Cami to Newark parents: Don’t worry, we know best.

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Cami Anderson:  You don't need to know
Cami Anderson: You don’t need to know

Pity the parents of Newark’s public school children. Many are unsure where their children will attend school in the fall. They’ve had to fill out application forms and hope they get their first choices in an ever-changing program called “One Newark.” For many, if their first choice was a neighborhood public school, they’re out of luck. Now comes a new insult—if they want to know how their children were  picked for this school or that, they can just forget it. That’s secret information. They’re not allowed to know.

But, hey, no worries. The decisions will be made by a NPS staff with lots of experience with organizations like the Broad Academy, funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. One worked with Barclay’s Capital, another with McKinsey & Co. Newark parents can feel comfortable their children are in the hands of people trained in business and by billionaires who understand completely what it’s like to be poor and live in Newark. Right.

That’s the answer received by the City Association of School Administrators (CASA), the union representing Newark’s school principals.  They asked for public records showing how children will be distributed among the public schools and charter schools participating in the so-called “universal application” that’s part of the “One Newark” scheme.

The answer came back from Cami Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to run Newark’s schools—“No responsive documents.”

That’s the frequent answer from Anderson, suggesting she and her many six-figure assistants carry around their secrets in their heads and never commit them to paper. The Education Law Center recently received the same answers when it asked both for evidence that  Newark’s charter schools had a 10,000-name waiting list—this is a favorite canard of The Star-Ledger’s editorial writer—and when it asked for proof of anticipated expansion of charter school enrollment.

But there’s more to this than the usual stone-walling from Christie’s school regime. CASA asked specifically for the “algorithm” that will determine how children will be assigned to this school or that school. An algorithm is, according to Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary, a “set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process.”

For the purposes of “One Newark,” it’s the computer-based procedures for assigning children to various schools.

blogtopsecretThe response from Anderson  to CASA’s formal request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was, yes, such an algorithm exists—but, no, you can’t have it. Why? Well, because it wasn’t developed by the Newark public schools. Rather it somehow came from that private sector giant—secretly–determining so much of what is happening, and what will happen, to Newark’s children:  the Foundation for Newark’s Future (FNF).

Ah, yes, the FNF. Begun with money announced on a television show starring Chris Christie, Cory Booker, and Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire hero to school privatization efforts in Newark. He gave $100 million to Newark via his old pal Booker on an Oprah Winfrey show.

This was written at the bottom of CASA’s record request: “Denied no responsive documents. FNF purchased the algorithm. Newark Public Schools will implement and administer the algorithm purchased by FNF.”

That should make everyone feel uncomfortable. A private organization, funded by Zuckerberg and a variety of other foundation owners, bought a procedure to determine the future of Newark’s families—few of whom, if any, are billionaires.

I asked FNF for the algorithm, from whom it purchased it and for how much. I haven’t yet received an answer. But, if I do, I’ll post it. I am not too hopeful, however. FNF and all the other foundations that are now determining the future of Newark’s children are private and are not subject to public records requests.

Tina Taylor, CASA’s president, spoke of the secrecy at tonight’s City Hall hearing on the “One Newark” plan conducted by state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex). She said:

“The OPRA request asked for information about the algorithm to be used to determine to what school a student will be assigned. The NPS OPRA response states that the algorithm was provided to NPS by FNF (Foundation for Newark’s Future – the facebook money).

“So the bottom line is that students from Newark Public Schools will be assigned to their school next year based on a formula designed (or at least paid for) by private foundation money.  Is it reasonable to assume that since the Foundation had input into the selection criteria, that the Foundation likely would have included selection criteria biased toward the goals it wants to achieve?

“The ‘Foundation for Newark’s Future’ a private entity,  could be the organization that winds up determining, through their algorithm, where Newark Public School students will attend school in the 2014-2015 school year. “

(After I posted this last night, I receive the following from a source I trust:

“The algorithm was developed by Neil Dorosin of The Institute for Innovation In Public School Choice, or IIPSC for short. The algorithm is THE model for all universal enrollment initiatives across the country.

Neil Dorosin is a former employee of The New York City Department of Education, where he was in the architect responsible for none other than the district-wide enrollment process; the very same of which was used and botched in Newark last year during the high-school application process. As a former NYC Department of Education employee, Dorosin worked with Cerf and Anderson.

IIPSC bills itself as a non-profit organization. However, the algorithm they’ve developed is not cheap, and  continues to be used for and in nefarious purposes by profiteers calling themselves educational reformers.

IIPSC website http://iipsc.org/team.htm Neil Dorosin”)

 

 

Scary, no?

It gets scarier. The NPS did provide the union with a list of the members of the “Policy Design Committee” to “ultimately design the policies that govern Universal Enrollment”—the distribution of Newark children to various schools.

The committee has one NPS member—Gabrielle Wyatt, a $135,000 year refugee from Joel Klein’s New York City schools—and four charter school representatives: Pedro Lebre from TEAM Academy; Misha Simmonds from University Heights; Chrisdtian Sparling from North Star, and Karen Thoams from Marion P. Thomas. The NPS comnmitee also includes “representatives” from the state education department and the Newark Charter School  Fund.

