Tuesday, April 27, 2010

School Board Elections are NOT BORING

A 2 out of 3 fresh slate of candidates was elected to the Jersey City School Board last week including Carol Lester (center right in photo) who runs a charter school. The winning candidates were backed by our reform-minded city councilman Steven Fulop.

Results according to NJ.com
Sterling Waterman - 7,183 votes
Angel Valentin - 6,678 votes (incumbent)
Carol Lester - 3,988 votes

Also the teacher's budget was approved, which is a big commitment from the community considering that property taxes here are already sky high.

We'll see what they can do with limited resources, but overcoming the machine candidates and getting fresh perspectives onto the board is very impressive.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pilot Program

I want to put together a one-day conference to brainstorm about an interactive civics program for kids. The idea would be to get together some of the people I interviewed in the film and develop a curriculum for a short time frame - like once a week for 6 weeks. Then try the program out here in Jersey City, maybe this summer. The project could be filmed and made into a short piece to be used as a model for other schools.

The program will be called "Become Your Dream" - based on the phrase that the artist DE LA VEGA tagged all over NYC. I spoke with him, a while back and he was cool with the idea.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blogging Again

I voted today for 3 positions on the Jersey City School Board. It was the most depressing time I've ever voted. There is no money for the schools, and the taxes already are crazy high. I talked to a woman at the local city council office who described herself as broker than broke. People are unemployed/partially employed (that would be me) and they would normally support a raise for their teachers, but the teachers are asking for a 4% raise each year with zero inflation - and no one on the board has even seen a copy of the contract that was negotiated. Everything here in NJ seems to be done in some swapped-out deal in a deep dark back room and now the state is totally broke, and a lot of elected officials are either under indictment for something or pleading guilty to bribery and corruption charges. Meanwhile there are plenty of people at the top of the School Administration system and other government offices still making 6 figure salaries and driving mercedes. The vote was for 3 School Board positions and whether or not to ratify the contract for the teachers. If you ratify the contract the taxes go up and if you don't ratify it the teachers are devalued and either way there's going to be layoffs.

Total lose/lose scenario.