Getting Your Kicks on Rte. 676

The Courier-Post has a story today titled “Teachers: Union is Doing Its Job.” First quote in story: “The NJEA is like a life coach for our union. We are one and the same.” That’s Robert Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at Mantua's Centre City Elementary School and co-president of the Mantua Township Education Association. The Post couldn’t get any non-union leadership teachers to talk on the record: “none that spoke would agree to have their names used for this article.” The explanation for their reticence is “they say they are not afraid of their local union officials or the state NJEA, but do sometimes feel pressured by their district administrations and are angry and saddened that the governor is targeting them.” Could be.

A couple of quibbles: Steve Wollmer, spokesman for NJEA fulminates about some of Gov. Christie’s more impolitic comments,
We're not taking this without setting the record straight. Public education works in this state and the governor is intent on destroying it.
Really? Works for whom? According to Peter Denton, Chairman of E3, at yesterday’s “Crisis and Hope” conference in Princeton, 1,300 first graders enrolled in the Camden Public School but only 150 Camden high school seniors passed the HSPA’s, the state assessment that former Commissioner Lucille Davy labeled an 8th grade level test. A look at the DOE data confirms this educational dichotomy: at Camden High 18% of kids graduated by passing the HSPA. On the other hand, 8 miles away at Cherry Hill High, also in Camden County, 96.2% of high school seniors passed the HSPA’s. So I guess whether “public education works in this state” depends upon what side of Rte. 676 you’re on.

Second quibble: “It is not mandatory for teachers to join their local union, said NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer, although he believes only a small number -- perhaps 1 percent -- choose to opt out.” Actually, NJ is not a right to work state, and teachers have no choice whether or not to join NJEA. Technically they can opt out of membership, but still get billed 80% of union dues as a fee for NJEA’s services in negotiating contracts. But who’s counting.

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