Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Christie again hits public schools

A photograph from atop the Palisades Sill look...Image via Wikipedia

Governor Christie's charter-school initiative is front-page news for a second straight day, but The Record of Woodland Park is downplaying how badly those 23 privately run schools will screw public-school students, especially in Englewood, an important community in Bergen County.

For example, you have to plow through today's story and turn to the continuation page (A-8) before you learn charter schools are supported by hundreds of thousands of tax dollars taken from public-school districts, which now face a 2% cap on spending increases.

Just take a look at the helpful definition of charter schools supplied by two veteran education reporters, Staff Writers Pat Alex and Leslie Brody. Not only is it on the continuation page, but it doesn't mention public funding of the charters -- until further down in the story, where the Englewood superintendent is interviewed.

Are we to assume Editor Francis Scandale and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes believe readers are so intimately familiar with education funding that the paper doesn't have to provide important background information high up in the story -- in this case, on Page 1?

Or is this and other stories slanted to put Christie's programs and policies in the best light possible, especially by minimizing how each charter school hurts public school students in the same district?

Oy vey!

In Englewood, the state approved a Hebrew immersion school that will serve students in that city and neighboring Teaneck, two communities with a significant number of Orthodox Jewish residents.

Richard Seagall, the Englewood superintendent, says only 15 families expressed an interest in the school, and that his district will be paying to educate children who are attending private schools now. 

"It's going to be a pretty big hit," he said of the money taken away from the Englewood public schools, which are predominantly black and Hispanic.

So, here's the scam: Orthodox Jewish families refuse to send their kids to public schools, but have to pay thousands in school taxes anyway. Then, on top of that, they have to pay $10,000 or more a year to send their kids to private Jewish days schools. Now, with the charter school, the public schools will pay for most of that private education.

The charter schools are another example of how Christie blows his wealthy supporters, while blowing off the middle and working classes.

Mac is livid

I'm sure Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg is cursing that there were no charter schools when he spent a fortune to send his spoiled brats, Jennifer and Stephen, to expensive private schools. What does he get in return: They pushed him aside and now run North Jersey Media Group, ignoring the journalistic standards that had been built up over so many decades. 

Look at all the crap on A-1 today. Why lead with a story on the $98,000 pension for the former head of a controversial Bergen County agency, if despite reforms, he was grandfathered in to receive benefits for life? Half a page on travel plans of Jets fans? Give me a break.

More rich folks

Why do most of the 2011 PEOPLE TO WATCH -- the series running on the Local front this month -- seem to be rich and famous, and live outside North Jersey? 

Sykes' pick today is builder Ara K. Hovnanian, who has coped with the depressed housing market by laying off nearly 75% of his workforce, not by cutting his and other executive salaries, nor by reducing his order of custom-made clothing.

His second home is listed as Locust, Monmouth County, a hamlet I have never heard of. Hmm. Is that locust, as in the insect that destroys crops? The Hovnanian story is paired with a six-column luxury auto dealer's ad above the fold.

The snow and freezing rain Tuesday morning proved a nightmare for pedestrians in Manhattan, many of whom slipped and fell. But there's nary a word of how North Jersey pedestrians fared in the photo caption with a weather photo on L-3 today.

Kitchen nightmare

If you count the thumb nail of the smiling food editor, a dozen photos and lots of directions in small type accompany a single recipe in Better Living today. Who besides a newspaper editor has all that time to spend in the kitchen?

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