Randal D. Pinkett, an NJ entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar, penned an op-ed in the Star-Ledger with some trenchant observations, particularly about NJ’s special-interest-dominated education system.
Sunlight excerpted some relevant parts below:
” … [S]everal issues need to be addressed in New Jersey, but these issues are often ignored. Why? Because … [o]ur elected officials are often far more interested in keeping the powerful special interests happy.
[I]n cities like Newark, Paterson and Trenton … Black and brown families are fighting every day for educational equity and opportunity for their kids. Because of corruption, poor management and a lack of vision, our schools are in dire shape.
In Franklin, we have a public school, Central Jersey College Prep Charter School (CJCP), actually creating real success. They are a national Blue Ribbon school, and they spend almost $10,000 less per child than our school district … The school not only reflects the values of our community, but parents have embraced the school. We have Black and brown parents waiting in line for years to get their kids enrolled there.
Rather than unite and celebrate the success of this Franklin Township public school, or find ways to work collaboratively, school district officials attack the school publicly with baseless claims and even frivolous lawsuits.
… [T]hese district school leaders are threatened by another’s success and popularity, and they look to divide us. These kinds of actions represent the worst of our state — and it must stop.”
Sunlight applauds Mr. Pinckett for speaking up about NJ’s special-interest-dominated status quo, particularly in education. He has seen with his own eyes how a Blue Ribbon school is being attacked by a status quo that is threatened by its success and popularity.
As a CJCP spokesman said, “We believe the attacks levied against CJCP are part of a larger effort to harass and ultimately shut down public charter schools …” That larger effort is driven by powerful vested special interests like the NJEA. Why? Because charter schools do not force their teachers to join the NJEA, and the NJEA cannot extract its highest-in-the-nation dues from them. So the NJEA and its district allies would rather destroy a Blue Ribbon school.
Pinkett reveals that the NJEA’s lofty rhetoric about equity and racial justice ring hollow when its financial interests are at stake. He is exactly right: it’s time for it to stop.