Matthew Frankel: Our Children Deserve Better, Our Community Deserves Better

mfrankel

Each of us needs to be aware that over the last few years Montclair’s public servants, who want only the best for our children, are being bullied and attacked.

Come to a Board of Education meeting. Go on social media. Attack is the tactic of choice by a small group of people in our community.

They use buzzwords like “McCarthyism,” and “corporatization.” They cite easy to understand, political driven and poll tested reasons for the state of our District. They disrupt meetings like the AGAP group, where good people are trying to come together to build consensus. They create lawsuits against Board members. They issue OPRA, after OPRA request to the our school’s headquarters. They publicly question the integrity of long serving, beloved District staff. Most of all, they assume the worst in anyone who may disagree with their point of view. This is the playbook we now have grown accustomed in Montclair. If you look at these actions, solutions or ideas are not offered, only blame and criticism.

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Now, even though we had been warned of projected budget concerns for years (please look it up, you will find it in the public record and in the press clips year after year) these same people in our community are now simplifying the issue by taking aim, attacking and blaming Board of Education Chair David Deutsch and District Chief Operating Officer Brian Fleischer and calling for their resignations.

At this moment for our community, after everything we have witnessed recently, we do not need to create any more new targets. Instead, let’s strive to face the facts together as a community. Our recent budget issues are not the result of the state mandatory PARCC test, it’s not the fault of the common core, its not the result of a bloated Central Office, which, based on population, is one of the smallest in the State. Any review of the actual budget lines, which are available for public consumption and have been reviewed by independent auditors, will prove this fact.

There are bigger issues we must address. Providing over the cap salary increases without tax increases creates instability. Personally, as a parent, I do not know the answer to this tough problem, nor am I disputing the merits of salary increases, but I do not think we need to address this issue with calls for more resignation.

I am grateful we have leadership that is admitting and communicating that problems exist and suggesting actual solutions. People like David and Brian have an extraordinary list of professional accomplishments. They have a long history of respect in other environments, professional and personal. Yet in Montclair they are now receiving the same old response by the same members of our community – attack, destroy, embarrass and attack again.

The attacks and calls for resignations we have seen in recent days have been a convenient rewriting of history aimed to hurt good people for quick political gain. Problems and issues occur in local governments, they do, and it is up to the community to work together to create solutions, not to simply blame others.

It is so important to debate and disagree, but for the interest of our community, can’t we do it without hurting more people? Can’t we debate potential solutions and ideas, rather than always attack our public leaders, many of whom are simply volunteers? Can’t Montclair be better than the culture of blame we see everyday in Washington, DC?

Rather than calling for resignations at the town’s monthly Board meeting, where press and public access cable conveniently attend, couldn’t the folks who are quick to blame publicly release their own budget, so we can debate different ideas together? Instead of booing and shouting, can’t we also look together to build bridges and new approaches? Perhaps efforts can be made to attend local PTA meetings, serve on committees like the AGAP or work with the tireless parents who are leading low-dollar fundraising efforts so we can actually improve a wide variety of initiatives in our schools.

Our members of the Board of Education and the District staff deserve better. Next time you hear a member of the Board attacked, please remember each are volunteering and doing the best job they can.

Understand, I am not advocating against Freedom of Speech, if this is the road some people in our community want to go down that is their choice. But we need to realize there are consequences to these tactics.

There are many parents, like me, who greatly respect David, Brian and the volunteers that serve our community. Perhaps we do not agree with everything they do, but we are tired to see these good people easily blamed and in some cases destroyed.

More importantly, there are now parents who no longer engage in our community, who do not share their voice, for fear that they will be booed, called out on social media and embarrassed. And, even worse, there are others parents who are angry by the tactics we are seen and getting more and more frustrated each day.

My wife and I chose Montclair because of the unity of this community. We believed in a small town like ours we can choose not to be limited by political sides, but instead figure out sensible customized solutions. Little by little, this ideal is being destroyed.

On Monday night, at the Board of Education meeting, in addition to the calls for resignation and the booing, many questions were asked. The people asking those questions did not come with answers or their own solutions, they were left open ended for someone else to take responsibility for.

Perhaps, as a community, before the next meeting, we can all think about a new set of questions and reflect on what our answer should be.

