The federal government will investigate whether New Jersey is following the law in operating the Newark schools. Or, at least, that’s what Monica Chism of the U.S. Department of Education says will happen–her office, the Office of State Support (OSS), will try to determine whether the state education department is keeping the promises it made in order to keep federal funds flowing to the state. Some people believe Gov. Christie’s flunkies in Trenton and Newark have been lying and not keeping their promises.
The state administration of the Newark public schools has banned the top staff officer of the Newark Teachers Union from a school notorious both for its poor physical condition and the efforts of its principal to fire tenured teachers. The district’s leaders also have threatened to arrest the union chief, John Abeigon, who took pictures of vermin infestation, loose paint chips, and possible fire hazards.
By Becca Fields
I admire and respect Mayor Ras Baraka. From the first time I spoke with him, I heard a leader, a man of deep thought and action. Then a high school principal, Baraka demonstrated commitment, intelligence, and a depth of understanding of the challenges facing not just Newark public schools, but the entire city. And he clearly demonstrated his willingness to look for solutions “outside the box” and beyond the expected as he demonstrated by meeting with gang leaders as part of his strategy to curb violence.
If Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson gets her way and pumps $1 million into Turnaround for Children (TFC), the private firm headed by her former strategy chief, Alison Avera, Avera won’t be the only old friend and associate Anderson helps. Anderson also will be helping Avera’s partner, the former “talent officer” of the Newark Public Schools, Tracy Breslin. Avera and Breslin are partners in the consulting firm, Advisera LLC, and they are life partners.
Newark’s so-called “Renew Schools” reform strategy may have failed, but that’s not stopping Cami Anderson, the city’s state-appointed schools superintendent, from giving a hefty raise to a private company, Turnaround for Children, that was supposed to help some of those schools improve. The company’s chief executive officer, Alison Avera, is a close associate of Anderson who was given a top Newark schools job by the superintendent and boasts a resume remarkably similar to Anderson’s.
The signature reform that state-appointed schools Cami Anderson promised would prove the value of her disruptive, three-year tenure in Newark–the so-called “Renew Schools”– failed to produce the results she predicted.
The inept state operation of Newark’s public schools has generated a class of young refugee children–the city’s internal refugees who, like the victims of war and other disasters, are often ignored and neglected and treated like second class citizens. Thousands of these children every day go to school far from their neighborhoods and they face dangers–like that of asbestos at Louis Spencer School where, once again, the administration of Cami Anderson proved itself woefully insensitive and incompetent.
Acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe continues to refuse to enforce the law requiring the state to act aggressively in improving conditions in the state-operated Newark schools—and Mayor Ras Baraka, for at least the third time, has demanded Hespe’s “immediate intervention.”
Corrupt politics meets a castrated press this afternoon in Camden. Gov. Chris Christie, whose wife’s cousin was recently favored with a job at the city’s state-operated school district, is coming to announce funding for school construction from the School Development Authority.
By Bill Winkler
Tom Moran is the editorial page editor of the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper. Just before Thanksgiving he wrote a panegyric to the boss of the South Jersey Democrat Party machine — George Norcross.