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

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

RU Athletic Absurdity

RU has the second highest in-state tuition of all public universities in the U.S. Will the expected "financial bonanza" from joining the Big Ten result in lowered tuition rates? 
Will future athletic costs include million dollar payouts because a coach "bullied" a six foot five, two hundred and twenty pound, twenty-two year old by throwing a ball at him and pushing him into position (Couldn't he have just quit the team if he felt so threatened)?
Will future athletic budgets include the outrageous legal fees incurred (and on going) by new "bullying" incidents?


I've done some soul searching during these long, cold winter days.
Why do I write this blog and why am I so concerned about all these education isssues? I've been out of the loop for ten years now! Maybe it's because, when people ask me what I did with my life, I would like  to say "I was a teacher" with pride and head held high?
With all the disdain for public education and teachers which continually fills the media day after day, it makes it hard for me to utter those words without a downward gaze. I would like to see the day when I can speak about my life's work without even a hint of  apology.
But every time I write one of these diatribes, I say to myself it should be my last!  
I should resolve to stop being so compulsive about commenting on the constant criticisms, teacher bashings and failed schemes proposed by education "experts" and politicians because it seems nothing I can do will ever change it. It only gets worse!
Then, the next day, when I pick up the paper or turn on the radio I immediately read or hear the kind of stuff that drives me back to this computer. I guess I just lack the self discipline required to control myself but I will continue to try, I promise. 
Wish me luck.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Shafting The "Select Few"

Admittedly, the past can’t always accurately predict the future but unfortunately it’s all we have got to work with.
An average teacher at the top of the salary guide in 1990 was making about $55,000 per year. Let us assume that he/she retired in 1990 at the age of sixty. If he/she started immediately after being graduated from college his/her years of teaching would be about 35. Doing some rough calculations his pension would be $35,000 (assuming the full benefits were taken without survivor benefits).
In 2014 this person would be 84. During his/her retirement inflation (as seen by the accompanying charts) has risen by an accumulated 81.64%. This means if the COLA was not in effect during this period,  the real value of the pension would have  been reduced to $18,900 (more than cut in half).
Now, it appears that “The Governor” wants to renege on his pension reform agreement which eliminated the COLA and raised contribution rates and retirement age requirements. I am sure that more tinkering will result in further loss of pension benefits even beyond what inflation will cost.

His statement “we will miss the opportunity to improve the lives of every New Jersey citizen, not just a select few” is infuriating.
Does he mean the “select few” that have faithfully made pension payments during their entire working lives while the State reneged on its part?
Does he mean the “select few” who have educated New Jersey children (including him) year after year and decade after decade?
Does he mean the “select few” that relied on the integrity of the State to fulfill its contract with them?
Does he mean the “select few” that he has chosen to demonize, bully and degrade because they failed to support his political campaigns?

PS - Speaking of a “select few” read my preceding article “George Orwell Again? - Sunday, February 23, 2014 ” and you decide who the “select few” really are!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

George Orwell - Again?

Why is it that every time I pick up the newspaper I find an article that reminds me of George Orwell's - Animal Farm?
You might logically think that it is because the physical appearance of  New Jersey's highest official reminds me of the book's main character, but that's not it.
The real reason is because these articles continually bring to mind the book's major quote which I've recited over and over and over and is apt in most every situation.
"All pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others" is a perfect description of my feelings about these Trenton politicians and their ceaseless shenanigans designed to steal the public's money for themselves and their pals.

It appears that judges will be getting special treatment. I suppose that will include Judge Hurd. Could it kind of be a "quid pro quo"? Probably not but the way things go in Trenton, anything is possible!
(See my blog -

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Man with Two Faces

NJ. Sen. Steve Sweeney: I'll shut down government if Chris Christie reneges on pension payment

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Newspeak - Reform - verb \ri-ˈfȯrm\ : To eliminate: To end