How are we going to possibly find a new Superintendent if all we do as a community is demand more resignations and pass more blame?

How many more volunteer citizens will want to serve the Board of Education if these attacks are the new normal?

How will the town continue to attract talented educators who will want to teach in our District if we are more focused on running people out of town and constantly assuming the worst in people?

Most of all, I hope we can all ask ourselves – what will become of our great community if we continue this kind of discourse?

I hope each of us, no matter what our political or personal belief might be, can unite around one single answer to these questions. At this specific moment, with all the issues we need to address, we need to be coming together to find solutions – not blaming others.

It is time that the people who are being attacked are finally defended and protected and that the people who are doing the attacking to please stop. If those calling for the resignations of David, Brian and others, do not like the ideas they are being presented with, create an alternative solution for the community to address and debate. Let’s end the call for resignations, the booing, the blame. If we do not, these tactics will only escalate. David and Brian deserve better, our children deserve better and our community deserves better as well.

Matthew Frankel, a Montclair parent, served as Asst. to the Superintendent before resigning last week.

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46 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, please. Just a different kind of blah, blah.

    The reason the Chair, the COO and the Superintendent take all the heat is because everyone else involved refuses to take any responsibility for the mess. Yes, the fiscal problems have been known for much more than a few years and so have the solutions. We hid behind the children and we still are. Just raise the levy again and be done with it. It is not that complicated and you do know the answer.

  2. Oh stop. Don’t want to be criticized as a public servant? Don’t become one. Don’t want to speak up at boe meeting, your choice. No one else’s.

  3. Seriously, this has to be the most ironic thing I have ever read on Baristanet:

    “How will the town continue to attract talented educators who will want to teach in our District if we are more focused on running people out of town and constantly assuming the worst in people?”

    Mr. Frankel, with all due respect, after presiding as the PR flak for an administration that entirely disrespected the town’s educators, it’s time to put down the microphone.

    I don’t doubt that you’re a good guy with good intentions but, seriously, after the disaster that has been the past two years, the town’s response to the events of the past two weeks has been positively genteel.

  4. I’d change this question, slightly. You wrote: “How are we going to possibly find a new Superintendent if all we do as a community is demand more resignations and pass more blame?”

    I’d ask “how can we NOT demand excellence from a new Superintendent, which may mean some folks call for resignations and accountability?”

    The answer is simple: We will. And many folks will look forward to the challenge.

    Montclair is a challenging, demanding district. I imagine there were any number of folks getting their CV’s ready to apply.

    It’s just a School Superintendent. NJ has over 500 of them. And it pays on average (according to the State DOE) $176,000.

    Surely, someone will be more than thrilled with the chance. And they would be welcome…. on the first day. The next?

  5. “There are bigger issues we must address.”

    Is this code for the burden of Special Education costs argument and how this is bringing us down again?

  6. I see Mr. Frankel continues to work off the clock doing PR for superintendent and BOE. Yes, our children and community does deserve better, and it can start with accountability, and stop whining poor me, they don’t like me. Public service indicates a belief in self even in the face if opposition. This theme of bullying pushed people out of service indicates this was probably not the area they needed to be in-they may be more suited to a desk. Are the Principals bullies because they called for superintendent’s resignation and her not being involved in budget process? Is it bullying to question how much money was spent on unused projects like the tripod survey as well as legal fees looking for citizens alleged to have caused an unfounded breach on assessments never used? And the list goes on. The victims of this current mess are the community and children of Montclair, not the denizens of 22 Valley Rd.

  7. I care about education here in Montclair and clearly Mr. Frankel and rest of you do too. We can’t simply discard the possibility that receiving an unending barrage of personal criticism and destructive comments on social media might hurt. Seeing your efforts taken apart day after day is clearly devastating and we are now losing a good-intentioned public servant. Say what you will about the need for thick skin if you are going to serve, but if we pick our leaders by who is the best at dismissing their critics and ignoring the most attacks we are never going to move past these fights and figure out how to work together in the best interest of our kids.

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with what I see as Matt Frankel’s main point here, which is that we will be hard-pressed to find good, competent people to fill all of these important roles if a few loud, angry people attack and ridicule them. I am not defending the superintendent’s record, by the way, but to those people who say it would be easy to find another good one–maybe not. Looking at it in purely financial terms, NJ has a salary cap for supers; NY doesn’t. Why do you think Frank Alvarez left (with his NJ pension) and took a super job for more pay just up the road in New York state?

