Vince Giordano, executive director of the NJEA, concedes, “This [passage of the pension/benefits reform bill] is a setback. This was not a result we were seeking,” and tells the Asbury Park Press that NJEA’s lawyers are evaluating whether or not it was legal for the Legislature to combine the pension and health benefits reforms into one bill. And the freeze on retirees' cost-of-living adjustments may be overturned in court.
Jeremy Rosen of the Courier-Post muses,
I left the hours-long protest feeling for disgruntled public employees who have been poorly represented by their union leaders. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), for example, makes maximum campaign contributions to state legislators (mainly Democrats) in exchange for protection of members' best interests.
But NJEA also spent tens of thousands of its members' dues on ultimately ineffective advertisements attacking Christie.
The union still has a voice, but its misguided message is one most state lawmakers are ignoring.Speaking of NJEA political contributions, BlueJersey points to the list of NJEA contributions during the last election cycle to legislators who voted for the pension/benefits reform bill, noting, “teachers, read it and weep.”
The Daily Journal praises Sen. Sweeney for being both a union guy and a pension/benefits reformer.
The New York Times has a drill-down of the actual impact of the new bill on individual state workers and retirees.
Ray Pinney at NJ School Boards points out that NJEA’s cry during the recent Statehouse drama to “Negotiate, Don’t Legislate" was a tad inconsistent:
Let me give you some examples of where the state legislature, at the request of the NJEA, enacted laws that interfere with a “completely open bargaining process.”The Record examines how the public unions used imagery from the Tea Party movement, a natural linkage because, explains political scientist Kyle Konkid, both groups “are trying to keep things the way they are.” Adds NJEA spokesman Steve Baker, “Our members are patriotic Americans.They love the Constitution and are very concerned about what they see happening in New Jersey, because it comes across as very un-American."
They are in no particular order: minimum teacher’s salary, getting the NJEA convention days as holidays, sick leave (minimum of 10 days per year), elimination of last best offer, and most recently, in 2010, the passage of A-420 which extends tenure protection to paraprofessionals in districts that receive Title 1 funds. And this is just an abbreviated list!
NJ Spotlight explains the link between the Democrats’ plan to fully fund the school funding formula and the push for the Millionaire’s Tax.
Gov. Christie derides the Democratic budget, which uses an optimistic calculation of state revenues for next year: "They’re using numbers that are unconstitutional," he said. "The budget is unconstitutional, and I won’t sign an unconstitutional budget." He tells the Star-Ledger,
"I’m complying with Abbott even thought I don’t like it, and they should comply too," he said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling ordering him to spend an additional $500 million for poor school districts. "We don’t want them acting in a lawless manner."Bruce Baker has a good take-down of Sen. Mike Doherty’s “Fair School Funding Plan," which would allot exactly the same amount of per pupil state aid ($7,481) to every district, regardless of socio-economic level or tax base. I haven’t mentioned this wacky scheme because it’s, well, dumb. Bruce explains why.
The Star-Ledger Editorial Board likes Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s new policy which evades the "dance of the lemons" by empowering school principals to select the best teachers available.
The Herald News counts the number of school superintendents retiring this year because of new salary caps: 1/3 of all supers in Bergen County and ¼ statewide.
The Hillsborough School Board considers the criminal background check for school board members (now on hold until the DOE gets info from the Feds out how it works. Update from NJSBA here).
The Economist examines the politicization of charter school expansion in NYC, where the NAACP and the UFT (the NYC teacher union) is in court to stop new charters from using empty public school facilities.