The Star Ledger has already rescinded its supporting editorial for Governor Bridgegate. Now I see this editorial praising the “accomplishments” of Commissioner “Tenure Reform” Cerf.
Mr. Cerf is a well-seasoned educator with vast, firsthand knowledge of teaching and education. He spent four years (count them four) as a high school history teacher and that was over twenty five years ago.
Additionally, his vast experience was obtained at Cincinnati Country Day School in Cincinnati, Ohio, a private school with a tuition rate of $23,600. However he is still  somehow regarded as an authority on urban schools and urban education!
Mr. Cerf, unlike the claims of the editorial, has been instrumental not in “tenure reform” but instead, tenure elimination. Tenure, as it formerly was, made due process a requirement before dismissal.
“Tenure ( - the act, right, manner, or term of holding something (as a landed property, a position, or an office); especially :  a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal”
The words “summary dismissal” are defined as  ( ) – “a situation in which a company tells an employee that they have lost their job and must leave immediately because of something that they have done”
Tenure “reform” has actually eliminated the due process and replaced it with two consecutive years of poor evaluations as a basis for firing. Poor evaluations are not “dishonest or illegal”.  It is obvious then that calling the new system “tenure reform” is newspeak for tenure elimination.
Additionally, evaluations by whom and based on what criteria?  Hopefully the evaluations would not be made by Mr. Cerf since it appears that he would have little background upon which to base his evaluations.
The editorial also mentioned his unfortunate inability to eliminate seniority rights for “poor teachers”.
It did mention that he is leaving to join a “commercial venture”. Should I assume that it is a private education enterprise? Considering the quote below I kind of think so.
The commissioner said he remained deeply committed to the value of public education. Some education advocates have warned of the dangers of for-profit entities influencing policy in schools, or being hired to run them. But Cerf called such claims “propagandistic,” and emphasized his view that “public schools should be run by and accountable to public authorities.”
I firmly believe that Mr. Cerf’s motivation for his “accomplishments” is to push public education into private hands!
Elimination of tenure will make replacing teachers on the upper end of the salary scale a breeze for corporate owners of the private schools which replace our public schools. Ending seniority will further grease the skids.
Even before privatization is complete, the elimination of tenure and seniority rights has many advantages (not for teachers that is for sure). It reduces dissension in the ranks, quells even hints of protest and dampens the atmosphere at the negotiating table (assuming negotiations will not be made illegal).
Also, loss of tenure and seniority opens the door for replacement of veteran teachers (whether good or poor) by the relatives and friends of political cronies and supporters. This is not to mention it punishes those who failed to support his pal “The Governor” (as he likes to audaciously call himself).

I wonder if the day might come when the Star Ledger may retract this aggrandizing editorial just as it has recently done for his good buddy Governor Bridgegate?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Great TD Play (Tax Dodge) !

Sometimes, I write this blog and afterwards feel that I may have been a bit too cynical. 
I wrote "The Big (Con) Game" on February 6th and then I read the article below on February 14th. When I see an article like this one I realize that my fleeting pangs of  remorse are totally unjustified. I should have been even more scornful. I wasn't cynical enough.
And then here's another scam pulled especially on NJ taxpayers by our "non profit" friends at the NFL (points after so to speak).
"When New Jersey landed this year’s Super Bowl, it gave the National Football League a major tax break. The state agreed to suspend the sales tax on all tickets and parking for today’s big game — a gift that will cost the state $8 million in lost revenues, officials said."
By Ted Sherman/The Star-Ledger 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on February 02, 2014 at 7:30 AM, updated February 02, 2014 at 7:36 AM
The word "landed" is beautiful because NJ is the one that got "landed" like a sucker from the bottom of the Passaic River !
Now our Governor tells us that  New Jersey doesn't have the money to make the promised pension payments!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Christie's New Pension Plan (For Lawyers)

This letter reminds of a quote from one of my favorite writers. 
"All pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others".
Additionally, wait until you see the final bill because this thing will be dragged out forever and essentially provide a pension plan for all the lawyers involved.
I know this from my experience on the BOE . A suit regarding construction was lodged against the  Board. That was ten years ago. As of today a settlement has still not been reached and legal fees exceed $600K! That's a lot of public money that could have bought mucho pencils and paper.
When it comes to extracting money from public entities, lawyers surely know how to siphon the last drop of blood from taxpayer coffers.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Big (Con) Game

So here's  the way this works. Colleges and universities with outlandish tuition rates pour tons of money into sports programs so as to supply what are essentially farm teams for the Pros. To make matters even worse,  our public "institutions of higher learning" are eager to vie for the opportunity to participate in "pro grooming". 

Additionally, not only does the public provide these  free feeder programs  for Pro Athletics they also build pro sports stadiums and arenas with public funds ("Of the 20 stadiums built or renovated since 1997, all but one have used public money"- ).

Now to add insult to injury, these pro sports "Leagues and Associations" are non profit - tax exempt! What this means is they don't have to kick in a dime to public coffers, don't have to help support states and municipalities, schools or colleges. All they have to do is pay outrageous salaries to executives and keep shoveling the bullsh*t to the public. All we get  is  a constant stream of trivia about Eli, Lebron, Tiger,  A-rod etc. We don't hear much about Joe and Jane Student who are struggling to pay tuition and fees* required by the college co conspirators in this sports scam. 

I frequently watch "American Greed" on CNBC and most of the scams and swindlers portrayed are amateurs as compared to the  professional sports organizations.  

But, in conclusion, if the public keeps on loving the hype, who am I to complain?

* And for many they will continue to struggle to pay for decades due to student loans and for added punishment, students loans cannot be discharged via bankruptcy!