Tag Archives: Chris Christie

The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools? by Dale Russakoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yes, I am the target audience for this book. Russakoff did an excellent job of telling the story of Newark Public Schools, Mark Zuckerberg’s money, the relationship of Chris Christie and Cory Booker, and what actually happens to $200 million in government. Russakoff tells the story in such a graceful manner. There is no equivocating in her story. I loved her writing.

Spoiler alert: $200 million does not flow into the classrooms; rather consultants tied to the power brokers and teacher contracts soak up reform money. The balance basically went to charters.

This was an expensive lesson for the young billionaire.

View all my reviews

Christie Wants to Hand Over $80B to the Unions

Christie is trying to sound reasonable. Get government out of the money management business. Why? Because government sucks at it. No argument there.

The solution? Give control of the $80 billion fund to the unions.


So here I am a regular Joe who made the decision to be a public employee. I am forced to join a union to work. The union takes ~$1,200 annually from me (and another $1,200 from my wife). Now the governor wants that same corrupt entity to manage my retirement funds.

Yeah, I’m not going to support this move.

Regrets, I Have a Few

Governor Chris Christie is at CPAC. He’s trying to make a case that he should be the Republican nominee for president. One of the issues that will dog Christie is that he willingly signed onto the Race to the Top program. RTTT is the Obama administration’s coercive program that bribed states to sign onto Common Core education standards in exchange for cash. States need cash. This “free” money comes with federal strings.

But Republicans can’t be seen to be in favor of something Obama has created. Now Gov. Christie needs to distance himself from that entanglement. At CPAC he said,

“In New Jersey we’ve always been for the standards, for high standards, and we had standards beforehand,” Christie replied. “My concern now as we travel toward implementation is not only the heavy foot of the federal government coming in, but it is not doing all that we need to have done in New Jersey.”

“So it was all teed up when I came in by Governor Corzine,” he said. “We signed on and tried to get funds during a really difficult fiscal time.”

“Regrets, do you have regrets?” Ingraham asked.

“Sure, or course,” Christie responded.

“Political regrets?” she pressed.

“Implementation regrets,” he said. “Unlike other people who just get to talk about this stuff, we actually have to do it. Once you start to do it, what I’ve seen — the concerns that I have are significant — and I set a commission up that is now coming back to me with some recommendations, but my charge to them is that we have to keep government at the local level.”

“With education it is most important to have parents involved, there have to be teachers involved as a part of this process and it needs to be part of this process and will be I think as we move forward in New Jersey,” Christie added.

It’s laughable that Christie extols the need for teachers to be involved in the process. If one thing can be learned from Christie’s tenure as New Jersey’s chief executive it’s that he loathes teachers. Trust me, I am okay with that, but to now call them as necessary to the process is disingenuous. It’s similar to the calls others make that things are “good for the children”; it rings hollow.

Christie is either incompetent or a liar. Everyone knew that RTTT came with federal entanglements.

In June 2010, I wrote this question for state senator Jeff Van Drew:

New Jersey is in the process of applying for Race to the Top grants. The United States Constitution states that if it does not specifically delegate a right to the federal government, it falls to the states or the people. Education is not a fundamental right as held by SCOTUS. Why should New Jersey play along with the federal government to get this money? Doesn’t it weaken the state by subjecting it to the feds?

In January of that year, I wrote:

For that, NJEA should rightly be criticized. That, however, does not mean we should embrace the Race to the Top grants. Once again, the federal government is imposing itself in education. The Constitution is clear that the federal government has no role in this issue. So why is it taking our tax dollars and giving it to the states?

Just think if that money was not taken from taxpayers by D.C., but rather went directly to Trenton. Immediately, one level of slippage would be removed. Secondly, the same $400 million would be available for education in New Jersey. The difference? No federal strings attached. Not only the performance pay (There’s plenty to say about the issue, but that will be another post. Suffice it to say that I am all for it in theory, but I have plenty of real world experience that provides me pause in how it would be enacted.) but also all the other federal regulation that comes with money from D.C. These are all non-education costs that take dollars away from the classroom.

