MontClairVoyant: VM Stands for ‘Vote Montclair’ and ‘Vigilance Mandatory’


Vote Montclair’s two candidates won the Board of Education election on March 8. VM’s founder subsequently wrote a gloating, ageist, anti-teacher-union piece that revealed a portion of the problematic education “reform” agenda of some (not all) VM leaders and members. The two winning candidates denounced the founder’s op-ed piece, and a number of VM leaders and members left the group. Were some VMers appalled by the op-ed itself? Were others disturbed that views they might share were aired publicly? Anyway, the major question is…


Dreary Query

The major question is why you started this column with such a long passage, putting readers to sleep when they need to stay alert as an elected BOE plays out in the future. Your approach was VM (Vastly Mismanaged).


Explain what you mean about the future. Are you referring to how there are still seven more people to be voted onto a nine-member elected BOE?


Seven Seal the Deal

I am. Those seven slots can hopefully be filled by candidates not affiliated with VM (or a possible VM successor group) and who are not education “reformers” themselves. After all, many non-“reformers” also wanted an elected BOE despite being uncomfortable with certain aspects of VM (Vessel Mistrusted).


Yes, many non-“reformers” — myself included — were dissatisfied with the performance of appointed BOEs and desired more democracy. But will VM’s two winning candidates necessarily embody VM’s more problematic values?


Parsing the Pair

Unlikely — they’re qualified, impressive people — but they should have thought twice about accepting VM’s endorsement. Sometimes office-seekers can be too VM (Victory-Minded).


For those not in the know, what does it mean to be an education “reformer”?


Definition Mission

The meaning varies, but “reformers” often are anti-teacher union, often want to give teachers less autonomy than they need and deserve, often favor too much standardized testing, and often love charter schools (which sadly siphon needed money from public schools). It can be a VM (Vitriolic Mindset).


One thing VM’s founder did in his op-ed was generally and specifically slam the performance of many older teachers in Montclair. How would you describe that ageist view?


Mock of Ages

Uncalled for. Most of our town’s teachers — older and younger — are great. Talented, hard-working, empathetic. I’ve witnessed that during nearly 25 years (1993 to 2007 and 2012 to now) of my two daughters attending a combined five different Montclair public schools of VM (Verified Merit).


VM’s founder did eventually semi-apologize, so that’s something, but I wonder about his op-ed’s post-election gloating after he and his organization got everything they wanted. Does this “Sore Winner Syndrome” sound familiar?


Comparison Garrison

Reminds me a bit of 2016, when Trump was a VM (Victorious Moaner).


I realize this is kind of off-subject, but does the BOE have an official car?


Motor Skills

Don’t think so. Certainly not a VM (Vehicle Mazda).


Getting back to being a school parent, what have you been doing during the time you used to spend filling out the no-longer-there daily COVID form on Genesis?


Give Us a Portal Chortle

That extra morning minute the past few weeks has been invaluable. I’ve climbed Mount Everest, written 500 novels, and binge-watched every movie ever made. Still to come: climbing down Mount Everest. Yes, in this case I’m VM (Veracity Meager).


In other news, several Township Council members publicly expressed support for passing the Jose German-Gomez Native Species Act named for the Montclair resident who’s an environmental activist, founder of the “Montclair Community” Facebook group, and more. Comment?


Test for Eco

A VERY well-deserved honor for Jose. The Act would, among other things, require that only plants native to the Northeast be used in Montclair’s public places. So, it’s a VM (Viable Measure).


Aren’t you overdoing the VM acronym thing? You’re like a columnizing canine gnawing a bone.


STOP Sign Needed

Your comment is VM (Valid Mockery).



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.



Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the above solid work, as per usual. As regards paragraph 1, you assert that “…a number of VM leaders and members left the group.” This is a critical point because, if true, one must assume that it is a group worth leaving, even if only because of the simple discomfort of association. And further, an assertion like that is intended to taint the organization without having to embroil it in any legal proceedings. Mr. D’Amato, for instance, might wish to respond to the assertion with his own actual knowledge of the facts.

