Education reform in NJ: like bad reality TV—PART 2

Any networks looking to pick up a new NJ-based reality show? It can be called The Office of the Governor. Rest assured you’ll have no shortage of material.

Because it just keeps getting better here in The Garden State, a place where “emotional” women weep intermittently and unpredictably and close bridges arbitrarily when their “benefactors” breaks up with them.

Yes, all you scandal-addicts: in yet a development that seems as if it could be the basis for an episode of Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey or The Bachelor, a lawyer Chris Christie hired with $1 million of taxpayers’ money published a report that “proved” the Governor had no involvement in Bridgegate. (This, in and of itself, is a shocking development. I was absolutely sure the lawyers to whom Christie funneled $650/hour would find the governor to be implicated in the scandal!) Anyway, the report, which was apparently light on “facts” but heavy on drama, depicted Bridget Anne Kelly as a scorned woman who cried a lot and shut down a bridge because of a bad breakup with Bill Stepien:

“Kelly had become Deputy Chief of Staff, assuming the post left vacant by her predecessor, Stepien, who had departed in April 2013 to run the Governor’s re-election campaign. Because Stepien was her “benefactor,” Kelly relied heavily on him during this transition. And at some point after Stepien’s departure to run the campaign, Kelly and Stepien became personally involved, although, by early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking. Around that same time, Wildstein started pressing Port Authority engineers to assess the traffic effects resulting from the dedicated Fort Lee toll lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge.”

So pretty much, Christie and his hired hands said, “OH MY GOD. Bridget Anne Kelly is sooooooo drama, so when Bill Stepien couldn’t take her crazy anymore and dumped her, she called up David Wildstein and they decided to close some lanes on the George Washington Bridge. (BTW, David was a BIG-time loser in high school.) I really have no idea how all the people in my office could have been so deceitful, so I’m going to use more taxpayer money to appoint a ‘chief ethics officer’ who will ‘train staff and monitor their conduct.’ Because these people are completely OOC and I have NO IDEA how any of this happened! Really. I’m appalled.”

Seems like being the epicenter of all this dysfunction got to be a little too much for the governor, so he needed a way out of it, and fast.

And what’s the best way to distract people from Office of the Governor drama? Attack public workers, of course—and align yourself with other people who have the same goal! (Note to the governor: you can use the same tactic when you accidentally call the West Bank and East Jerusalem “occupied terroritories” when you’re addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition. Here’s how: “Whoops! My bad. But seriously, let’s talk about what losers public employees are.”) Christie told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly that he doesn’t have too much “baggage” to be the POTUS. He also told her that he thinks Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan would be really good candidates for the position. Hey, at least they have a lot in common: they hate unions, hate teachers, hate public workers, hate the middle class, and hate poor people.

Let’s start with Chris Christie’s desperate attempts to screw teachers over (cops and firefighters can be a different episode): In 2009, Christie said, “I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor.” And by “Nothing about your pensions is going to change when I am governor,” he meant, “Sike! Screw you guys.” So he started yelling at teachers in town hall meetings and on campaign stops and claiming that teachers only care about having “generous benefits packages” and summers off, and then he blamed the failures of previous governors, beginning with Christie Whitman, to fully fund the pension system on greedy public employees. Wait, it gets better: after he negotiated increased pension and health care contributions by promising that he’d make the pension payments the state owed, Christie said “sike!” again and changed the funding formula so he could contribute over a billion dollars LESS than he initially promised he’d contribute (after he promised he wouldn’t touch the pensions at all). Even Steve Sweeney, who had a hand in the 2011 pension and benefits reforms–and who actually believed Chris Christie would keep his word…LOL!–is pissed off now. Drama!

And let’s not forget about the union-busting and privatization agendas Christie’s pushing in cities like One Two Newarks and Camden, where the public schools are “failure factories” that produce—what else—failures? (Real nice.) The solution? Close public schools, open charters, and get rid of experienced teachers to make room for new ones–preferably TFAers–who’ll probably only stay for a couple years. (Read: they’re cheap, they’ll leave before they’re vested in the pension system, and they won’t stick around long enough to assume leadership roles in those self-serving teachers’ unions. YESSSS.) And besides: it’s totally fun to watch educators who have devoted their lives to at-risk children in inner-cities get blamed for the failures of politicians and society–and driven out of their positions. Maybe a break from their cushy jobs and a run-in with some hardship’ll learn ‘em to stop being so greedy and selfish.

And speaking of bad teachers, let’s talk for a sec about the Achieve NJ initiative that relies heavily on flawed and untested standardized tests, relies on a flawed model of measuring student “growth,” and promotes and rewards scripted teaching. (You know, the kind that people with barely any experience in or long-term commitment to education can pull off. Look at the “Whole Brain Learning” method that’s being marketed to charters in high-poverty areas. It’s seriously like a supernotfun game show…and who doesn’t want to combine reality shows and game shows?!) On March 5th, dozens of educators and parents testified about the innumerable ways in which Chistie’s reforms are hurting public education, and thousands more submitted written testimony that echoed the public statements. But those teachers and parents should STFU, because businesspeople and politicians are the ones who really know what’s best for kids.

So Bridgegate? Meh. Millions in Sandy relief funds misued or held hostage? Meh. Federal probes? Political favors? Bullying? Meh meh meh.

It’s all those morally-corrupt former Christie administration officials—who the governor, a picture of morality himself, was somehow (gasp) unable to identify—and the corrupt middle-class, unionized workers who are RUINING the State of New Jersey.

Is anyone filming this? Seriously. Between this and Education reform in NJ: like bad reality TV Part 1, there’s enough for at least two full seasons of edge-of-your-seat, can’t-wait-for-next-week drama.


1 Comment

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One response to “Education reform in NJ: like bad reality TV—PART 2

  1. LG

    Members of the NJ legislature are considering a bill that would allocate taxpayer funding for placement of Teach for America recruits into at-risk schools. TFA lobbied these legislators with “an idea” before anyone else could educate them on the topic.

    Public funding should not be used as placement fees for people with 5 weeks of training and no certification, and who can drop out after two years. This action is not building a base of experienced and credentialed teachers, AND it is siphoning public money from an already strapped public school budget.

    Please call Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, at
    (908) 757-1677. Tell him you oppose A-2032 and hope he does not post it for a hearing in his committee.

    Spread the word.

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