Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Friday, 9 December 2011

It Takes One to Know One!

As I told you recently, I sent an OPRA request to NJDOE for Bio information pertaining to the executive staff at NJDOE .

I wrote in my request:

What I received is contained below together with my comments after each bio.

What concerns me is what I have said before –

As Ross Perot once put it, when he was at Ford, and I paraphrase - "if managers are to do a good job they must once in a while go down to the factory floor and put a wheel on a car".

I find it difficult to understand how anyone without reasonable classroom experience in a public school setting can supervise and profess to tell others how teach. What do you think?

Christopher Cerf – Acting Commissioner
Chris Cerf was sworn in as New Jersey’s Acting Commissioner of Education on January 18, 2011 following his nomination by Governor Christie. As Acting Commissioner, he oversees 2,500 public schools, 1.4 m Commissioner Cerf is committed to closing New Jersey’s academic achievement gap while substantially raising the achievement level of all New Jersey students. He is working to make New Jersey’s education system, already one of the best-performing systems
Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Cerf was the CEO of Sangari Global Education, which offers innovative education programming to more than 500,000 students worldwide. Between 2004 and 2009, he was Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education where he oversaw organizational strategy, innovation, labor relations and all matters pertaining to recruiting, supporting, developing and evaluating the nearly 80,000 teachers and 1,450 principals who serve the nation’s largest school district. He earlier served as Associate Counsel to President Clinton and as a partner in two Washington, D.C.,

(No teaching experience indicated)

Andy Smarick -- Deputy Commissioner
Previously Andy served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and as an education aide at the White House. Prior positions also include: Chief Operating Officer for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, legislative assistant to a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and aide to members of the Maryland state legislature. Andy helped launch a college-preparatory charter school for underserved boys and girls in Annapolis, and he was a member of Maryland Governor’s Commission on Quality Education. His areas of research include school turnarounds, teacher quality, charter schools, performance pay, district reform, Catholic schools, and more. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Education Next, National Affairs, and other outlets. He is a former White House Fellow and member of the 2010-11 class of Aspen Institute-New Schools Fellows. He earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude and with honors, and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland

(No K thru 12 teaching experience indicated)

David Hespe – Chief of Staff In addition to serving as Chief of Staff for the NJDOE, David serves on the Governor’s Education Transformation Task Force, which was formed to review all statutes and regulations that affect public education, and recommend a new accountability system that grants more autonomy to schools while maintaining strict accountability for student achievement, safety, and fiscal responsibility. He also serves on the College and Career Readiness Task Force, comprised of K-12 and higher education practitioners and business community representatives.
Hespe is formerly the Co-Executive Director/Vice President for STEM Education at Liberty Science Center. Prior to that position he was the Interim Superintendent for the Willingboro School District having previously served as Assistant Superintendent. He was a faculty member in the Educational Leadership Department of Rowan University and served five years as department chair prior to becoming a school administrator. Hespe also served as Commissioner of Education for the State of New Jersey from 1999 through 2001. Prior to that position, he was the First Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Jersey. He also served as Assistant Commissioner of Education. Hespe began his service in the Executive Branch of State Government as Assistant Counsel for Education and Higher Education to Governor Whitman. Hespe also served in the Legislative Branch as Associate Counsel in the Education Section of the Office of Legislative Services where he was the Committee Aid to the Assembly Education and Higher Education Committee. Prior to that position, he was in the private practice of law. Hespe received both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University.

(No K thru 12 teaching experience indicated)

Penny MacCormack -- Chief Academic Officer/Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Assessment, and Curriculum
Penny MacCormack began her career in education as a teacher of high school science courses that included AP chemistry. A former teacher of the year, her career path has taken her through positions as dean, principal, and assistant superintendent in two urban districts – New Haven and Hartford, CT. Her latest assignment was as the Chief Academic Officer in Hartford, which is an urban district with 22,000 students and 2,100 certified staff in 50 schools. Penny is a recent graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy and is now a Broad Fellow. She is also working on an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford.

