MontClairVoyant: NJSLA Confidential – Those Tests Aren’t Good

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
A few days ago, our school district sent out a letter that included seven sad words — a number that brought to mind late comedian George Carlin’s seven “dirty” words. What were the sad words?

Sincerely,
Dee Pressing

The NJSLA tests “WILL BE ADMINISTERED TO STUDENTS THIS SPRING.” Argh! I can’t unsee that! My eyes! My eyes! I need a six-pack of eyewash! A seven-pack! A keg…a cask…a barrel of eyewash!

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Such a drama queen, but I hear you. If the formerly named PARCC tests do happen this spring, those mediocre exams will not only siphon lots of valuable time from creative local learning, but they will…

Sincerely,
Waste Deep in the Big Muddy

…put ill-deserved money into the Pearson company’s pockets and place not-merited cash into the Pearson corporation’s coffers. I’m practicing synonyms for the English Language Arts NJSLA.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
You’re too old to take that test, or are you expecting to be reincarnated as a young student?

Sincerely,
Back and Worser Than Ever

That’s a remote possibility. (If online home learning continues.)

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Also, students already stressed by over a year of COVID-time remote learning will have the added stress of being subjected to standardized testing. Isn’t that a potential anxiety nightmare?

Sincerely,
Adding Insult to Injury

Save your sympathy for Pearson execs. Think of the stress those high-paid higher-ups will face deciding where to buy their second vacation homes and what luxury vehicles to choose for their third cars.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Plus won’t it be tricky monitoring students taking the NJSLAs at home, and might that monitoring be an Orwellian invasion of privacy?

Sincerely,
Another Big Brother

Excellent points. Reminds me of the day in 1954 when George Orwell (1903-1950) and Prince (1958-2016) got together to sing “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 19…84.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Produce a photo of that encounter or shut up! Anyway, if the hated NJSLAs didn’t exist, how would Montclair students be evaluated?

Sincerely,
Ann A. Mill-Farm

As they’ve always been evaluated — via local tests designed by our talented teachers, and via grades. Heck, the fact that the brainy Hester Prynne got an “A” says something (about sexism and Puritanism).

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Was “The Scarlet Letter” set on Hawthorne Place? Meanwhile, don’t forget that Montclair parents can of course opt out their children from the NJSLAs.

Sincerely,
Rhea Fuse

Yes, by filling out a form on Genesis. If that portal doesn’t work, remember the Old Testament’s second portal: Exodus — as in fleeing the renamed PARCCs.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What do Montclair’s superintendent and Board of Education members say about the not-necessary NJSLAs?

Sincerely,
Metering the Leadering

Unfortunately, they haven’t publicly criticized the tests at all or very much — even as the powerful profit-procuring Pearson’s almost-Seuss-ian motto could be “a Pearson’s a Pearson, student psyches we maul.”

 

 

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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71 COMMENTS

  1. Obama gave Pearson a 350 million dollar contract and magically Obama got a 65 million dollar advance from Penguin Random House. And who owned half of Random House at the time? Why none other than Pearson. Things that make go hmmmm…or nothing to see here? Btw, Pearson sold their share of the publisher since the little trade off. Another reason to dislike the tests. I wonder where the 50 million from Netflix came from? Perhaps Susan Rice knows.

  2. Seiously, flipside? You should do your homework. You’re better than this and I expect better. Should I not? Don’t let your tweaking of Dave cloud how you wonder aloud.

    Yes, Washington is a swamp and, yes, Montclair’s public education has been going downhill for more years than I care to remember. Really, I wonder what is the point of even measuring ourselves. Let’s just do a Boeing 737Max and let’s do our own quality audits and training..and then sell hard. Yes, we’ll do our own Tanaka airbags-type self audits. Talk about a generational event. How many decades has this gone on will continue to do so? How about doing a version of GM’s ignition switches? Or, our own version of Michigan water.

    And to causality argument, Montclair Public Schools can blame COVID-19 for the learning loss which allows us to kick the can down the road for a few more housing markets. Yes, let’s blame COVID-19. I might be mistaken, but it seems several hundred families are going through a Tom Brady-like awakening – there is another way, another system. Who knew?

  3. Thank you for the comment, flipside. I think we’re in partial agreement here. 🙂

    I disliked the Obama administration’s education policies — the over-emphasis on standardized testing, the support for charter schools (which take money from truly public schools), the whole “Race to the Top” approach… All of which of course had some local ramifications in Montclair during Obama’s second term.

    I’m not sure blatant corruption was involved — for one thing, Obama would have received a huge book advance whatever he did or didn’t do with education. But there was definitely some onerous corporate/monied-class influence going on that could’ve had some impact on the Obama administration’s misguided education policies.

  4. Disregarding the daily dose of Fox regurgitate (see above) I’m going to go off topic a little here since your April fools thread was closed to comments and this is an April fools post. Sorry in advance for hijacking the thread for a NY minute.

    Nishuane school, which is due to open on Monday for in school learning, just had a positive Covid report. Staff was in the building this week and yet Dr. Ponds says the school is to stay open and no one knows who tested positive. Was it a variant? Who was in contact with this person? Are the teachers safe? Are the kids? Who is quarantining? The principal and AP will not be there for the opening of school. This is a clown show and the inmates are running the asylum. Oh but the union is so powerful they kept the teachers out when this is what they signed up for. They are no better than grocery workers. Great argument. And the head nurse is retiring, I guess since she can’t do anything of value due to HIPAA I presume, the BA is leaving (that was a great hire too) and any other marsupial jumping ship as the captain steers it into an iceberg.

