Other bloggers have challenged the Long Branch Advocate (now rated "Favorite" by Sophia's Mom!) to offer hard suggestions on how we could do a better job than Joseph “Mr. Visionary” Ferraina and the Long Branch Board of Education. Despite their preposterous premises that only Mr. Ferraina possesses a gift of management so enlightened and advanced to justify a compensation package of close to a third of a million dollars, the Long Branch Advocate has never shrunk from a challenge, even ones made by anonymous confederates of those doing harm to our community.
So, here goes:
Suggestion No. 1: Never name a school building after yourself or another living person. It invites disaster, puffs egos and belittles the work ethic that an honest day’s work earns one an honest day’s pay.
Suggestion No. 2: When running a major, multi-million dollar, urban, depressed school district, a nationwide search for the best and brightest candidates should be earnestly undertaken to fill vacancies for Superintendent and Principal positions. Internal candidates should only be hired if they are clearly the “best and brightest.” Candidates who do not possess an earned Doctorate in education or other appropriate field should not be considered for the Superintendent’s position or any Principal-level position at the Middle School or High School level.
Suggestion No. 3: Never personally benefit from holding elected or appointed office beyond just compensation due for services rendered. Free meals, trips, cars, drivers, insurance, personal pension plans, reimbursement for health expenses and the like SMACK of unjust compensation or collusion.
Suggestion No. 4: Excellent working relationships with municipal leaders must be developed and maintained at all times—just because the school is not run by the city does not mean that the two should not work as a team.
Suggestion No. 5: Nepotism is bad. Don’t hire your friends or family to positions in the school district and don’t pressure others to do so on your behalf. If a friend or family member is qualified to hold such a position, they will no doubt find work in another district without your intervention—and if they do a good job in that position they will likely hold it for many years without your help.
Then again, if a friend or family member needs your help in order to get a job you probably are doing more harm to society than good by pulling strings to get them public employment.
Suggestion No. 6: Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you need to spend the money. It is bad enough that we are classified as an Abbott District—don’t make things worse by spending every possible dollar on things that are nice to have but are not required to have. School districts like ours don’t need three or more principals per school and multiple assistant superintendents for every function under the sun—just because you can afford it on the backs of taxpayers outside of the district.
Long Branch is a great town. If our schools and students NEED something, we should pay for it ourselves within our own means. If we are going to spend this kind of money in the schools we should have a better track record (graduation rates, No Child Left Behind ratings) to show for it.
Suggestion No. 7: Debate is good and healthy for democracy. Public discourse on matters of public decisions is imperative for the health of our republic. Dissent in the media or by members of the pubic should be actively engaged by those elected and appointed to offices of public trust—NOT crushed. Hiring local reporters and dissenters to silence all questions and commentary is contrary to the democratic ideal.
Having said that, this blog was silenced for a time due to the volume and variety of threats and challenges made by supporters of the people and programs we questioned online. We were guilty of silence when challenged once—but won’t be twice.
Suggestion No. 8: Publicly advertise the means and methods for citizens interested in running for seats on the Board of Education when the time for nominations arrives in the winter. Incumbents should not hide from competition. . . and the Board Secretary should not dodge responsibility for promoting participatory democracy.
Suggestion No. 9: Positions of employment within the School District should be strictly limited to those positions promoting student achievement and supporting the personnel systems that provide those positions. Promotion of elected officials, appointed officials or programs that are “nice” but not directly related to student achievement should be eliminated from service and barred from future use.
Suggestion No. 10: All paid employees who hold responsibility for the overall success of programs, schools or district operations should be paid an honest salary for honest work and then offered incentives for successful accomplishment of key benchmarks directly related to the positive advancement of student achievement. Such benchmarks should not be easily achieved or they should be included in the expectations of the base position.
So, for those naysayers out there who say we are all talk and no suggestion, here ya go. Fire away.
We will gladly respond to your efforts to discredit our participation in exercising our first