    I scratch my head at this whole “scandal.” VM is a registered CPC in New Jersey but is not required to disclose membership lists. I don’t recall seeing any such lists being made available online, nor through the Township nor even by request of VM itself. Is it possible that your journalism background allows you to use the old “Some people assert…” trick, with no evidence that “some” refers to anything more than perhaps “two” people, one of whom is usually the journalist trying to make a point? In this case, you assert that “a number” of people have left the group. Do you have that number? Does the Board of VM have that number? If you do have the actual number, can you let us know how you got it?

    Two questions, and you certainly can take as much time as you need to do the research: How many actual members does VM have? And how many, precisely, have left the group? Since members do not pay dues (a niche issue and in actuality something of a minefield of interpretation in federal law at least concerning actual 501(c)(3)s that declare themselves to be “Membership Organizations”) even the very definition of a membership list can consist of simply possessing opt-in email addresses. I ask you directly because you have this great platform that reaches so many Montclairions, far more in fact than anyone but elected officials with their own lists.

    My point is this: Vote Montclair is the kind of grassroots org that the idealistic generation of the 60’s would admire, and which (with different political aims) so many social studies teachers trot out to show the positive effects of grassroots organizing. VM identified a legitimate issue of contention affecting citizens, got organized, motivated voters and won on the issue, fair and square. The schadenfreude exhibited towards the founder still can’t take away that fact. Better get used to the idea that only by showing the same passion, organizational skill and righteous cause will the opponents of a democratically elected BOE be able to return Montclair to its undemocratic recent past.

  2. “Were others disturbed that views they might share were aired publicly?”
    WOW, imagine living in a place where you have to be afraid to publicly air your views! Welcome to the People’s Republic of Montclair. What’s next? Do we turn in our neighbors?

  3. Thank you for the comment, brigattista.

    I don’t have a precise number of people who left Vote Montclair — whose membership might have been more a loose collection of people rather than an “official” assemblage of members. I do know from social media posts and news stories that the co-chair of VM stepped down from that position (the other co-chair was VM’s founder) and at least five people (including the two VM-endorsed BOE candidates) disavowed themselves from the VM founder and/or from the VM founder’s op-ed and/or from VM itself. I suspect a number of others in the loose collection of VM supporters were also dismayed at the VM founder’s op-ed, but, again, I don’t have a precise number of how many want nothing more to do with VM — and wonder if anybody does have that number.

    As you know, I supported the idea of an elected BOE and praised VM in my column during the run-up to the referendum despite having some personal suspicions about the motives of some in the group involving more than more democracy in choosing BOE members. Then VM backed two candidates — tipping the scales against seven independents — and then the op-ed happened. I will not praise VM again.

  4. Thank you for the comment, flipside.

    Montclair residents such as VM’s founder are of course totally free to publicly air their views, and many do. If the views are problematic, there’s going to be pushback. Gloating after winning is not a good look, and strategically tone-deaf. And criticizing older teachers when every Montclair student and parent has admired many older teachers is also pushback-guaranteed. As you know, even some of VM’s own leaders and members weren’t fond of the views expressed.

    “The People’s Republic of Montclair”? Nope. Montclair is liberal-leaning to an extent, but hardly China. Similar population level though — 39,000 for us, 1.4 billion for them… 🙂

  5. ” Better get used to the idea that only by showing the same passion, organizational skill and righteous cause will the opponents of a democratically elected BOE be able to return Montclair to its undemocratic recent past.” -brigattista

    Unfortunately a correct assessment of the decreasing hurdles for a populist movement to realize fundamental change.

  6. Thank you, Dave. I myself did not vote for the two VM candidates (there were others who showed some sincere concern about finances and accountability who did not poll as strongly, but that’s an election for you). In all sincerity I appreciate your general support of a democratically elected board. Generally in any referendum there are motives that stray considerably from the stated purpose. We are humans, we have complex reasons for doing things. We can also state that those forces aligned against a democratically elected BOE also had motives that might be considered suspect, if not sinister. Aggressively defending the status quo in a time of public turmoil sure lends itself to such suspicions.