In short, a group packed to ensure charter schools’ interests were met.

 

Gabrielle Ramos
Gabrielle Ramos

 

The NPS also provided a list of staff members on the enrollment team:

 

Gabrielle Ramos, executive director of enrollment, $115,000. Her background?  She is a graduate of the Broad Academy: “Prior to joining The Broad Residency, Ramos served as a senior analyst in the Prime Services Business and Market Strategy group at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital. In this role, Ramos developed global and regional sales and marketing strategies for several financial products and technology platforms. Ramos also instituted a global knowledge-sharing program for the division. Prior to her time in finance, Ramos served as a Teach for America special education.”

 

Lauren Buller
Lauren Buller

Lauren Buller, director for policy development and management, $95,000, currently a Broad resident. Her background: “Prior to joining The Broad Residency, Lauren held roles as Manager of Strategy and Director of National Development at Teach For America. During her time at Teach For America, she led efforts to improve financial efficiency, cross-team operations, and grant budgeting across the organization. Lauren previously worked as a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company, where she primarily served clients in the pharmaceutical and consumer goods spaces.”

 

Kate Fletcher,  senior analyst, $73,000, from Bridgeport, CT,  via “Education Pioneers,” another foundation-funded pipeline for outsiders.

Darcy Morales, enrollment analyst, $65,000, from New York City schools, via Education Pioneers.

All people with lots in common with Newark school parents, of course. In a city where the average household income is $31,731 and individual income is $15,564.

Pity the parents of Newark’s public school children.

20 comments

  1. Source1

    Bob,
    What a revealing article. Talk about a lack of transparency…this is criminal. Do you have access to other Anderson OPRA denials?

  2. Becca Field

    It also should be asked what information was shared with the mysterious 3rd party vendor dealing with assigning children to schools – and whether that is a violation of FERPA and other privacy protections. And even if it is not, is it safe, who has access to what. This stinks. The whole thing stinks.

  3. Tony Johnson

    This is a battle for public education in the United States — not just Newark. Newark is where we must take a stand to keep public education public. Bob, your reporting gets the truth out there. If only the Star-Ledger and the Times would do the same.

  4. Tony

    Great article! It exposes what many have seen across the country. the economy is so bad we are stuck with all these rich quacks! Yep the last ten years of TFA recruits are young people that can’t find jobs, so they teach for two years and use their influence to become ‘social entrepreneurs’ they seem to be well intentioned but their lack of experience in education and life makes them inept as they blindly push agendas that really hurt the poor. I don’t believe Harvard graduates would be going to inner city schools if the economy were running smoothly. As it stands these affluent college graduates quickly become discouraged by the demanding profession. however instead of reporting the truth the concoct lies about their success that range from outlandish claims of making gains in academic achievement of their students. I am a teacher. It is a tough profession. i was also an inner city student. I am tired of the wealthy knowing what the poor need. What we need is help in the classroom. Everyone else with fancy probability tricks from the financial sector can go on the unemployment line! Your not needed and your are not the civil rights movement. Your the escrement left over from a financial sector that tanked. The only reform policy that has helped in the past thirty years is . . . Funding! Yep the lawyers got it right with Abott. Yep it is amazing what you can do when schools have funds to provide student with extra help. But we moved away from this policy just at the time when scores were beginning to rise. Put that into your algorithm!

  5. Chane

    Answered my own question…FNF is a registered public charity according to the IRS .. .501 (c) 3 I’d #27-3453412.

  6. Deborah Smith Gregory

    Thank you for shedding continuous light on the office of the state controlled Newark superintendent. There is an insidious plan to dismantle the public schools in Newark. Our community had absolutely no news outlet until you started this blog. This administration reeks with a blatant disdain for the community.
    Deborah Gregory

  7. Deborah Smith Gregory

    I also sent in an OPRA request: Thus far, I have not received any response: Requested the information of all the consultants and contingency employees that are paid $50,000 and above. What are they responsibilities, deliverables, reporting structure and contract compensation? Are these “employees being paid by private or public funds?

  8. Pingback: Bob Braun: Cami Assures Newark Parents She Knows Best | Diane Ravitch's blog
  9. Pingback: Bob Braun: Cami Assures Newark Parents She Knows Best | Educational Policy Information
  10. Jonathan

    Aside from the fact that they own it, has the Foundation for Newark’s Future given any explanation why they want to keep the student assignment algorithm a secret?

    To state the obvious, public education is a public trust.

    The funding for educating children, and the children themselves are at the heart of this trust. How can the public be excluded from important policies that shape and manage the public schools in Newark? It sounds both unethical, and illegal.

    Bob Braun: No. I’ve asked.

  11. Mr. Outside

    Bob,

    The algorithm was developed by Neil Dorosin of The Institute for Innovation In Public School Choice, or IIPSC for short. The algorithm is THE model for all universal enrollment initiatives across the country.

