Monday, April 07, 2008

Choose Three from Column A

School board of ed & budget elections are next week. In Jersey, these elections are nonpartisan. In many smaller communities they actually are nonpartisan. Never in the cities & larger towns. You just have to figure out who'splaying on which team.

Along with my sample ballot, I always receive two glossy print brochures. One is from the Board of Ed telling us how great the school system is. Everything is new & beautiful. The other is from the Union County Democratic Organization ("20th Legislative District Committee") reminding us who brings home the bacon to this school district & how the Board of Ed misspends the money. It's a tough sell for the Party folks, because they also have to remind us of all the good stuff the money buys.

So far as I can tell, there's no difference in education "philosophy" between the Board of Ed & the Democratic legislators.

80% of the Elizabeth school budget is funded by money coming from outside the city.

There's an orgy of new school construction & renovation here. Plus the regular budget expeditures. It's clearly a matter of the politicians who vote up the money wanting more control over where it gets spent, who gets paid. Just look at all the contractor & subcontractor trailers & trucks at a school construction site. & all the materials used in construction. Hopefully, there's union wages being paid on the site, because good Democrats like good pay, & no public money project should be underpaying the blue collars. The land deals are something else, a whole other level of inside shenanigans. No matter how you deal with school boards, if you got something to sell a school district, it helps mightily to have friends & influence to go along with the bid.

As for the school system itself, Elizabeth does the only thing urban school districts can do over the short haul while they hassle out improbable long term goals mandated by law & detached from a broader agenda for economic justice: They find ways of separating out the good kids from the many sociopaths, & the higher achieving good kids from the lower achieving good kids. They do this by breaking a large school system down into multiple. smaller specialty schools & "academies." It has to be done. Otherwise, 2/3ths of the students live in constant terror of the other 1/3rd, & no learning occurs at all.

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