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

Saturday, September 21, 2013

They Only Win When You Give Up

This is depressing:
When it came time yesterday for the question-and-answer session at state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s now-annual convocation with school superintendents, there was an awkward moment: nobody stepped to the microphone.
“Oh, I know you have questions,” Cerf said wryly, aware of the challenges facing school leaders and their districts in a momentous year of change.
And while a few school superintendents did ultimately wander forward, the hesitation spoke to a different tenor – some would call it calm, others resignation -- that is coming over this group in the fourth year of Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure and the third year for his education commissioner.
Compared with previous convocations at which tensions were high and questions were plentiful, the more than 300 school leaders gathered yesterday at Jackson Liberty High School appeared to be getting used to the new world order under Cerf and his boss.
Gary McCartney, the South Brunswick superintendent and president of the state’s superintendents group, which hosted the event, said he saw the three years of convocations with Cerf as a period of evolution.
“I think people are beginning to assimilate,” he said. “In the first year, it was kicking and screaming, hoping (the initiatives) would go away. The second was wringing your hands and whining, thinking they would go away. Now you say, I don’t have any more tantrums, I think we’re going to do this.” [emphasis mine]
With all due respect to Dr. McCartney and the other fine public servants at this convention who serve New Jersey's children, this is the wrong attitude to take at this critical juncture.

Dr. McCartney has a long and distinguished career as an educator and school leader. He, and the vast majority of New Jersey's superintendents, have forgotten more about public education than Chris Cerf and his Broad-paid interns fellows ever knew. So it's not "kicking and screaming" to challenge the highly questionable policies that have been foisted on to New Jersey's excellent public schools; in fact, I would say that these school leaders not only have the right to challenge the nonsense Chris Christie is pushing, they have a duty to stand up and resist it.

The primary function of this blog over the past three years has been to catalog the many sins Christie and Cerf have committed against New Jersey's public schools, including:

I've known several superintendents in New Jersey over the years, and I've worked for some exceptional ones. In the main, these are good people who truly care about the students and staff in their charge. I certainly appreciate that they might feel they are in an impossible position, and that they should just calm the waters, try to get along, and wait out the end of the Christie regime when, hopefully, some sanity will return to our state.

But our school leaders have got to understand that they are not powerless -- far from it. New Jersey's superintendents know Christie and Cerf have been bad for their schools, bad for their staffs, and bad for their students. They ought to stand up and say so -- politely, respectfully, but loudly and clearly

People will listen.

Accountability begins at home.


Kids First FOR REAL said...

Did Penny MacCormack say anything?

Mrs. King's music students said...

Clearly, superintendents and ed. admins at every level can portray their own effectiveness in any light they choose until they are made accountable for their actions by the silent majority of parents, teachers, and students whose lives they affect. For now, the ability of principals to run failing schools into the ground for decades, and Boards of Ed. to overrule thousands of disenfranchized parents, teachers and students is protected by the lack of standards for admin. accountability and verifiable data.

After all is said and done, I don't think it will be superintendents or politicians that bring about standards for performance or honest reporting of facts. I think it will fall on parents, teachers and students. And I think that widespread acceptance of higher standards for ed. leadership will have its roots in blogs like this one.

Unknown said...

When the residents/taxpayers of this fine State unite and demand more the teachers, support staff and administrators will step-up. I think they feel powerless because they do not have community support. We the people have a responsibility to our children....we MUST STEP UP AND SPEAK UP AND DEMAND!

Teacher Mom said...

Right on Josephine! Teachers and administrators have been screaming from the mountain tops for years now to almost no avail. No, these new evaluation systems and school deforms are the law of the land and we officially have zero say, and we will continue to have no say until the law changes. The laws won't change until there a political shift. It will be the parents, tax payers, and community members that make that shift happen when they vote and get involved in their local politics.

Teacher Mom said...

PS: thank you Jazzman

Mrs. King's music students said...

The difference is teachers are held accountable and the standards are specific. However, enforcement of the standards is entirely arbitrary. Or in Mr. Cerf's own words, ed. admins have "unfettered discretion" to do whatever they want with or without cause. The equivalent would be posting rules against bullying in your classroom that only apply to some of the kids, and not at all if there are repercussions for you.

Keep in mind, Christie-esque reforms have only been around since 08 and Camden kids have paid the price for poor performing ed. leadership long before that.