(Length of teaching experience and teaching locations – public vs private – not indicated)

Peter Shulman -- Chief Talent Officer/Assistant Commissioner of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness
Peter Shulman joined the New Jersey Department of Education as the Chief Talent Officer on November 7, 2011. Peter has experience both at large urban school districts and a state education department. His work will center on helping to strengthen policy and practice around the recruitment, evaluation, development and retention of effective teachers and school leaders. Most recently, Peter led the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education, where he oversaw the teacher and leader effectiveness initiatives that are part of Delaware's successful bid for a Race to the Top award. Peter also served in the School District of Philadelphia and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, where he served as Administrative Director in Human Resources. He holds a bachelor degree in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Peter will have a range of responsibility that includes overseeing our educator effectiveness work and rollout of the new teacher evaluation system. Peter will also spearhead work with graduate schools of education to ensure that their graduates are effectively prepared to achieve the mission of preparing all students in New Jersey to graduate from high school ready for college and career.

(No K thru 12 teaching experience indicated)

Bari Anhalt Erlichson -- Chief Performance Officer/Assistant Commissioner of Data, Research, Evaluation and Reporting
In the role of Chief Performance Officer,Bari oversees school and district performance and accountability, the development of the state’s student-level, longitudinal data system, and research and evaluation efforts. A former professor at Rutgers University, Dr. Erlichson has conducted research in many topic areas, including school reform, education policy implementation, school funding, and governance. She is a co-author of the book, Multiethnic Moments: the Politics of Urban Education Reform (Temple University Press, 2006) as well as a contributor to several edited volumes and journals. Prior to joining the NJDOE, she taught fifth grade in Plainfield, New Jersey after having been a student teacher in the Newark Public Schools. Dr. Erlichson holds a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University, an M.A. in education administration and policy from the Stanford School of Education, and a B.A. from Dartmouth College.

(Length of K thru 12 teaching experience not indicated)

David Corso – Assistant Commissioner of Administration and Finance
Dave has been an employee of the Department of Education since 1992 and has served in several positions in the department. Dave was the Director of Administration and Human Resources from July 2002 until his appointment to Assistant Commissioner in July 2011. He was also the Director of Human Resources for 4 years and the Manager of the Bureau of Management Services for 7 years. In addition, he serves as the Department’s Ethics Liaison Officer, the Employee Relations Coordinator and the Emergency Management Coordinator. Dave began his state service in 1986 as a Budget and Program Analyst with the Department of Treasury, Office of Management and Budget. He then became Chief Fiscal and Administrative Officer at the Department of Insurance in 1990. He has over 25 years of public sector experience. Dave holds a B.S. in Business Management from St. Francis University in Loretto, PA and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Rutgers University. He has the following certificates: Certificate of Eligibility - School Business Administrator, Certified Public Manager, and Supervisory Management.

(No K thru 12 teaching experience indicated)

Barbara Gantwerk – Assistant Commissioner of Programs and Operations
Barbara Gantwerk began her work as a speech pathologist in Tel Aviv Israel where she worked at a treatment center for children with disabilities and established the first citywide screening program for speech and language disorders and taught at the University of Tel Aviv. Upon returning to the United States, she worked as a speech pathologist with children with disabilities. She began her career with the New Jersey State Department of Education in 1979 as the state consultant for speech and language services, and in 1994 she was appointed state director of the Office of Special Education, a position she held for 11 years. In 2006, Ms. Gantwerk was appointed to the position of Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Student Services. She is responsible for state and federal programs serving the needs of the student populations most at risk for educational problems. This includes: students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, homeless, migrant and Limited English Proficient students. Additionally, sh
e is responsible for student health services, school climate issues such as harassment intimidation and bullying and oversees the Katzenbach State School for the Deaf.

(No K thru 12 teaching experience indicated)


  1. It just amazing, it's not what you know but who you know. Everyone has heard the famous quote "If you can't play, than coach" It sound like that here. If you can't teach than coach"

  2. keep on grinding Walt...teachers need a critical caustic defender like you..Moe NHS,86

  3. even with an MA n French and a year at the Sorbonne,icould hever get the kids to master the thousand common vocabulary words or the hundreds of irregular verb endings..what did i do wrong? Maurice

  4. Walt

    Nice research.

    Below is a recent Blue Jersey goes very nice with your work. See like below.



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