    Neil Dorosin is a former employee of The New York City Department of Education, where he was in the architect responsible for none other than the district-wide enrollment process; the very same of which was used and botched in Newark last year during the high-school application process. As a former NYC Department of Education employee, Dorosin worked with Cerf and Anderson.

    IIPSC bills itself as a non-profit organization. However, the algorithm they’ve developed is not cheap, and continues to be used for and in nefarious purposes by profiteers calling themselves educational reformers.

    IIPSC website http://iipsc.org/team.htm
    Neil Dorosin

  12. enough

    “For many, if their first choice was a neighborhood public school, the parameters used in assigning schools, do you think a number of them would try to game the system..what percentage you think?

    So to be clear, if you’re a smart, high achieving person who gets into public education reform, you can’t possibly have genuinely altruistic motives..is that right?
    Sue there are profiteers in public school reform, but don’t paint everyone with the same cynical brush..stop with this pernicious type of classicism.
    This is your personal blog..you hv no reason to feign objectivity, but at least stop acting like you aren’t, at times, spreading misinformation and innuendo.

    Bob Braun: Thanks especially for accusing me of classicism. I love it and confess it’s true. I am now reading “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius. I recommend it.

  13. WL

    Bob do you know that one of the schools in the “One Newark ” plan is in Harrison? Lady Liberty 15 Frank E Rodgers Boulevard South, Harrison, NJ. If the algorithm put a Newark student in Harrison is NPS going to provided busing?

  14. enough

    classism is obviously what I meant..and i accidentally deleted half my first paragraphbut as well. No matter..it’s clear what was actually said doesn’t matter to you bc it challenges your presumptions. Typical ideologue muckraker desperately clinging to relevancy.

    Bob Braun: Hey, pal, you’re the one reading me and taking the time to write. I measure my relevance by my two kids and three grandchildren not by response to my blog. I don’t give a damn what you think. Read someone else’s blog and stop wasting your time with a “typical ideologue muckraker desperately clinging to”–well, I’m sure you meant “relevance.” And you really should read Lucretius.

    • Tamob

      Of course there are well meaning, altruistic, educated individuals in public education. Unfortunately, many get tangled up with the rhetoric spewing opportunists like the ones that exist in Newark. The One Newark plan is not about improving education for poor, urban youth. Newark youth aren’t even being used as guinea pigs in an experimental program trying to find solutions, because the initiatives implemented were doomed from the beginning. It’s more like gentrification and making Newark more desirable to developers. And of course, it’s always about money.

  15. RINGOLD

    This entire process is unAmerican!!! We have local school board unable to make policy nor select a school superintendent. We have individuals from outside the local school, from other states and cities determined what is best and how to administer the local school system. We have business professionals , not educational professionals, designing and administering school programs based on quantity not quality. We have Newark residents having no input in the school planning process. The citizens of Newark should file a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department regarding this undemocratic use local government education tax funds by private profiteers working under the guise of public officials. They need to impeach the Governor for being complicit in designin and directing these activities. Also, former Newark mayor Cory Booker need to also be held liable for allowing the State to disenfranchise Newark residents by appointing a Superintendent, at the state level, to run a local school district, in a major metropolitan city like Newark. Where are the civil lawyers in Newark to help the local residents stop this dictatorship and theft of local school tax dollars by private businesses guised non-profits. Will someone please Sue these crooks before it is too late. Stay Blessed and Prayed up!

  16. DA

    Amazing! The writing has been on the wall for a long tine! Education and early childhood education is huge money! Look at Accelero based in NY but now runs Head Start programs in over 5 states or Educare with the same business principals! This is now a business full of corporate greed which could care less for poor children of color in Inner Cities! Bob is on point with his research not opinion! The rest must now catch up to what many already knew what has been the true nature of the genderfication occuring in Newark. Do we need to discuss Teachers Village a small town being created for TFA and charter schools? A small town with everything they need in a 2 block span! Whats wrong is wrong; who advocates for poor families and children in Newark? There have been many who used Newark as a platform to become famous and very rich; and why don’t hold them morally nor ethically accountable; why? Keep up the great work Bob and dont bother responding to those who wont comment on researched facts!

  17. Bill Wolfe

    Bob – great work – keep banging away at these bastards.

    I follow DEP and environmental policy and Iam seeing exactly the same kind of ideologically driven abuse:

    1) secrecy, non-transparency, and serial abuse of OPRA;

    2) privatization and outsourcing of core governmental functions to corporations with economic interests in the outcomes;

    3) external – or private – “Stakeholder” or policy development teams that bypass experienced professionals and long standing public processes;

    4) disdain for law and regulation and repudiation of traditional notions of public, public goods, and the public interest;

    5) cronyism; and

    6) an arrogant attitude that the private sector and markets are infallible, and that the Christie Cronies know best.

    This is the essence of how Christie governs – it is happening in education and environmental policy in very similar ways. So I assume it is happening across state government.