Cami Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to run the Newark schools, has issued an email in which she lamely tries to explain while she will try to fire experienced teachers–who have high salaries–while retaining less experienced teachers who will cost the district less to pay and owe their jobs to Anderson’s regime and devotion to Teach for America (TFA).
She sent the email shortly after 11a.m., when many teachers were busy standing in front of their classes. The full text is below but it coyingly informs men and women with children and mortgages and college tuitions and medical bills and elderly parents that, well, she just couldn’t do anything else–as if her own policies were not to blame for the drop in student enrollment and loss of public revenue: “Layoffs are difficult and I realize that some of you will be personally affected.”
Anderson doesn’t say how many teachers she will fire but she has told other media sources that as many as 1,100 of fewer than 3,800 instructors may be fired–about a third of the teaching force.
Under Christie, the state had backed a concerted effort to expand charter school enrollment in Newark–with an accompanying decline in public school enrollment. The state has failed to make needed repairs for years despite availablility of construction funds. The charter schools have consistently not taken a concomitant share of children with special needs. Like the murderer who kills both parents and appeals for mercy because he is an orphan, the state administration has neglected public education then argued that is failing and should be replaced by privatized schools.
Shortly after I reported that Anderson, a former TFA executive, would ask the state for permission to do that, I also reported that she was expected to withdraw her request for a state “equivalency or waiver.”
I still believe she will, but, to the extent I created the impression she already had withdrawn her application for a so-called state waiver, or imminently would, that impression was wrong and I apologize to my readers, especially to the victimized teachers who may have drawn false hope from my report. I still believe she will eventually withdraw the application and that the waiver will not be enacted, but it won’t be imminent.
As I said then, I do believe she still will lay off hundreds of teachers.
I could explain why I posted that blog, but that would be inside baseball. It also would violate my promises of confidentiality to some people. I must say my biggest mistake was trusting the official spokesman for the Newark schools who, in a series of emails with me, created the distinct impression I was right when I told him I believed she had withdrawn, or was about to withdraw, the waiver. He will deny this and that’s fine; it was my fault for believing and trusting him. Won’t happen again.
I also promise I will not let up in providing the evidence I believe shows the Christie/Cerf/Anderson administration of the Newark schools has been a disaster tinged with corruption.
The reason I am writing this now is the sending of an email to all Newark teachers in which Anderson explains–lamely–while she wants to punish experienced teachers for their years of service and short-circuit an already flawed evaluation process. Here is the email from Cami Anderson:
As I have shared in many conversations, brown bag lunches, press articles, and informal briefings over several months, NPS is facing a serious budget shortfall. As student enrollment has fallen dramatically and is projected to continue falling, we must make difficult decisions. I assure you, we delayed teacher layoffs as long as possible by making cuts to central and administration budgets. But, we are at a point where we must plan for the future and, unfortunately, that will require reducing the size of our teaching force to match the size of student enrollment.
Layoffs are difficult and I realize that some of you will be personally affected. Unfortunately, we have no other choice. As a result, I am now trying to make sure that as we conduct them, we do so in a way that is least disruptive to our students’ learning.
Current state regulations would make this bad situation even worse by forcing us to completely ignore teacher effectiveness in making layoff decisions and consider only years of service. Therefore, last week, the district asked the New Jersey Department of Education to make performance a key factor, alongside years of service, when making decisions about teacher layoffs.
If the state grants our request, we could ensure our most successful teachers—many of you who have served our city for years—remain in the classroom. I have heard personally from many effective teachers (and national research would support) that good teachers want to work with colleagues who push them to be better. We also know that good teachers have a life-long impact on students. I believe including performance as a key factor is the best thing to do for students and teachers.
Whether or not you agree with me on this issue—and I realize that some of you may not—I want to be clear that we will need to conduct layoffs even if the state does not grant our request. You are likely to have many questions about when layoffs will occur and how many people will be affected. While we don’t have the answers yet, I wanted to reach out to you as soon as possible with the information I do have.
I promise to keep you updated along the way as we learn more specifics. My staff and I will also be hosting Q&A sessions in many schools over the next several weeks and months to update you and clear up any misinformation. Look for more details about these events soon.
During this difficult time, I know you will stay focused on the students in your classrooms and for that I thank you. As always, I deeply appreciate everything you do on behalf of our students every day.