    So do we send our children and grandchildren in to school on Monday not knowing anything, not being told anything or even worse, being lied to. What happened to this district, where did all the adults go? It disgusting what is happening although I’m not surprised. Something about rotting from the head down is what comes to mind. FAIL.. don’t make me laugh.

    And now back to Faux news.. but what about her emails? Benghazi hearings to start soon. Ivanka’s patents in China.. oops never mind.

  5. louielouie,

    The MEA got vaccinated. End of story. And No, the MEA, nor the parents get anymore information than any other employee working on premises. We’re not in a surge or wave in Montclair by every account I have seen. And I love the idea, just for the name alone, of using bipolar ionization. If the science is not there, can I say wackadoodles?

  6. Thank you for the comment, Frank.

    It IS depressing how many things are done badly/shoddily — those deadly Boeing planes, etc. (Usually followed by denials and attempted cover-ups.) But, as we’ve discussed before, I have overall positive feelings about Montclair’s school system and believe, despite the problems that frustrate a number of parents, that most of our children get an excellent education.

    There has undoubtedly been some learning loss during more than a year of COVID-time remote instruction, but I think it would have been worse if not for Montclair’s great teachers and the hard/creative work they’ve done with online teaching and adapting to it.

  7. Thank you for the comment, louielouie. Comments about all kinds of subjects are welcome. 🙂

    I hadn’t known about a new Nishuane COVID case. Very, very sorry to hear that. There SHOULD be total transparency about new COVID cases, and the reopening of schools should be delayed if necessary. As we’ve discussed before, I’ve had qualms about reopening schools (in hybrid mode) before vaccinations became even more widespread — figuring a May or even a September reopening of schools would make more sense in terms of safety. And as we’ve also discussed, I’ve commended the Montclair Education Association for pushing against the reopening of schools until that nasty lawsuit filed by the district basically forced the union to “compromise” to some extent.

    Re your last paragraph: While I criticize Democrats when I feel they deserve it (as in my criticizing some of the Obama administration’s education policies in my 8:14 am reply to flipside), I feel the vast majority of Democratic policies are more palatable than those of their Republican counterparts.

  8. Frank, Ok, you caught me. I do like tweaking Dave, Hi Ho Silver, and Louie. Who wouldn’t? As far as doing my homework…you have to admit things look more than a little fishy. Not a Fox news regurgitation simply because I don’t watch Fox. 65 million up front for a book deal seemed about 60 million bucks too rich to me. So, I did do my homework and talked to friends in publishing asked what the best selling authors get in advance. That’s when I looked up who owned the publisher. Tah dah!! No talking heads involved just something I do when something puzzles me. Now excuse me I have to go back to watching Columbo reruns. Love that guy!

  9. You should use my friends in publishing. Tell your friends in publishing it was a bidding war & a husband/wife deal that, combined, has sold close to 20MM copies of their books worldwide. And mommy slapped daddy at the dinner table. The Clinton’s advance was $42MM on a comp dollar basis.

    A couple of best-selling authors could only dream of those numbers. As to the Obama’s agent, the Obama’s clearly earned Out on their advance….which means the agent left a lot of money on the table. Which using the causality argument you are using, proves no would play. Columbo Season 4, episode 9.

  10. Frank, 20 million copies? I seriously doubt 20mm individuals bought the books. 2 or 3 million is probably more like it. Now if you told me 15 to 17 million are in a land fill I would buy that. Yup, I am cynical. Bill Burr had a pretty good take on Michele’s book. Not for children’s ears.
    Is that a unicorn on your front lawn??

  11. Dave,
    Charter schools are publicly. They don’t “take money from” public schools any more than bullock takes money from aldrin. Why do you Persist in relating that falsehood? Creating a phony class of “truly” public schools doesn’t help. They’re are legitimate objections to charters. Why not resort to those and quit fibbing about it. You could truthfully say that charters take money from unionized public schools, for example. I know you adore teachers union and so do others so why not punch with that.

  12. Ahh… the school opening discussion again….
    Frank is right (above): the staff got vaccinated (whoever wanted to anyway) and no the MEA is not entitled to that private info.! HIPPA is there for a reason, like it or not. (Entitlement?)
    Louie, Louie (and Dave)– get with the real world and out of the MEA bubble.
    School will start as it should! Enough.
    Of course there’s bound to be a case here or there (real world).

  13. Frank, the MEA did not get vaccinated. Perhaps some/most of the teachers have had one dose but the fact that the principal and AP of an elementary school will not be in attendance at the first opening of the school in a year shows that it’s not “end of story”. NJ is one of 5 states where cases have spiked and are the highest in the country. As for parents not getting any more information that the staff that’s fine. I don’t want to know who the person is but I do want to know if it’s a variant, how many were in contact with this person, are they hospitalized how many have been quarantined.. the simple things that can save lives. Not too much to ask right? Other towns give out detailed information on a daily basis of how many cases have been reported and in which schools. Montclair gives nothing! That is the disgrace and it comes from the top. Report it and publish it, what are they hiding?

