Note: This is a copy of our weekly Wednesday a.m. Opinion newsletter, which points out the most popular editorials and op-eds of the past week. Click HERE to sign up and never miss a week!
Our editorial about Newark school officials traveling to nice, sunny destinations like San Diego and Honolulu started the way many news stories do: With a tip.
Somebody told us to check out their travel spending, which gets approved regularly by the school board at meetings and posted online. So we did.
Here’s what we found, after digging through all these documents: Over eight months this year, district staffers traveled to conferences in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta, Palm Springs, Puerto Rico and Honolulu.
The district is also sending at least 10 people to both San Diego and Miami — including Newark Superintendent Roger León, his chief of staff and most of the school board members, who are scheduled to travel to Florida this winter.
Yet when we shared what we learned with them, they wouldn’t answer questions. They immediately went on the defensive. “You are suggesting that something was inappropriate about the travel when you know we don’t determine conference locations,” wrote the spokesperson for both the superintendent and the board, Nancy Deering.
On the contrary: This was a simple search for the facts. Now that we have them, we are asking: Why do we need these trips?
Why do five Newark district staffers need to attend a women’s empowerment summit at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, for instance? How does this advance the education of Newark’s kids? Why should it be on the public dime?
We’re still waiting for answers. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to divine the reasons for sending people to Puerto Rico or Honolulu, or 10 school officials to Miami.
There should be scrutiny about how school districts spend our money. They shouldn’t keep details about their spending out of the public’s hands.
And in the end, what’s the point? Refusing to say anything or respond to our inquiries won’t stop us from writing about this. We are only more curious, and so are the taxpayers footing the bill.
Here are some other compelling issues we wrote about in this week’s Opinion section:
- Oh, deer! Keep your hands off Daylight Saving Time | Mulshine: A Monmouth Poll shows people prefer Daylight Saving Time. Deer seem to prefer it, too.
- The (soon-to-be) lost generation of teachers and high school coaches | Opinion: West Morris Regional High School District Coach Roy Hamblen cares about winning but he cares about kids more.
- Gov. Murphy: I pledged to do something about New Jersey’s notorious taxes and I have | Opinion: ANCHOR effectively cuts property taxes by 16%. The deadline to apply is Dec. 30.
- Will this ex-punk rocker turned yacht dealer buy his way into Congress? | Editorial: He’s wildly unqualified for the job, having zero public experience, and is cutting to the front of the line based on family money.
- New character brings some religion to ‘Chicago P.D.’ | Faith Matters: When Torres takes off his signature white T-shirt, viewers see a cross is tattooed on his entire back.