    But I am more concerned with the attacks on the BOE members, who serve their community without pay. Over the last few years I have been horrified at the ad hominem (or feminam!) attacks on Shelly Lombard, Tanya Coke, Robin Kulwin, etc. These are your neighbors, their kids go to school with your kids, they take on this thankless volunteer job out of the goodness of their hearts and a commitment to their community.

    If you disagree with what they are doing, do so respectfully. If you think you can do a better job (and would be willing to actually DO it) throw your hat in the ring–the mayor has 2 new appointments to make soon!

    (Incidentally, I do not know Matt Frankel at all–I just happen to agree with him.)

  9. This is just another cheap public relations ploy. Attack and eviscerate the budget of a community’s school system and when parents, principals, and teachers get angry, write silly posts about how you’re being attacked by angry parents passing blame. While members of the BOE and our Superintendent ignored parents for months and months, Montclair went on a little spending spree. How much did our school district squander on things other than students and teachers? $$$10.9 million dollars!!! Where did it go? Frivolous lawsuits, lousy public relations, PARCC and more PARCC related tchotchkes. Why can’t we all just get along? Because Board of Education Chair David Deutsch and District Chief Operating Officer Brian Fleischer said and did nothing as our tax money quickly disappeared. Who pays? Matt Frankel’s wonderful neighbors and their children, the paraprofessionals who seem to be conveniently expendable and teachers who must grapple with the disaster created by the Superintendent, Deutsch, and Fleischer, among others. Why won’t we be able to attract talented educators? ‘Cause some of our board members want to get rid of the talented educators we have in order to make room for all the useless stuff our district is buying with all Montclair neighbor’s taxpayer money. Parents aren’t intimidated by those neighbors who saw this coming from the very beginning; they are shocked that they placed their trust in a Superintendent and a BOE that took advantage of their trust. They were never really intimidated by a vocal opposition, they were giving this new approach a chance and they got their answer. Now they’re angry and they know why they should be angry and who they should be angry with – and it isn’t their vocal neighbors who turned out to be right…

  10. This isn’t just well, if you can do a better job then get in there and do it, it’s how do we enable the person in that position to be successful. Tearing down a BoE member and taking their place still leaves us on opposing sides and won’t halt the yelling matches at board meetings and vitriolic comment threads. We have got to get on the same page. We’re all smart here and really do want what’s best for our schools, surely there’s a way to put our heads together constructively instead of banging them together.

  11. Leaving aside for the moment the issues brought up here- how the community is intimidated by people standing up, how we need to go to more meetings- which the majority of those who speak up at BOE meetings do- PTA, SEPAC etc. I take issue with this:

    “On Monday night, at the Board of Education meeting, in addition to the calls for resignation and the booing, many questions were asked. The people asking those questions did not come with answers or their own solutions, they were left open ended for someone else to take responsibility for”

    Matt- are you really saying that I as a parent needed to come with my own answer and solution and I’m not permitted to ask my BOE and super for some answers??? Plenty of people by the way have come up with suggested solutions to many things. Have any of us ever received a response? Not at a board meeting unless it’s on a subject that the board members agree with or have an interest in. I’ve never received a written or oral answer to a question asked but again is this suggesting that we, as parents and taxpayers are not supposed to ask questions at public forums unless we also supply our own answers? I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when I craft my question for tonight’s budget meeting. Thanks!

  12. lennybrave,

    Vocal neighbors that turned out to be right? Certainly not right that had anything to do with the district’s finances. On that account, they were dead wrong….but, they hid behind their kids.

    https://patch.com/new-jersey/montclair/montclair-board-of-education-approves-new-teachers-contract

    Then,
    https://www.northjersey.com/news/montclair-told-to-reject-new-student-testing-by-public-school-advocate-1.716112?page=all

    I guess Mr Chevat didn’t have the proper credentials as a progressive, so MCAS ignored him…or worse, they didn’t comprehend what he was saying.

    Reread the principals letter now. What was their #1 interest? The kids?

    The last time we put a referendum on the ballot for an elected school board, which failed, we went ahead the very next budget cycle and raised the levy higher than the year before.

