Whether the Borough’s residents voted for or against the Board’s referendum, no one can deny that the overcrowding has been and remains an issue which requires an acceptable solution. The conflict arises as to whether the solution should cost the Freehold Borough taxpayers close to $33 million.
A recent newspaper article read that 36 Borough pupils have been honored for earning a perfect score of 300 on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge testing. Despite the lack of proper classroom space, the teachers and students have managed to overcome and excel, which should be commended. The dedication of the staff and the willingness of the students to learn is, in fact, the true essence of an education. No matter where the lesson is held, whether in a classroom, a gymnasium, in the corridor or under a tree in the courtyard, the core of education is in the connection made between the teacher and his pupil, not the venue.
If you want to understand what rule by liberal judges looks like on the state level, you need only look at New Jersey, which is teetering on bankruptcy though it remains one of America’s wealthiest states. ~ Steven Malanga, writing in City Journal
If you want to understand how, despite being one of the wealthiest states in the country, New Jersey is teetering on the brink of fiscal disaster, read Steven Malanga’s The Court That Broke New Jersey.
If you want to know why no governor or state legislature can reduce New Jersey’s oppressive property taxes, read Steven Malanga’s The Court That Broke New Jersey.
Malanga traces the roots of New Jersey’s tyranical Supreme Court all the way back to Arthur Vanderbilt, the first Chief Justice under the 1947 state constitution. In his opinion in Winberry v. Salisbury, Vanderbilt layed the foundation for judicial tyrnany by ruling that the court, not the legislature, has the power to make rules for the state judiciary.
That ruling set New Jersey’s judiciary apart from the court systems in most other states—as well as from the federal judiciary, which ultimately derives its authority from Congress. Some critics have even argued that Winberry violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that every state must have a republican form of government. “Under the doctrine of Winberry v. Salisbury,” wrote New Jersey lawyer Anthony Kearns in a 1955 ABA Journal article, “we can only conclude that laws of practice and procedure are exclusively in the hands of men who are not elected.”
Malanga clearly lays out how New Jersey’s Supreme Court has taken over the state’s education policy and funding with no improvement in urban education to show for the $40 billion that has been wasted as a result of the Abbott decisions. He lays out the history of how the court usurped local zoning power with the Mt. Laurel decisions and COAH. He connects the dots in explaining how those two extra-constitutional power grabs have resulted in massive wealth redistribution, with no societal benefit, and an oppressive system of goverments.
Malanga stressed the importance of Christie’s promise to reshape the court with judges who will interpret the constitution rather than relating to it as a “living document.” However, he is not optimistic because of “…a Democrat-controlled legislature that’s often happy to dodge responsibility for heavy spending by letting the court mandate it.”
Hat tip to InTheLobby for bring this important article to our attention.
The Asbury Park Board of Education is planning on spending over $1 million on a new astro-turf football field because they have a problem with Canada geese at the existing field. Wednesday night the board awarded a $145,000 contract to an engineering firm to get the bidding documents ready and to supervise the project, according to a report in The Asbury Park Press.
That money would be much better spent using the geese as an educational resource. The Asbury Park Board of Education should to invest in a life skills curriculum. They should teach hunting and cleaning the geese. A culinary program with internships for students at area restaurants would be ideal. Business classes that teach production, packaging, distribution, marketing and sales of fresh and cooked goose would be a real benefit to Asbury Park students.
Such educational programs could produce revenue and lead to additonal educational opportunities for students, like accounting and administration.
There might be health and hygene risks, but they could become educational opportunities too. The risks would be less than the long term orthopedic damage young football players will suffer from playing football on concrete covered with plastic.
Star Ledger reporter Ginger Gibson, a member of the Statehouse press corps tell me she is Mexican:
I saw your piece about the diversity of the press corps. I just wanted to let you know, I’m Mexican. So it’s not all white guys in the press corps, there are some minorities. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.
I never would have guessed that, given Gibson’s fair skin and last name. Another lesson about assumptions.