    And Dave, I agree with you regarding this early opening. But parents rule the BOE and the district and have for decades. They wheel around those bipolar ionization devices and I’m supposed to be convinced we have proper ventilation? But you have to open the windows too. What a joke. Perhaps a start would be what 99% of other districts in NJ do and get an elected BOE. But I digress. Let’s just start with how many in Montclair school district are quarantined and how many positive cases are there? Too much to ask?

  14. Thank you for the comment, lacamina.

    Charter schools do use public money, so they’re public in that sense. But there is little public oversight. No boards of education, the heads of individual charters and charter chains can basically do what they want, some of them receive enormous salaries, some charters are for-profit entities, students can get cherry-picked for the schools, students not doing well can be kicked out, etc. (The previous sentence included some of the legitimate objections you asked for. 🙂 ) So, charters are nowhere near as public as public schools, and they DO use money that could be used to improve truly public schools.

    Your Bullock/Buzz Aldrin analogy doesn’t really work because they’re both truly public schools in the same system under the same superintendent, Central Office, and BOE oversight.

    It does bother me that most charter schools aren’t unionized, causing many of their teachers and staff to struggle to make ends meet. But that’s only one of my objections to charters in addition to those I mentioned above.

  15. Mountainside opened a special Pfizer vax to the MEA a month ago. They did 200 people…and closed for a lack of interest. The MEA is over a 1,000 strong. Please explain to me what the rank & file are thinking? I want to understand what educators are thinking, I really do. Mostly, because they are our educators.

    The MEA can’t have the test data. Get over it. I’m fed up with the whining. Maybe I would be flexible if the MEA wanted to share which members, by building got vaccinated, 1st dose, 2nd dose. See how privacy vs the public good works for you guys, but not for the district? And you guys are the educators.

    Seriously, this is why people really dislike the MEA. And how are you guys doing on getting tested before Monday?

    I try to support the MEA when it is right and it is an important stand. But, these two conditions typically elude the MEA leadership.

    I have to say the MEA is as screwed up as the district administration.

  16. Thank you for the comment, sickntired.

    Yes, many teachers and school staffers have finally been vaccinated. But with the wait (in some cases) to get appointments, the two-shot process, and the subsequent period of achieving full immunity, there are still quite a few educators who aren’t yet fully immunized against COVID. Another month (into May) could have helped, given that teachers and school staffers didn’t get put in New Jersey’s vaccination queue until March 15 — less than a month ago.

    If I’m in “the MEA bubble,” why did I publicly support Dr. Renee Baskerville over state-teacher-union leader Sean Spiller for mayor? If only Sherlock Holmes were still taking clients… 🙂

  17. PS: I told you here a month ago the surge was here in Montclair, what the infected and dead numbers would be. The dead count is lagging and I underestimated (again!) what I thought was a disturbing projection of infections by June 30. In my defense, I gave too much credit to human nature and educating the residents and workers to maintain levels of protection.

    All the indicators now are infected will easily surpass my 3,000+ projection. The MEA decided it would return to school knowing these numbers. The MEA knew that at these levels, each building will have events on a weekly basis. The MEA knew this and this is what irritates me. Poor, poor leadership.

  18. Thank you for the comment, louielouie.

    You’re absolutely right — many teachers and school staffers have had one COVID-vaccine dose but not the second yet. Makes total sense given that they didn’t get into the state’s vaccination queue until March 15.

    And I agree that Montclair school people who get COVID shouldn’t be named but there should be all kinds of other transparency surrounding the situation, as you noted and listed.

    Like you, I’m skeptical about how safe ventilation systems and so on make Montclair’s mostly older school buildings. Safer, certainly, but full or nearly full vaccination levels remain the key.

    SOME parents may have outsized influence with Montclair’s BOE and district, but I believe quite a few other local parents don’t.

  19. Contact tracing? How are we going to do that? Like the surrounding towns are doing that? Please tell me more. Especially how we are going to do that in Montclair. Because you can’t.
    And listen very, very closely to anyone in authority that says we can. Very closely.

  20. @flipside,

    I dunno. You could be right about the landfill, but the publisher just upped the husband’s print run to 4.25MM from just something like 3.3MM. The wife is outselling 3-4 times hubby.

    When I have to take increasing leaps of faith to get only a murky connection of circumstances that could suggest wrongdoing, I tend to disregard the example used. Isn’t it easier just to do a blanket deal like God taught us and say all people suck?

  21. Nothing to see here. Once again, flipside’s disdain for Obama has clouded his judgement and let it get in the way of the facts by asserting that the former President awarded Pearson a $350 million contract thus linking him to a ostensibly tainted $65 million book deal advance he received from Random House.

    Common Core wasn’t a Federal program. It was created and administered by a collective of state officials and educators. The Obama Administration had an interest in supporting the program, but it didn’t direct the creation of Common Core standards.

    The Department of Education under Obama did award $160 million dollars to a consortium of 31 states and an additional $170 million to a second consortium of 26 states in a related program, “Race to the Top”, to develop a common assessment standard for mathematics and English education. Some of those states did opt to contract Pearson for educational materials. However, those contracts were made at state or district levels, and there is no evidence the Fed had any hand in choosing Pearson as it would have been a violation of law, prohibiting the federal government from mandating school curriculum or choosing instructional materials.

    Another misguided right-wing conspiracy theory down the drain.

  22. Frank, re your “April 10, 2021 at 10:24 am” comment: Teachers and school staff got/are getting vaccinations at various places — not just Mountainside but at the old West Orange Kmart building and elsewhere. Most teachers and school staff want to get vaccinated; the issue was that they were weren’t eligible as a group until March 15, so the process is still playing out in terms of time to sign up, get two shots, and get immunity.

    As for the MEA, they’re protecting their members. That might seem like “whining” to some, but to me it’s sound union leadership.

    And re your “April 10, 2021 at 10:36 am” comment, MEA members are scheduled to return to elementary schools tomorrow, April 12, because they were sued by the district and compromised on when reopening of some schools in hybrid format should occur. If it were up to the MEA, I think the reopening of some schools in hybrid format would have happened somewhat later — when more MEA members had time to be fully vaccinated.

  23. Thank you for the comment, silverleaf.

    I agree that various state administrations and the Obama administration (as well as the Bush administration with “No Child Left Behind”) share the blame for various manifestations of education “reform” — “reform” that sort of sounded good but I feel overall was not good.

    And I agree that Obama got his lucrative post-White House book contract on its merits. Heck, he had two previous mega-bestsellers (“Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope”) before he became president. And I say he deserved his advance having mixed feelings about the Obama presidency, which was far less liberal than Republicans falsely claim it was.

  24. Frank took the words out of my mouth above: “Mountainside opened a special Pfizer vax to the MEA a month ago. They did 200 people…and closed for a lack of interest. ”
    Can someone explain that? That is what happened.

    You don’t have to have voted for Spiller to be in the “MEA bubble”. It’s a unique way of thinking and viewing the world living in the “bubble” that frankly, to anyone not living in it is unreal.

  25. Bipolar ionization.
    Yup. Just brilliant.
    We reap what we sow.
    I agree…we can’t test the kids. Nope. No way, no how. We hopefully learned from the pre-COVID math testing. What was that figure again? 3 out of 5?
    That’s count as the majority, right? Yeah, 60%, right?

  26. And now is the time for certain district-registered, BoE partner groups to advocate for nighttime illumination of all the neighborhood playing fields. Go for it!

  27. “I have to say the MEA is as screwed up as the district administration.” FR
    Truer words have not been spoken.

    As for HIIPA no one, no one, no one (repeat 100x) is asking for any individual names of who tested positive. Nor are we asking for any personal information. For the reading challenged..

    How many have tested positive, which schools, how many are in quarantine, how many have been fully vaccinated, how many one shot of two, and which variant of Covid have tested positive. Show me one HIIPA violation there, show me one thing I am not entitled to as a resident of the town or of the world. One violation? Forget contact tracing for the public, everyone would have to buy in but obviously that is not possible, see this thread. But shouldn’t the administration/union/nurse (pick one or all) have the responsibility to contact those who might have been exposed without giving the name of the contact or revealing any test data. No one is whining Frank. We just want the information so we can make a proper decision for ourselves and our families.

    This is not “an MEA bubble” neither is it “entitlement” (there’s that pesky catch-all again from the right wing). This is information period. We are indeed entitled to that information whether you want to believe it or not and whether or not you want it for yourself. Once again, what are they hiding? A case here or there? Are you kidding? This is highly transmissible and deadly! This is not the 24 hour flu. A case here or there is acceptable for a virus that can kill you or leave you sick for months on end? Astounding.

  28. Hi Ho Silver, Distain for Obama? Not at all. The guy was a genius. In 8 years he parlayed a 400k job into a couple hundred million bucks. While doing it he tripled the net worth of his billionaire donors, gutted flyover country and the middle class that wouldn’t vote for him, and did very little to improve the conditions of the poor yet through bread and circuses garnered their admiration and devotion. A combo of PT Barnum and Machiavelli….what’s not to like! I don’t admire many of his policies but I do respect his ability to get much of his agenda accomplished. Maybe in time the country and the world will be a better place because of him but it sure is a lot less fun.

  29. sickntired, as I mentioned in my “April 11, 2021 at 9:17 am” comment (which hadn’t yet posted when you commented at “April 11, 2021 at 9:37 am”), the reason more teachers and school staffers didn’t get COVID shots at Mountainside was because there were other places such as the old West Orange Kmart building where they were also getting the vaccine.

    While I’m not in the “MEA bubble” you describe, I have much gratitude, respect, and admiration for Montclair teachers who have taught my two daughters and countless other students so well. And I respect and admire their MEA union because, well, teachers and school staffers ARE the union in a way.

  30. Frank, the lighting of Montclair playing fields is a very nice thing considering how booked those fields get. My younger daughter’s travel softball team — and many other teams in various sports — are grateful. 🙂

  31. louielouie, thank you for defending the MEA again. It’s disheartening how much that union gets criticized by some people. Its members are the teachers and school staffers who do so much for our children — including a Herculean (and Xena-ean 🙂 ) job teaching them remotely during the past 13 months.

    And I agree once more — the more information the better, while privacy of individuals is of course respected.

  32. flipside, I’ll repeat again that I wasn’t a big fan of Obama because of his centrism. But you’re too hard on him. I don’t like it, but many presidents — Democratic and Republican — become richer and help make their families, friends, and donors richer. Jimmy Carter was probably one of the rare exceptions. Obama got rich mostly by writing books, hardly a crime. Compare that to, say, Trump amassing more money via his scam of bilking supporters for recurring donations when they thought they were making one-time contributions, his use of some charitable money for himself and his family, etc. And despite your not-proved allegations about his book deal, Obama wasn’t corrupt and was never guilty of sexual misconduct. Trump and Bill Clinton can’t make those same claims. Yes, I have TDS — Trump Deserves Sentencing. 🙂

  33. Dave, If you haven’t noticed I take the opposite side of arguments that are unbalanced. Trump was…well, he was Trump. Keep in mind Bush gave birth to Obama, Obama gave birth to Trump, Trump gave birth to Oh Boy, what you can say about Biden. Trump’s net worth dropped 700 to 800 million thanks to being President. If you wanted to talk about bilking donors put Bernie at the top of that list. I have Politician Derangement Syndrome. The Republicans are far from saints but at least you know what you are getting. The Dems say one thing and do another. Like Hollywood…gun control/violent movies, Metoo/sex assault, global warming/ 20,000 sq ft homes, private jets, yachts. There is a pattern there, don’t you think? Believe it or not we both want the same things we just have different approaches on how to attain it. JFK’s “Life is not fair” resonates with me but America with all its imperfections is as close as gets. Beware the unintended consequences when control becomes too centralized. That is where we are headed. That control benefits those in control of the politicians. How much money did billionaires make during the pandemic? Estimated 4 trillion…control is very profitable. Where is William Wallace when we need him?

  34. Thanks Dave for clarifying the vaccine for school staff question about why mountainside s program closed for lack of interest.
    I know you are not part of the MEA but you are such a staunch defender of that organization be they right or wrong, that’s why I included you in their ” bubble”.
    IMO, I’d have to say the majority of the country is not in support of the teachers Unions across the country in their refusal stance in returning to in person learning.
    That being said that is my problem with them at the moment because they have been unreasonable and seem to feel they should receive special treatment in this pandemic above and beyond other service professions currently working.
    There is no 100 percent protection in this thing.
    You seem to lump my criticism regarding this issue with the MEA as an anti teacher position. Not true. As I’ve said before teachers are generally wonderful professionals dedicated to the kids, but in this situation the union is being unreasonable and acting entitled to special treatment. I disagree with you that the Union is the teachers. Many school employees don’t always agree with the Union stance in matters. Of course they represent the teachers/school staffs interests but they are not one and the same. Their leadership has alot to do with how militant they are.

  35. flipside, how do you know “Trump’s net worth dropped 700 to 800 million thanks to being President”? He never released his tax returns. 🙂

    That said, I’m very skeptical of that net-worth-loss-because-he-was-president claim, given how as prez he didn’t have to pay for his travel, he steered business to his hotels and other properties, he got endless government-paid golf outings, he raised all kinds of money from contributions from his diehard supporters, etc. Sure, COVID hit Trump hard because much of his business involves things like hotels and real estate, but those losses would have occurred without him being in the White House.

    I was and am a Bernie donor, and the many pitches and fund-raising efforts I’ve seen never had the “fine print” scamming of Trump during his current sore-loser “Stop the Steal” period. What you’re saying is made-up false equivalence. You might be opposed to Sanders’ politics, but Trump is on another planet when it comes to (lack of) integrity.

    Sure, many Democrats are hypocrites, but so are many Republicans. Plenty of GOP supporters do NOT know what they are getting because they believe lies like “Republicans are the party of family values” (um…Trump, Matt Gaetz, etc.) and that the GOP is fighting socialism when the Republicans LOVE socialism…for the rich.

    Some billionaires have indeed made out like bandits during COVID, but many of those billionaires are conservatives. Heck, even somewhat-liberal billionaires are quite conservative in crucial ways — such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos with his rabid anti-unionism, Bill Gates with his support of charter schools, and Mark Zuckerberg with his allowing right-wing disinformation to run rampant on Facebook until he very belatedly pulled back somewhat on that.

  36. On March 9, the following was part of the MEA’s morning, pre-settlement statement:

    “The MEA’s return to in-­­person instruction was always predicated on safe buildings and sound educational plans. Accusations of the association delaying a reopening in an effort to stall for vaccines is merely false. We do encourage our members to be vaccinated now that educators are eligible; however, that was never a premise in our discussions with the district.

    I posted right after the story was published about the rising case numbers. I certainly had less raw data and expert support.
    The Mayor was, maybe not officially, the NJEA President-elect. I have no doubt many members wanted to wait longer. Their leadership did not.

    Either the leadership failed the rank & file or the leadership decision-making represented the dominant membership view.

    And for the teachers to refuse to provide basic information (per your argument) about how many of their members are jabbed, 2nd jabbed and vaccinated – by building, by grade – and put 3,000 students at risk of COVID illness or as spreaders is what morally? The union that says it always has the interest of the children as a priority. I said on March 9th they should expect a delay in the opening for a week or two. We are opening 8 days after Easter, the Monday after Spring Break, at an highly elevated case level indicating community spread already. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I am overestimating this plague.

