Earlier this month, the New Jersey Charter Schools Association filed an ethics complaint against Rutgers professor Julia Rubin, co-author of a report on the Garden State’s charter schools, for using her Rutgers affiliation to lend credibility to her research. (!)
The 37-page report, which is the first in a series of three (the second is expected to be released soon) by Rubin and Rutgers Graduate School of Education doctoral student Mark Weber, presents publicly-available data that clearly shows striking enrollment and demographic differences between populations in New Jersey’s district and charter schools.
The NJCSA isn’t refuting the report’s findings–it’s complaining that Rubin’s identification of herself as a Rutgers professor “lends credibility” to her work. (Note: if anyone is looking for ways to attack academic freedom, this type of complaint is a good start.)
Here’s where the irony of this “ethics” complaint becomes glaring: not only is the complaint unfounded, the NJCSA deliberately distorts the Rutgers University Lobbying Communication Policy in an attempt to give legitimacy to its argument (emphasis mine):
Rubin also claims the complaint misquotes Rutgers’ policy, deleting the phrase “made on behalf of Rutgers” to change the meaning of lobbying communication. And it omits the list of what is not considered a lobbying communication by the school — her activities, she says, fall under that category.
But even more irony: the NJCSA’s PR representative/”spokesperson” Michael Turner, who appears in this NJTV piece about the complaint, has been referred to as “Darth Vader” for his lobbying and public relations efforts on behalf of other groups–namely “builders and polluters”:
Michael Turner is a vice president of the MWW Group and heads the company’s toxic waste and development practice.
“If builders and polluters are on the dark side of New Jersey’s environmental wars, Michael Turner is Darth Vader,” writes Alexander Lane. “A public relations man and lobbyist, he has fought for the Windy Acres development in Hunterdon County, the Xanadu project in the Meadowlands and a strip mall near Edison Township’s beloved Oak Tree Pond.
He represents Shieldalloy Corp. as it seeks to leave radiological contamination in South Jersey, Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Co.’s corporate descendants in their bid to leave dioxin in the Passaic River, and Roseland Property as it defends a decision to leave chromium under condominiums in Weehawken.” Lane profiles Turner’s career as an employee of the MWW Group, a PR firm that brainstorms how to “discredit opposition” such as the Interfaith Community Organization, the Meadowlands Conservation Trust and the Hackensack Riverkeeper. 
“He represents all the bad guys in the state,” said Bill Sheehan, the
Hackensack Riverkeeper. “He’s more or less a mercenary.”*
So in summary: if one does not like the findings of a report based on publicly-available data, one should demonstrate a clear lack of ethics in constructing, filing, and promoting…wait for it…an ethics complaint.
In a toxic world, he cleans up nasty public relations – Michael Turner as Darth Vader
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
BY ALEXANDER LANE