    One might think that a referendum on extending the democratic franchise would be a point of local pride in this town. Instead we are told the whole enterprise was existentially flawed because of one op-ed, which in tone and substance was not nearly as “appalling” as the many invectives assigned to it. Apparently “ruffling feathers” has no place in a town that proclaims tolerance its most sacrosanct virtue. But it is 2022. We all know the game.

  7. I’d like to amend my own statement above, if I may:

    “Aggressively defending the status quo in a time of public turmoil sure lends itself to such suspicions.” I recognize that times of turmoil may also lead citizens to vote for the worst alternatives, such as tyrants and charlatans, so I stand corrected, if anyone misconstrued my intent.

  8. Thank you for the comment, Frank.

    I think an elected BOE is here to stay. So if board candidates who are more sympathetic to teachers, more sympathetic to teacher unions, and not happy with the problematic education-“reform” movement win a number of seats on an elected BOE, it will be a continuation of the more-democracy-than-an-appointed-BOE scenario.

  9. Thank you for the follow-up comment, brigattista.

    We share not voting for the two VM candidates. 🙂 But I guess we disagree somewhat on how disturbing the VM founder’s op-ed was. I think the piece was indeed appalling. Gloating after winning is unkind and a loser strategically, criticizing teachers in an ageist way and in other ways is unfair to members of a hardworking and admirable profession, and attacking teacher unions is basically attacking teachers because most teachers are willing union members and happy with their union leadership. If they weren’t, they’d vote the leaders out.

  10. Frank, to clarify your comment on my comment: It’s your feeling that a high hurdle to change things is healthy? I agree. It’s the reason high hurdles are built into our constitutional structure. But the arrival of an epic plague to expose the creeping rot of our educational system? High hurdle indeed.

    Dave: No need for me to go on and on about the perceptions of harm generated by Mr. D’Amato’s remarks, but you are polite in your argument where he certainly was not. Kudos.

    Where I do take issue is with “attacking teacher unions is basically attacking teachers.” I agree that teaching is an admirable (and rewarding) profession, and I loved all my teachers. But I am old enough to remember that many of them were not unionized and were not considered “professional educators.” They were “teachers.” School unions gained traction to protect and reward teachers, and give them some of the blessings of long-term employment, like a little retirement bundle at 65, things also once enjoyed by other sectors of the economy. All well and good and appropriate for their time and place in history. But these unions have become closed medieval guilds that have gained a monopolistic stranglehold on a single profession, cocooned within a supportive government structure that is itself a government monopoly union. Lots of folks are beginning to see how the administrative state at the federal level enjoys immense powers with zero accountability except through the courts, which unfortunately in many cases have become mere extensions of the admin state itself. When this reality pops up at the municipal level, people are astonished at how they are being governed. They see unsustainable lifetime pension plans that exist nowhere anymore except in government unions, they see unions that suppress any initiative that might suggest give-and-take, and they realize that negotiating with many of these forces is simply a joke. The teachers I know in town are not particularly happy being told what to do by their unions; many find the coddling of incompetence and rewarding of mediocrity to be insulting to the good teachers; most will admit that all of those union-sanctioned PTO days for “teacher professional development” are flimsily disguised resume-swap junkets with coffee and danish.

    Demanding change from the unions is not attacking teachers. Their unions have made it impossible to have conversations about any real change, and so we reach this unfortunate juncture. “Stranglehold,” meet “Prybar.”

  11. “They see unsustainable lifetime pension plans that exist nowhere anymore except in government unions.”