    It is done. It was done on March 9th. Now, it is just a simple, textbook definition of whining
    If some of the members don’t like it, they can vote to change their leadership.

  37. wrongside – Yes disdain. With tongue-in-cheek flattery you praise Obama, “the guy was genius”, then ridicule with a backhanded compliment, “A combo of PT Barnum and Machiavelli.” Then you go on to say, “what’s not to like!” This is standard and customary rhetoric by you on any topic, not just politics. People really do read what you say here, even if they don’t consider it noteworthy.

    “Maybe in time the country and the world will be a better place because of him but it sure is a lot less fun.” A lot less fun than what? Trump’s anti-Americanism? His “Big Lie”?

    While you say, “I take the opposite side of arguments that are unbalanced,” you really do not. Regarding his inciting the Capitol insurrection, for example, all you have to offer is, “Trump was…well, he was Trump.” Where is the meaningful criticism? Don’t pretend to be a centrist b/c you are not! Your disdain of the left far outweighs that of the right. We all know where you stand even though you don’t.

  38. wrongside

    ” . . . we both want the same things we just have different approaches on how to attain it.”

    Really??? Voting rights, immigration, global warming, SCOTUS, minimum wage, policing, Matt Gaetz . . . .

    We’ve never been more divided as a nation. Are you to be taken seriously? What fantasy world do you live in?

  39. Dave,

    I get the whole light up the night sports argument. But…

    It would have to be fair & equitable at muni-owned facilities…so, we need to light up tennis courts – and not just Rand and its skateboard park, too. The Mountainside Park Sports Complex and Baldwin Street’s Washington Field (co-owner Glen Ridge applauds) have new surfaces and should be early candidates. I would add Tuers Park as it just received a makeover.

    The schools need to first spend their capital to replace several synthetic turf fields, but maybe a partner group could fundraise illuminating all the Essex Avenue fields from Chestnut St to Champlain Terrace…and if any left over $, the new, regulation size Watchung Field. Sorry 2nd Warders, looks like you will take the brunt of the illumination after all.

    This approach would create a virtual halo of light and offset those environmentally sensitive hooded streetlights that would no longer contribute to halo effect.

    Lastly, there is the long-standing campaign by Montclair parents to have the school day to start later so their kids can sleep in. If you extend their active day of practices and matches to 7-8pm, I would think they need to sleep even later. Now middle and high schools are starting at 9 to 10am.

    Let’s start this Summer.

  40. Dave, Do you actually think Bernie wanted to be President??? You want to buy a bridge? He did quite well raking in campaign donations and then dropping out. Maybe he will invite you to his lake house. Do I attack the Dems? Sure, because you attack the Republicans enough for ten people. Doesn’t mean I pro-Republican. I am pointing out that Dems are just as bad and perhaps worse because they exploit their reputation as being for the little guy.

  41. Thank you, sickntired, for your “April 11, 2021 at 7:23 pm” reply.

    Well, I guess I’m in the “MEA defender bubble.” 🙂

    Glad you’re an admirer of many teachers. While MEA members aren’t exactly the MEA, if the MEA wasn’t representing their interests and doing what they want the union to do, the members would vote for new MEA leadership. So I have to think that at least a major majority of MEA members are satisfied with the union.

    It’s hard to say whether the majority of parents in the U.S. want a return to in-person learning (full or hybrid) at this very moment. Certainly many parents do, but many other parents are conscious of the safety issues involved in returning when the country hasn’t quite reached very widespread immunization, COVID is still spiking in some places, there are COVID variants, etc.

    As for teachers receiving “special treatment” vs. service workers, unfortunately some service workers (such as supermarket employees and delivery people) don’t have the option to work online like teachers do.

  42. Thank you, Frank, for your “April 11, 2021 at 8:02 pm” and “April 12, 2021 at 9:00 am” comments.

    Whatever a MEA statement might have said March 9, teachers and school staffers didn’t become eligible for vaccines until six days later — so having the time to get two shots before schools reopened became a very important issue along with building safety, ventilation, etc.

    I have to believe MEA leadership represents the views of the vast majority of MEA members, or we would have heard about complaints or ouster-of-leadership efforts.

    All that said, yes, you’re right that COVID is still scary and that reopening schools starting today (April 12) is somewhat risky.

    Re lights for night sporting events, you definitely know your Montclair (and Glen Ridge) fields and facilities! The more evening illumination for more fields/facilities/sports the better, but I realize there are of course budget issues and various non-sports things that also need more funding so I understand why there are haves and have-nots at the moment. And, yes, the lights should be designed to not be too onerous for neighboring residents.

    I like the idea of later school starts, even though that pushes sports and other activities later.

    Anyway, some of the above is wishful thinking, but one can hope.

  43. Thank you, silverleaf, for your April 11, 2021 at 10:44 pm and 10:57 pm comments.

    Whatever Obama’s faults, the fact that he was a better president and a better person than Trump is undeniable. And Trump indeed deserves harsh criticism for not accepting he lost the election and for inciting the January 6 Capitol riot — maybe the most treasonous/seditious acts by a president in American history. Given that right-wing politicians (including Trump’s loyal veep Mike Pence) were also in danger on January 6, and given that many police were hurt and some died because of the riot, one would think Republican right-wingers who are so pro-law enforcement would have a problem with Trump’s incitement. Maybe they do privately, but only a very small minority have said so publicly.

