Mayor Ras Baraka, citing “chaos, graft, miseducation,” demands people take back Newark schools

Baraka: Time for the people to take back their schools.
Baraka: Time for the people to take back their schools.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, saying the state administration of the city’s schools is operating “outside the rule of law,” has called on the people of his city to follow the example of thousands of protesting students and “use all possible avenues” to rid the school system of its state masters.

A low level clerk gets booted for double payment to Cami Anderson’s friend?

Vanessa Rodriguez at school board meeting--whosever fault paying Tiffy Hardrick was, it wasn't Cami's
Vanessa Rodriguez at school board meeting–Wasn’t me, wasn’t Cami

Cami Anderson, the hermit superintendent of the Newark schools, exonerated herself of any wrongdoing in the illegal giveaway of thousands of dollars to an  old friend and former assistant who managed to draw checks from school districts in two different states. Anderson, Gov. Chris Christie’s agent in the district, did it apparently by blaming the scam on lower-level employees no longer employed by the district.

Petition from Central High: State policies hurt disabled, violate the law, cause “chaos.”

Sharnee Brown--Willing to sacrifice her career for the children. Are you?
Sharnee Brown–Willing to sacrifice her career for the children. Are you?

UPDATE: NEWARK’S CAMI ANDERSON–Acting like a beseiged colonial-era dictator, is trying to block employee access to a petition opposing her policies, already signed by more than 500 men and women, and has threatened to arrest an organizer of last week’s massive walkout of high school students. The hermit-like agent of Chris Christie–she has refused to attend public meetings for 17 months–blocked access of all Newark Public Schools computers to MoveOn.Org. The site published a letter and petition from Central High School principal Sharnee Brown detailing how Anderson violated the law protecting special education students. At the same time, Anderson’s “Executive Director of Safety,” Eric Ingold, delivered a letter to Roberto Cabanas of NJ Communities United–an ally of the Newark Students Union–banning Cabanas from setting foot on school property, including the site of tonight’s school board meeting.

Thousands of Newark students march against state control of schools

Grace Tyler and Nicauris Veras address Shabazz students.
Grace Tyler and Nicauris Veras address Shabazz students.

There was a moment during Friday’s student march through Newark–a rare moment when this sometimes desperate city seemed  laced with hope and optimism. About  200 students, mostly from Malcom X. Shabazz High School, had occupied the steps at City Hall and were chanting and singing and enjoying the warm spring day. Then, suddenly, there was an eruption of cheers and many of the Shabazz students rushed into Broad Street because, blocks away, about a thousand more students were marching toward them, most from Science Park. There was a unity not often seen among young people in Newark and, perhaps a sense these young people might actually heal the wounds inflicted on this community by rich, carpetbagging strangers with names like Chris Christie and Cami Anderson.

The financial crisis, as planned by the state, has become a political crisis in Newark

Damage control for Christie and Anderson
They call it reform

The crisis is at hand. The decision by Cami Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to run the Newark schools four years ago, to cut neighborhood school budgets by an additional five percent brings closer the day, predicted by a deputy state education commissioner, when the financial crisis becomes a “political crisis”–and the political crisis results in a decision to turn the entire district over to private hands.

What’s wrong with New Jersey?

Mayor Baraka joins the march
Mayor Baraka joins the march

The mayor of the state’s largest city joined hundreds of others–teachers, students, parents– in a march that closed down its largest thoroughfare. And the mayor promised the demonstrations would continue and be even more creative. In any other state in the nation, the event would have made, not just statewide news, but national news.  But not here in New Jersey. Here in New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka’s bold action and aggressive words were ignored by the media, including the state’s largest newspaper. Only a few digital journalists and photographers did cover it–along with a public television station looking to balance a ridiculously one-sided interview the day before with the target of Newark’s anger, state superintendent Cami Anderson.

East Side student walkout energizes anti-Cami effort

East Side students demonstrate at City Hall
Eastside students demonstrate at City Hall

Nearly 1,000 students–more than half of the school’s enrollment–burst through the doors of East Side High School noon Friday and began a three-hour march around the city, determined to stop the state administration from turning their school into a “turnaround” school with new faculty members and a radically altered program.  The passionate yet peaceful demonstration, which closed some of the city’s main thoroughfares, gave new energy to a flagging effort to block state-appointed superintendent  Cami Anderson from remaking the state’s largest school system.