Who's Right? RPM or NYT?

Reporter says RPM would consider students taking NJ Transit

Chris Swenson, Real Progress Montclair's candidate for Third Ward councilor, released a statement today on the much-circulated New York Times article that, he says, misrepresented the position of Real Progress Montclair on the town’s critical school busing program.

It was one of several press releases issued by the slate on Tuesday.

The New York Times article says that the slate's mayoral candidate, Karen Turner, has wondered whether Montclair students could use New Jersey Transit instead of school buses.

Swenson, who notes that he's a two-time winner of the New Jersey Press Association's "Responsible Journalism Award," said that the slate supports the Montclair school district's busing program.

“As a member of the Board of Education Budget Working Group, I am familiar with the Board of Education Transportation Sub-committee, which originally considered a number of ideas for operational and budget efficiencies including a proposal to replace private busing with a public transportation program," he said. "This idea was a non-starter that was never thoroughly analyzed or vetted.

“Karen Turner and rest of Real Progress Montclair never endorsed this idea and, in fact, our unequivocal support of our town's busing program has been published on our website for months," he added. “The New York Times fabrication of our position is deeply disturbing.”

But the New York Times reporter who wrote the article, Kate Zernike, said the information about busing comes straight from the slate's responses to the

Here it is, reprinted below:


In your role on the Board of Estimates, would you approve a Board of Education budget that eliminated the magnet school System in Montclair? Would you eliminate or reduce the school busing system?

Montclair 2012: No. No.

For Montclair: Our slate strongly supports the magnet school system in Montclair. We would preserve it. If it is possible to preserve the current magnet system while also reducing the cost of busing students, we will pursue those alternatives. A committee appointed by the Board of Education is looking at that issue, as well as whether the schools’ magnet themes can be improved, and we will study their report and consider their recommendations.

Real Progress Montclair: No. All candidates on the RPM slate are strong, unequivocal supporters of Montclair’s magnet school system. The magnet school system offers one of the best, most diverse and most creative learning environments in the entire country. Our busing system is essential to maintaining the magnet system, we would not eliminate it. The BOE Transportation Working Group has already studied possible changes to our busing program and concluded that the savings would not justify the disruption. However, the BOE Working Group has begun studying more innovative ways to transport our students, using NJ Transit buses and trains, for example. Those options might allow us to reduce our busing costs without reducing service to our students.

tryintosurvive May 08, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Well if you are going to present actual facts, how can someone take old conversations out of context and spin them and misconstrue them. Chris, nice to see you presenting actual facts and positions. It would be nice if everyone did that.
chris May 08, 2012 at 04:49 PM
NY TImes artilce -- hmm, who wrote it and do they happen to live in Montclair?? Unreal
Bitpusher May 08, 2012 at 05:25 PM
How do we keep taxes down while keeping educational standards up when most of our tax money goes to support education? Innovative thinkers, when faced with a problem always ask "why not try this instead?" More often then not, there is a good reason why the tried and true is the tried and true, but if your not willing to ask the questions, and evaluate different possible solutions you will never find a better answer. Public buses and trains won't work for elementary school, and probably not for middle school, but we need innovators and entrepinurial thinkers who will examine all possibilities. I don't pretend to know what will work, but the status quo won't. Kudos to Karen for asking the questions.
tryintosurvive May 08, 2012 at 06:32 PM
From RPMs response "Our busing system is essential to maintaining the magnet system, we would not eliminate it." Is that really difficult to understand. Really. And that is that confusing an issue for the NY Times to comprehend. I wonder why they would try and make a mountain of this anthill? I wonder.
montclairgurl May 08, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The NYT article was written by someone who lives in Montclair and has written extensively about the tea party movement, including a book. Not an unbiased report by and unbiased reporter.
tryintosurvive May 08, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Not surprising to hear. There seems to be an endless number of these trolls (mother of campaign people, biased reporters, etc) used by the Jackson campaign in the last few days. Hopefully they will disappear never to be heard from again after today.
ride164 May 08, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Why exactly do we bus students all Over town when every other school in the top 50 in nj use neighborhood schools??this costly unnecessary system is antiquated. Why not at least study or consider neighborhood schools. Not everyone in town thinks busing is great, that's a fact. Look at the line of cars at every school in the am. It's insane.....
Ed Peters May 08, 2012 at 07:52 PM
In answer to your headline - -- RPM and The Patch. -- about as right as any not so stealth GOP -- Tea Party -- yellow journalusm coalition can get.
Mary Beth Rosenthal May 08, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Why exactly do we bus students all over town? Because according to 2012 figures from the US Census, residential housing patterns in Montclair are as segregated as they were in the 1970s when our magnet school system was first developed. Neighborhood schools would be segregated schools.
A. Gideon May 08, 2012 at 08:27 PM
We also bus students because we've a variety of schools, each of which has some positives and some negatives. The magnet model lets families, based upon their priorities, choose an appropriate school. That's a great thing. It's good for the students, and it also helps support our property values. With respect to lines of cars: I believe you'll find this largely to be "walkers". This is the group of students too close to the school they attend to receive busing. But since the "walk" might include crossing some busy streets for some of them... I understand that the district is trying to encourage more actual walking, but in many cases our geography works against us. Consider Hillside, for example, where the Principal until recently tried to prohibit biking to school because of the busy streets around the school. I think he was wrong, but I completely understand his concern. A switch to neighborhood schools might actually increase the size of those lines as fewer students would be eligible for busing. More noise, more traffic, more pollution... ...Andrew
Stuck in the Middle May 08, 2012 at 10:43 PM
What I like about the Turner slate is they are at least willing to take an analytical, practical view of Montclair's costs and finances. It is smart to look at everything and follow through on the initiatives that make sense both financially and practically. Looking at NJT as a possibility to reduce bussing costs was a reasonable analysis -- it seems like everyone is saying that it does not make financial sense, so therefore we move on to the next issue. There are too many sacred cows in this town. Let's at least shed some light on the issues before we make our choices on how to move forward.


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