A state administrative law judge has postponed a hearing on the litigation brought by Newark residents to block the state-imposed “One Newark” plan that has disrupted the lives of thousands of Newark families. Barring some last-minute effort in another court, the decision by Ellen Bass ends any chance of stopping the effort by state superintendent Cami Anderson to disperse children throughout the city and launch new charter schools.
Can anyone help this victim of Cami’s “On Newark” plan?
I know there are many such stories but this story struck a nerve because I knew a young man named Michael Davis who worked at St. Benedict’s Prep. He lived in the South Ward and walked through Weequahic Park twice a day–in the morning on his way to work and in the evening on his way home.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says he and state Education Commissioner David Hespe agreed to give the “One Newark” plan ten days from the opening of school to resolve its obvious flaws. Meanwhile, the mayor has demanded that state-imposed schools superintendent Cami Anderson provide him with extensive information about the inner workings of the plan that will close neighborhood public schools while opening up new charter schools.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka got a lot of media attention Friday when he called a press conference to talk about the school enrollment debacle. He probably faced more cameras than at any time since his election. He also faced outrage and skepticism from parents growing weary of having the state use their children as guinea pigs in a social science experiment conducted by superintendent Cami Anderson and her stable of over-paid and inexperienced amateurs. Baraka also faced a very short list of options for action beyond repeating his criticism of Anderson’s racism-tinged ineptitude.
The implementation of the deeply flawed “One Newark” student-dispersal program all but collapsed Thursday as the state administration’s highly paid bureaucrats kept hundreds of angry and frustrated parents and children waiting in un-airconditioned school rooms or outside in 90+ heat to register their children for the few remaining public school seats. Just hours into the chaos, Newark school officials locked the doors to Newark Vocational and told the men, women, and children waiting outside to come back at 5 a.m. the next morning.
The five children of George Tillman stood with him in front of what had once been known—and, to some in Newark’s South Ward, will always be known—as the Bragaw Avenue School. Above their heads, newly installed air conditioners hummed quietly and, from a discreet distance, armed private security guards warily kept watch on a hundred or so city residents. The scene is from the new Newark, the strange new world where faraway strangers with private money determine the future of public education. Tillman’s five children are being dispersed to five different schools. The state-operated school district waited until Bragaw was awarded to a privately-operated charter school before it installed air-conditioning. And the armed security guards illustrate just how far from the people neighborhood schools have become.
New Jersey and local school officials have been involved in a conspiracy to evade laws governing the operation of charter schools in order to allow the wholesale “charterization” of public schools in Newark, the state’s largest city. State Education Commissioner David Hespe allowed the city’s charter schools to ignore legally-mandated lotteries while, at the same time, he secretly amended the charters of those privatized schools as an after-the-fact method of justifying the elimination of lotteries.
Cami Anderson, the state-imposed administrator of Newark schools, has developed a shuttle bus operation to move children around the city to meet the demands of her “One Newark” plan to shut down neighborhood schools and launch new charter and other privatized schools. The plan calls for “voluntary” parent and other patrols and relying on businesses, community centers, and churches to ensure the safety of the thousands of children whose lives will be disrupted by Anderson’s scheme.
Why is it important to write about Cami Anderson’s decision to manipulate the release of the latest results of state test scores? Here is why: