MontClairVoyant: Shedding ‘Light in August’ on Charters, PARCCs and Health


After you went all trivial last week with your fake-street-names column, let’s catch up on important matters such as charter schools, PARCC tests, health care, overdevelopment, and…

Topics, Not Tropics

…why fidget spinners are sold everywhere but on Mars. Believe me, I checked.

On July 26, a spin-soaked New Jersey Department of Education report lauded the awful, time-wasting, enrich-the-Pearson-company PARCCs disliked by so many in high-opt-out Montclair. Will those tests go when Gov. Christie goes?

Post-Chris Bliss

Hope so. After that, Christie could join Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of Boorish Behavior, and paper copies of the PARCCs could be pulverized for much-needed speed bumps on some Montclair roads.

Next month, it’ll be one year since the charter-school-lovin’ Christie crew thankfully nixed such a school in our town after admirably ferocious push-back from residents. Why have Montclair-based charter advocates been sort of quiet lately?

The Sound of Near Silence

Whether those advocates want a charter in Montclair and/or charters in cities such as Newark, they know the public now associates pro-charter views with toxic far-right Republicans like Trump and Betsy DeVos more than with Democrats such as Barack Obama and Cory Booker. Bad optics lead to songs like “While My Ophthalmologist Gently Weeps.”

Can you remind me why charters are not a good idea?

Accentuate the Negative

Sure! They siphon desperately needed tax money from public schools, they take/retain fewer “difficult” students, they’re subject to little or no public oversight, they can increase segregation, some make money for billionaires, etc. And with the word “charters” containing the letters in “arts” (good!) and “retch” (bad!), well, it’s a confusing time in America.

On to health care. After the Senate’s dramatic July 28 vote saving Obamacare (at least for now), is Upper Montclair’s congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen ashamed of his previous House vote for the cruel Trumpcare that would deprive more than 20 million people of insurance?

M. Barrassed

Rodney, who does the bidding of Paul Ryan, asked the House Speaker: “Should I be ashamed?” Ryan: “No.” Rodney: “Can I still chair the House Appropriations Committee?” Ryan: “We’ll see.” Rodney: “But I vote for almost everything you want rather than for what most of my constituents want!” Ryan: “Pray for a Fox News gig after you’re voted out next year.”

On July 27, the hardworking NJ 11th for Change released the results of an independent poll of district voters showing that a huge majority want to keep Obamacare — debunking Rodney’s false claim that a large percentage of his constituents feel otherwise. Comment?

Live and Let Lie

Facts instead of fake news…what a concept! I’ll add that it’s been women — in NJ 11th for Change, in the U.S. Senate, and elsewhere — who’ve been crucial in fighting horrible initiatives like Trumpcare. Kudos! (Not a Russian word.)

In conclusion, who besides greedy developers is most responsible for the rampant overbuilding in our town?

Mia Culpa

I’d have to say the mayor. If downtown Montclair has a shred of open space left in 2020, grateful developers can build a statue of him there. Oh, and if Valley & Bloom joins that Pleasant Avenue house in being offered for $10 if the buyer moves it, I’ll gladly pay that sum and truck V&B to Mars.



Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.




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  1. For those keeping score, the headline has a reference to a William Faulkner novel rather than to the Faulkner Act (which provides the model for Montclair’s form of government). 🙂

  2. Dave – Yes, there is plenty of light in August. That’s because The Sun Also Rises (earlier in the summer.)

  3. Ha, silverleaf! Nice Faulkner/Hemingway tie-in! And if a person wants their sunburn to linger into fall, that could be “The Hunt for Red October.”

  4. LOL, silverleaf! Excellent wordplay. And, with the addition of Saul Bellow, we’re covering even more major 20th-century authors.

    Then there’s Patricia Highsmith and her novel “The Two Faces of January,” which I haven’t read but assume is about one face getting some sun in Florida and the other face staying in wintry Montclair…

  5. Indeed, Dave. Special Counsel Robert Mueller keeping busy these days and not getting much time in the sun. Let’s hope he completes his investigation before the “winter of our discontent”, and certainly prior to the first “Seven Days in May.

  6. Nicely put! 🙂 Yes, the sooner the better for the not-suntanned Mueller’s investigation results. Interestingly, the novels “The Winter of Our Discontent” and “Seven Days in May” were published within a year of each other — 1961 and 1962, followed by the 1963 film…”From Russia With Love.”

  7. Ha! And Trump must be proud that his last name shares two letters with Russia (in addition to whatever emails have been shared 🙂 ).

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