Every day, Tom Robinson, a Newark public school teacher, meets his classes and feels a little sick to his stomach. He feels sick because he knows he is not qualified to teach the course he has been required to teach since the beginning of the year, chemistry. It is, of course, not the first time he has been required by the Newark Public Schools (NPS) to teach outside both his knowledge and his license. And, at least, he is working, something more than he has been doing for most of the last two years when he either was home or hanging around what even the school administration calls “rubber rooms”–places where money is wasted paying teachers not to teach.
Gov. Chris Christie’s operation of the Newark schools wastes some $25 million a year in public funds to pay teachers who don’t teach–teachers who spend all day in so-called “rubber rooms” or at home, doing nothing to earn the money they are paid. It’s something he’ll never bring up in his presidential campaign trips to Iowa or New Hampshire–but New Jersey’s governor is OK with no-show school jobs in the state’s largest city.
The decision by an arbitrator to dismiss tenure charges against Lafayette Street School teacher Sandra Cheatham was unquestionably a major victory for the 40-year veteran of the Newark schools–and for the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and all city teachers. It exposed how far the state administration of the Newark schools will go to twist the law and logic in its bloodthirsty purge of instructors at the top of the pay scale. But no one should believe state-imposed superintendent Cami Anderson’s war against tenured teachers is over. It has just begun.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has called for the temporary transfer of power over the city’s schools to his office until New Jersey’s largest school system can be returned to its democratically elected school board. His demand, contained in a New York Times’ article appearing today, follows by a few days his appeal to President Barack Obama to intervene in the affairs of the state-operated district.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has called upon President Barack Obama to intervene in the city’s schools to stop what he called the “disruptive and illegal educational reforms” known as “One Newark.”
Teachers at Newark’s Technology High School are expressing concern about what they say is the publication by a student of an e-book in which a frustrated and bullied high school student murders a teacher and two students. The book is entitled “White Rose Killer” and its listed author is Francis Ventura. Francis Ventura is the name of a junior registered at Technology.
The state administration of Newark schools is trying to bypass tenure protections for the city’s teachers by seeking to revoke the licenses of a number of instructors without first bringing tenure charges. The attempt, so secretive that not even the teachers nor their union were aware of it, has been rebuffed by the state Board of Examiners, the agency responsible for teacher licensing. Rebuffed–so far. That doesn’t mean Cami Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to run the schools, has given up trying to impose the harshest penalty against teachers without local due process.
Today’s announcement that Philadelphia’s state-mandated administration unilaterally voided its contract with the city teachers’ union is a dramatic example of the assault on public employee unionism by both Democratic and Republican politicians–but it’s far from unique. In Newark, the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and its members are under a relentless siege by Chris Christie’s state regime in New Jersey’s largest school district.
My favorite definition of education is a century old, from Oxford don John Alexander Smith: “Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.” By that standard, the endorsement of Cory Booker by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) should be used in all standardized tests throughout New Jersey, perhaps the nation. It is pure, unadulterated rot and an insult to every thinking teacher in the state.
Teachers and parent leaders were in open revolt at Newark’s Harriet Tubman school today after administrators of the state-operated school district ordered them to bring the children into a school that was filled with the smell of gas fumes.