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

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Kiss DB Pensions Goodbye!

Christie has two major objectives. 
(1) privatize public education to benefit his well connected cronies and friends and 
(2) privatize the pension system to benefit his well connected cronies and friends.
And it's beginning to look like both may work!
This 'Hybrid' Pension Plan is just a foot in the door!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A "flip-flop" - How about a LIE ?

            At what point do we start calling a "flip-flop" what it really is - a LIE ?

It appears "The Governor" (as he likes to call himself) does not want "to blindside our student or our seniors" but it is perfectly okay to "blindside" retirees. He is willing to openly violate a law which he himself negotiated, signed and then bragged about just one year ago. I would bet that he knew fully well when the bill was signed that the likelihood of future pension payments being made on the schedule called for was slim and none!
I am constantly amazed by the ability of politicians to stand before the public, time after time and spew lies with a straight face and then claim ignorance when they are discovered.
I know that we have experienced many bold faced lairs in the past - "I did not have sex with that woman" - "No new taxes" - "They have weapons of mass destruction" - etc, but at the rate Christie is going I think he may overtake and exceed them all.
The "new pension reform" proposed by "The Governor" will undoubtedly be a call for a Defined Contribution Plan to replace the current Defined Benefit Plan. In other words, no more pension! It will be replaced by a 401K plan. And then the question will be: Which band of cronies will administer the 401K plan and what choices will the participants have?

I just received this email - 

 Not sure if you all got this from NJEA - I got this as a forward from a friend in Florida. Not sure why I didn't receive it.   This is an easy thing we all can do. Just a few clicks and your name and address.  Pass it on to all retired and present teachers. - TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT YOUR PENSION!


Sunday, 18 May 2014

If Someone is Never Responsible Is He Then Irresponsible?

* I happened to be watching TV tonight and mention was made of “The Governor’s” seeming involvement in the Hunterdon County Sheriff’s escapade. He claimed no responsibility.
Then I began to think:
* The doling out of $25 million of pension fund monies to a hedge fund linked to the Republication Governor’s Association came to mind. Again “The Governor” had no responsibilitiy
* Then the loss of $400 million of federal education funds came to mind. The loss was blamed on Schindler. “The Governor” had no responsibility.
* The GWB shut down. “The Governor” had no knowledge or responsibility.
* The improper and slow distribution of Sandy funds. It was FEMA’s fault. “The Governor” had no responsibility.
* “The Governor’s” brother’s company made a huge profit on land purchases associated with the Harrison Train Station renovation.  “The Governor” had no responsibility.

All this leads me to the obvious conclusion that “The Governor” is just plain irresponsible!

Monday, 12 May 2014

$140K per Hour and She'd be Underpaid !!

The cost of a college degree in the United States has increased "12 fold" over the past 30 years, far outpacing the price inflation of consumer goods, medical expenses and food.
According to Bloomberg, college tuition and fees have increased 1,120 percent since records began in 1978.
The average debt owed by New Jersey college graduates in 2012 was $29,287, according to the Project on Student Debt 2012. That’s up from an average of $27,610 in 2011 and $23,792 in 2010.
Most of New Jersey’s public colleges and universities do not pay their commencement speakers, though they often cover their travel expenses. Rutgers recently began paying speakers $30,000 to $35,000 in a bid to attract bigger names to its ceremony. The money comes from donations to the university’s foundation, not tuition or state funding, Rutgers officials said.*
Rice was scheduled to receive $35,000 for her Rutgers speech before she bowed out. (The speech was planned for 15 minutes - that's $140,000 per hour.) Kean, her replacement, has turned down the fee and Rutgers has not said if LeGrand will be paid for his remarks.
Kean University has also paid its speakers in recent years. Musician John Legend earned $25,000 in 2011 for a 15-minute speech and the performance of two songs. In 2006, Kean paid filmmaker Spike Lee $25,000 for a 10-minute graduation address (that's $150,000 per hour).
New Jersey colleges seem to want to give away over two years of tuition for a typical undergraduate student so as to have a "Big Name" commencement speaker? I think this shows the height of  arrogance and total disregard for the students who struggle to pay the exorbitant tuitions and fees these school demand.

*Should such donations be used to line the pockets of "Big Name" fifteen minute speakers? I certainly think it would be better used to help lower tuition costs if even just an iota! They say that university foundations pay the speaker fees?  Does that mean that when I get phone calls for contributions to Rutger's Foundations I  was being asked to contribute to this pompous folly.? I had no idea that might be the case!
Had I known I surely would not have contributed as I have done over the past fifteen years. The next time I am called I will be sure to ask if any of my money will be eligible for the "Big Name" speaker program? If  the answer is "yes" - I will just simply hang up the phone!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Pensions & Patronage - "Perfect Together"

Does anyone actually believe that New Jersey politicians would ever even think of "reforming" their "patronage bottomless well"?
If you believe that you probably believe the "Mastro Report" too -                      
"The Governor's" million dollar excuse note that we bought for him!
Again, more fiddling with the New Jersey Public Employee's Pensions! The people in Trenton seem to think that the Pension Plan is the State's asset. In reality it should be viewed as an asset of the employees who have faithfully contributed to it year in and year out for decades.
Maybe if we changed the name to the Public Employees of New Jersey Escrow Account (PEBIA for short - everybody likes acronyms) it would make it clearer as to who owns those funds. 
Now the plan to balance the New Jersey State budget is to put off the legally required pension payment for this fiscal year until July (the "pension reform" law which was so greatly heralded by "The Governor" requires it to be funded during the current fiscal year - before the end of June). Paying the bill in July will simply put it in next year's budget and hopefully avoid another credit rating reduction by Fitch and S&P. (There had been five already under "The Governor's" leadership!
Here's we go again - more Pension Fund tomfoolery. The next cry from Trenton will be a plan of "pension re-reform" when they decide not to make the legally required payments once again during the next fiscal year! Pretty soon the pension with be reformed out of business! It's only a matter of time!!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

"Big Name Speaker" How About "Big Price Tag Speaker"!