    When MCAS get’s serious about budgeting, I’ll take them serious about budgeting. Until then, they are a just a single issue group that is about curriculum, not finances.

    The only thing I’ll agree with is that this plea for democracy is about organized stakeholders fighting over their narrow self interests. I say let it play out. It is quite illuminating.

  13. lennybrave, what PARCC related tchotchkes are you referring to?? If you don’t like the PARCC that’s one thing but if you are going to blame it for budget problems you should be specific. If you are talking about the $1 million in technological upgrades all you have to do is look at what the principals themselves had to say.

    “MHS Principal James Earle said his school’s antiquated technology has been a barrier for some students who are trying to go online to conduct research or prepare classroom presentations, while others bring their own laptops and iPads to class because the school lacks sufficient hardware…”It’s incumbent upon us to have technology available here so that our students can have access and do the work they need to do,’ he said. “Access to technology is vital in order for them to do well in college or in careers.”
    https://www.northjersey.com/news/education/montclair-school-district-takes-inventory-1.1004054

  14. Gettin kinda tired of hearing Mr. Frankel moan about how people were so very mean to him. There are crucial issues that people are concerned about and all I have heard from him is how his feelings were hurt. Little or nothing to address the actual issues. The great majority of citizens have conducted themselves civilly. By focusing on the others you are deflecting attention away from the actual and pressing concerns.

    Enough already! I wish him all the best in his job search and good wishes for his family. But he is no longer a spokesperson for Penny, and that regime is , thankfully, ending. Go away and let’s focus on cleaning up the mess that has been created.

  15. Hi Frank! I am glad to see you’re still around. Don’t you owe me a beer?

    Thanksalatte: I suggest you attend the two upcoming budget meetings. We do have budget problems and they are related, among other things, to PARCC. However, you shouldn’t question me (I just pay lots of taxes like you and Frank and Matt’s neighbors). Go to the meetings and ask your questions there. The district is spending your money. Ask for a detailed accounting. As for technology, you might be surprised to know that much of my interests revolve around technology and the history of technology. It’s easy to paint opposition to ill conceived educational reforms (adorned with shiny new ‘technology’)as the misgivings of Luddites. Our country has a long history of bad educational ideas backed up by the certainty of numbers. That said – technology is the reason many parents had a voice when our Superintendent and our BOE refused to listen. Many parents weary of untested educational reforms take technology (especially educational technology) very seriously…

  16. This is the 2nd piece from Mr. Frankel (I consider the piece about his resignation essentially written by him as well) and I’m just wondering why Baristanet is giving him this platform instead of a letter to the editor the way any of the rest of us would have to do if we had an issue we wanted to publicize.

  17. Welcome to the real world Matthew….it’s all about the Benjamins…even in the liberal progressive Utopia called Montclair. Here is a very simple solution. Cut every line item expense by 10% across the board. Problem solved….no one should have a problem with that. After all “it’s for the kids”…

  18. I agree with Matt Frankel on two issues, Our children Deserve Better, and Our Community Deserves Better. That’s where any agreements end. Better, we all deserve, but we did not get better. We got MacCormack. Our BOE, hired a superintendent who had questionable credentials; questionable. The hiring process was greatly flawed, offered little transparency and left the decision up to only three BOE members.

    Mr. Frankel appears to want to establish himself as a healer, yet his language suggest otherwise, as he refers to BOE critics, his critics, and his neighbors, as “They.”

    Mr. Frankel, writes, “They create lawsuits against Board members. They issue OPRA, after OPRA request to the school’s headquarters.” The issuing of OPRA requests is a state of N J guaranteed right, surely Mr. Frankel is not advocating violating the rights of citizens to public information. Mr. Frankel also neglected to mention that the BOE failed to release documents, in a timely manner, and in some cases, took a year; to release documents that should have been released in seven days, as required by law. The BOE’s failure to release information has resulted in many lawsuits.

    Mr. Frankel also fails to mention that the BOE even went after a fellow BOE member, subpoenaing a colleague, how uncivil. I can’t remember that ever happening in the past.

    A democracy must question the integrity of its leaders and demand fiscal accountability.