    They (We) also see runaway corporate tax loopholes and outright evasion and the ever-widening wealth gap that was already absurdly lopsided. They (We) see people earning hundreds of thousands a year for moving money around and accumulating enough wealth to sustain their grandchildren’s children’s children. But, sure, go ahead and prattle on about a pension for those with advanced degrees who teach in unaffordable towns like Montclair for the privilege of a $50,000 starting salary and the prospect of being called incompetent for the sake of reformer sound bite BS.

  12. Thank you, brigattista! I appreciate the cordial discussion. 🙂

    Yes, there was a time when fewer teachers had unions. But there’s more unionization in that profession now, and I’m glad there is. I also think most local teachers support the Montclair Education Association, but there are of course exceptions — such as the teachers you know and have talked with. I have spoken with various MEA-supporting teachers at my daughters’ schools, at Board of Education meetings, on social media, and elsewhere.

    And, yes, teacher unions have a certain amount of power in the state (when Democrats are governor, anyway; Republican Gov. Christie certainly “had it in for” teachers) but I don’t think they’re 100% powerful. Examples of their not having all-encompassing clout would be too much standardized testing (the PARCCs-turned-NJSLAs, the high-school-graduation exams) against many teachers’ wishes, not enough state education aid for schools during many years, etc.

    Pensions? I think teachers deserve them for all the great work they do for our children, and it’s certainly a profession that’s not overpaid. When one thinks of all the tax breaks and other goodies corporations, developers, and the rich in general get in NJ and elsewhere, teachers hardly seem coddled in comparison.

  13. No.

    COVID painfully demonstrated the spectrum of Montclair’s public education stakeholders have not met their responsibilities for decades here in Montclair. I think you are over weighting the MEA, and invoking economic labels way too liberally. You have to bring in the disappointing level of parent and caregiving advocacy. And to be absolutely clear, I’m saying there is full representation across the whole socioeconomic spectrum. This is full on diversity.

    The suburban new guard is following in the suburban old guard’s footsteps. My point above was not about the process designs or checks & balances. My comment was about Montclair adults and their standards. A lot of stakeholders outsourced their responsibilities to their minor charges. They have to own that. I think that is wrong. Is it new? No! As I said, this are multi-generational contributions.

    All this man did was offer a lot of guilt-laden people a reset button in the November voting booth, “you’re making the trip anyway, so just push the reset button, OK?” And that is all they accomplished. The half turnout for the candidates said as much. He got what he wanted.

    We start afresh!

  14. Thank you for the comment, Montclair Public!

    We made similar points at 11:53 and 1:21 today about how some very rich people (who do much less for society) get a better shake monetarily and in other ways than teachers do. Teachers totally deserve more respect.

  15. Montclair public: What I was “prattling on” about was not the dedication of teachers, nor did I ever mention salaries. And I made no mention of the larger economic absurdities in wealth all around us, which is not what the BOE battle is about. I merely wish to add a single citizen’s concern that teacher unions and government unions seem to have adopted a strident us-against-them battle stance, when in fact both types of employment were once conceived as public service careers.

    “Public Service.” Did private schools do a better job of being available in myriad ways, including flexibility, for students than public schools during Covid? I sure think so. Do private school teachers have “unsustainable pension plans” like public teacher union employees? No, most don’t even have the equivalent of pensions at all. Are those teachers, who lack union representation, dedicated, professional and loving of what they do? They most certainly are. When we talk about public schools, we are talking about public school unions. It changes the argument radically.

    Reading your commentary, Montclair Public, it’s clear that you are resentful of wealth disparities in the larger society and that people who “move money around” don’t contribute to society; that people who make a choice to get an advanced degree (in “education,” another can of worms to the contrarians among us) and make a choice to teach are grossly under-salaried and deserving of respect; and that teachers generally deserve generous pensions. because of these selfless choices they’ve made.

    So, as a teacher advocate, you’ve talked only about wealth, salaries and pensions. Might you have made an ill-informed choice yourself?

