow to gather feedback from residents about the search for a new superintendent of schools.
The first forum will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. today. The second forum will be held tomorrow, May 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. Both forums will be held in the school board conference room at the district administration building at 25 Valley Road.
An online survey is also being conducted to gather feedback about what residents think are important skills and characteristics they would like to see in a superintendent. Thursday is the last day to take the online survey
“In a town that values strong public education, few decisions are as important as the selection of a superintendent of schools. While the board of education has the ultimate responsibility for naming a superintendent, we ask everyone in Princeton to help us with this crucial decision,” said School Board President Tim Quinn regarding the forums and survey. “Everyone in Princeton benefits from excellent public education, regardless of whether or not they have a student currently attending one of our schools. It is in the spirit of advancing a common good that we ask the community’s assistance in the search process.” [emphasis mine]
Does anyone think the good people of Bridgewater and Princeton would put up with the governor coming into their town and forcing an uncertified, barely-experienced superintendent on them without any community input?

So why is this acceptable in Camden? What makes Camden so different from Princeton and Bridgewater that Chris Christie feels he can appoint whomever he wants to run the schools, no matter how inexperienced and ill-qualified?


Chris Christie: "Paymon has a proven track record..."


David Milboer said...

The amazing aspect of this appointment is the lack of media coverage. This appears to be a non-event. The storyline of educators not needed in education has caught the nation by storm. After 18 years in education I'm sorry to see it happen in NJ.

giuseppe said...

This is like deja vue all over again. Remember when NYC Czar Mike of school deform picked
Cathie Black, who sent her kids to a fancy boarding school, was chairman of Hearst Magazines, was Mayor Bloomberg's surprise pick to succeed Klein and continue his sweeping reforms, despite having little educational experience. We all know how that choice panned out. She was chancellor for about 5 minutes before the parents and community vomited up this plutocrat.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/cathie-black-chairman-hearst-magazines-bloomberg-pick-replace-joel-klein-article-1.451263#ixzz2cisNfj6s

Duke said...

David, let's see what happens. I'd like for the press to ask some of the good people of Camden their opinions on this.

G, Paymon remembers: he worked under Black. Stand by...

GeoKaro said...

I've commended you for double standard watchdogging to NYC's star blogger vs. double standards in favor of administrators, Chaz's School Daze.

I noticed that not only did Paymon fast-track with minimal in the classroom experience, but also that he double dipped, serving in two Chief positions in Newark and New York City. Moonlighting, where I comee from. Outrageous!!!

David, this should be a media event. Where's NJ News or any of the other outlets. Hey, how about Philadelphia Inquirer or Philadelphia Daily News. But wait a minute, they're both owned by Cory's king-maker friend George Norcross.

-New York City Eye