Yet the point of my piece still stands. The press corps is far from 40% minority, and the Ledger editorial board is still FOS.
On Saturday The Star Ledger published an editorial calling on Governor Chris Christie to appoint minorities to the State Supreme Court.
The Ledger is lamenting the fact that since Christie took office both minorities who were on the court, Justice John Wallace and Justice Roberto Rivera-Sota, have left the bench. For the first time in twenty years there are no minorities on the court. “And yet more than 40 percent of the state’s population is black, Hispanic, or Asian.”
The Ledger took the diversity theme a bit further this morning with an article that sites a Star Ledger analysis which concludes Governor Christie is favoring white middle class senior citizens in selecting communities to host his Town Hall meetings.
This got me thinking about the diversity of the New Jersey Media. Is the New Jersey press corp comprised of 40% of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians? Not even close.
From my experience, without doing an extensive MMM analysis like the Ledger did of Christie’s Town Halls, journalism may be the least diverse industry in New Jersey.
The State House press corp? Overwhelmingly white.
NJ.com, The Star Ledger’s website? Only one African American columnist who writes almost exclusively about Newark.
Giving credit where it is due, Gannett’s papers have a diverse group of reporters, on the local levels. They have an African American Executive Editor, Hollis Towns, at The Asbury ParkPress. Their Statehouse Buerau? Five white guys. They would be wise to make Jane Roh part of that team.
News12 has a diverse staff.
So what is with the progressives at The Star Ledger? Should they be telling the Governor to take the speck out of his eye while they have a log in their own?
Are the folks at The Ledger hypocrites or has Gannett scooped up all the good minority writers?
I don’t know for sure, but I tend to think they’re full of poop. They’re attempting to set the agenda for Christie’s Supreme Court appointments by using the race card. As part of the vast progressive conspiracy, the Ledger likes an activist court that requires billions of dollars to be flushed into urban schools that produce morally unacceptable results in educating minority children. If they can convince the public that race should be a criteria for selecting a Supreme Court Justice, rather than scholarship, judicial temperment and a philosphical committement to interpreting law, rather than writing it from the bench, The Ledger figures they can thrwart Governor Christie from “turning Trenton upside down” anymore than he already has.
The Legislature is very likely to remain in Democratic control after the coming election, which limits severely the reforms Governor Christie can make over the rest of his term. Given the legislative map, a second Christie term will most likely also have a Democratic legislature. That he will have the responsiblity to appoint the majority of the court in his first term, to reshape the court as he promised, will result in the real legacy of the Christie administration.
The Star Ledger’s lip service for diversity is nothing more then getting ready for that coming political battle.
Yesterday afternoon on the LaRossa and Gallagher radio show I asked Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon how the $790 million dollar hole in Governor Christie’s proposed budget would be filled. Christie’s budget assumed $300 million in savings during the coming fiscal year from healtcare reform. The legislation likely to be passed in the Assembly only yields a savings of $10 million this year. Last month the State Supreme Court ruled that the state must spend $500 million more than Christie budgeted on Abbott district school spending.
O’Scanlon pointed to increased revenue projections and to yet to be determined savings from the new healthcare deal, but acknowledged that he and the other legislators crafting the budget have tough choices to make between now and June 30 when the budget must be passed.
June 30 is the deadline for the state budget to be enacted. June 30th is also the expiration date of the current union contracts for 48,000 state workers. Once the pension and benefits reforms are passed by the Assembly tomorrow, there will be an intense sprint to meet those deadlines in one week.
Mark Magyar, a former deputy policy chief in the Whitman administration and the policy director for the 2009 Daggett for Governor campaign,writing at NJ Spotlight, raises the possibility that Governor Christie could impose a new contract on the state workers.
The 1968 public employee collective bargaining law gives the governor and mayors the power to impose contracts on non-uniformed employees. Christie would be the first governor to use that power.
Magyar says that negotiations with the unions started late and have been on hold while Christie and the legislature worked on the pension and health carereforms. Christie has proposed a 3.5% pay cut.