  16. brigattista, I realize you were replying to Montclair Public, but I wanted to chime in and respectfully say that most of Montclair’s public school teachers did a fantastic job when teaching was remote during COVID. They adapted quickly to the new mode of teaching, worked hard, worked effectively, expressed empathy, communicated a lot with students and parents, etc. I was impressed — and had a firsthand view via what was happening every day with my then-middle-school daughter as she continued to learn at home.

    I’m sure private school teachers adapted and worked hard and well, too. They are often underpaid — partly because they usually aren’t unionized — even as public school teachers are not overpaid or “over-benefitted,” in my opinion.

  17. I have to agree with both Brigattista (9:29) and MP (11:53).
    There is truth to both positions as stated (IMO). This is the problem now in the country. No middle ground. Both sides need to admit to “defects” in their respective sides and come to some common ground (the middle??).
    I have to disagree though, with the premise you state Dave, that most Montclair teachers are in alignment with the teacher’s union goals and practices. While teachers are truly admirable and service oriented, yes-historically underpaid, etc.,all of those points that have been stated, they do deserve the progress achieved by the hard work of teacher unions over the course of history. However, fast forward to today… many DO NOT agree with the extremes of some of the more powerful teacher unions’ agendas that have become the norm today, such as the remote instruction controversy exposed during the pandemic. Many teachers disagree with the Unions when “self interests” tips the scales and the result is harm the students!

  18. Thank you for the comment, sickntired.

    I guess it’s difficult to know exactly how many of the Montclair Education Association’s members love the MEA and how many don’t. My anecdotal personal experience (from speaking with teachers at schools, BOE meetings, and on social media) is that most members are happy with the MEA, and some apparent proofs of that include virtually no public criticism of the MEA by teachers and no public calls for ousting MEA leaders by teachers. I do remember that some paraprofessionals at one point felt they could be better represented by the MEA.

    During the remote-instruction time of COVID in Montclair, my impression was that most teachers were aligned with the MEA stance of being hesitant to return to classrooms until vaccines were more widespread and ventilation issues were dealt with better.

    You used “unions” plural. I have no idea how popular or not the NJEA is among Montclair teachers.

  19. Hi again, Dave.

    I just have to let out a deep sigh here.

    You assert that all is well and good because there has been “…virtually no public criticism of the MEA by teachers and no public calls for ousting MEA leaders by teachers.” You might be right, there might be NO teachers in this town who disagree with their union representation (except the ones I know personally, but let’s allow that they might be outliers), but do we really think any teacher who does disagree is going to go public? For what? On the job ostracism, loss of opportunity for promotion, even loss of employment?

    It’s true that politics ain’t beanbag, and its really true that monopolies play rough. Whether it is polite to suggest or not, teachers unions are now a monopoly. In 1933, Justice Brandeis wrote that Americans should use their democracy to keep monopoly power in check. November 2 was a start.

  20. That’s a good point, brigattista; it can be risky for people to go public against an entity they’re members of — whether it’s a union or something else. Still, I’m not sure why more than a handful of teachers would publicly want to criticize the MEA, which has helped them get raises, decent benefits, etc. We’ve seen in recent decades how non-unionized workers in all kinds of job categories are exploited by employers — resulting in those workers being underpaid, not getting decent benefits or any benefits, etc. As income inequality widens and widens.

  21. Brigattista,

    “They see unsustainable lifetime pension plans that exist nowhere anymore except in government unions.”

    did I quote you inaccurately? if not, how else would anyone interpret that statement other than you believe teachers are getting something they do not deserve? Speaking of resentment, do you also rail against pensions for police? And, yes, in the context of contribution to society, the absurd wealth gap in part created by the actual handouts — corporate tax breaks and loopholes — is something to bemoan when people such as yourself whine about teacher benefits.