We need to keep governments focused on their roles. The federal government’s role is not to grant $400 million to schools in New Jersey. Furthermore, its role is not to influence education funding policy. This is New Jersey’s policy and one it should establish without Potomac’s heavy hand.

Yet, it has taken Christie five years to learn this. This is not someone who should be entrusted with control of our country.

Christie is switching gears for his personal political career. Think of the millions he is affecting because of that. When he wasn’t running for president, he thought one way. When he decided to run, he feels another. Where are his principles?

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Gov. Christie just tweeted, “I want everyone to take a moment today to take a deep breathe, appreciate where we are, & know we are all not whole until the job is done.” Um, to think we paid someone else to tweet that touchy-feely self-help. Very presidential, eh? . . . Dave Vanaman is touting keeping the tax rate stable as a reason to vote for him for City Commission. No disrespect sir, but the budget isn’t exactly your responsibility as the Public Safety Director. If taxpayers accept that, then we have to say Derella did a good job, but he didn’t. Tout what you have done in your area, which you did not . . . The problem with The Daily Journal’s paywall is that citizens cannot get the information they need to vote. Apparently the paper posted video and an interview with each candidate for City Commission. I cannot watch because I don’t pay. Part of me says a business can do what it likes. Another part of me says a citizen is supposed to be served by the Fourth Estate since it is granted privileges that I provide . . . When a candidate can express “The Route 55 project will bring more people to the Cumberland County area, including the New Jersey Motorsports Park on Millville, the lawmakers say,” then the opposition hasn’t done a good enough job presenting NJMP in a negative light. Obviously, Sen. Van Drew doesn’t want my vote because the last thing I want is more people at the noise maker . . . “We don’t know why corporations don’t want to relocate here.” Well, how about crime and the poorly-educated populace . . . the federal government shut down for 16 days recently. No one mentions it. For one thing, everybody ended up getting paid. President Obama’s failed policies overshadow the fact that few were inconvenienced when government was shut down . . . My son just showed me the Target catalog. He circled all the toys he wanted. The running total was ~$3,600 . . .

Unnecessarily Entangled

Today there is an article about how Gov. Christie is looking to privatize the lottery. The current idea is that a company would pay New Jersey $120 million to run the lottery through 2029. The state thinks revenue will grow at 7.5% annually. Really?

I am reminded of the old saying,

The lottery is a tax on those who can’t do math.

As one drills down into the particulars he finds things like:

Any such costs to the state would be at least partially offset by guaranteed yearly increases in lottery revenues, as well as reduced state costs to administer the lottery and advertise it. The state doesn’t say how many of its 150 employees would lose their jobs, but it estimates that its expenses, currently around $37 million, would drop to $13 million the first year after outsourcing.

Huh? A private company runs the lottery but New Jersey still spends $13 million. How does that make sense?

And then there’s this:

Here’s how the private company would earn its money: The state lists three levels of income for each year of the contract — the base, middle and upper level incomes. The company would keep 5 percent of the amount between the base and middle, 20 percent of the gap between the middle and upper and 30 percent of any portion above the upper amount. The total would be capped at 5 percent of net income.

But the flip side is the prospect of penalties for falling short of income goals.

Here’s a novel idea; how about New Jersey gets out of the lottery business altogether. It seems that the state is unnecessarily entangled. Government doesn’t do things well. That includes gambling.

Is there anyone here who thinks that the state will continue to spend money on something that should be a pure moneymaker? Is there anyone who thinks the government should be running a game?

But this is how politics works. If one proffers such a thing, he will be labeled as one who wants to balance the budget on the backs of the children. The lottery’s “profits” fund “education and institutions“. He will be called extreme. He will called radical.

For me, I think it is radical to fund education with gambling. I liken it to school districts who fund their graduation alcohol-free events with beef and beer dinners. But hey, it is easier to label me and disregard the problem. Government has grown so much that such a venture seems reasonable to so many people. Really, $13 million spent to do nothing?

Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This

A for effort, D for execution.

This does a lot to highlight what’s going on in New Jersey (Christie does reach across the aisle). Fun Seinfeld parody, but too many inside things and let’s face it, the acting is lame.