I’ve been scratching by head trying to figure out why Christie and the Republicans in the legislature have been celebrating the health care reforms that only yield $10 million, rather than $300 million, in savings while the Democrats are waging a civil war over the deal.
O’Scanlon says the health care deal agreed to is not Reform In Name Only, that they will produce real savings over time. That might be true. But it seems like another kick the can down the road.
If Christie exercises his executive power to reduce the cost of government now by imposing union contracts that recover the savings given up the the health care deal we would know that we got real reform. Not delayed reform. That would be turning Trenton upside down.
When the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that the state must increase funding to 31 school districts in the amount of $500 million, it was both a gross display of judicial activism and worse, it perpetuated a bad public policy.
The Governor and Legislature, not the courts, should be deciding spending priorities, and while it is tempting to oppose this ruling on that fact alone, it is not the ruling’s most fatal flaw. That is why you see the Governor avoiding a confrontation with the legitimacy of the court’s action. Turning this into a battle over “separation of powers” will divert too much attention from the main event, which is how to change the state’s arcane and ineffective school funding formula to maximize the benefit to our students. Abbott districts were created by a court ruling in 1985 to mitigate the inequity in school funding between urban districts with higher poverty and suburban districts with more wealth. Subsequent court rulings and governmental actions have followed, all in an effort to equalize funding discrepancies. Since wealthier districts were able to benefit from significant stronger property tax revenue base, the Abbotts needed the state to compensate for their lack of funding with more education aid. In the mid-90s, attempts to equalize the districts included things like capping how much wealthier districts can spend on education and changing the spending ratio based on student population. Eventually, equalization in spending was achieved by the latter part of the decade. However, the inertia behind increasing funding to the Abbotts and limiting spending by wealthier districts became uncontrollable.
A tectonic shift occurred in the completely opposite direction. The more urban districts began spending more than the suburban districts at a growing and alarming rate.
For example, the average per child expenditure on education in New Jersey is roughly $12,000. Looking at Monmouth County, a wealthier school like Rumson spends roughly the average of $13,188. In Asbury Park, an Abbott district, it is $24,428.
We don’t ever think of public policy as having an expiration date, but it seems as if our funding formula is far past its optimal effectiveness. Included in that should be the notion that money solves the problem when it comes to education. This is evidenced by the continually poor performance of the Abbott school districts, despite sharp increases in education spending and a virtual monopoly of state education aid. That is why the most recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court is so flawed. It props up a system that not only fails the state’s taxpayers, but more importantly our public school students. Real education reform has to be student-centered and get greater accountability for the millions of dollars invested in our schools.
Unfortunately, it seems the New Jersey Supreme Court has come down on the side of those who believe foolishly that we can just throw more money to ‘at risk’ districts to get results. In short, this court action is best defined by Albert Einstein’s description of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Last week, the treasurer’s office informs us that higher income tax revenue of slightly more than $500 million for the next 14 month will fill the state’s coffers.Yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered the state to spend $500 million more on schools in the Abbott districts.Call me cynical, but what a coincidence!
Did the Christie administration provide the Supreme Court with an “olive branch” by making this announcment about the tax windfall so it did not have to restore the $1.7 billion in school aid cuts the Education Law Center wanted?The ELC, in its lawsuit, asserted that amount was necessary for providing a “constitutionally” funded education for “at risk” students who attend Abbott District schools.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision cuts the proverbial baby in half.Abbott District schools get more state aid next year.Governor Christie and the Legislature do not have to come up with $1.7 billion more in school aid in next year’s budget as the ELC wanted, and the Supreme Court looks “reasonable” by not ordering a huge increase in funding that would require a substantial tax increase and/or reductions in other spending.
In short, the status quo remains—more money for the Abbott Districts where student achievement is frighteningly poor in many schools. The answer to the annual school funding battles is to separate schools and taxpayer funding. In the meantime, state school aid should be distributed on an equal basis as Senator Michael Doherty recently proposed. Equality under the law demands that the state not discriminate against any child. Period.