Tuesday, November 15, 2016

N.J. Governor-to-Be Phil Murphy Proposes Insolvable/Insolvent Math Problem to NJEA Members

Accept my apology, dear readers, for forgoing my annual rant about the NJEA Convention, which takes place in Atlantic City on Thursday and Friday in early November. A gift to NJEA from the State Legislature in the form of statute, the Convention truncates one of the few school weeks during a month when students are also off for 2 ½ days during Thanksgiving week; in addition, many districts have several half days for parent-teacher conferences. If you’re so inclined, here’s last year’s post. I note for the record that only one other state teacher union in the entire country (Minnesota) cancels school for its annual convention. Those that have them at all -- research points to benefits of on-site, school-specific professional development -- schedule them during school breaks or over the summer.

This year NJEA’s keynote speakers were a teacher who no longer teachers and Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman, a teacher in a minority-free district in Warren County where 1.1% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Weber, an NJEA-funded darling, Rutgers’associate of Julia Sass Rubin (founder of the anti-standards/accountability/school choice suburban group called Save Our Schools-NJ), and doctoral student of school finance guru Bruce Baker, helpfully tweeted out the remarks of the signature event of the Convention, an appearance by N.J.’s next governor, Phil Murphy.

Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs multimillionaire who has never held elective office, He originally had competition from legislative and city leaders like Senate President Steve Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. But in a political coup, he neatly eliminated other Democratic aspiring governors (although today Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski announced his campaign). For more on Murphy see here.

According to Weber, this is what Murphy, who sends his kids to private school (Rumson County Day and Exeter) told NJEA (with my snark in brackets):
“If there’s a big upside to state takeovers of school districts, I don’t see it.” [Has Murphy visited Camden lately?]
I’m for vocational education and against tracking. [Easy to say when your kids go to elite private schools.] 
SGO’s [Student Growth Objectives, used to gauge student growth and evaluate teacher effectiveness] are “insanity.”
“PARCC fails at many levels.” [Actually, PARCC provides realistic assessments of student proficiency, unlike N.J.’s artificially-inflated old assessments.] I’ll “scrap PARCC on Day 1” and “scrap its use as a graduation requirement and its use in teacher evaluations.” [Someone tell him that the Governor can’t “scrap” PARCC or its uses, any more than Donald Trump can scrap the Common Core or Obamacare with a stroke of a pen.]
I “will not renew Chapter 78” because it is “discouraging prospective teachers.” [Again, Chapter 78, N.J.’s 2011 teacher tenure and health care premium contributions reform bill, can only be set aside by an act of the Legislature. Also, Murphy might want to discuss his distaste for Chapter 78 with local school boards that are staying solvent only through teachers’ increased contributions.]
Murphy has also called for a “pause” in authorizing new charter schools, remarkably similar to NJEA’s desire for a moratorium. (Newark Inc. reported, however, that he voted against the NAACP endorsement of a charter school moratorium.)

In remarks outside of the NJEA Convention -- hat tip to Jeff Bennett at “New Jersey Education Aid,” who transcribed part of an interview by Larry Mendte of “Jersey Matters” with the prospective governor -- Murphy also proposes to provide free full-day pre-kindergarten to an additional 45,000 children at a cost of $607.5 million a year (N.J. state-run preschool costs $13,500 per child per year) and to fully fund the state’s school funding formula known as SFRA, despite the fact that many districts are either over-funded or under-funded. Fully funding SFRA would cost taxpayers, already burdened by some of the highest property tax rates in the country, another $2 billion a year. He gave no suggestions for how the state would come up with the money. He also promises to “fully fund pensions”: if you’re keeping track, that another 3 billion a year.

This year N.J.’s total state school funding is $13.3 billion.  Murphy is promising NJEA members that he will find an extra $5.6 billion a year, effectively increasing the state’s contribution to districts by almost 40%. And that’s not including the hypothetical reversal of Chapter 78. Where is that money coming from? He doesn’t say.

Now, let’s be fair. NJEA did, after all, endorse Murphy exceptionally early, perhaps taking a cue from AFT’s early endorsement of Hillary Clinton. (We know how that turned out.) But surely Murphy, a highly-respected hedge fund manager and diplomat, as well as NJEA officials, many of whom are former teachers, can do the math.

Will the last person to leave New Jersey please turn out the lights?

7 comments:

StateAidGuy said...


"Where is that money coming from? He doesn’t say."

Murphy says NJ is going to become rich by legalizing pot. Like it or not, we are going to become a drug dealer.

(I do support marijuana legalization, but I think it's funny how we have become so desperate that revenue is now the #1 justification for decriminalizing marijuana.)