Dot . . . Dot . . . Dot . . . (Year End Edition)

While I voted for Gingrich in 2008, I am not excited about his candidacy or anyone’s this time around. I like Paul’s domestic policies, but have trouble with his foreign policy. Gingrich is coming off as a loose cannon; Romney is a limp fish; no one else is a serious contender . . . The last couple years I have come back to ice hockey after a long absence. Last year when we subscribed to HD, hockey became a lot better to watch on television. Today I gave myself the gift of watching the alumni game for the Winter Classic. Ah, the memories. The NHL has done wonders with this event over the last five years. Outdoor hockey is awesome! Seeing 66-year old Bernie Parent stopping breakaways again is good for the game! . . . Hiking the last few days in 50-60° is just fabulous . . . The Wii is good family entertainment . . . Damn, I missed getting the trash out this morning. We are piled up like never before. It’ll be next Saturday before we can unload. Ugh! . . . Trying to avoid the year-end recaps and resolutions. It’s all filler . . . BTW, Clue is still a classic game. Beetle received this for Christmas and we have played many games this past week. Wholesome, clean, thinking, fun. Yup, we’re fans . . . I know it was a joke, but Chris Christie did New Jersey no favors by “threatening” Iowans Jersey style (remember this post?) . . . I liken NYE celebrations with those who highlight geocache finds that end in zero; it’s so damn arbitrary. How about we celebrate 11 April? Something is more likely to occur that day than 1 January . . .

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Not responding to e-mail is still a pet peeve. Days now trying to save myself $50 and perhaps gasoline money . . . FWIW, the free flu shots that I cannot get because, silly me, I work, are paid for by New Jersey taxpayers. According to Elizabeth Cubbage RN BSN, Public Health Nursing Supervisor for Cumberland County Health Department the money comes “from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Vaccine for Children Program for adults and children that qualify for the Vaccine for Children Program and from budgeted monies from the County Health Dept.” . . . I am not certain how towns opt out of Social Security, but apparently you can. What’s the result? Three Texas counties and their retirees are quite pleased, as they should be . . . 18 years in and I’m stuck. I can’t move and I can’t retire. You can’t believe what goes on with public education. It makes my blood boil and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Needless to say, what is best for students does not appear to be the focus . . . Go vote for my entry in Wizbang’s photo caption contest. I think I have the winning entry this week . . . I’m glad I don’t bank with Bank of America. $5 monthly to use a debit card?!? All to recoup poor decisions on the bank’s part . . . can’t embed this, but anyone who likes Quicksilver Messenger Service will appreciate this video dug up from the Winterland in ’73 (probably ’75 or ’71 since Cip wasn’t with QMS in ’73). I had the pleasure of seeing Cipollina in Boston, but this show is hot! . . . While generally I have applauded the job Chris Christie has done as governor of New Jersey, I think it would be a mistake to jump into the presidential race. I don’t think his straight talk will fly nationally. I also don’t think he is the right kind of guy to lead our nation . . . Witnessed some poor sportsmanship the other evening at an event full of “professionals”. It was disappointing . . . I can’t get excited about anything on Facebook these days. Might have something to do with having deleted my account . . .

Inch By Inch

When governments create ad hoc agencies, departments, and the like, many adverse things happen for the taxpayer. Most notably is that these groups have employees. Employees costs taxpayers a lot of money. There is also the overhead of the building, electricity, etc.

Whether one supports the Urban Enterprise Zone law or not (I do not) in New Jersey, Governor Christie’s recent actions with it should be applauded by all taxpayers. He has not eliminated the program, but he has overhauled it. Instead of having multiple redundant offices throughout the state, as of 1 July, all UEZ offices will close. Businesses will now deal directly with the state. Presumably, this will streamline the system and make it more efficient. Yes, I worry that state government doesn’t tend to do things efficiently. At minimum, it will be less costly, therefore, still a boon for the taxpayer.

Less money going to redundant employees, rent, utilities, etc. means more money spent on what it is intended for artificially affecting markets at the detriment of neighboring communities. I applaud Governor Christie for this.

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