Governor Chris Christie has announced a state takeover of the Camden school system to force privatization programs. The privatization program had been stymied by residents and their local representatives who did not want to lose their public school system. Now privatization advocates have been able to go around local authorities and have the Governor hand them power.
Chris Christie was formerly a registered lobbyist for education privatization firm Edison Schools Inc. His current education commissioner, Chris Cerf, was previously President of Edison Schools Inc. at the time of Christie’s employment.
Christie’s acting education commissioner, Christopher Cerf, has experience in public-private school partnerships. He previously led Edison Schools, a for-profit company that became the largest private-sector manager of public schools. Cerf left the company, now called EdisonLearning, in 2005.
Christie is also connected to for-profit education companies, including Cerf’s.
From 1999 to 2001, Christie was a registered lobbyist at a law firm that lobbied New Jersey government on behalf of Edison Schools, according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. While the firm was representing the multinational education company, Chris Cerf was its general counsel.
The record of state takeovers of school systems in New Jersey is awful. It has worked literally nowhere. But by bypassing the local authorities it has provided profitable opportunities for so called “school choice” advocates – whose advocacy is Neoliberal in the abstract and avaricious in the real.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that charter schools, merit pay, and drill and kill testing make no difference – Camden City is going to get another round of shock therapy. And this time parents, teachers, and the community are completely shut out as former and current privatizers sharpen their knives to feast on taxpayer money. But remember, it’s about the children.
Photo is screenshot of Chris Christie speaking at Republican National Convention