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Est. April 5, 2002
May 05, 2016 - Issue 652

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Trenton, New Jersey
School Board Member
Dr. Jane Rosenbaum
'Sleeping' While Privatizing the
Trenton Public Schools

"The Cartel is hell bent on making
New Jersey’s capitol city a shining example
of public school privatization with an
African American mayor at the helm. The
achievement of this objective will have an
even greater impact statewide and nationally."

At its April 25th meeting, the Trenton Board of Education took giant steps toward privatizing its public schools: laying-off staff and privatizing special education and other services previously delivered by teachers and paraprofessionals. More than 400 citizens turned out to protest these nefarious actions, overflowing the board room and filling up additional space in a basement venue. The meeting was sometimes raucous, but one Board member, Dr. Jane Rosenbaum, a Rider University professor, who was recently re-appointed by Mayor Eric Jackson, was able to ‘sleep through’ through much of the gathering.

Some of Rosenbaum’s students and colleagues have also observed her dozing in campus classes and meetings. They have assumed that she has low energy or that she may suffer from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. (She could possibly be helped with the prescription drug for narcolepsy, Provigil.) Either way, it appears she needs professional help. It is apparent that Dr. Rosenbaum is physically incapable of serving effectively on the Board, especially during this period of Board-community conflicts.

To date, Jackson has strongly backed Rosenbaum and his other appointees saying that he is “…confident that they’ll do a good job… It’s a board where you have to commit and give up your time, a lot of energy to be sacrificed at times.”

The mayor is in error as demonstrated by the sloppy and biased superintendent’s search, which yielded two finalists, who had recently been fired for questionable and perhaps criminal actions. Pursuant to strong community and union pressure, he and the Board were forced to cancel the search process nine hours before the meeting where they were to make a selection between the two.

Moreover, not a single member of this so-called committed Board has a child enrolled in the Trenton Public Schools (with the exception of Denise Millington who has a grandchild in the district) which is an indication of its lack of connectedness to the students, parents, and broader community for whom they make education policy. In addition, the majority of the Board, as is Mayor Jackson, is controlled by and beholden to Gov. Christie and the corporate Cartel education reformers who have rained down corporate charters and the privatization of school services on the city of Trenton.

And Dr. Rosenbaum has been a loyal servant in these initiatives while ‘sleeping through them,’ only waking up to vote YES for the latest school privatization remedy designed to address the ails of the Trenton Public Schools.

The Cartel is hell bent on making New Jersey’s capitol city a shining example of public school privatization with an African American mayor at the helm. The achievement of this objective will have an even greater impact statewide and nationally as it has already been largely accomplished in Camden and Newark, two cities also headed by black mayors. The Cartel uses these corporate triumphs as marketing tools as they target other majority-minority school districts across the country in their continuing national march to dismantle public education.

The results are vivid in Detroit, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, and numerous other urban school districts in the bullseye of privatization. In the wake of this destruction are hundreds of thousands of unemployed professional educators and paraprofessionals of color who have been relegated to the scrap heap of the post-industrial, private-sector dominant contemporary society. Public-sector employees, public school personnel in particular, are the present cannon fodder to feed the corporate appetites for more profits no matter what the costs.

School boards are serving as the first level assassins in this crusade as they have decimated the working- and middle-classes of color in city after city, and these policies are often implemented by individuals who look like and claim to represent the people they are exploiting. The intoxicating nature of racial and ethnic affinity has lulled communities of color to sleep as their own members stick the knives in their economic backs over wages, jobs, benefits, and their economic survival.

While snuggling up with education unions and grassroots community activists and pledging his undying support for public education in hotly contested primary and run-off races in his first bid for mayor, Eric Jackson also cut a deal with Cartel school privatization leaders and promised to help them disassemble the public education apparatus, receiving considerable campaign funding and in-kind support from all groups. After taking office, he quietly appointed and re-appointed the Cartel’s handpicked Board members-- Jason Redd, Gerald Truehart, and Dr. Jane Rosenbaum-- to carry out the education reform agenda of corporate charter schools and the privatization of school services.

Redd, who works for a Cartel law firm, and Truehart, who is employed by a charter school, proved to be aggressive and sometimes condescending proponents of the plan. Rosenbaum, a Rider University professor, added heft to the group with membership in her university’s faculty union.

Working with the interim superintendent, Lucy Feria, who was a key cog in the transfer of the Philadelphia Public Schools to the charter school sector and the layoffs of thousands of public school workers, they have positioned Trenton to become another New Orleans which currently has nine public schools left with the rest being turned into voucher and charter schools.

As chair of the Board’s curriculum committee, which handles special education matters, Rosenbaum has wreaked havoc on the district’s paraprofessionals—laying them off and privatizing their jobs, while ‘sleeping on the job.’

On Sunday, May 8th, Rev. J. Stanley Justice will honor Trenton’s paraprofessionals at a Mother’s Day service at his Greater Mt. Zion AME Church. Many in the Trenton community are urging him to challenge Mayor Jackson in the next election. Meanwhile at least two Trenton City Council members are quietly testing the waters for a mayoral run, and Paul Perez, who was also backed by the Cartel in his 2014 loss to Jackson, has been running for mayor continuously since his defeat.

The upcoming May 15th rally at the state capitol, to advocate for more state funding for the Trenton Public Schools, could serve as a sorting out as prospective candidates gauge the participants’ dissatisfaction with Mayor Jackson in order to take their next steps.

Since the Board has announced that it will attend the rally, the question is whether Dr. Jane Rosenbaum will ‘fall asleep at the rally’ as she does routinely at Board meetings.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has appeared on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and National Public Radio’s The Connection to discuss public school privatization, and he has lectured to parent, teacher, and union groups throughout the nation. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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