State-appointed Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson sent out an email late yesterday saying she had all but miraculously found a way to prevent massive teacher layoffs that had been predicted earlier. She also promised to stay in her job at least until next year.
While not saying there would be no layoffs at all, she said the firings would be limited to non-tenured teachers with low performance evaluations. She also conceded the state had refused to grant her the power to ignore seniority regulations when she went hunting for teachers to fire.
Her comments suggest a game of whiplash aimed at instructional personnel in the state’s largest school district. Let teachers–men and women with mortgages and tuition bills– think the worst and then, at the last moment, say it isn’t so bad after all. All part of the Broad Academy approach of creating disruption in the schools–and in the lives of school employees. The email also suggested worse layoffs might come in the future.
Anderson previously had said she would have to lay off about a third of the district’s more than 3,000 teachers.
Her email also suggests she plans to stick around, despite predictions from union leaders that her departure was “imminent.” She wrote: “I remain committed to the work here with you in Newark and look forward to working together now and next school year.”
She was apparently only kidding about the layoffs. Had you guys fooled, right?
I spoke with leaders of the Newark Teachers Union last night and they were unaware of Cami’s email, which follows:
When I last wrote to you, I shared information about a request we made to the state to allow us to consider quality alongside seniority when making decisions about staffing. I promised to keep you updated as we learned new information. While the request to the state is still pending, I wanted to provide you with an important update.
As many of you know, Newark Public Schools is projected to serve about 30% fewer students in the next three years. The unfortunate reality is that we must reduce our overall staff by the same amount. We have and will continue to work hard to limit the impact on our students by cutting central budgets more deeply than school budgets. We will also continue to do everything possible to reduce the number of teachers impacted by layoffs, retaining our best educators even as we reduce the number of staff positions.
As part of this strategy, we have looked to eliminate vacant positions and to consider voluntary attrition before announcing layoffs. We have waited as long as possible to see how many teachers and other staff will resign or retire as well as how many vacancies remain unfilled to determine how many positions we need to eliminate for the coming school year. I am pleased to report that as a result of voluntary attrition in addition to non-renewals of lower-performing non-tenured staff, we will not need to implement any wide-scale teacher layoff this summer. We will likely have to further reduce the number of non-tenured teachers in the coming weeks and may eliminate a small number of teacher lines, but no teacher layoffs are planned.
We are not yet out of the woods as to the need to restructure our district to account for our enrollment. Therefore, we will continue to work with the state to give us tools to retain quality even as we reduce the number of staff. We believe retaining our best teachers is the most important thing we can do for our students and families and know many of you do as well. In short, we will ensure that Newark Public Schools is providing a higher-quality education to our students so we can continue to raise student achievement and remain a vital, thriving district.
Please know that I remain committed to the work here with you in Newark and look forward to working together now and next school year.