Another Cami disaster–chaos at Barringer

Hespe laughs as Newark kids go  without food, teachers, and the courses they need
Hespe laughs as Newark kids go without food, teachers, and the courses they need


Barringer High School in Newark was in chaos today after scores of students and parents marched out of the North Ward school–the oldest high school in Newark–to protest teacherless classrooms, foodless lunch hours, and class sizes reaching into the sixties.

“The hallways are dangerously crowded with students–and so are the classrooms,” said Marco Huertas, a junior.

As part of superintendent Cami Anderson’s plan to provide more “choice,” Barringer was divided into two schools: Barringer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and Art. Most of the problems for now are restricted to STEAM.

Anderson fired Wayne Dennis, the principal of STEAM for only one year despite good evaluations and Dennis’s loyalty to Anderson’s “One Newark” plan that has outraged students and parents throughout the state’s largest city. The newly appointed principal of the other Barringer, Muhammed Bilal, quit even before the new school year began.

Wilhelmina Holder, a parent leader who is head of the Secondary School Coalition, said Barringer has been in a state of “chaos” since school opened Sept. 4. Many students sent there under Anderson’s “One Newark” plan either have no schedules at all or temporary schedules that are changed every few days.

“Students don’t know where to go,” she said.

Grace Appiah, 16, a junior, says she has received temporary schedules and has been put in classes she doesn’t need and has been denied classes she does need for college.

“We need the right classes so we can prepare for our SAT tests and get ready for college,” Appiah says.

She says classes–some as technical as chemistry–are being taught by substitutes and teachers who are not certified to teach the courses. She said the classes are overcrowded and do not contain enough seats for all students to sit down.

Barringer is a Title 1 school where many students are eligible for federally subsidized lunch and breakfasts, but many students, she says, are getting nothing.

“They run out of food,” she says. “They hand out bread and cheese.”

She says parents have given their children food to bring to school for breakfast and lunch but they are not allowed to eat the food.

“Students are going hungry,” she says.

Holder says Barringer is badly overcrowded as a result of students sent there under the “One Newark” plan.

Holder and Brenda Scott, a parent leader, sent an email to politicians and school leaders demanding some intervention in the school.  They described situations in which there are no classroom instructors–Algebra 2 students are trying to help each other learn; where substitute teachers staff many of the classrooms; where ESL students have no one with whom to speak because there are too few Spanish-speaking instructors.

“This is a school that is supposed to have 600 students and has 700 in one location and 700 in the other,” says Holder.

She says she and Scott spoke with state Sen. Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who both represents the area in the Legislature and is chair of the Senate Education Committee.

While Ruiz has done little in the past to oppose Anderson, Holder says the legislator contacted state Education Commissioner David Hespe, a champion of Cami Anderson. Hespe, however, has proven to be useless in getting Anderson to back off the “One Newark” plan that he supports.

Indeed, on the first day of school, Hespe praised Anderson for a “good job.” He promised her opponents to convene a “working group” that would restrain the tone-deaf Anderson–but the group’s members have never been name and it has never met.

  1. Horror story on so many levels. Anderson needs to go. Also, since when is a student not allowed to eat food from home? This whole situation is insane!

    1. Yes, in the schools in Newark students are not allowed to bring in food. Can you imagine? I live in a suburb, and I refuse to let my kids eat the school lunch. Most of it is not “healthy” in my opinion although it is purported to be. Many of the kids refuse to eat it. I would consider a lawsuit if my child was not allowed to bring in food I provided. But, in Newark, it has been the status quo for decades.

      1. Students are allowed to bring lunch. My daughter has been taking lunch since she was 3. She is 12 now. They can’t deny them of their food. Besides, Newark gets the lowest grade of food. It’s the same company that provide food to the jails.

        1. So because of your experience with elementary and middle school, you are telling these high school kids and parents that their experience is not valid?

      2. In elementary schools in Newark students can bring their own food. I know because many students would come to my classroom and ask if they could heat up their lunch in my microwave.. I always let them.

  2. This fiasco, and the entire One Newark debacle, belongs at the feet of Governor Christie. He is the one who enables Anderson.

  3. Meanwhile, the irony is the department of talent at 2 Cedar Street responsible for putting teachers in classrooms is somehow overrun with EWPs (Employees Without Placement). Literally, overrun. These people are actually spilling out into the hallways because there are so many of them. Scores of managers, directors with no staff, deputy directors with no directors to whom they report; and special assistants galore.

