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Failed factories

Not only public schools have let Camden down

I'm for anything that gives Camden kids a chance at a decent education, so I'll reserve judgment on Gov. Chris Christie's transformation schools proposal.

But the Republican governor's press event in an impoverished section of South Camden was rich in ironies – particularly when he characterized some urban schools as "failure factories."

Pitching a bigger private role in public education, Christie stood in front of a city school that's one of the only functional enterprises of any kind for blocks around.

With some exceptions (bless them), for-profit businesses have largely abandoned South Camden. The neighborhood has been exploited, abused, and depleted; carcasses of buildings and vacant lots go on for block after blighted block.

While residents bear some responsibility for the trashed-up look of the place, they certainly aren't responsible for the fact that the city has lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs since 1950.

Decades of decisions about plant closings, company mergers or moves to sunnier climates weren't made by folks who sent their kids to Lanning Square School.

They were made by executives in boardrooms and office buildings downtown, or in downtowns far away.

The buildings that these titans of industry left behind are a reminder that "failure factories" are not exclusively a product of the public sector.