- Newark's students staged a walk-out to protest cuts to the schools' budget.
- The teachers are calling for an external audit of the budget.
- The "advisory board" has voted unanimously to express "no confidence" in the state-appointed superintendent, Cami Anderson.
Anderson's experience prior to coming to Newark was not primarily in schools. After a short teaching stint, she was at Teach For America, New Leaders for New Schools (whatever that is...), a political consultant with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and the central office in the failed Bloomberg/Klein New York City regime.
So that's just a few years as a teacher, no time as a principal, and no time as a curriculum director. Golly, who could have ever predicted that no one would buy into her leadership...
Anderson was hand-picked by Governor Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who sang her praises. SecEd Arne Duncan was effusive in praising her appointment, as was Joel Klein. TFA's Wendy Kopp and Newark Mayor Cory Booker were thrilled that Anderson took the job. Everyone is very happy with Anderson...
Except the students, the teachers, and the locally elected representatives of the citizens of the city.
But hey, nothing a little spin can't fix:
School district budget deficits are no fun. They require making tough decisions and confronting difficult questions. Does spending yield great results for kids? Is what we are doing now, at any price, truly working? Where and how should we invest our critical resources to benefit our most precious gifts — our children?Yeah, all great questions - swell. So here's a thought:
How about opening up the process of budgeting to the stakeholders in the Newark district so they can all have a say in the future of the city's schools?
18 years of state control has done nothing to make Newark's schools more transparent, more responsive, or more innovative. 18 years of state control has done nothing to improve the lives of all of Newark's children. All 18 years of state control has done is segregate the students, enrich the cronies of the education commissioner and the mayor, and move the district further away from local control.
State control of Newark's schools is an experiment that has failed. No one with skin in the game has any confidence in the leadership of Newark Public Schools anymore. The only rational course of action at this point is to rescind state control, put the schools back into the hands of the people, set up a real accountability system for the NPS administration, and fully fund Newark's schools as required by law - a requirement Christie has ignored.
I'm sure Cami Anderson is a very nice person and may even, someday, become a good superintendent. But there's simply no way she can maintain any credibility when Christie and Cerf are running the show, and the students, teachers, and parents of Newark are left out.
The wheels have fallen off in Newark; it's stupid to pretend otherwise.
Brick City Speedway...