    What exactly is a Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement in a public school setting and how exactly does that person’s efforts translate into student achievement? If anyone has the answer, please refrain from including bovine excrement in the response.

  4. All schools need to unite with the NSU. Make your voices louder. The more United the louder it will be heard. They have to hear you sooner or later. Parents need to come out too. Don’t be scared. You have to let the truth be heard don’t let them lie to everyone. Let everyone know the plan is not working.

  5. It is not only in Barringer that the confusion exists. My daughter says in her school in South ward, There are lots of Special Needs students in regular education classroom without a special Needs teacher. Our students are lost in the hands of hurricane Cami. What is going on Newark is a shame. Where are our Rep.? Why is nobody listening? I don’t want to sound racist but it does appear because 75% of students in Newark are brown babies, Our Rep. are paying deaf ear to the situation. Mayor Ras, please. come to our aid before our brown babies are denied of their fundamental rights,

  6. 1. The USDA (department of agriculture) administers the National School Lunch Program, so let’s contact some US govt folks re Barringer HS:
    Sen Robert Menendez/Newark office 973-645-3030 (Union City, his native town, has 80% free/reduced lunch rate). RM’s Wash DC# is 202-645-3030. His website has a contact page.
    Senator Cory Booker/Newark 973-639-8700. CB’s Wash DC # 202-224-3224. Email
    2. If you have a good calling plan, MidAtlantic Reg’l Office for Food & Nutrition Services/USDA in Robbinsville, NJ is 609-259-5025. Civil Rights Director=Michele Sazo 609-259-5061. Program Director=Patricia Dombroski.
    We need to get eyes on Newark from all possible perspectives. Especially after NSU students’ vital, well-planned work. Their protest last week went well for 8+ hours through the day–until 6:30. Bob, last week you exhorted us to pray; this Sunday I expressed an out-loud prayer at service for Kristin T’s healing and to grant the superintendent wisdom and kindness.
    “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

  7. Great article Bob. I think Mr. Hespe is too busy sending out directives to school districts asking for their continued support of the Common Core (press release 9/15).

    It is very obvious that presidential candidate Chris Christie has officially doubled down on the Common Core….at the same time his primary rivals (Jindal, Paul) have run away from it. This should be interesting

    Also, do we have any updates on the 2014 NJASK scores from Newark? It’s been 6 weeks already.

    1. FYI, Jindal has only pretended to run away from the CC$$

  8. […] Braun, veteran education reporter, says that Barringer High School is in chaos, due to poor planning by the district leadership, i.e., Cami […]

  9. How about “value added measuring” Cami’s performance. She would be rode out of town on a rail!

  10. Worked at Barringer for 15+ years and unless something has changed in the past year–STUDENTS WERE NEVER ALLOWED TO BRING IN FOOD!! It was taken at the door when bags were searched.

  11. I graduated from Barringer in 2004, students were allowed to bring in food–unless you were bringing food to class–there was no such restriction. My grandmother worked before retiring in 02, though. So I may have been an exception.

  12. All the public schools under state control are designed to fail in order to justify the further privatization under Governor Soprano’s corpora-fascist regime

  13. I currently am a student in Barringer S.T.E.A.M and yes! Every single detail thats on that article is true. We are treated like prisoners. How sad is it to have new administrators that can care less of how these student conduct in my school. All this disorganization is impeding , how is it possible that school started on September 4th and exactly a week ago I got a Chemistry teacher which leaves me way behind the other students yet, there was chemistry classes that only had two students and didn’t put all 35 students in there because thats how many students we have. I dont even feel like waking up to go to school I’m fed up with everything if the classes are too crowded is a big problem and now we have lunches that are only 30 minutes long by the time we sit down to eat is about 10 minutes left.

  14. Save our school, Cami Anderson sucks!

  15. […] state control of the district which has been in effect for 20 years.  The plan opened with significant chaos and uncertainty, and a year in, there are significant questions about the capability of One Newark to really […]

  16. […] over the last few years. At the beginning of 2014-15, the new leadership was so disorganized that many students didn’t get class schedules or were given stop-gap ones that were valid for just a couple of days. A number of students […]

  17. […] over the last few years. At the beginning of 2014-15, the new leadership was so disorganized that many students didn’t get class schedules or were given stop-gap ones that were valid for just a couple of days. A number of students […]

  18. […] is leaving Barringer High School, one of New Jersey’s lowest-performing high schools, where a rotating cast of leaders has tried to bring stability and spark […]

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