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, October 5, 2013

Groundhog Day in Perth Amboy

Third time's the charm?
The Board of Education unanimously voted Wednesday night to place Superintendent of Schools Janine Walker Caffrey on paid administrative leave. 
Board members authorized Board of Education President Mark Carvajal or his designee to hire an acting superintendent and to contact the county superintendent’s office for assistance. 
Caffrey said she found the timing of the board’s decision curious because it comes in the middle of a school board campaign season and just before hearings are scheduled to be held on ethics charges involving several board members.
Caffrey has made allegations about the board before that state officials later ruled had no evidence to back them up. She's gone public and implied her board did not want kids to learn. Let's see if this latest round of charges turns out to be true.
Wednesday’s vote marks the third time the board has placed Caffrey on paid leave. The prior two times the board’s vote was later overturned by the state Commissioner of Education’s office after the superintendent appealed. Caffrey said she will discuss with her attorney what next steps she will take this time. [emphasis mine]
If Janine Caffrey was not the right person for this job, there is one group to blame for her tenure: the school board that hired her. They should be held accountable by the good people of Perth Amboy and pay a price at the polls.

But the dragging out of this fiasco is really the fault of others -- from outside the city:

- Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf, who overturned the board's ruling on the flimsiest of reasons, then dragged out the investigation unnecessarily (for the commissioner, local control of schools is apparently a white people thing, especially when it comes to hiring a superintendent).

- B4K, who paid for a public relations campaign in favor of Caffrey that put her in a compromised position.

- Tom Moran, Op-Ed page editor of the Star-Ledger, who ignored his obligations as a journalist to present both sides of a story and turned Caffrey into a folk hero to further his personal vendetta against the NJEA (which doesn't even represent the teachers of Perth Amboy, of whom Tom immediately assumed bad faith, as he consistently does when it comes to educators' motives).

- The Reformy Campaign Finance Machine, a group of mostly out-of-state plutocrats who poured an unbelievable amount of money into the Perth Amboy school board race in an attempt to interfere with what should have been a local matter.

These people's interference kept this farce alive for years. Were it not for them, Caffrey might have moved on quietly and resumed her career somewhere else. The Perth Amboy school district could have found a more suitable superintendent and moved forward. Instead, this mess has coming crashing down in its inevitable conclusion.

The real heroes of this completely avoidable disaster have been the staff of the schools, who have acted like the competent professionals they are throughout, and the students of Perth Amboy, who continue to strive for greatness despite being used as political pawns. Mr. Cerf, Mr. Moran, B4K, and those wealthy campaign contributors owe the educators and students of Perth Amboy an apology for interfering with their schools and dragging this incident out unnecessarily.

But I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it...

Every day is Groundhog Day in NJ's Reformiest District™!

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