#b#Why No Coverage of Newt Gingrich?#/b#

On March 23 I attended a speech at Rider University given by former Speaker Newt Gingrich. This program was sponsored by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. The subject was “The Virtues of Capitalism and Free Markets.” I had received notice of the presentation from a friend who requested and acquired tickets. There was little, if any, publicity or reporting in the media of Newt’s lecture.

We expected given the setting to encounter some degree of protest or at least some signs, etc., in the arena; and possibly actions/shouts objecting to the Speaker’s appearance and/ or views.

Much to our surprise, the arrangements and security for this event were flawless. All attendees were directed to available parking. A large campus police presence supported by many student volunteers and others checked every attendee at the entrance (no signs etc.). Others collected tickets at the door, and provided programs and forms for submitting questions. Given the capacity of the arena to watch basketball and folding chairs covering the entire floor, the seated crowd was well over 2,000.

The entire program was on screen and recorded by the Institute for rebroadcast and the record, including the Q&A session. The audience was quiet as in a church, applause was frequent and sustained, the delivery of the speech and response to questions was excellent, one could even say brilliant. The breadth and depth of exploration of the subject matter, with some wonderful anecdotes and personal experiences with presidents thrown in, was a tour de force.

Many people I know who are active in community affairs in the area were there. I did not see any elected officials. The punch line and take-away in all of this is: insofar as I know there was not a single mention of the scheduled event in the local print media nor any media reports after it occurred . Does anyone in the Princeton area even want to know what’s really going on with the Republican leadership in Washington, D.C.?

P.S.: The Rebovich Institute is rigorous in vetting and balancing their speaker invitations to a range of views — Bonnie Watson Coleman, Cory Booker, etc.

John Clearwater

Editor’s Note: We can only reply for U.S. 1. We did list the event in advance in our March 22 edition. To us Gingrich is like any other outside celebrity coming into our area for a few hours, making his presentation, and leaving. If we covered them afterward there would be no room left to report on members of our own community.

A U.S. 1 reporter went to an event last year at Rider with Dinesh D’Souza, which was also listed in advance and only reported on as part of informal commentary afterward. As with the Gingrich event, it was very well run.

#b#Parsing Princeton’s Per Pupil Costs#/b#

After more than four hours of often rancorous discussion during the recent Princeton Public Schools budget meeting, I was extremely disappointed that no one directly addressed the critical question of why Princeton’s gigantic per pupil cost ($24,634) exceeds that of other high achieving K-12 districts in New Jersey, including our neighbors in West Windsor-Plainsboro ($18,677) and Montgomery ($19,155). When I multiply a $5,500 difference by 3,600 students, I get a product of nearly $20,000,000, an enormous annual sum for a town of this size.

One board member briefly responded that economically disadvantaged children require more taxpayer funds without providing an explanation or any examples that would even be remotely acceptable in any workplace forum today. A list of 15 New Jersey K-12 public school districts that have been recognized for high achievement reveals that at least two enroll more economically disadvantaged students than Princeton. They are Montclair ($20,506) and Summit ($19,211).

Another discussion item at the meeting was the existing contract with the “sending” district of Cranbury. Can’t the PPS Board adequately explain why Cranbury only reimburses Princeton $17,000 per high school student while the average per student cost in this district is currently $24,643? Based on the budgets of many high achieving 9-12 regional high school districts in the state, the cost of high school students exceeds that of students in other grades. All of my figures and conclusions are sourced to data from the NJ Department of Education.

Once again, Princeton taxpayers must brace themselves for upcoming increases from all three of the very extravagant tax jurisdictions that control our lives, Princeton Public Schools, the municipality of Princeton, and the County of Mercer. Throughout my neighborhood, houses assessed at $500,000 or even less are being torn down with replacements valued at $1.5 million. When annual revenue for the three tax jurisdictions is instantly tripling from the very same property, why should it be necessary to increase the taxes of the existing, struggling homeowners? When we are already paying property taxes that are among the highest in the entire nation, every increase becomes substantial, at least to some of us.

Folks in Princeton often speak of “diversity” and “inclusion.” For retirees, seniors, and the rapidly dwindling middle class of Princeton, all that we get, time after time, is a door that is slammed in our faces, even after some of us have lived here all of our lives. If you do not understand the true meaning of words, don’t use them so frequently or you risk the appearance of dishonesty and hypocrisy.

Frank Wiener

Loomis Court, Princeton

#b#Racism in School#/b#

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Stephen Cochrane, superintendent of Princeton Public Schools.

On behalf of Not in Our Town Princeton, we are writing to thank you for your letter addressing the public use of a racial slur by a white Princeton High School student about her fellow African American students. Your immediate, unqualified, public response made a clear statement to students and parents that this behavior is reprehensible and will not be tolerated in the schools.

We also applaud the vision you provide and the steps that are being taken to address seriously the racism that permeates our society. We appreciate that you mentioned the racial literacy programs Not in Our Town among other organizations have created and want to assure you that our members are ready to offer assistance and support for these efforts in the Princeton Public Schools. We believe strongly that the understanding that can be gained through racial literacy is critical for a just society. We hope that all members of the school community — students, faculty, staff, and parents — participate in this work that will benefit themselves, our community, and our nation. We encourage you to continue to be as proactively transparent as possible about the district’s ongoing plans to address racism. As a community, we need to be able to offer clear evidence of support to the students whose sense of safety is at risk.

Thank you again.

Shelley Krause, Linda Oppenheim, Ted Fetter

Board Members, Not In Our Town – Princeton

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