    If Mr. Frankel is unhappy with Frankenstein monsters, which he perceives attends BOE meetings, perhaps, just perhaps, he, the superintendent, along with several BOE members helped to create the very discord, which he abhors.

  19. Here is a constructive suggestion – approve a budget increase 1/10th of a percentage below last year’s 4.08% increase just to symbolically show all the stakeholders gets it.

  20. “How many more volunteer citizens will want to serve the Board of Education if these attacks are the new normal?”
    Last I heard Mr. Frankel, there are plenty of people volunteering. Around 19 I believe.

  21. It is stunning to me that Mr. Frankel took the time to write about the negative effects of on-line badgering and what do people immediately do? Badger him on-line.

    I would like to ask Frank Rubacky, mtclrsown, dblespresso, meccamagic, lennybrave, latebloomer, et al, to put yourselves for one moment in the position of someone who has volunteered to be on the Board of Ed and becomes subject to your rhetoric. Imagine having to keep putting one foot in front of the other while receiving blow after blow from people hiding on Baristanet. Why does your opinion, whatever it may be, give you the right to be so rude about and to other people?

    Mr. Frankel has a right to his opinions, Baristanet has the right to publish them in whatever format they want, and you have the right to your opinion about it all. But I’d like to challenge you all to express your thoughts and opinions about the issues without shredding the character of a human being. Please?

  22. Mr. Frankel was a part-time employee making more than most 10-year veteran teachers in district. Save me the faux outrage about how people badger him or those on the board.

    Do we seem to forget it was this BOE that subpoenaed the names of people speaking their opinions freely HelenM? Right. Very conveniently forgotten, but now since feelings are hurt here, we need to hear this out. Get real.

  23. helenm:

    As soon as a few BOE members resign, I will definitely ssk to be placed on the board. I hope I have your support. As for Matt Frankel being a victim of angry neighbors, he is a well-known public relations ‘expert.’ How does one become a pr expert? It isn’t by being nice; it’s by being all those things you accuse others of being. Our neighbors on the BOE are doing the people’s business and they need to be held accountable. Now stay focused and follow the money. That’s the real story here.

  24. “It’s just a School Superintendent. NJ has over 500 of them. And it pays on average (according to the State DOE) $176,000.”

    The people who are actually qualified to do the job can make multiples of this away. Someone recently pointed this out, the salary cap is also a quality cap.

  25. qby33,: No, I didn’t… I noted the irony of responses to the post and then made a point about volunteers on the Board (most of your names are nom de plumes but I assume none of you are potential or current staff people, so it was the more apt connection). mtclrsown, I don’t understand what your point has to do with mine. Lennybrave, I certainly wish you well if you become a member of the BoE. It’s a hard and terribly complex job, and I promise I will never call you names or question your motives! I completely agree we must hold the members of the Board accountable, but it is not necessary to do so by questioning their integrity.

  26. helenm,

    I know it’s hard to believe this is my real name, but, if you must, blame my mother for taking my father’s name. Adding the Frank part was a tip of the hat to a couple of my ancestors. So, I’m not trying to hide behind anything.

    As to attacking Mr Frankel’s integrity, I don’t think I did here – or ever. Which post of mine are you referencing? To me, he was always a peripheral supporting player until he started putting out his own communiqués to shape the conversation. While a pat on the back was one possible response under a normal budget cycle, this mess is abnormal even by Montclair standards. As a media expert, I have to believe he anticipated people here would not embrace his particular POV.

    I try not to single out members of any volunteer board as I believe most decisions are nearly unanimous. I do single out the leadership of the MPS, the BoSE, etc, but I have not even singled out the BoE Chair.

    So, grouping me in with others with admittedly different POV’s seems to suggest a certain diversity. To be clear, my issues are about execution and excuses, not integrity. As a taxpayer, I hold myself accountable and I made a mistake last year not understanding what the long-term plan was. I will pay for that mistake with a likely 6.5-7% increase. I am just tired of a bunch of grown-ups hiding behind the kids for not facing up to some very adult decisions.

  27. Sorry, Frank, for grouping you in. You probably didn’t mean it as I took it, but to see the very first response (“Oh, please. Just a different kind of blah, blah”) was disheartening. And I did not suggest yours was a nom de plume, or anyone in particular – I said “most.” I am, admittedly, tired of what I perceive to be a refusal to discuss based on substance, as too many resort to hyperbole. Sorry if I unwittingly branded you in the manner I was criticizing.

