Monday, January 30, 2012

Is SOS-NJ Consulting for Gov, Christie:?

When I wrote in my Spotlight editorial on Friday that the existence of charter schools provokes a disproportional response from charter detractors, I was right. 52 comments now append the piece, a NJ Spotlight record! (Hmmm…perhaps I should get paid by the comment.)

One additional thought. A majority of the commenters seems to share the belief that the State Legislature shouldn't have the right to pass laws that delegate the charter school authorization process to some combination of the DOE and other authorizing agencies. Instead, any aspiring charter school should be subjected to a community-wide referendum.

Stay with me here. This past Tuesday Gov. Christie responded to a move by the NJ State Legislature to consider a bill allowing same-sex marriage with this bon mot: “The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South," Christie said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Civil rights on the ballot? Now there’s a lame-brained idea. Reaction was fierce.

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver: “Governor, people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It took legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker: “Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote, to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and the sentiments of the majority. This is the fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.” Booker added that Jackie Robinson would never have broken baseball’s color barrier if the matter had been put to a vote. (Great video here.)

Steven Goldstein,
head of Garden State Equality: “There would be no civil rights in this country — certainly nowhere near what we have — if it were determined by referendum.” Goldstein added, “a public vote on the issue would not really reflect the will of the people. A referendum reflects which side can corrupt the political system with more money.”

Let’s unpack this. Gov. Christie wants to quash any possibility that NJ would grant civil rights to the gay community. His best avenue towards such a result is to call for a public referendum. He gets to genuflect towards democracy (what’s more democratic than a vote?) while secure in the knowledge that such a referendum wouldn’t pass because it affects a minority of the community.

Great strategy, although everyone seems to be on to him. Maybe he owe SOS-NJ a consulting fee. After all, it’s the same tactic: cloak oneself with the flag and bypass the State Legislature's authority to protect the (educational/civil) rights of a minority community.


Deb said...

This is getting tiresome. SOS NJ is not against the existence of charter schools. We believe that the best decision about what charter schools are appropriate for a community can be made by the community itself. This is analogous to the votes on opening other public schools, renovating schools or electing school board officials. Or would you prefer your position be an appointment by the Legislature?

Julia said...


Are you seriously arguing that attending a charter school is a civil right like marriage?

Do you really believe that the rights of a fraction of a town's population to determine how local budgets are spent is on par with basic human tenets like freedom of speech and privacy?

Wow! Tough to know where to go from that one.

NJ Left Behind said...

I am arguing that the right to a thorough and efficient education is a civil right (not to mention a constitutional one) and doesn't belong on a ballot.

Deb said...

And you equate a thorough and efficient education with state imposed charter schools paid for by local tax payer monies? It is a wonder you are on a Board of Ed. I am sure there are many charter schools that would love such a die hard fan. Why is letting a community approve a charter school any different from voting you on the Board of Ed, or voting for new school construction or the annual school budget (which sometimes they vote down). I suppose you would deny the voters those rights too in the name of the constitution?

Trish said...

So are you saying that school budgets should not be voted on? Or school boards? We could have a much more thorough and efficient system without the hassle of voting on ANYTHING! Treat it all the same, or stop trying to pretend you are interested in anything other than forcing charters where they are not wanted.

The residents of Lawrence township deserve to know what YOU would do in the event of a planned charter in your town.