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, March 31, 2020

Ten Years of Jersey Jazzman

I'll keep this short, I promise...

Ten years ago, I found myself increasingly frustrated by the nonsense I kept reading and hearing about schools, teaching, and public finance.

Here in New Jersey, a newly elected Republican governor began what was to become an eight year war against my profession, the union that represented me, and public education in general. This governor had run on an explicit promise he made to the state's teachers: "I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor."

That, of course, turned out to be the first in a string of betrayals against public workers -- and, specifically, teachers -- by Chris Christie, a governor who would go on to become, at the end of his term, the least popular in America.

Ten years ago, Christie was just beginning his crusade against those of us who chose to pursue a career that would never make us rich, but would at least command some level of respect among the public and politicians. A few months into his first term, it was increasingly obvious that Christie's casual relationship with the truth, massive self-regard, and belligerent rhetoric (remind you of anyone else these days?) would plunge teacher morale to uncharted depths in the Garden State.

And so, this angry teacher started a blog. At first, I thought its only purpose was to save my marriage ("Would you please stop yelling about editorials in the Star-Ledger?!"). I honestly didn't expect anyone would read anything I had to say about how badly public schools and public school teachers were getting shafted. To this day, it still surprises me a little when I meet someone and they say: "Oh, you're that Jazzman guy..."

Chris Christie was eventually exposed as the fraud he is. A few years ago, as he sunk into decline, I decided the state didn't need an angry teacher-blogger like it once did. More useful was someone who had a decent command of statistics and first-hand knowledge of how schools actually work. That's been the focus of this blog over the past few years: it's a place where I can debunk myths, present facts, and unashamedly advocate for well-resourced public schools for all children, in New Jersey and across the county.

I've had a lot of support and encouragement over the years, and if I tried to name you all, I would inevitably omit and offend someone. I don't want to do that, but I do want to give thanks to a few folks and organizations who have been especially encouraging:
  • Bruce Baker
  • Julie Borst
  • Darcie Cimarusti
  • Marie Corfield 
  • Diane Ravitch
  • Save Our Schools New Jersey, especially Julia Sass Rubin
  • The National Education Policy Center
  • The Shanker Institute, especially Matt DiCarlo
  • The New Jersey Policy Perspective
  • The Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
I also want to thank the NJEA, my union, which always let me know that they would defend my right to express myself about important policy issues affected this state.

Most of all, thanks to Mrs. Jazzman, who decided to stick with me through all the ranting, and the Jazzboys, proud products of New Jersey public schools.

Every blog anniversary, I take stock and try to figure out what I'll be writing about over the coming year. But I never quite know what to expect -- that's obviously more true than ever. I can only tell you I remain proud to be a New Jersey public school teacher, a union member, and an action researcher who works to improve public education.  

Stand by...

More to come!


Giuseppe said...

Please, keep up the great work and post your thoughts much more often, especially during the age of the 2020 plague. This virus is a huge blow to the whole educational process, (not to mention to the society, world, at large); remote learning is a poor substitute for the real thing. It appears likely that the upcoming school year will be "compromised" too. What then? I can't even guess or imagine all the ramifications of this human disaster.

jcg said...

Hi Jazzman, I still remember the first time I read your blog and laughed out loud. Keep up the good work & the fight. We need you now more than ever.
jgc in TN

Deanna said...

Thanks and ever thanks for your intellect, integrity and inquiry. Blessings, Deanna

edlharris said...

A few years back, my late wife (a teacher) and I took a cruise out of Baltimore during spring break. It was the teacher cruise, as well as student cruise. I chatted with a VP from a NJ school, and she said she read and loved yr blog!