  28. HelenM, I have no clue what was remotely bothersome about a post that described Mr. Frankel as a good guy with good intentions. Respecting the person even when you disagree with their position IS polite discourse. I have to say, while I’ve certainly seen some over-the-top personal statements on here, I’ve seen as many or more comments inflating all forms of disagreement into bullying or badgering or being mean. Some seriously thicker skins seem in order.

  29. Dr. Penny MacCormack was the first Superintendent in a while to honestly report the real data documenting the “achievement gap” correlated primarily, it seems, by race, and class – class if we bothered to face it. I am an Afrivan-American who grew up in Montclair School District and raised two sons who worked hard and went on to earn degrees in Engineering and a Masters in public policy at highly respected universities.

    But, as years went by, I watched closely as certain school administrators before MacCarmack released, in closed meeting, highly suspect reports declaring unreal advances in minority student achievement that supposedly documented the Achievement Gap was diminishing.

    Then the attacks began. In the meantime, I spoke with black the hard working, moderate-income parents in my 4th Ward neighborhood who pay attention to their children’s’ academic progress and they said they LIKED new policies set in place by MacCormack. I read the reports she issued and felt that for the first time in a couple of decades, a Superintendent was telling the truth – not pleasant, but we can only address problems when we have the courage to identify them. MacCormack had the courage.

    When is Montclair going to stop mistaking constant protest for thoughtful, well informed public discourse? When is Montclair going to stop reacting to folks who scream into microphones, for questionable, possibly self- serving reasons? I don’t care what color they are. Protest is not the only or even the primary way addressing and to resolving complex public policy challenges.

  30. Your clarification was sufficient, no need to apologize.

    Two refrains I clearly heard last year at each step of the budget approval process, that should have been red flags for me – yet didn’t register with me – were:

    1) “We have not had enough time to review the budget” – from both the BoE & the BoSE

    2) “No teachers or aides have been cut in this budget” – a stake I’m inferring was clearly put in the ground before the process started

  31. Correction to my last sentence: Protest and screaming into microphones is not the efficient or effective way to address, much less to find realistic solutions to complex public policy challenges.

  32. Nana: I assume you are attending the budget meeting. Focus for a moment (I assume you are attending the meeting) on where the money that would have helped students got wasted. Ask yourself ‘who spent our money and how?’

    I hope Frank won’t mind if I quote him:

    “Two refrains I clearly heard last year at each step of the budget approval process, that should have been red flags for [many] – yet didn’t register with [many] – were:

    1) “We have not had enough time to review the budget” – from both the BoE & the BoSE

    2) “No teachers or aides have been cut in this budget” – a stake I’m inferring was clearly put in the ground before the process started”

  33. My last thought on the subject: I found it interesting how much people on this board disliked being called out or having their comments characterized by me. Now remember that feeling, and imagine being either a volunteer Board member or a paid staff member, and perhaps you’ll understand what so many of us find so uncomfortable about the style of discourse here. Just a thought exercise.

  34. I didn’t dislike your comment, Helenm. I found it to be representative of the thin-skinned silliness I see too much of. Even polite disagreement gets rolled up into the absurd category of bullying or meanness. We’re adults. We can handle spirited disagreement about important topics. Well, we should be able to at least.

  35. Yes. Years ago, when I returned to town, after living in Newark, (the city where failure to children should be a motto – under Cory) I attended the Board of School Estimate. I even prepared in advance. Is also spoke, in advance to Bob Russo, whom I knew and believed would bring some clarity and candor. I participated. The Board members ALL acted like they were in a covert coven or something. I left feeling extremely frustrated.

    But, my point was that public policy is complex. It does not get changed by simplistic protest. And, In the real world public policy changes in increments. When we examine major reforms, we see that ALL of them happens after protracted struggles, with flash points, and culminating in a new law or shift in fiscal appropriations – but it takes time and a LOT OF hard work in crafting the reformed structure.

    Too often, the Leader who has the courage to BEGIN the REAL REFORM process gets scapegoated, first by those who do not want the reform, and then by those who correctly support it, but naively think it can happen two minutes after THEY discovered it. Ironically, they then allow themselves to be unwitting allies to the non-reformers who want us to blame the new administrator or president or whomever, who has only had a few minutes or months to fix a huge complicated mess that they created and be fitted from over decades!

