I just completed the Reimagine survey.

I am offended at the positioning of the questions and the mindset of “how much of a tax increase should we do to give you things you should have already been getting?”

It’s insulting.

Also, not providing any mechanism for qualitative feedback or comments is annoying. I would have like to provided the rationale for some of my responses. But then, who in the school administration would want to read those? Why would they care what I think?

So, poor you, you’ll get my thoughts. Feel free to share if you agree or you can bash me in the comments if you don’t. You’re welcome to do so.

  1. I am not that big a fan of the status quo. The K-2 and 3-5 breakdowns in elementary don’t make an incredible amount of sense to me for families with multiple children. The reality is that parents want to drop off their kids and see them walk in. I am not in that camp, but it is the norm. I don’t believe that the dynamic of a wider cross section of grades within a school will necessarily result in an increase in problems such as bullying.
  2. Busing kids is awful and splitting kids northside and southside will stress parents. Cranford has two traffic obstacles, the train tracks and the river. There are three ways to get between North and South Ave – Lincoln, Union, and Centennial to Springfield. Two of them are horrible. The proposed Dunkin Donuts on Lincoln would make the third one horrible. Buses will cut down on the number of cars, but will also create traffic problems as they can’t maneuver as easily in some of the tighter intersections. Also, I think busing would increase bullying issues more than a K-5 arrangement ever would…just my opinion, but I grew up taking buses and it stank. You waste hours a week of children’s time as the bus wends its way picking up kids. You want to lose 2 hours of your child’s day? Put ’em on a bus.
  3. Our child has highlighted to us the issues in classes where Northside kids and Southside kids have had divergent experiences and learning gaps. But that could happen when you have multiple sections of a class and one teacher emphasizes something that the another teacher does not. Plus that only really is an impact during freshman year. Could there be a better art room or music teacher? Maybe. Could be, like so many times, the worse one with seniority is the one that wins the decision. By combining middle schools, Cranford could benefit from having combined middle school sports, higher quality sets for the middle school musicals, and, and…I don’t really know.
  4. Full-day kindergarten would be nice. We would have liked to have had it, but we’re talking about 200 kids per grade per year town-wide. Going full-day would be 1 teacher and 1 room in each of the 5 elementaries assuming classes of roughly 20 (if each was a K-5). Why does that reality spur such a plan of upheaval? If you assume 750 Walnut will dump about 300 kids to only the south side, (assuming an even distribution of kids that would be 25 kids per grade, which would mean 6 more rooms in a K-5 school on the southside.)  That’s half a school right there. And I’d be interested in knowing the number of kids from households in newer apartment such as Cranford Crossing, Woodmont, (and when it’s finished) Birchwood. What kind of data would help us expect a realistic number of kids?

Then the obnoxiousness of trying to get us to buy in on tax increases. Um, no. Not until we give a hard look at the administrative headcount (which won’t happen). There is always something that would be nice to have. For example, more air-conditioning would be nice, but how necessary must it be? It reminds me of a Corzine town hall at UCC where he presented his plan on monetizing the toll roads. He dangled the (now-completed and even at the time already planned and budgeted-for) entrance to 78 West as an incentive. The crowd was less than enthusiastic regardless of the token of something we wanted.

Here too.

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And not just for the “Aunt Becky is going to jail” memes.

Her behavior, and the rationale behind it, highlights the insanity of the college prep and admission process and culture.

And the hypocrisy that is undermining the credibility of the so-called elites.

Most parents, and nearly all Cranford parents, want their kids to do well and work hard to prep them so they can have a good start, learn to make good choices, and have as many open doors available as possible.

It’s what we do here. Consider the Union County Magnet school? Yep. Cranford High School University Program? Yep. Load them up with AP classes? Yep. Make sure they do a sport? Yep.

But then there is the lunacy of the college application fodder.

  • Start and maintain a non-profit that works on a community problem
  • Service Projects
  • Write a book
  • Start a business
  • Create an iphone app
  • Work a meaningful job / internship

And the list lengthens every year.

So Lori Loughlin wanted the best for her kids. Her crime is that she was not a successful Tiger Mom and wanted to get from Point A to Point B without screaming at her obviously lazy and entitled kids all day.

I don’t think it’s that rare. A good friend of mine admitted to me a few years ago that his son would not write his college application essay. At all. He just wouldn’t do it. So my friend actually sat down and wrote them. I was saddened to hear it, but I understood. This is the mindset.

The idiots who run college admissions have millions of families running a hamster wheel of absurdity. And for most it will be for a degree of limited utility and a lot of debt. The whole equation is broken.

So parents think that if their kid gets into an elite school, they will have the experience and the network to be among the mucky mucks. That would give them the best shot over the usual state schools, right?

But what if your kids aren’t driven? Or not brilliant? Or immature to the point that they won’t appreciate things until later?

If you have half a million laying around, maybe you do what Lori Laughlin did.

I don’t understand why she just didn’t give that money as a donation to the desired university. Those kinds of actions and the legacy / celebrity stuff has gotten marginal kids into elite universities for generations (see Bush, George W.) An even worse recent example is David Hogg leveraging his celebrity and getting into Harvard where his SATs were only a few hundred points too low.

Maybe Lori Loughlin was conned in a way.

Regardless, it is unfortunate. It is an ethical lapse on her part, but not an evil intent.

But the upside in all this is that it helps confirm that some of these elite school grads that to tell us what to do all the time, like what kinds of cars we can drive and whether or not we can still ride in planes, aren’t all that. They aren’t smarter than we are. They aren’t better than we are. They’re just connected because of who their parents are and how much money they had. They are not worth listening to.

