No one questions her integrity or her intelligence. But none of that matters much. Because Caffrey is not a great politician. Her first sin was to tell the truth about tenure — that it protects horrendously bad teachers in her district and hurts kids. Then she refused to make the patronage hires she says board members pressed on her. And then she bucked the all-powerful teachers union by trying to change ancient customs on evaluations, job placements and student suspensions.Mike Yaples of NJ School Boards Association on teacher tenure in NJ:
The process takes about a year. It can cost in the six-digits because that includes attorneys' fees, paying for a substitute teacher and paying the teacher because after 120 days, by law the teachers’ salaries are restored." [And then] it’s up to the state education officials to decide whether or not that teacher would lose their job…..Because of the time and the cost and the unpredictability, you really only see the worst of the worst cases being brought forth.Akien Chaifetz, a Cherry Hill student with autism, was reported to be acting out at school. His father, unbeknownst to the teachers and aides in the classroom, rigged Akien up with a wire.. Now excerpts are on youtube, and the clip has more than 4 million hits. The story is featured at USA Today, and Huffington Post, specifically the part where a staffer tells Akien he's a "bastard" and teases him about whether he'll ever see his father again. The aides have been fired and the teacher, who said Akien was never abused, is on paid leave. NJEA says she has been "exonerated."
NJ Spotlight reports on a new trend: parents keeping their kids home on ASK days to protest the overemphasis on standardized tests.
The mayor of Hamilton, John Bencivengo, surrendered to FBI agents this week on charges of extortion: pressuring school board members in the large Mercer County district to not bid out insurance contracts and then taking bribes from the broker in exchange for the Board's complaince. (Trenton Times)
In a victory for the status quo, the Newark School Advisory Board chose Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson as its Chair, who was the candidate backed by Ras Baraka.
The Asbury Park Press tells it like it is:
There are 603 school districts in New Jersey. Only the most shortsighted champions of local control see the continuation of this incredibly inefficient system as worth perpetuating. It is time to move ahead with consolidation, not only to provide tax relief, but to give students in smaller districts the resources and curricular advantages larger districts make possible.
The Courier Post reports that the Camden School Board is slated to review the performance of Superintendent Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young, who earns $244,083 annually, who has a history of absenteeism and is leaving this year anyway.
If you missed my column at NJ Spotlight this week on the politics behind the expansion of charter schools in Philadelphia and Camden, here's the link.