ACClark said...

Love, love love Murphy's insanity!!!! His foolishness (fiscal and policy) will definitely elect a Republican Governor in 2017.

Unions and White Catholics cost Hillary the election, and they'll be the cause of another Republican Governor here in NJ. Teachers and other union members keep voting against their own self interests no matter what promises politicians make to their leaders. Once Democratic leaders realize this, the game is up for unions. Their priests and law enforcement friends/family are so anti-Democratic party because of abortion or BLM, that they vote for their own financial demise. What can I say??? Look at IL with Rauner, WI with Walker, MI with Snyder, and OH with Kasich. Other than IL, they went for Trump!

I'm not anti-union, but I have no sympathy when union members and white Catholic votes will cost people their civil liberties, and spread the ugliness sure to come from Trump - let alone the horrors abroad from indiscriminate warfare.

I'd love to see a 3rd party candidate for NJ Governor who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative with strong environmental credentials and interested in strong business development. Maybe Bloomberg is interested :) I'm keeping my eyes out!

ACClark said...

Teacher comment for EdWeek article on election. What can you say? I'm not going to look out for her interests is she can't back them up herself. Good luck teachers! Progressives are moving on.

"Our profession has been screwed over by the democratic party for 8 years now. Why did we back Hillary when she was in bed with charter schools? If we backed Bernie, many teachers like me would have voted democratic. It is not my party and will never be my party until they back us up. We give them money and support and we get screwed by Obama and probably Clinton as well."

NJ Left Behind said...

Thanks for the feedback, Anne and Jeff. We live in interesting times. (Isn't that a Chinese curse?)

Anne, do you think a 3d party candidate would have a chance in NJ? And I can't believe that the teacher you quote thinks that Hillary was "in bed" with charter supporters! Crazy.

StateAidGuy said...

"Unions and White Catholics cost Hillary the election, and they'll be the cause of another Republican Governor here in NJ. Teachers and other union members keep voting against their own self interests no matter what promises politicians make to their leaders. Once Democratic leaders realize this, the game is up for unions. Their priests and law enforcement friends/family are so anti-Democratic party because of abortion or BLM, that they vote for their own financial demise. What can I say???"

I think there many union members vote Republican because they feel like their union doesn't represent them well even in negotiations, let alone on social policy. It's reasonable to view unions as representing best their senior employees, as opposed to mid-career and early-career members. Pensions reward long-career employees much more generously than mid- and short-career employees. If a teacher leaves his/her job before the pension vests, he or she gets nothing and the contributions the employer made on the teacher's behalf go to other people.

Many teachers are idealistic enough to oppose tenure. Many teachers might be conservative in other ways and object to the NJEA's 100% support of the Democrats and multifaceted support of non-education liberal causes.

"I'd love to see a 3rd party candidate for NJ Governor who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative with strong environmental credentials and interested in strong business development. Maybe Bloomberg is interested :) I'm keeping my eyes out!"

Jack Ciattarelli is actually very moderate. He supports progressive aid, and yet aid reform to help underaided districts. He has said repeatedly that he wants to help districts with the biggest per student aid deficits, such as Bound Brook, Manchester Regional, and Bayonne.

Murphy will be very damaging to NJ's economy. He repeatedly says taxes have no impact on business attraction/retention and that NJ's outmigration rate doesn't matter. Check out Connecticut if you want to see what NJ's economic future under Murphy will be.

StateAidGuy said...

Back to Murphy... I cannot believe how little discussion there has been of how unrealistic his agenda is.

He is not going to be able to cut corporate subsidies once he realizes that there really are businesses that will leave NJ when other states happily offer them subsidies. He will not cut development subsidies when Paterson, Newark, and Camden insist that they need them.

I cannot believe that Murphy says with a straight face that taxes and costs have nothing to do with business location decisions. If taxes & costs don't matter, then why is Goldman Sachs' second biggest US employment center Salt Lake City? Why does GS have thousands of employees in Dallas?

Why did Goldman Sachs only build its Jersey City office after the State of NJ and Jersey City offered over $100 million in tax subsidies?

Between a $15 an hour minimum wage, non-renewal of Chapter 78, and a possible banning of outsourcing (which the legislative Democrats tried to do in 2013), the Murphy years will be as difficult budgetarily for NJ school districts as the post-2010 Christie years were.

ACClark said...

Thanks for discussion. I don't know if there is a leader in NJ who fits my description for who's needed. We'll see. Let's hope party labels don't stifle discussion, because people didn't vote for traditional party reasons last Tuesday.