  22. This is a very interesting discussion. It seems like those backing the teachers are obsessed with money and those against the teacher’s union are all about performance or lack of performance. I would think it would be the opposite, at least I would hope it would be that way. I totally understand teachers wanting to get as much compensation as the market will bear. The problem arises is that because the teacher’s union compromises such a big voting block they have the ability to vote for more raises regardless of performance. I understand why people in the private sector get concerned when their tax dollars are not efficiently used. The private sector (the origin of tax dollar) is performance driven which leads to resentment when non performers are well compensated. The fact that federal, state, municipal workers and teachers create dominate voting blocks means eventually there may not be enough money to go around. Math will eventually win and it may not be pretty. Until then ….party on!

  23. flipside, rereading my comments in this thread, I praised teachers for their work in four remarks that didn’t involve a money angle. I also praised teachers in this week’s column itself and in many other columns.

    March 24 column: “Most of our town’s teachers — older and younger — are great. Talented, hard-working, empathetic.”

    March 26 comment at 6:02 am: “…every Montclair student and parent has admired many older teachers…”

    March 26 comment at 8:34 pm: “…criticizing teachers in an ageist way and in other ways is unfair to members of a hardworking and admirable profession.”

    March 27 comment at 1:21 pm: “…the great work they [teachers] do for our children.”

    March 28 at 9:05 am: “…most of Montclair’s public school teachers did a fantastic job when teaching was remote during COVID. They adapted quickly to the new mode of teaching, worked hard, worked effectively, expressed empathy, communicated a lot with students and parents, etc. I was impressed…”

  24. Montclair Public, just to be clear, you have now doubled down on the economics of teaching. So let’s take a look.

    I am not a teacher. I had great teachers. I respect teachers for choosing the profession. I spent 37 years working in the non-profit sector (not the education public sector), in international humanitarian aid relief. I do not believe that this field is any less honorable or necessary than teaching. I did not end up there by accident, I made the decision that this is where I wanted to be. It was not easy work, and certainly there were no summers off to recharge and prepare for the next year. And to see such suffering, let’s just say Title 1 challenges have no comparison.

    The economics of that decision bear heavily on my retirement years. I have no pension, no lifetime income and benefits. Being in a 501(c)(3) environment, I had a meager employer contribution “plan” and my retirement savings are almost entirely of my own scrimping and saving. Complaining about this is inappropriate when I consider how rewarding the work was, and how great the need still is. And again, let me be clear, that was the choice I made.

    I made the point earlier, and Flipside made the point as well, that this discussion seems to be almost entirely about money. Perhaps, Montclair Public, if you cannot understand what phrases like “unsustainable pension plans” sound like to the taxpayers who keep receiving tax increases that go to “unsustainable pension plans,” then yours is an unappeasable entitlement grievance. And from my perspective, with a very modest home I love, a desire to remain in Montclair, and living on a fixed-income, every tax payment I make, and every tax increase, is cause for serious anxiety. To be scornfully dismissed for concerns about the troubling economics of education is raw arrogance. And to change the subject to loopholes for the super rich and corporate bailouts rings hollow, a cheap Saul Alinsky dodge.

    You do yourself no favors by referring to legitimate concerns as “prattling on” and “whining.” If this is the best an educator can do, then I say again, as I suggested earlier, perhaps a little reflection on career choices is called for.

  25. “And from my perspective, with a very modest home I love, a desire to remain in Montclair, and living on a fixed-income, every tax payment I make, and every tax increase, is cause for serious anxiety. “

    Well, you and the Montclair Bakery should be quite piqued over the 2022 municipal property tax increase that would be totally unnecessary if the MC Hotel paid their bills. Maybe Councilor Yacobellis will now hold the 2nd adult school installment in how to understand both budget documents.

  26. And to bring this full circle to the Vote Montclair members, that truly don’t understand how our government works, but want to change our form of government to a strong mayor. Well, the Councils have granted our Mayors the authority to execute and modify All the Redevelopment Area financial agreements. Again, that is under our current form of government. VM – let me know if you need more education on the topic or if all your members are satisfied to blindly follow based on with what you know now.

