Sunday Leftovers

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Superintendents Don’t Get No Respect Department: The Star-Ledger reports on the hearing seeking public comment on the new caps on superintendents’ salaries at Kean University where neither Commissioner Hendricks nor Gov. Christie made an appearance. Said Cranford Superintendent Gayle Carrick, “‘I couldn’t find the room, I couldn’t find the building, there is one person here to listen to us and you’re not even looking at me,’ Carrick said to Eric Taylor, director of statute and code review for the department.”

And “In The Lobby” is on a tear:

What is astounding is the arrogance of these school officials, who don’t even try to hide the fact that they are renegotiating salaries in order to beat the caps, which would cause many of these folks to have to take a pay cut.

You know, if they’re so hard up for cash, these superintendents should get together and write a book about how they’ve managed to so mesmerize their school boards that they not only get huge salaries, but they convince the board that their students would all lose their ability to learn without them in charge.

The coup de grace: “Who knew the NJEA’s best friend would be school superintendents?”

Or maybe that’s Michael J. Ritacco, the former Toms River Regional schools superintendent, who sold back 250 sick days between 2002 and 2007 for a total of $219,517.

An Asbury Park Press eight-month investigation into NJ’s special education programs found that “the system is a $3 billion a year bureaucracy plagued by unchecked costs, lax oversight, racial bias and unproven programs.”

In Trenton specifically, where 2,000 kids out of the total population of 11,000 kids are classified as eligible for special education, 115 out of 136 kids receiving home instruction had no lesson plans, the district was paying private-school tuition bills for children who never showed up,, and the Fiscal Monitor has only “advisory capacity” because of “home rule.”

New Jersey Spotlight asks NJEA spokesman Steve Baker to respond to Acting Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks’ memo that our just-released NAEP scores “pointed to the “urgency” in adopting Gov. Chris Christie’s planned reform measures for teacher evaluation, merit pay and charter schools. “Says Baker, “I’m a bit perplexed at the message that the department is putting out there. When it comes to NAEP scores in general, they are something New Jersey can be proud of.”

The Kentucky-based Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions on NAEP scores, in addition to some good analysis, reiterates the following statement from NAEP: “The “Proficient” level has been set as the goal for student performance by the National Assessment Governing Board.” I.e., “basic” doesn’t mean sort-of-proficient.

The Asbury Park Press urges consolidation of school districts:

Fierce protection of home rule, to the point where some New Jerseyans don’t even want to consider mergers and shared services when millions of dollars can be saved, won’t stand forever, not in the face of the new budgeting and taxing limitations local governments and schools now face.

Asbury Park Public Schools, with grim standardized assessment scores and a comparative cost per pupil of $24,428, is on its third State Fiscal Monitor. The first one, Mark Cowell, served for two years. Frank Sinatra, the second appointee, is retiring at age 80 after a year’s service, and next in line for the job is Mr. Bruce Rodham.

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