Sunday Leftovers

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Public Preschool Expansion Trends in N.J.:

The Star-Ledger reports that despite the Corzine administration’s failure to follow through on funding for preschools for poor kids who don’t live in districts-formerly-known-as-Abbott, some local school districts are going ahead anyway. A child advocacy group called The Association for Children of New Jersey announced that at least 14 local districts are expanding preschools. For example, Hazlet Public Schools is doubling its preschool from 30 to 66 kids. On the other hand, Linden Public Schools hired teachers and made expansion plans, but when the projected $800,000 in state aid didn’t come through they put the kabosh on it. Reports the Ledger,

“We see enough value that we’re trying to go forward with what we set up,” (according to Linden Superintendent Rocco) Tomazic). “But clearly if there’s no more money coming, we’re not going to continue the expansion.”

Assemblyman Joe Cryan Praises Elimination of Non-Ops:

To permanently lower property taxes in New Jersey, communities need to break away from the sense of home rule entitlement that has gripped the state since its founding. A great deal of study has shown we can save money by consolidating certain things, sharing services and merging where a common-sense case can be made — starting with nonoperating schools seems to be a very obvious place to begin.

Cryan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, also points out that once all 26 non-operating districts are eliminated, we will still have 590 school districts, and still have 24 more school districts than towns – the only state in America to have that distinction.

The Express-Times Editorial Board Applauds Elimination of Non-Ops:

The editors opine,

The merger of the 13 non-operating districts could serve as a prelude for a much larger consolidation of New Jersey’s 600-plus school districts, but big hurdles remain — including home-rule loyalties, tax issues and the joining of labor contracts that by law are required to honor the higher-paying contract.

To date, New Jersey governors and legislators haven’t shown the stomach to take on school consolidation, other than nibbling around the edges. That could change next year, when county school superintendents are scheduled to release their studies calling for countrywide school merger plans. We’ll see.

Central Jersey Jumps on the Non-Ops Bandwagon:

It might seem a harsh remedy, but it is one that is long overdue and one that should stand as only the first step in a larger streamlining process aimed at reducing the number of school districts operating in New Jersey.

How Mad are N.J. Taxpayers about School Costs?

This mad: when the Edison Board of Education gave acting Superintendent John DiMuzio a 2% raise – negligible in the grand scheme of things – the public went ballistic. Well, the grand scheme includes the fact that Edison taxpayers continue to pay non-acting Superintendent Carol Toth to stay home since they’re buying out her contract without any meaningful explanation. Writes CentralJersey,

Those critics of the increase have ample reason to complain. Besides the obvious — that the public sector continues to blithely expand while the private sector continues to contract — Edison’s salaries for its school administration are a particular source of heated scorn

National Math Standards Advocacy Group:

We’ve reported on a N.J. math advocacy group called New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math, whose goal is to work with the DOE to produce “world class” math standards. They are now part of a larger group called U.S. Coalition for World Class Math, which bills itself as a multi-state initiative to develop “voluntary ‘common core’ K-12 English and mathematics standards.”

Cato Institute on the NEA:

Neal McCluskey, the associate director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, is feeling grateful towards retiring general counsel Bob Chanin of the NEA, who gave a “salty valedictory” preserved on youtube. Writes McCluskey,

Why? First off, because his pugnacious presentation has a certain Teamsters feel to it, furnishing almost visceral confirmation that the National Education Association is a labor union pure-and-simple — not the high-brow “professional employee organization” it bills itself as — ready to slash tires or do whatever else it thinks necessary to get its way.

But I’m especially grateful because Mr. Chanin all but declares that the NEA is a power-obsessed, hyper-political union that serves not children, but adults. Of course, anyone who has followed the NEA knows that — indeed, its exactly what we should expect considering that it’s the adults who pay the dues — but it’s a shocking admission from someone so high in the association, and a reality the public all too often misses.

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