Message from the PCDO President

NJ Schools - followup to our program on 2/27

Submitted by Dan on March 3, 2011 - 8:03pm

We had a great turnout at our 2/27 meeting to hear Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools NJ explain the dangers to our public schools posed by legislation being considered in Trenton.

Julia Sass Rubin at PCDO on 2/27/11

Save Our Schools NJ is a "nonpartisan, grassroots organization of parents and other concerned residents who believe that all New Jersey children should have access to a high quality public education." (from their website).

Julia is a Princeton resident and PCDO member. She also happens to be an assistant professor in public policy at Rutgers with a mere four degrees from Harvard.

Julia outlined several areas of concern regarding legislation and policies advocated by the Christie administration (and even some Democrats), including:

  • a proposed voucher program to use taxpayer funds for private and religious school tuition
  • rapid expansion of charter schools without real reform or accountability
  • budget cuts

For more information, go to You can also "friend" them on Facebook.

Several time during her talk, Julia referenced work by her colleague Bruce Baker. His blog, School Finance 101, can be read and signed up for here.

An audience member also recommended Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

At the end of the evening, the gathered members unanimously passed a resolution in support of NJ's public schools.

Whether you were able to attend the program or not, we welcome your comments. What additional actions could the PCDO or individual members take to protect public education in NJ?

Who Needs Unions? - General Membership Meeting

May 22 2011 7:30 pm

The future of organized labor and the economic and political stakes for all of us

Sunday, May 22 at 7:30pm

Suzanne Patterson Center, One Monument Drive (behind Boro Hall), Princeton, NJ


Following the Citizens United ruling and the increasing flow of corporate cash into our elections, labor unions have never been more critical as a bulwark against powerful corporate interests.  But the downward trend of labor power seems to be increasing, accelerated by attacks on collective bargaining by Republican governors around the country.  


With unemployment at crisis levels, can the Democratic Party and organized labor rejuvenate their traditional alliance working on behalf of all workers and the middle class?  What are the risks here in NJ if our Republican Governor gets a Republican legislature...will we go the way of Wisconsin and Ohio? If labor continues to decline, will the Democratic Party and the middle class follow? How can we fight back – together?  



Michael Merrill:  Dean of the Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College.  B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in economic history from Columbia University.  He has developed workshops on "The Financial Crisis of 2008: Who Caused It and How Do We Fix It?" and "Workers in a Global Economy," delivered to 1,000 (NYC) building trades members; and has authored many papers on the state of labor and strategies for future success in various professional journals.


Don Dileo:  Currently serves as Vice Chair of the Mercer Democratic Party.  He is the former President of the Mercer County AFL-CIO, and its current Vice President. He has served on the Trenton Board of Education.  He is the former Political and Legislative Director, AFSCME, AFL-CIO for NJ, as well as its former International Union Representative.  A graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program, he is a member of the NJ Board of Master Plumbers, and former President SEIU Local 175 Princeton University.


Public meeting of the Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission

Feb 15 2011 7:30 pm

The public (town hall) meeting of the Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission that was postponed due to weather conditions on Wednesday, January 26, has been rescheduled to Tuesday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the John Witherspoon Middle School cafeteria. Please note that the meeting has moved from the auditorium to the cafeteria. The agenda remains the same.

The topic of the meeting is: "Who Does What and What Does It Cost", a dialogue with the Princeton community about current governance and services in the two Princetons.

General Membership Meeting - Education

Feb 27 2011 7:30 pm

NJ School Legislation: Needed Reform or a Race to the Bottom?

Sunday, February 27 at 7:30pm
Suzanne Patterson Center, One Monument Drive (behind Boro Hall), Princeton, NJ

How will proposed legislation on school vouchers, charter reform and the state budget impact New Jersey’s public schools? Will the legislature go along with Governor Christie’s proposals? New Jersey has outstanding public schools – our students’ performance consistently ranks first or second nationally, and our our public schools attract people and businesses to the state. Major initiatives that would affect our public schools – from budget cuts to an expensive voucher program to erosions of local control – are currently being considered in Trenton. Join us for a robust discussion about potential threats to our public schools and what you can do to support good public education for all of New Jersey’s children.


At the end of meeting, PCDO members will vote on the following resolution concerning a voucher program being considered in the state legislature:



Resolution in Support of Public Schools
WHEREAS we believe that public education is a fundamental right of all Americans; and
WHEREAS support for public schools is a Democratic Party core value; and
WHEREAS vouchers decimate struggling public schools by removing both funding and the easiest-to-educate students
leaving the public schools with a higher concentration of special needs, very poor, and non-English speaking students,
and fewer resources with which to educate them; and
WHEREAS vouchers may violate the First Amendment by diverting substantial public funds to religious schools; and
WHEREASstudies of voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, Florida and Washington, D.C. have confirmed that
voucher schools do no better in educating low income children than do public schools, and often do worse; and
WHEREAS New Jersey already has an Interdistrict School Choice Program and public charter schools that provide
options for students in under-performing schools; and
WHEREAS A2810/S1872 is a voucher scheme that will undermine NJ Public Schools by diverting between $360 million
and $1 billion tax dollars to fund the daily operation of private and religious schools at a time when the state is cutting
funding to public schools; and
WHEREAS this legislation does not apply any educational standards or accountability measures to the private and
religious schools that would receive the public dollars; and
WHEREAS this legislation does not require private and religious schools to accept any student who wishes to attend,
enabling them to pick those of a particular religion, gender, or sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS this legislation does not require participating private and religious schools to serve special-need students; and
WHEREAS, funds would go to students already attending private and religious schools; and
WHEREAS the taxpayers of New Jersey should not subsidize private and religious schools; and
WHEREAS, privatizing New Jersey public education through vouchers will not improve public education and will result in
hurting our children and the public schools;
Now, therefore, be it resolved on this 27th day of February 2011 that the general membership of the Princeton
Community Democratic Organization vigorously opposes A2810/S1872 (The Opportunity Scholarship Act) and any
other attempt to create a school voucher program in the state of New Jersey.
Resolution presented by Liz Lempert on 2/12/2011 to PCDO Executive Board which voted to recommend adoption by the general
membership. Co-signers include Jo Butler, David Cohen, Jenny Crumiller, David Goldfarb, Margaret Griffin, Callie Hancock, Heather
Howard, Andrew Koontz, Liz Lempert, Ginger Lennon, Peter Lindenfeld, Roger Martindell, Sue Nemeth, Anne Neumann, Dan
Preston, Charles Rojer, Afsheeen Shamsi, Barbara Trelstad, Joan Widner, Kevin Wilkes, Peter Wolanin






New Executive Board

Congratulations to our Executive Board for 2011, elected on January 20, 2011.

President: Dan Preston

Vice President - Township: Margaret Griffin

Vice-President - Borough: Heather Howard

Treasurer: David Cohen

Assistant Treasurer: Ginger Lennon

Recording Secretary: Peter Lindenfeld

Corresponding Secretary: Peter Wolanin

Township at-large: Jose Alcantara, Sandra Jordan Bierman, Kip Cherry, Charles Rojer, Jim Floyd and Afsheen Shamsi

Borough at-large: Yan Chang Bennett,  Donald Dowd, Anton Lahnston, Anne Waldron Neumann,  Sheldon Sturges and Joan Widner

Potluck Dinner - Leadership Elections

Jan 30 2011 6:30 pm

We hope that all PCDO members will join us for our


Sunday, January 30, at 6:30 pm
at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton (50 Cherry Hill Road)

Dinner at 6:30pm, followed at 7:30pm by the election for PCDO Executive Board for 2011