    When there is hysteria, it does not work in favor of true reform. That is a main reason, for example, why black activists my age (68) understood to remain calm, and anti-reformers send in provocateurs or worse, to distract from sober deliberations with chaos.

    Now, are the children, especially the ones most in need, really better off without the Superintendent who had the courage to stand up for educating them? Are school districts supposed to educate kids or create jobs and contracts for undereducated or greedy adults?

  36. By the way, BOE salaries have been inflated for decades. Really. Dear Walter Lack religiously attended meetings and pointed out everything – he was a CPA. Councilwoman Bobby Reilly decades ago kept telling her constituents to scrutinize the BOE salaries – they were unreal! But scrutiny was too boring AND ultimately, fixing that problem would require undoing entrenched cronies – of all races.

    Then to also reform the actual education – in the classrooms- initially, would require hiring actual educators while you struggle against the entrenched pseudo educators who are just breathing and collecting pay checks or contracts. Ever try to pry one of these folks out of a job they have inhabited for decades ? So, that is going to increase expenses unless you have courageous politicians on the Bd of School Estimate who will execute change when they vote for or against budget measures.

    Right?

  37. Nana:

    I was and am an activist. I am a little surprised by words that sound exactly like the words my community heard from people who did not want to see change take place. We were called ‘hysterical.’ We were told to stay “calm.” Wow! Your words bring back some painful memories, and I know you don’t speak for all black activists your age or any age:

    “When there is hysteria, it does not work in favor of true reform. That is a main reason, for example, why black activists my age (68) understood to remain calm, and anti-reformers send in provocateurs or worse, to distract from sober deliberations with chaos.”

    My guide is a black activist SAINT who knew that “waiting” meant doing nothing:

    “For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

    Guess what things are getting cut out of the budget? The very things that help OUR children and OUR teachers. Why on earth should I wait when my kids are going to pay for the bad decisions of a blind and deaf BOE and Superintendent? I want answers now! If the problems took decades, why on earth is your strategy to wait? Nana – you and I need to stand together and ask some tough questions at the budget meetings. Will you be there tonight?

  38. “When is Montclair going to stop mistaking constant protest for thoughtful, well informed public discourse?”

    When will defenders of the the former administration stop claiming that all the voices raised in opposition to the Super’s plans are uninformed and uncivil?

    There were many thoughtful and reasoned critics of the Super and her policies who sounded the warning from the beginning, and much of what they warned of has come to pass. When there are no substantive answers to the vast array of criticisms, and those being questioned can only fall back on claims on incivility, you can be sure the criticisms have hit the mark.

  39. Regarding an elected BoE, it seems obvious that when people have the ability to select their BoE representatives the Board members would feel more directly responsive to the voters. But also when voters have a choice they tend to have more confidence and patience with the people they vote in. If you know you can have a dialog with your Board members, and you know you can vote them out in the future, you tend not to feel so powerless and angry when they do dumb stuff.

  40. “How will the town continue to attract talented educators who will want to teach in our District if we are more focused on running people out of town and constantly assuming the worst in people?”

    The fact that Montclair’s talented educators may actually stay in Montclair now that the Super has resigned strongly suggests Mr Frankel is out of touch with what is actually going on in the district.

  41. The subject matter regarding the board sadly reminds me of one of the great teachers Montclair has who resigned today because she felt she had no choice.

  42. chenzo, that’s really a shame. I’m always curious to know the perspective of departing teachers, as you often get the unvarnished and untold stories. Has she shared anything with you that can be shared with us, or maybe she can come and tell us in her own words why she is leaving? That is, if she can stomach the public discourse that would follow.

  43. I’m not comfortable discussing the details without her approval but in my opinion, and to use a movie analogy, it reminds me of the Shawshank Redemption or a Few Good Men where the people in power have too much power and have no one to answer to and renders others powerless. That’s why its the parents and communitys job to hold leaders accountable by asking questions and demanding answers. I have one or two questions that they would have no answer for just like Tom Cruise asked that “one final question” that Col Jessup (Jack Nicholson)couldn’t answer and did him in. And they will be asked in time.

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