Saturday, December 18, 2010


Turns out Sue Ohanian beat me to the punch in her Outrages blog.

N.J. education czar nominee appeals to union, Dems
"...and is already being praised by educators."

I'm a registered Democrat.
I'm a card-carrying member of the NJEA.
I trip on the word "educator," but I think teaching science in a public high school qualifies me as one.

Governor Christie will nominate Christopher Cerf (alas, not the muppet music guy) as the next education chief here in Jersey.

Before we get all gooey with joy, let me speak for at least one Democratic unionized teacher here in Jersey. If the Ledger is right, and the union and Dems go gaga on this guy, I'm going to put my considerable union dues to good use, buying ale instead of politicians. I'll even share a pint or two with Bret Schundler, who always struck me as a decent and reasonable man even when I disagreed with him.

• Mr. Cerf was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Edison Schools, Inc., a for-profit corporate invasion of public space, for eight years! He led them through the years when their stock was publicly traded on NASDAQ. The Edison Schools, Inc., record speaks for itself.

• Mr. Cerf showed questionable judgment in 2008 when he sought a contribution from Edison Schools while he served as Deputy Schools Chancellor in New York City.

• Mr. Cerf was a partner in the Public Private Strategy Group, a company that claims on its site that PPSG "[led] the successful turnaround of over 100 underperforming public schools in major urban centers across the country." If you look for the evidence on the "Education" page of the website, you get a picture of flying mortarboards and the words "This section is currently under development."

• Mr. Cerf was trained by the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy, founded by Eli Broad, a real estate mogul, who believes that business executives can turn around failing schools through their extraordinary management skills. Broad has joined with master educators Bill and Melinda Gates, Arne Duncan, and Michelle Rhee to teach us slow-witted teacher folk how to do our jobs. Billionaires can influence policy, and they can influence the press. Still, take a good look at the numbers, then draw your own conclusions....

• Mr. Cerf served as senior policy advisor for Bloomberg's latest run as mayor.
“What has happened to schools under Mike Bloomberg is one of a kind,” Mr. Cerf said in an interview. “It really is a national model for reform.”
If juggling statistics to fudge perceived results is the kind of reform you want, you'll love Mike Bloomberg's plan.

None of these disqualify Cerf from the nomination. Heck, he's perfect for Christie. Cerf's tinfoil Democrat badge works in Christie's favor.

Still, if you value the public in public school, value democracy in Democratic values, value union in the NJEA, you should be frightened by Christie's choice. Especially if The Star-Ledger tells you everybody else thinks otherwise.

In a week that Democrats gave the super rich a huge tax break, I have no idea what "Democrat" means anymore....

Credit Sue Ohanian for digging out the article on Cerf's conflict of interest.

Image of Christie and Cerf from The Star-Ledger.

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