And hopefully it brings to light that value we place on college education is misplaced. It is to a certain extent what economists call a credence good. Which means it is a good that you consume but you can’t really tell if it is high quality or low quality even after you consume it. The quality connotation comes from reputation and price. For the most part that is what college is. You can get a bad education at an expensive school with a good reputation. Conversely, you can get a good education at a lesser school. A lot of it depends on the engagement and drive of the consumer. I think that far too many of us consider outdated reputations and anecdotal evidence in what is a “good school”. And we’re overworking and overpaying as a result.

The downside is for the actual elite grads of these universities. They are really the victims here, as their degrees are cheapened. I am good friends with some young Harvard grads. They are legitimately smart and very hard-working. But there is a difference with the ones I know: They are not from money. They are from rural areas and they are indeed all that.

They are the ones who this hurts the most.

 

 

 

 

Well, he did make this a big campaign promise. We now will have a $15 minimum wage.

https://www.nj.com/expo/news/g66l-2019/02/eb7f9cd3567249/murphy-just-enacted-a-15-minimum-wage-for-nj-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-it.html

Favorite quote:

Case in point: NJ Transit.

A friend of mine took a new job in Jersey City soon after the first of the year, and has been posting nearly daily of his commuting sob story on Facebook. Sometimes his travails are amusing, but in the roughly 20 working days or so this month, he has about 17 sob stories.

Yeah, it’s getting old. I suggested he do some data collection and track the futility. It won’t be pretty.

Since it is very evident that service levels have declined (I went to the city one evening last week and it took two hours, mostly due to inexplicable pauses before Newark and before Secaucus). But the handful I have used NJTransit in the past few months it has usually included a late train or a missed connection.

As a token gesture, they provided a 10% discount to mollify the masses. Ooooooh. But then they gave those tickets a January 31 expiration date (I have two extra if anyone wants to buy them off me).

But now the service cuts due to NJ Transits incompetence in meeting federal safety standards over the course of years will now go on until April.

Why? When the work was supposed to be completed on January 31?

The shutdown! They couldn’t get the Federal Railroad Commission to sign off on the work.

February 28 would make it more believable if the work was done. The government didn’t lose that many working days.

So when April passes, and it becomes June before the service is restored, prepare to hear plenty on how the shutdown is the reason why.

Sigh.

https://www.nj.com/traffic/2019/01/suspended-nj-transit-rail-lines-wont-run-until-spring-but-some-discounts-disappear-this-month.html

 

 

So the Watcher House people look like they are trying to resurrect their legend, I am assuming, in order to get that elusive book or movie deal:

https://nypost.com/2018/11/12/family-terrorized-in-watcher-house-breaks-silence/

“There’s a natural tendency to say, ‘I’ve lived here for 35 years; nothing’s happened to me,’ ” Derek said. “What happened to my family is an affront to their contention that they’re safe, that there’s no such thing as mental illness in their community. People don’t want to believe this could happen in Westfield.”

The couple still has no idea who was behind the letters, but cops have suspected it was someone within a 300-yard range of the house, now home to a new tenant.

I think the cops are being extraordinarily kind to set the radius at 300 yards.

I think it’s much closer to zero.

Update 12/7/18: Ugh. And it worked. They got their movie. How lame. I suggest their Westfield neighbors sue them like crazy for defamation as well as pain and suffering. I can’t even conceptualize how it could be scary. A jump scare from the mailman? A spider in the kitchen?

http://gothamist.com/2018/12/06/the_watcher_house_to_become_subject.php

 

Menendez makes a note to himself: He can pretty much commit murder and still get re-elected.

Leonard Lance is done. So much for bi-partisanship and a willingness to work across the aisle. Will Malinowski bring any pork home? We’ll see.

Locally, the Freeholders are all Dems. No surprise there.

Freeholder

three seats open
3-year term

 

Candidate Party Votes Pct
Alexander Mirabella D 92,743
23.0%
Andrea F. Staten D 91,113
22.6%
Kimberly Mouded D 89,962
22.3%
Patricia Quattrocchi R 42,823
10.6%
Joseph R. Sarno III R 42,877
10.7%
Peter G. Kane R 43,059
10.7%

Freeholder

one seat open
unexpired

 

Candidate Party Votes Pct
Rebecca L. Williams D 92,575
69.0%
Peter B. Lijoi R 41,525
31.0%
And another 3 year term for Da Mayor:

Township Committee

one seat open
3-year term

 

Candidate Party Votes Pct
✔ Thomas H. Hannen, Jr. D 5,861
60.7%
Richard Buontempo R 3,793
39.3%

And the cartel for the Board of Ed got more than one vote, so everyone is in:

Board of Education

three seats open
3-year term

 

Candidate Votes Pct
✔ William Hulse 3,812
31.2%
✔ Maria Loikith 3,878
31.7%
✔ Terry Darling 4,547
37.2%

Board of Education

one seat open
one year unexpired

 

Candidate Votes Pct
✔ Brian T. McCarthy 4,726
100.0%

May all of these people serve their constituents fairly and honestly.

 

 

Some local Girl Scouts took it upon themselves to redraw the bike routes through town. For the past several months, Bernie Wagenblast of Cranford Radio has been doing a great job of throwing tidbits of local history on the CranfordTalks Facebook pages. He did a feature on the creation of the local bike routes and included a picture of the bike route map – which was pretty illegible.

So the map has been fixed. The link to it is in the sidebar and here are the links to the story.

Posted by Cranford Police Department on Thursday, September 13, 2018

https://cranfordbikeways.weebly.com/

https://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/BIke_Ways_of_Cranford/EEQEZ0ck6O

Nice.