PERTH AMBOY — Political retribution was at the top of her agenda when Janine Walker Caffrey returned as superintendent of schools — after Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s minions reinstated her over the wishes of the duly elected Board of Education — demonstrated exactly why the anti-public education administrator is wrong on the issue of teacher tenure.
Caffrey relegated Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vivian Rodriguez a basement office at the former School No. 7, because the well-liked and respected doctor filled in as acting superintendent while she was on suspension.
“Dr. Rodriguez was banished from administrative headquarters,” said Donna Chiera, president of the Perth Amboy Federation of Teachers. “It’s like banishing the vice president.”
Caffrey also suspended two teachers who used their off time to do some volunteering in support of mayoral candidate Billy Delgado, who is challenging the incumbent Mayor Wilda Diaz, a school voucher advocate who has close ties to the Republic governor.
The Board of Education’s Sept. 22 vote to suspend the derelict administrator through the remainder of her contract was the third attempt to get rid of Caffrey to be disrupted by the GOP Governor’s state education department.
The school board voted to place Caffrey on paid administrative leave through the remainder of her contract, but she is being defended by union-busting politicians and a shadowy ‘education reform’ group established by Wall Street billionaires who want to make it easier to fire teachers.
That front group, known as Better Education for Kids, is dispatching political operatives to influence the election to get rid of incumbent school board members who refused to allow Caffrey to undermine public school from within one of the state’s ‘special needs districts’ — a term describing cities where educating the poorest children is a state mandate consequent to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ‘Abbott’ rulings.
Perth Amboy is clearly representative of the “47 percent” that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney referred to in a closed-door fundraiser that was secretly recorded. It is also clearly at bottom of the “99 percent” of Americans that Occupy Wall Street and other groups allege is being exploited by the richest fraction of the population.
City residents are hard-working individuals who cannot find jobs that pay enough to support families or retired citizens who have already invested in decades of labor, and therefore rely on government programs to stay alive with any hope of progress.
While few residents consider themselves ‘victims’ in any way, the fact is that this group lost about half their net worth in the financial crisis that resulted from policies promulgated during the eight years Republican President George W. Bush was in office.
The struggle between Caffrey and the Board of Education incumbents mirrors efforts by the rich to use their wealth to shift power and influence away from working class Americans, making Perth Amboy Ground Zero for class warfare that threatens.
Incumbent Mayor Wilda Diaz has been supportive of Caffrey’s efforts to turn the city’s 11,000-student school district into a model for neoconservative ideology such as union-busting, privatization and austerity.
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