Late Wednesday afternoon, Lamont Thomas politely excused himself from a meeting with central office administrators and returned to his inner office at the ultra-modern Science Park High School building on Norfolk Street. He picked up the microphone he used to make school-wide announcements and then said something that shocked the faculty and staff and a few students still there. He said he would probably be leaving as principal of Science Park High School. Then he returned to his meeting without mentioning what he had just done.
The eighth-grade graduation ceremonies at the Hawthorne Avenue School this morning–the last of their kind–provided an island of sanity and goodwill in the ocean of madness that is state educational policy in Newark. One of the best-achieving schools, not just in the city, but also in the state, has ben stripped of its leadership, declared a failure, and is ready to be turned over to Chris Christie’s corporate wolves who devour the poor and what little they have. Parents and teachers and even some students shook their heads and wondered how this could happen. There is an explanation. It’s called racism.
Cami Anderson, the controversial state-imposed superintendent of Newark schools, has been offered a new one-year-contract, that, despite restrictions on her freedom to act, will allow her to continue imposing the “One Newark” plan that has become a severely divisive issue among residents of the state’s largest city.
What sort of state allows a barely literate thug like Steve Sweeney–with aspirations to the governorship–to intimidate, browbeat and extort a nationally respected institution like Rutgers University? The same state, I guess, that allows Chris Christie, a clownish, dancing governor–dancing just one step ahead of the sheriff–to fly to New Hampshire in the middle of a budget and pension crisis because he pretends he can be president.
Newark’s mayor-elect, Ras Baraka, said he is still determined to remove state-imposed schools superintendent Cami Anderson—and he believes state Education Commissioner David Hespe will help him do it.
New Jersey’s largest newspaper unsurprisingly endorsed the absurd finding of a California judge that employment protections for school employees cause school failure and therefore constitute a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The endorsement is a continuation of the newspaper’s unholy crusade against public employees who have the audacity to assert their human rights in the face of management convictions that all workers are both expendable and interchangeable.
Cami Anderson, the state-imposed Newark school superintendent, can be beaten and already has lost a major battle in her drive to privatize Newark schools to help her friends in the charter school industry. That’s what parent leaders at the Hawthorne Avenue school are saying in response to a letter from Anderson saying the school will not be closed and privatized after all.
By now, hundreds of teachers throughout the state, most of them non-tenured, have received non-renewal notices. A few tenured teachers also are likely to lose their positions because their jobs have been eliminated. But thousands of older, more experienced teachers have decided to call it a career because they simply can no longer put up with the stress created by New Jersey’s governor and the people who convert his bullying and vengeful attitude toward teachers into state policy.
UPDATE: After ignoring my requests for information and suggesting Hespe had never heard from Hawthorne Avenue parents, Hespe’s public relations people finally sent me this today: “We’re looking into the topics / issues raised by Ms Sergio and don’t have any details at this time. When we do, we’ll be getting back to Ms. Sergio as per the Commissioner’s message to her.” Yeah, but time is running out and not making a decision is, in fact, supporting the crazy Cami Anderson plan. So, Grace Sergio, whom Hespe apparently forgot he exchanged personal emails with, responded this way to him: “Commissioner Hespe — It has been 30 days since you committed, in an email dated May 9th, to having your department rule on the above matter. Does the NJDOE support the current denial of NCLB mandated “Priority” school supports for Hawthorne Avenue School? If not, you need to notify Superintendent Anderson that she needs to immediately remove Hawthorne from her One Newark plan before the schools turns charter. If, on the other hand, you do support allowing the charter launch plan to proceed unabated, then you need to explain your rationale so that I can share this information with our parents, community and other active supporters. Thirty days has quickly passed and time is now of the essence! Any further delay will lock our parents out of the opportunity to register their children for start of the next school year. I hope that we can all count on your support in upholding what is fair and just. A favor of a prompt reply will be greatly appreciated.”
Good news for those who remember when the Democratic Party championed causes other than those of George Norcross, his doppelganger Chris Christie, and his poodle, Steve Sweeney, the anti-union union guy. Bonnie Watson Coleman won the Democratic primary for the 12th Congressional district.