  27. Can we “get real” here people? Brigatista made some thoughtful valid points above.
    I can only speak for myself here, but I don’t think I’m alone….
    Here it is: Most teachers are dedicated professionals who indeed deserve decent pay and benefits for the service they provide to society, as well as their professional study efforts and their dedication to students. Kudos, to the teachers’s unions who historically helped them achieve the salary and benefits they rightly deserve.
    However, now here it comes MP…(and other staunch union defenders here on this thread) — Can you not possibly see that perhaps what people have a problem with is that the union today as evolved to a point that perhaps tips the scale too far? Often today we have seen some “over-the top” agendas on behalf of teachers unions across the country tipping the scales too far into the “self-interest” territory, thus causing harm to the educational system as well as the students they “serve”? The pandemic issues was a front row seat to this issue. We also know of situations where unions protect the interests of even those who don’t meet the professional performance bar. This causes resentment among teachers themselves, as well as the general public because that is not tolerated in work environments not protected by a union. Union representation should most definitlely protect unjust employee disciplinary issues, but when underperformance issues are defended, well that just causes general resentment.

  28. Brigattista,
    Your first assumption, that I am an educator, is wrong. Which might surprise you that someone who is not an educator would be so entrenched in their corner, would appreciate their hard work for relatively low pay, particularly in such an expensive part of the country to live in. Yes, I believe that teachers’ work is high on the list of Most Important and that work has historically been undervalued, or disrespected, by too many, and most of all by education reformers. Second, your allegation that I — and I suppose Mr. Astor — are only focused on money is laughable, when it is you and a couple others here complaining (is that better than whining?) about teacher pensions. Are they unsustainable? Perhaps they are, and there is a discussion to be had about converting defined pensions to a version of 401K-type plans, as is the case for the state’s educators on the college level. But again, when state and federal priorities are to stuff the pockets of big business, it is more than fair to point that out. Many other countries, ones that value public education and educators much more than we do, seem to work this out just fine. (As is the case with universal health care). Meanwhile, I do appreciate that your argument does not seem to stoop to baseless attacks on teacher performance, as flipside does (nothing unusual there). And I also do not minimize the challenge of fixed income living in Nothern NJ, which I am also quite familiar with. That is an almost entirely different discussion that would have to venture into how our state funds its schools (leaving an unfair burden on municipalities), the ridiculous number of school districts there are and a host of other issues. Regards.

  29. “Often today we have seen some “over-the top” agendas on behalf of teachers unions across the country tipping the scales too far into the “self-interest” territory, thus causing harm to the educational system as well as the students they “serve”? The pandemic issues was a front row seat to this issue.”

    The union’s reluctance to return to live school was actually more than justified given the condition of the buildings, which should now be obvious to even those who staged knee jerk protests and inspired the district to sue the union. On the one hand, they blamed the union for the closure of old and poorly ventilated schools. On the other hand, they cried, what a disgrace it is that Montclair’s schools are in such bad condition–so let’s blame it on Spiller and union manipulation and have an elected school board. All this “tipping the scales” and “self-interest” and “over-the-top” to protect “poor performance” — they are standard reformer talking points that seldom, if ever, provide specific examples. Have we all known people, ourselves included, who have complained about a teacher’s performance with a certain child? Of course we have. Rest assured that another parent raved about the same teacher with a different child. Has there ever been a teacher who checked out or burned out? Obviously. Does that justify applying that measure to the overwhelming majority that are dedicated and excellent?

  30. Thank you Frank. 35 contributions in this thread, until we finally get to, “A very stupid conversation.” So you! But what took so long? Time better spent cleaning out the cat litter.

  31. Watchungski,

    Dave’s column was on VM.
    VM didn’t arise out of our collective urgent need to vote more (as recent events reconfirmed). VM gained traction NOT because of COVID. VM gained traction because parents have long had this nagging feeling our school district was seriously not measuring up. Some newer parents to Montclair just said WTF? COVID only blew up the rationalizations many parents, the rank & file, and the school district management were using to avoid acknowledging the obvious.