    And a thousand times yes, you’re absolutely right that progressives and the Republican right do NOT want the same things in many cases.

  44. Hi Ho Silver…do hear a whizzing sound going over your head all day? Maybe not because you have CNN and MSNBC turned up too loud. Just think how boring this thread would be if it was just you, Dave, Louie, and Frank blowing kisses all day. If you four sat on the bench in front of Krauszer’s you would put the pigeons to sleep. Talk about broken records…geez!

  45. flipside, in this very comments section I’ve criticized Bill Clinton and expressed mixed feelings about Barack Obama, yet you insist on continuing your imaginary implication that I’m fixated on criticizing only Republicans. Meanwhile, you slam Democrats and barely criticize Republicans except for the mildest rebukes of Trump’s behavior while saying he did plenty of good things. Whatever. 🙂

    I’ve been called various things, but boring has never been one of them. Congratulations on another first! 🙂

    As for Bernie, I do think he wanted to be president; he campaigned hard. His fundraising was legit, he paid his staffers good wages, he gave them health insurance, and his modest “fortune” mostly came from his book sales. Also, he didn’t become bitter despite losing two presidential campaigns. (He’s still working hard as a Senator.) Contrast that with Trump’s refusal to accept he lost and all the craziness that flowed from that. What a role model!

  46. wrongside, I expected no less of a response. When you cannot counter the legitimate substance of an argument, you turn to the inane. Typical. Your words speak for themselves.

  47. Is this the Krauzer’s on Church Street? The same Church Street that isn’t getting an amazing 21st Century bike lane from S. Mountain down x-ss the newly striped Blmfld onto the New Direction Glenridge Avenue, thanks to Bike(&W) Montclair? The same circle that is removing the war memorial (sorry guys, you had your time) and will get a tekhenu commemorating the Council …and an able-bodied replacement for the nearby MAM’s front yard bronze. flipside, is that what you are banging on about? (I love bad English)

  48. I keep waiting for louielouie to tell us about the start of the school’s (voluntary) COVID (group) testing timing. That’s your MEA. Think Amazon/Alabama/what do I get for my union dues.

    And we are going to contact tracing?

  49. As a COIVD aside, I just read Rhode Island (they lost their Plantations last year) has an updated list of States that visitors must first quarantine for 2 weeks. Does anyone else still do this list? Anyway, they list 26 states; half the country. OK, we’re on the list. But, New York is not. Seriously, they should be on the list for DeBlasio and Cuomo alone. They should be on the list for Hudson Yards. They should be on the list for their ass-backwards congestion pricing plan. (FYI, Singapore is laughing its ass off at NYC for that plan design. Of course, they have Supertree Grove – NYC’s has just the Hi Line.)
    Anyway, fun facts.

  50. Dave,

    You should get up to speed on the Orange Road parking deck application saga. Specifically, the segment of last night’s Planning Board hearing starting at the PB deliberations @ 1:55:00 mark. Now, of course the PB should deny the application for the unrealistic parking plan. I think the PB will accept it rather than dredge up a lot of past Township missteps. Anyway, it might be worth a few lines in this week’s column….as a foundation for future revelations.

  51. In all candidness, the Planning Board members will wring their hands, lament the limits of municipal land use law, members have been duped, and concede Montclair has taken it on the chin… and still take absolutely no responsibility, yet plead for other parties to come forward to bail out the Planning Board.

    The betting is they will approve n 2 weeks a watered-down, face-saving resolution wording. And no one will be the wiser for a few years.

  52. Ignore the shiny balls, and the sword of legal action over taxpayers heads with this Orange Road parking deck fiasco. All paths lead back to our Council. They made the deals. This will blow up now or just a little bit down the road. But, it will blow up. Just my opinion. And the hotel will go away. Also just an educated guess.

    I would embrace litigation, but it won’t happen. It can’t happen. It would amount to a loss of control. It would amount to disclosure. It would undress the economics. And Gateway was never a Charles Atlas.

  53. And for the uninitiated, the Planning Board’s hearing was a series of member’s showcase performances of their egos.

    It wasn’t about fact finding. The facts were known. It wasn’t about land use. It was about their egos…and their pride. They got schooled… in front of everyone. The shadow Council (as I believe they like to think of themselves) got played. Over 9 years. In slow motion. Ouch.

    Oh well, it is a write down and some more capital expenditures (under Hillside) down the road. On the plus side of the ledger, the Seymour Arts District looks promising.

  54. Thank you, Frank. I’ll try to look more into the Orange Road parking deck situation. As you know, the Planning Board nearly always gives big developers and other applicants all or most of what they want, whether the application is good or bad, so my expectations for that board are usually low.

  55. I think you will struggle with this one.

    CalSTRS owns the Orange Road parking deck. Those good souls have invested in Montclair. Their investment hasn’t yielded the return they planned. But, they want to keep the slice of our Public Realm, forego the consideration to us, so they can prop up their ROI.

    The bestest part of their argument for us to cede the land without compensation is we are not using that slice of Public Realm anyway. We’re not using it..and, as they kindly pointed out to the Board, the public will still have enough leftover for a decent streetscape. No doubt this too is all about the children.

