I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Could Chris Cerf Really Be Taking Over Newark's Schools?

UPDATE: Amazingly, this rumor turns out to be true!
NEWARK - Cami Anderson's reign as Newark's superintendent of schools appears to have reached its end. 
State Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. said Education Commissioner David Hespe confirmed to him this afternoon that the embattled school chief has reached a deal to leave her post. Former Department of Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf is the state's pick to replace her on an interim basis, though the succession will need to be approved by the state Board of Education. 
Diegnan, a Democrat who chairs the state's Education Committee, said  that Hespe was planning a press conference to official announce the move this afternoon. 
Much more to come...


Bob Braun, who has been covering Newark's schools longer than anyone, breaks the news:
Top school officials in Newark are reporting that Cami Anderson will announce her resignation this week as state-appointed superintendent. One source says he expects Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner who hired Anderson in 2011, to be appointed interim superintendent.
A bigger shocker, however, is that the school officials and other sources expect the board to be given a role in selecting a permanent replacement for Anderson. “I’m very excited about this,” one source said. “I feel like we should be having a party.”
One major unanswered question is how Cerf, whose company has a contract with the Newark schools, could take over as superintendent without quitting his private position. [emphasis mine]
Could this possibly be true? Well...
BAD NEWS: The Wall Street Journal reports News Corp. is cutting a large number of jobs from its news division to shift "resources into digital media efforts and core coverage areas." Bureaus in Europe and Asia, as well as smaller coverage groups in the US, will be shuttered or scaled down.
It appears that Amplify, News Corp.'s education division, is undergoing a shakeup as well. Chris Cerf, the former New Jersey Education Commissioner who joined Amplify in February 2015 to lead the assessment division, appears to have departed (at least on the company's leadership page). So, too, has Stephen Smyth, who was in charge of Amplify's tablet effort.
According to News Corp,'s latest earnings report, Amplify (classified under "Digital Education") saw $21 million in revenues in the first three months of 2015, "which was flat compared with the prior year." The company's EBITDA, however, improved 53 percent--suggesting that the company has cut down on costs.

Poor Cerf: it's tough to sell a digital tablet for students if it melts when you plug in it...

Back in 2011, Bob Braun was the guy who broke the story about Cerf's involvement in creating the plans for Newark's transformation into a "portfolio" school system, where charter schools would be free to expand uninhibited. After "revising" the extent of his firm's role, Cerf swore that he would still be objective as NJ's Acting Education Commissioner when it came to charter schools and state control in Newark.

We all know what happened next.

Keep in mind that Anderson had served in the NYCDOE under Cerf and Joel Klein, former chancellor of Gotham's public schools. It was clear Cerf and his good buddy Cory Booker were instrumental in bringing Anderson to Newark; as recently as this past winter, Cerf was singing her praises. But once Anderson was ensconced, she proceeded to alienate nearly every stakeholder in the city's schools to the point where she became completely ineffective.

In a rational world, it would make no sense for Cerf to take over for Anderson. He fully supported Anderson; there's no reason to believe he would run the district any differently than she did. And why would he take a step down and run Newark's schools when he used to run the entire state?

So maybe this is all a coincidence. We have no official confirmation on any of this yet -- it is all just speculation. Maybe this is nothing more than rumors that won't come to pass. Maybe Newark's public schools won't be run by the man who hatched the plan to supplant them with charter schools, and who ardently supported Cami Anderson even after Newark had rejected her.

Let's see what happens Monday.

Chris Cerf: "Cami is an extremely talented, very powerful individual with an indomitable spirit, who passionately and deeply believes in the children of Newark."


phila.ken said...

Don't forget Chris Cerf's connections with the Broad Superintendents Academy. http://thebroadreport.blogspot.com/2011/03/chris-cerf-broad-superintendents.html

Michael Fiorillo said...

Cerf is like one of those professional sports coaches/managers whop keeps getting hired, despite having a losing career record.

Everything this man touches turns to shit: Edison, NYC DOE, NJ, Amplify... he's a one man wrecking squad, yet he always lands on his feet. The man is living, breathing proof that being a political lackey and sycophant will take you far, no matter your incompetence.