    This is a stupid conversation because it is clear any consensus will not be allowed, much less recognize the district showcases institutional mediocrity. No, VM said what it said. We will tweak the system by giving everyone the opportunity to step out and pull some levers.

    Change typically doesn’t happen without problem definition. This conversation is stuck on who is qualified to say. The parents are often enemies of change. They exclude people that are not like them; in their situation. Montclair has their own social Cone of Silence for only those allowed in…and off the record obviously. But, they just know what they know. They are past learning. Too many are just talking to themselves.

  32. Frank, all kidding aside in my 5:58 a.m. comment, I think the conversation has been quite good — informative, respectful, and sincere as people’s opinions differed.

  33. Montclair Public, There is no measurable difference in proficiency scores in 17 year olds from the 1970’s to 2020. The cost per pupil has more than doubled in inflation adjusted dollars. An even bigger increase in Montclair and NJ. Why would a taxpayers and parents be concerned? Why wouldn’t they? Perhaps the education system needs major reform so that the tax dollars are used more efficiently and the kids gain maximum benefit. The data shows that throwing money at the current system provides no benefit to the students. Hey, it’s for the kids…right?

  34. Much like several Francis Ford Coppola’s productions? And a little longer and far afield than necessary?

  35. Ha, Frank. 🙂

    Given that a comments section is segmented by different comments that get published gradually over several days, even a long comments section doesn’t feel that long to me visually or content-wise. And tangents or semi-tangents are often interesting.

    Re Francis Ford Coppola’s “oeuvre,” my cat is partial to “Apocalypse Meow.” 😺

  36. Yea, when I saw this grossly inadequate iteration of BoE highlighted among their $190,000,000.00 spend…a state of the art, NFL regulation, astroturf football (yes, football) field for Hillside’s 3,4 & 5th graders. You can’t make this stuff up…unless Tram Up Montclair has veto power over your capital plan. Now folks, I’m just kidding. Dr Pond’s owns this plan and Team Up Mtc is no longer BFF with the BoE.

  37. Here’s a question for Baristanet: What’s the most number of contributions to the Comments Section ever recorded in this space? We’re nearing fifty right now, just a week after Dave launched his latest column. It would be interesting to find out what really lights up this readership, and if any patterns can be gleaned. If it’s not about the schools, what else could it be?
    My guesses just for the recent past:

    Vote Montclair, in Three Acts.

    The current Mayor’s dual roles (an elected official representing odd special interest constituencies: 1) taxpaying voters 2) a tax-consuming teachers union, a.k.a. conflict of interest) and 3) running a tax-levying ponzi scheme in the most corrupt region of America outside of Cook County

    The firing/retirement of the town attorney.

    Whether “Hate Has No Home Here” yard signs have a clause that states, “Donald Trump exempted”

    How many locals actually watch the Colbert Show? (Be honest, everyone, you used to love him on Stewart; these days? Mostly bleh. Am I right?

    Other suggestions welcome. Baristanet, would love to see if you have poll numbers you could publish. It’d be great for readers!

    ontclair Public Schools is the leader.

  38. Watchungski, you’re right that school topics, and school-related topics, can potentially draw many comments.

    During the five years my column has been with Baristanet, there have been 50-plus comments underneath it a few times. Maybe over 100 comments twice or so?

  39. Comments? Well, next week we have the BoE $190,000,000.00 capital budget “public input”, then next up will be the 2020-21 Annual Audit & Corrective Action Plan Presentation, then at some point the 2021-22 Annual School Budget, and then the new MEA contract maybe by June.

  40. Frank, money needed to improve Montclair’s school buildings will be one of my April 7 column topics.

  41. Dave,

    I see today Montclair Local online has a columnist who seems to be a direct competitor in the Progressive space. You should bask in this flattery.

  42. Richie Chevat? He’s an excellent writer — very topical and very funny.

    If the sun ever comes out, I’ll bask in that. 🙂

    Thank you, Frank!

Comments are closed.