TRENTON, NJ – During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has insisted, “the buck stops here”. Murphy has unilaterally made every decision regarding public health for New Jersey residents since March of 2020. Now, as the political tide begins to turn against “Lockdown Larrys” such as Murphy across the nation, the governor is singing a new tune.
Starting March 7th, in New Jersey, the buck stops over there. By over there, we mean already contentious school board meetings. One person who sees the writing on the wall is a former Murphy opponent, GOP candidate for Governor Jack Ciattarelli, who is still reeling from a November defeat by Murphy, the state’s defacto Health and Science Commander-In-Chief.
Ciattarelli said the mask mandate should end cold turkey, with no caveats or hidden tricks.
“Why can’t the Governor get it right on student masks? In leaving it up to locals, he’ll turn school board meetings into battlegrounds and pit communities against each other,” Ciattarelli said. “Where we are today, the policy should be no state/local mandate, w/ parents deciding if their child wears a mask.”
They say even a blind squirrel can occasionally find a nut, and Ciattarelli is right on this one. While Governor Murphy said he will lift the statewide mandate, like everything the man does, there’s a catch. Those decisions will now be left in the hands of local school board officials and school administration.
It will also be in the NJEA’s red zone. The powerful teacher’s union is already trying to throw a wrench in the governor’s transfer of power…or more accurately, the responsibility of mask mandates to the local units. The NJEA doesn’t want the state to be hands-off completely. In a press release, the NJEA today said they want the government to regulate when school districts can mask down. They are calling for strict guidelines set forth by the state that will essentially take the power back out of the local board’s control and put those decisions in an infinite limbo that is sure to raise the temperature at school board meetings across the state.
As angry and confused parents and students get caught in the middle of a brewing battle between the NJEA and local school board officials, things are about to go from bad to worse.
Different rules will apply to bordering towns. Why is it safe in one town to go maskless, but a bordering town still mandates face masks? The decisions will no longer be based on science and health data but on the resolve and willingness of local moms and dads serving on school boards to fight the powerful teachers union.
Many will succumb to the union’s demands because after all, their children are in the district and most of these people took the job to be the good guy, not the bad guy. Lunch with the principal, a little preferential treatment here, a little local social status there.
Angry parents won’t care about the board members and will be ripe when they kowtow to the NJEA. If you think what is happening in Virginia is madness and mayhem, New Jersey will be in for much more.
In the end, Murphy’s ending of the mask mandate was the right thing to do. His choice to allow inexperienced non-medical elected moms and dads who are strong-willed in one direction or the other sets the stage for a level of “domestic terrorism” not yet seen anywhere in the country.
As Han Solo frequently says, “I have a bad feeling about this.”