I was elated to see that Ms. Rice was not "hired" as the commencement speaker not because of her political affiliations but because of the exorbitant  fee she was to be paid for a fifteen minute banter. For me, "freedom of speech" was irrelevant and besides this speech was certainly not to be free.
Thankfully, Governor Kean has replaced her as commencement speaker. Governor Kean not only has significantly more prestige he is speaking for FREE and he will not be paid the equivalent of an RU student's two years of in state tuition to do so.
As I read the paper regarding Ms. Rice's replacement as RU's commencement speaker I happened to also read the Letter to the Editor shown here.
It was disheartening!
Disheartening because I have always considered RU to be a fine school which produces intelligent and clearly thinking graduates.
Mr. Stevens the writer of this letter who claims to have been graduated from RU certainly does not appear to live up to those standards I have come to expect.
Firstly, Condoleeza Rice- a "big name speaker"? Well maybe a "big price tag speaker" - yes!
Secondly, "Travis Smiley - Who?" truly demonstrates his ignorance.  Well I guess Mr. Stevens has been spending most of his time watching sitcoms or the Cartoon Channel.
Smiley is a nightly talk show host on PBS following Charlie Rose. He has interviewed hundreds of well known artists, writers, musicians, politicians, etc.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Stevens identified himself as an RU graduate thereby contaminating the reputations of the thousands of well informed and bright RU graduates.
If hearing fifteen minutes of banter from Ms. Rice would make that day "one of the best days" of one's life these graduates certainly shouldn't expect very many good days ahead of them!
Lastly, most disheartening  of all, is much of the public may have opinions similar to those of Mr. Stevens!
I have added some info about Smiley who has risen from obscurity to a position of prominence and success on his own steam (and without killing and torturing people)  - just in case you're interested.

Tavis Smiley (born September 13, 1964) is an American talk show host, author, liberal political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. Tavis Smiley was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the son of Joyce Marie Roberts, a single mother who first became pregnant at age 18
In 1982, Smiley enrolled in Indiana University Bloomington (IU). Because Smiley's parents refused to complete financial aid papers, Smiley entered Indiana University with only $50 and a small suitcase.[18] Administrators let Smiley complete the paperwork to become a full-time student. Smiley moderated two live presidential candidate forums in 2007: a Democratic forum on June 28 at Howard University in Washington, D.C.,[43] and a Republican forum on September 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore. In 1999, he founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs that develop young leaders in the community. Since its inception, more than 6,500 young people have participated in the foundation's Youth to Leaders Training workshops and conferences. On December 12, 2008, Smiley received the Du Bois Medal from Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Smiley was named No. 2 change agent in the field of media behind Oprah Winfrey in EBONY Magazine's POWER 150 list. In 2014, Smiley is set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honoring his contributions to television.[53] As of date, Smiley has received 16 honorary doctorates.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Defining "Charter"

I looked up the definition of "charter" and found many. Definition number seven at "World English Dictionary" I think was most befitting for describing Charter Schools -
7. a law, policy, or decision containing a loophole which allows a specified group to engage more easily in an activity considered undesirable
Read below and you will understand why this definition is most apt!

Charter schools in Camden aren't just draining students - they're draining money, close to $66 million worth in 2013-14, compared with just just $52 million the year before. Next year, Camden has budgeted $72 million to transfer to charters. There's your $75 million shortfall. - See more at:

• While Gov. Chris Christie rails about the pay of public school superintendents, top employees at these schools live in another world, spared from his rancor. Nineteen directors were paid the maximum allowed salary — $225,734 — to oversee schools with anywhere from 30 to 327 students a day. And 52 people at these schools took home more than $175,000, the most superintendents are allowed to earn in public schools with up to 10,000 students.

• About a third of the schools did business with companies owned or controlled by the same people who run the schools, or their relatives or associates, oftentimes at a higher cost than other schools pay. The deals ran the gamut from real estate to bus rentals to food.

• Nearly one-fifth of schools had instances of nepotism. One school had four related directors, three of whom earned the maximum $225,734. Another employed a part-time classroom aide related to the director who earned $94,000 in 2013, three times other aides’ salaries.

• Three dozen schools offered generous pension plans paid for by the public but requiring no contributions by employees, in stark contrast to public school teachers and administrators’ plans. At one school, a former official collected retiree health benefits after she served time for ripping off taxpayers.

Twenty-two cars — including two BMWs, a Land Rover, three Lexus and two Mercedes — were charged in part to taxpayers despite being used for personal transportation by officials. School disclosure reports show many cars were kept at officials’ homes.