The following statement was drafted and endorsed by 35 teachers at Newark’s Science Park High School, a school consistently rated as one of the top public schools in New Jersey and the nation.
This much is true about Newark’s schools: Change–its proponents call it “reform”– has been painful. Painful to parents and children who must negotiate traveling long distances to new schools in strange neighborhoods and dealing with changes in curriculum, testing, procedures, and individualized education plans (IEPS). Painful to teachers and administrators, hundreds of whom have lost their jobs or been assigned to tasks for which they are unsuited and unlicensed. The pain was predicted– Mayor Cory Booker said the pain and disruption might last years–and that has happened. Even state-appointed schools superintendent Cami Anderson and her supporters concede “reform” would not come without hurt. The question is: Has all this pain resulted in progress for Newark’s children? The answer is no.
The Newark high school students who occupied the offices of state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson for four days forced her to meet with them but they did not, of course, get her to agree to their most important demand, that she resign. It’s unlikely any of them believed they could get Anderson to quit. Far beyond their stated goals, however, what this small handful of students did truly mattered—mattered in ways the students and their adult supporters might not even have considered.
The most prominent critics of the state administration of the Newark public schools are traveling to Washington, DC, to make their case to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They will include Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) and other legislators, union leaders, community activists, and advocates and experts associated with the Education Law Center (ELC) and the Alliance for Newark Public Schools.
State-appointed Newark school superintendent Cami Anderson and her supporters have gone into frantic damage control mode to ensure her chances for reappointment next month are not hurt by a cheating scandal–but sources within the school system say she knew about the problem and may have tried to prevent its disclosure.
State-appointed administrators have scheduled a press conference Monday morning to boast about improved conditions at Newark’s Barringer High School–but they may be facing questions instead about both a cheating scandal and an unexpectedly low number of seniors graduating from the school’s “STEAM Academy,” one of two schools operating in the building.
Tenured Newark school teacher LaRhonda Ragland—a former member of the Alvin Ailey dance company and a New Jersey Nets cheerleader—was set up to fail by the state-run school administration, a state-appointed arbitrator has ruled. In a 41-page decision reinstating the teacher after the district tried to fire her, the arbitrator described how Ragland, a single mother with a teenaged child, was declared an “educator without placement” (EWP) by the administration of superintendent Cami Anderson, then transferred from Maple Avenue School to Arts High where she was given non-teaching duties to perform. She was assigned to teach only when administrators wanted to evaluate her–then gave her poor evaluations.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka released this updated version of an earlier statement opposing the statewide tests known as PARCC and supporting the right of parents to keep their children from taking them:
Cami Anderson, a woman hardly known for her charm, has—with the help of media friends–launched a charm offensive aimed at the impossible task of rehabilitating her image. Those friends include the always reliable Star-Ledger, a newspaper that not only refuses to publish any bad news about Anderson but now also has made dubious journalistic history by promoting Anderson in a popularity contest disguised as a news story entitled, “Has the criticism of Newark’s superintendent gone too far?”