Those are the only two possibilities after the debacle in New Jersey’s failure to qualify for Federal “Race to the Top” education funds. This was a $400 million loss to the New Jersey taxpayer.
The Governor’s staff and his arch-enemy, the teacher’s union (NJEA), negotiated an agreement and generated a proposal which, by all indications, would have been a winner. But just like the Governor does not respect women’s health, marriage equality, or teachers’ professionalism, he did not respect the outcome of his own staff’s negotiation process and subsequently had them hurriedly re-draft the proposal over the Memorial Day weekend, without participation by the NJEA. In the course of that effort, a clerical mistake was made which cost about five points in the evaluation process. New Jersey’s proposal lost by three points.
If you watch the Governor’s 30 minute post-mortem press conference, you will see that he is more concerned with placing blame on the evaluators than fixing the root cause of the problem. Amazingly, he pointed out that one person reviewed the proposal for compliance, and his “solution” is to have two people review such proposals in the future. Now, I’ve worked on $400 million proposals, and I can attest that we have had dozens of people – people from outside the submitting agency – review these things to a gnat’s eyelash. The fact that such a blatant non-compliance was overlooked is inexcusable. The by-the-book former prosecutor deceitfully suggested that the evaluation committee should overlook the mistake, or bend the rules to allow New Jersey to submit the requested data. He certainly knows that if that were allowed, Ohio, which bettered New Jersey by only a few points, would have had a justifiable rationale for protest – after all, Ohio played by the rules.
In his press conference, the Governor disingenously admitted that the buck stops at his office, and then proceeded to blame the Obama administration and some unnamed mid-level public servant in state government. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Governor. The fact that a public servant made the mistake is a symptom – your lack of commitment to public education is the cause.
Republicans often rail at the fact that New Jersey sends more money to Washington than we get back. Well, now they only have to look as far as Drumthwacket to understand why.
Cross-posted to Blue Jersey