During Dr Epps dozen years tenure as Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) superintendent students’ test scores have been in the bottom 20 percent of the state. By the time the Board Of Education (BOE) finally eased him out 32 out of 37 schools were failing. In many classes the failure rates exceeded 70 percent. Yet, Dr Epps has been most successful in spending huge amounts of taxpayer money (more per student than NYC!), most notably on his own salary, perks, benefits and lavish golden parachute. Dr Epps has kept his job thanks to a BOE beholden to the teachers union, with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Healey. However, thanks largely to the efforts and inspiration of Councilman Fulop we finally have a BOE of the people, by the people, for the children. That board has replaced the serially failing Dr Epps with Dr Lyles, one of the best, most successful educators in the country. In order to curry favor with the teachers union Mayor Healey tried vigorously to protect Dr Epps’ job, and when this failed he tried his best to prevent the appointment of Dr Lyles.
While political calculations are par for the course for elected office, selling short the future of JC children is an unforgivable act of callousness. Mayor Healey has been shamelessly telling teachers that if he loses the forthcoming mayoral election they would all lose their jobs. Actually the opposite is more likely: good teachers, which are the overwhelming majority of JCPS teachers, would finally be treated as the valued professionals they are, with well deserved recognition and rewards for their dedication. Mayor Healey recons that insecure teachers vote and contribute to political campaigns, children don’t. What’s missing from this crass calculus is that clear thinking, dedicated teachers also vote, concerned citizens vote, parents vote. On May 14, please vote.