A New Brunswick-based group that backs Gov. Chris Christie’s education initiatives has made a $2,600 donation to Board of Education President Christopher Irving’s re-election campaign.
The group, Better Education For Kids (B4K), supports school vouchers, charter schools, teacher merit pay, tenure reform and new evaluation systems for teachers and principals – an agenda that has put it in conflict with the state’s largest teachers’ union.
This makes me seriously wonder if Irving has any earthly idea what it is he stands for. Just last month he put his name to a letter submitted to Commissioner Cerf, challenging him on the approval of two charter schools in Paterson when the elected school board had been given no opportunity for input.Irving said B4K contacted him offering the contribution and that he accepted after reviewing the group’s platform. “From what I understand, they are an organization that’s concerned about improving parent choice and making schools better for students, and that’s something I support,’’ Irving said.
Here's my favorite part of the letter.
Lastly, the relationship with the owner of one of the proposed charters and the Edison Schools company has raised a great deal of speculation about the integrity of the charter review process, especially since the head of the state’s charter review process is also purported to have had a relationship with that company.
Hmmm, seems Irving doesn't like the way Chris Cerf does business with his buddies behind closed doors...
Then Irving would be wise to remember that when Chris Cerf had a back room meeting with select board members in Jersey City, another district under state control, guess who was on the guest list? Shelley Skinner of B4K.
Maybe I'm wrong, but Irving doesn't strike me as a back room deal kinda guy. He's made it clear he's no fan of the state's control over Paterson schools, and has been outspoken about the state's failures.
So if Irving is willing to stand up to Cerf and Christie, WHY is he taking large campaign contributions from a group that not only shares their agenda, but has participated in secret meetings in Jersey City?
B4K's influence on education policy is far more sophisticated than just skulking around in secret meetings with Commissioner Cerf. They recently threw over $100,000 at a tea party backed Republican to defeat outspoken teacher candidate Marie Corfield in her previous bid for a 16th Legislative District Assembly seat.
Corfield’s campaign raised about $169,000 to Simon’s $339,000.
The bulk of Simon’s money came from the Republican State Committee, which spent $140,000, and almost $52,000 from the Assembly Republican Victory PAC.
In addition, the group Better Education for Kids (B4K) spent almost $133,000 on Simon mailers, including $16,000 to Mercury Public Affairs, which employs Michael DuHaime, Gov. Chris Christie’s political adviser.
This is what B4K does best. Throw their money around to get what they want, and what they DON'T want is REAL educators like Marie Corfield to have ANY say in education policy. To them, that is best left to Governor Christie and apparently the tea party as well.By contrast, the Democratic State Committee spent about $75,000.
Note to Christopher Irving. B4K is not "concerned about improving parent choice and making schools better for students." They are concerned with filling the legislature with the likes of Donna Simon over the likes of Marie Corfield, because they think that billionaire hedge fund operators and their lackeys should have a seat at the education table over ACTUAL experienced educators. They use their money, power, and influence to get what they want, and what they want is to break the back of the teachers' union.
Mr. Irving, I'm talking directly to you now. Give the money back, and tell them what they can do with it. If you really want to put Paterson schools back in the hands of the people of Paterson, just walk away from B4K.
People of Paterson, I'm talking directly to you now. If Irving DOESN'T give the money back, vote him off. Do not let B4K get a foothold on your board. B4K is not your ally, they are Governor Christie's ally, and the Governor is no friend to public education.