Monday, August 30, 2010

NJEA . . . The Race to the Bottom

By clicking on the above headline you can view the New Jersey Application #3550NJ-4

NJEA . . . The Race to the Bottom
by Joe Sinagra on Monday, August 30, 2010
New Jersey lost the Race to the Top education grant by 4.8 points.

Governor Christie took shots at the President and the Federal Government, with the Democrat fangs waiting in the wings drooling over the opportunity to draw blood.

Education Commissioner Bret Schundler supplied figures for 2010 and 2011, when the question specifically asked for data from 2008 and 2009. This was the reason that supposedly cost the state of New Jersey the loss of $400 million.

The New Jersey Education Association partied in the streets, the next morning, Schundler was fired.

The rationale of why he was fired is another matter. The real issue at hand is why the NJEA is not being held accountable.

A major perquisite of the program required the endorsement of the districts and the endorsement of the unions, out of which only 4 out of 591 districts, signed. The NJEA claimed that they did not have a chance to review the application over the holiday weekend and wouldn’t sign on to the program, unless it was submitted as they had previously agreed upon with Schundler. This latter agreement clearly did not meet the terms of the program nor those of the Christie administration, and NJ failed miserably in the first phase of the competition. However, 4 districts of the NJEA had affixed their signatures to the Christie version of the application, along with 289 of the 591 school districts.

The application has a section on the endorsement of parties involved, which include the NJEA, the school districts, and the NJDOE. Since the NJEA did not essentially approve, and the reviewers clearly state that only 1% of the unions had agreed to the proposal, the reviewers took off 15-20 points.

Then there is another section on implementation and how they will make it work. Since the union would not agree to the application, the reviewers say that this would hinder the implementation of the plan, deducting further additional 15-20 points.

The reviewers of the application state on the reviews, that the NJEA had cost New Jersey 30-40 points on the application. Yet, the NJEA was dancing like a cat on a hot tin roof over a missed 5-point question.

The investigation should be over why the NJEA lost the grant, not the less than 5 points lost by the incorrect information supplied by Schundler.

"While much of the New Jersey proposal is strong, one important fact makes it unlikely to succeed," one reviewer wrote. "Forty nine percent of the state's LEAs will not participate in this proposal. That is a significant number and ... New Jersey will find it difficult to implement even successful elements of its RTTT (Race to the Top) proposals."

The lack of the union's endorsement alone cost the state 14 points on the scale.

NJEA President Barbara Keshishian, owes the people of New Jersey an explanation for why this application failed, not Christie.

View Application:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unemployment rates show no sign of decrease

There are many who criticize the unemployed for not trying to find work and accuse them of living off the system. Not since the 1930’s has the US has seen a recession this great.

I consider myself fortunate enough to work for a great company, but there are many who are not so lucky.

Those who make comments such as,”they aren’t looking hard enough”, or “if they really wanted work they would have found something by now”, are either still employed or living in a vacuum. Ask anyone out of work if they enjoy collecting their “earned” benefits.

Jobs lost in the past few years will be not be coming back. Many U.S. jobs have, or will continue to move overseas or be replaced by technology. Those jobs that do come back are not going to be hiring at previous salaries as the jobs of the next decade do not look rewarding. As an example, the number of home health aides is expected to expand by 461,000. But their median earnings come to just $20,460 — well below the median U.S. wage of $32,390. Also, future benefit packages that were expected from employers will not be as lucrative and top paying jobs of the future will be minimal. Bio-medical engineers, as an example, will account for just 12,000 of the more than 15 million new jobs expected to emerge through 2018.

The job market is grim, and the economy does not look like it will explode anytime soon. Many have lost their benefits, still looking, or just gave up. Anyone previously making $40,000 a year or more certainly does not want to live off the system, especially those with families, mortgages and car payments.

They will hold on to what little they have, they cannot afford to save, and they won’t have anything extra to spend. Consumer spending, which fuels economic and job growth, is likely to remain weak for a long time to come.

The US lost an additional 131,000 jobs in July as the unemployment rate were predicted to go to 9.6%, and held firm at 9.5 %, as 652,000 people abandoned their job searches.. The Bureau for Labor Statistics revised its figures for June downwards, reporting that 221,000 jobs had been lost compared to its original estimate of 125,000.

Even though the U.S. economy added an average of less than 100,000 jobs a month in the first seven months of 2010, it still wasn’t enough to bring unemployment down.

New Jersey lost 245,400 private-sector jobs, a 7.1 percent decline, according to the NJ Department of Labor, between February 2008, at the start of this employment recession, and January of this year, an average monthly loss of 10,225 jobs over the 24-month period. At that rate it could take a decade for the state to reclaim the nearly 250,000 private-sector jobs it has lost over the past two years.

If New Jersey adds about 30,000 jobs per year starting in 2012, it would take until 2019, to reclaim all of the private-sector jobs lost to date and to regain the last private-sector employment peak of 3.44 million jobs, set in January 2008.

Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston said, “If we don’t see significant job growth by the end of the year, the US economy could be in serious trouble.”

Until Americans know that they will not lose their job because their company is in trouble and start feeling a sense of security, there is no way that their outlook on the economy will turn around, regardless of what economists may say.

Even if the job market held at a steady pace, without consumer confidence the market will stay stagnant.

~ Joe Sinagra