Cami Anderson, the Christie-appointed superintendent of Newark schools, is expected to drop her request for a waiver from state regulations to she can ignore seniority rights when and if she lays off hundreds of city teachers. That doesn’t mean she won’t lay off teachers—but she will have to abide by current law and regulations when she does.
The main characters in the drama won’t talk about the report I received that Anderson won’t try to persuade outgoing Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf or his successor to set aside regulations that protect experienced teachers. Tomorrow is Cerf’s last day.
I first reported here Feb. 21 that Anderson would try to use a little-used provision in state regulations that permits school districts to ignore, or waive, regulations if they come up with an “equivalency” plan that achieves the same goal as the ignored rules. In this case, she wanted to skip traditional standards—experience within appropriate certifications—and to add so-called “effectiveness” ratings as a measure of experience. As a consequence, a teacher with less experience but higher effectiveness ratings could bump, or replace, another teacher.
The report sent shock waves throughout the country and may have contributed to Anderson’s decision to boycott all future sessions of the Newark school board. Teachers from throughout the country denounced the plan, especially after I also reported Anderson planned to go ahead with new hires, including new Teacher for America recruits.
Emails I sent to teacher union leaders about the report she was dropping the waiver were ignored. The spokesman for the Newark Public Schools answered a request for confirmation with one word—“Ha!” But a source I trust reported she will withdraw her application for a waiver.
Another source within the state education department said the changes proposed by Anderson were too sweeping to be accommodated by a waiver. “No education commissioner can waive tenure and seniority rights because they’re statutory,” the source said.
Stay tuned. More to come.