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He's right, of course. The teachers union is far and away the most reactionary and destructive force in New Jersey, a cancer on the taxpaying citizens of the Garden State.
"This is a dreadful group of leaders and for the Senate president and others in the Democratic caucus to join that chorus, I welcome them — very late — to the amen chorus about the fact that the NJEA is the single most destructive political force in this building," Christie said, referring to the New Jersey Statehouse.
"It's not even close. There's not even a close second to these people," he said. "(They're) the most selfish, destructive people in this building — and everybody in both parties knows it."
Blue on Blue fratricide; man oh man, the schadenfreude is delicious.
Because for going on 50 years Steve Sweeney and NJ's Democrats have been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NJEA. The union says "jump," and the Democrats say "how high?"
At least until the pension bubble bursted.
Because there isn't enough money in the universe for Humpty Dumpty to put that shit back together again.
Sweeney sees the writing on the wall.
"I'll care about the children when the children start paying union dues."
— Albert Shanker
The NJEA only cares about one thing, their gravy train.
And if kids don't actually learn, well hey, that's not their problem.
The 31 school districts that receive billions of dollars in extra court-ordered state education aid each year have not narrowed the gap with the rest of the state when it comes to test scores and college attendance, according to a Record analysis.
Do tell! Money can't buy progress? Who'da thunk it?
The Record assessed the performance of those 31 districts in three categories — elementary and middle school tests, the SATs and the percentage of college-bound students — and found that the achievement gaps generally stayed the same over 10 years.
So, where did all that money go?
Into the pockets of the NJEA and its members!
They're living high on the hog, and the kids in their classrooms are left high and dry.
But wait, because they've got excuses!
But advocates say the lower-income schools desperately need the financial boost, which provides students access to preschool, counseling and technology and helps them graduate on time. Those advocates argue that hunger, violence and the lack of family support can have a major impact on performance.
"Our kids start from such a different place and have so many more needs," said Peter Rosario, a school board member in Passaic, one of the districts that would lose aid under Christie's plan. "I think that's the No. 1 factor in this that doesn't get talked about enough."
More money for the NJEA won't fix the "family support" problem.
That's been demonstrated time and again, as test scores stagnate and kids keep dropping out.
So, let's move the goalposts!
"The 1997 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling to increase funding for the Abbott districts was not premised on the idea that more money would automatically equate to an increase in test scores," said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, the Newark-based organization that brought the Abbott lawsuit.
"Rather," he continued, "the justices said fair and adequate funding is essential to give children in high-poverty schools the same opportunity to succeed that is afforded to their peers in more affluent districts."
"Opportunity to succeed?" Without measurable results? Who's to say the "opportunities" are sufficient? David Sciarra?
Well sure. The Education Law Center is a taxpayer-subsidized arm of the Rutgers Law School. David Sciarra is a state employee, essentially paid to sue his employer. The day he says his mission has succeeded he's out of a job.
So to almost no one's surprise, his mission has not, and never will, succeed.
So let's go back to what that "more money" was designed to accomplish.
Because the Abbott district schools are not "equal" to the schools in the so-called affluent districts. In many cases they're significantly better. Hoboken and Jersey City have facilities my small town of Caldwell could only dream about. Indoor swimming pools. Science labs to rival the Manhattan Project. Elementary schools with turf fields. Middle schools with auditoriums better than Carnegie Hall.
You get the idea. I'm envisioning the mad scientist from Jurassic Park extolling how he "spared no expense."
That's the legacy of the sainted Abbott districts. They spared no expense. They didn't have to. All their money was "free," air-lifted in out of the pockets of us beleaguered taxpayers.
Remember when Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg air-dropped $100 million into "fixing" Newark's public schools? How'd that work out?
1. Labor and contract costs: $89.2 million
That's right. The single biggest expenditure from his windfall ended up right in the pockets of the Newark Teachers Union.
One of the biggest failures in Zuckerberg's plan to reform Newark schools was the renegotiated teachers' contracts.
Zuckerberg envisioned the teacher contract reform to be a centerpiece of the reform and contributed $50 million — half of his total donation — to go to working on that cause.
Zuckerberg wanted to be able to create more flexibility in teacher contracts to reward high-performing teachers and to fire teachers with poor records of student achievement.
But those types of protections are determined by New Jersey law, and Zuckerberg couldn't simply come in and change the rules without going through the state Legislature to make the changes.
Instead, the opposite occurred. Chris Cerf, the New Jersey commissioner of education at the time, worked with the Legislature and was able to negotiate some new accountability measures in teacher contracts.
But the teachers' union only agreed upon those measures if the seniority protections remained intact.
The NJEA didn't look out for the children.
The NJEA protected its most inept members.
And who in the NJ legislature was the number one champion of teachers' union rights?
He blocked the necessary reforms.
He sealed the kids' fate when he stood up for retaining tenure, protecting teachers not on the merit of their achievements but rather on the longevity of their service.
Clock punchers won. And children lost.
So all of this recent Kabuki Theater is a charade.
Steve Sweeney is in the pocket of the NJEA.
And the NJEA calls the shots in Trenton.
Chris Christie will be gone in a little over 15 months.
And then? Steve Sweeney will probably be our next governor.
His first order of business?
Assuage the NJEA.
They'll get their pension guarantee. In spades.
But here's another guarantee.
Nothing Sweeney does while he's living in Drumthwacket will change the education status quo. Kids in the Abbott districts will keep on failing. And taxpayers will keep on getting hosed. But, and this is the key point, every NJEA member working in those districts will make out like a bandit.
Because that's how our tax dollars work in New Jersey.
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