    I support teachers, any teachers who show a demonstrable interest in Montclair. And if any other teachers – Oregon, Texas, Florida, etc. – need our unused Public Realm to further their return on investment here, then I think the Planning Board should support it. I am sure a number of their students from these far away states have, as adults, move here and now contribute to the vibrant, diverse Montclair. And, afterall, it’s not like we are using all of our Public Realm anyway.

  56. As the Planning Board is charged with weighing the Public Good in addition to the facts, and is clearly asking for help, the public should speak out to help clarify what is the Public Good. Or not.

  57. Frank, I saw some of your comments after I posted my last comment.

    Re what you said about The MC, I also wondered even before COVID if a hotel like that could last in Montclair. Big, rooms relatively pricey, various other hotels in the general area. COVID has made things even more fraught for hotels.

  58. Blowing kisses in front of Krauszer’s all day.. what a great visual.

    Frank, I’m not aware that the MEA and teachers in general refuse to release the information on vaccinations, cases, quarantines etc. Isn’t that the job of the district or the Montclair health department? I’ve been looking at cases, variants, and vaccination rates among various age groups and professions and the information is to the person. Who is refusing to give us that information exactly? I’ve seen towns with 1/10 the population of Montclair and cities with 50 times the population give out proper statistics including the exact number of elementary, middle school, HS and private school cases and what variants have been detected. What is wrong with this picture? We can’t even find out how many staff have been quarantined in the district.

    I will not blame the MEA, the teachers or any staff members until it is determined they are the cause. And even if that is so why is it not overridden for the sake of public safety? Someone is hiding something for some reason. What and who do you think it is? I do wish the MEA/Township would take this on, however.

  59. Frank, if the California State Teachers’ Retirement System has a stake in the Orange Road parking deck, it shouldn’t. I realize a good return on investment is the goal of CalSTRS and other teaching-related and not-teaching-related entities of that type, but helping to overcrowd and gentrify a town? Ugh.

  60. Dave,

    I fully expect the Township to get sued one way or the other. And the other will likely multiple times by the parking patron’s insurance companies. All because the Planning Board dropped the ball.

    CalSTERS is saying they will valet park almost 20% of the peak event vehicles, 129 cars, on the 6th (top) floor. Clearly the PB didn’t read the site or parking mgmt plan and/or hasn’t been to the 6th floor. The parking management plan for peak events shows the first 129 drivers will first be directed to go to the 6th floor to get their valet ticket. Aside from forcing 10 lbs of potatoes into a 5 lb sack, look at the ramp access turn. Looks like 18′, maybe 20′ wide tops… to make a 180 degree turn? For an average competency driver just coming to or from an event?

    Don’t take my word for it. Take your own car up to the 6th floor and see for yourself.

    The PB has ample ground to deny this application.

  61. Yes, Frank, a potential parking/valet-parking nightmare at times. But despite the Orange Road deck’s various issues, I’d be shocked if the too-accommodating Planning Board denied the application.

    I included a Q&A about the deck in the April 15 column I just submitted for posting tomorrow.

  62. Dave,

    LCOR bought controlling interest in Montclair Acquisition Partners (MAP), the designated redevelopment entity for Gateway 1. CalSTERS bought majority interest in LCOR. I believe MAP controls the two Valley & Bloom buildings, too. The MC Hotel ownership is some other corporation. At least that is my understanding. I also understand that LCOR is committed to what everyone calls Smart Growth – and its compact, high density urban core concept.

    Montclair only does Smart Growth. Smart Growth doesn’t recognize biophilia.
    So one party or the other will have to shift their values in developing Lackawanna Plaza.

  63. Thank you for that information, Frank. A tangled web…

    And “Smart Growth” is not always so smart.

  64. Yes, Smart Growth is often not smart. It is like when we switch to solar/wind energy, but our consumption goes up more than the savings. Yeah, yeah., yeah – it’s COVID/people are at home/yadda x 3. There is a Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Big Foot.

    Most people actually think we will save the planet without reducing consumption. That is also the collective wisdom of the green people.
    Another group that can’t do math. I keep saying math is important.
    Montclair Public Schools say nah, it is increasingly irrelevant to thinking.
    It seems a majority of people think their smart phones will carry the day.

    The Dumbest Generation.

  65. Dave,

    You just have to drive along Upper Mountain, South of Bellevue and see this renovated house, on the upside, with 24 LED footlights that exist solely to accenting a charcoal gray knee wall…and the line of arborvitae soldiers and black fencing that, all together, shouts, “This is mine!”

    I love my street.

  66. Frank, I agree that the ideal way to try to deal with climate change is to “go green” wherever/whenever possible AND reduce consumption (or at least slow increases in consumption). I think many “Green New Deal” supporters — including many members of the smart generation of younger people — “get” that. But, yes, there are people who call themselves environmentalists who over-consume.

  67. I mention it partially because the Environmental Commission reporting, pre-COVID, was limited to the Township aggregation % savings…but, they didn’t report change in usage. I have to imagine if you charge Happy Hour prices, consumption tends to go up. And based on our allocation of clean vs dirty, $0.70 of every additional dollar of usage is dirty energy.

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