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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lofton to appear before council

Superintendent of Trenton Public Schools Rodney Lofton is scheduled to come before City Council tonight for a little bit of legislative inquiry regarding the district's budget and numerous incidents that have continued to mar the reputation of the city's schools.

Possible discussion topics could include rumors about another grade-fixing scandal brewing in some school, the recent alleged assault of a student and the ensuing cover up of the incident by school officials, or maybe the continued suspension of a principal at one of the city's Daylight/Twilight institutions.

While this type of legislative inquiry is welcomed as a sign of City Council doing its job as the legislative branch of city government, isn't it time to begin questioning the Board of Education in all these matters?

The board - appointed by Mayor Douglas H. Palmer - has failed to gather any responsibility in many of the aforementioned scandals, instead heaping blame on school administrators, teachers, and even previous superintendents.

This board represents the deliberative and legislative branch of the city's public schools, and its members need to work better at making sure the rules are being followed, instead of allowing incident after incident not only damage the reputation of the district, but severely harm the prospects of Trenton's youth in attendance at these schools.

When the original grade-tampering scandal at the Sherman Avenue annex blew up, principals and the former superintendent were quickly dragged out and blamed for all that went on, but it is also the responsibility of the board to ensure that all that goes on at these school annexes, additions, and addendums actually follows the rules.

As the problems at these schools continue, administrators and superintendents come and go, but the only constant is the majority of the members of the Board of Education.

Next time something serious happens, Trentonians ought to question the people on those board, who do not seem to be the most accountable group of public officials, even among the officials of Trenton.

Despite their being appointed by Mayor Palmer, they should remain accountable to the residents of this city and the children whose futures they have such a profound effect upon. Many of Trenton's kids already face an uphill battle in getting a good education and succeeding in life, and it's unfair to allow the stupidity or bad intentions of district officials to make that battle worse.

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