Massive layoffs in Newark? Never mind. Cami was just joking.

Fooled you, right?
Fooled you, right?

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.

 

 

 

11 comments

  1. Patricia Valese

    Bob,
    If this is true – why is Newark interviewing so many NEW teachers?
    My niece and a couple of her friends have job interviews for Newark – but I told her to stay away from this town.

  2. Stressed

    This is exactly what Christie did in 2010-11. He threatened pensions and over 500 educators retired statewide. The day after the election he said, “We won’t do anything with pensions right now.” But, he got what he wanted; highly paid educators eligible for retirement put in their papers. Anderson had to know that people who were afraid of losing their positions would leave on their own.

    This is crazy. As a teacher in the district, just try to find a smiling face right now. We feel like we’re just being batted around; don’t know if you’re coming or going; and many people are leaving because they just can’t work with this kind of stress.

  3. newaekbluesman

    When the leaves are falling and the bark is peeling and the branches are falling the tree is dead,still you must cut it down.Cami can say what she wants but she is the tree.I guess she will be the last to know.

  4. Marie Corfield

    Enrollment down??? Why, I thought charters were part of NPS. Ohhhh, I guess they’re only part of NPS when talking about funding issues, but staffing? Not so much.

  5. Joe

    Why is enrollment down in Newark? Are people leaving in large numbers, is the birthrate down? Or is Cami lying, obfuscating or just playing with numbers as others have indicated?
    PS Any reactions to the May 19th, New Yorker article, “Schooled,” by Dale Russakoff? It’s about Newark schools, Cami, Christie and the whole mess. I have mixed feelings about the author’s interpretations of things educational in Newark.

    Bob Braun: One of the reasons enrollment is down is the shift of students to charter schools promoted by Cami herself. She creates the market for charters and then blames the public schools for failing. I, too, have mixed feelings about The New Yorker Article. She sealed the link among Christie/Booker/Cerf/Anderson and points out the devastation of the city’s neighborhood schools was planned from jump street. I think she is a little too sympathetic to Anderson.

  6. P. Grunther

    Great point Marie…Cami’s “slip” in terms of not including charter school enrollment in her comment about NPS shows exactly what her attitude is (i.e. the Broad line of thinking) in that charter schools are public schools only when it serves their purposes (getting public money and space) but are anything but public schools when they want to duck issues such as administrative and fiscal accountability.
    It’s important to keep the pressure up and encourage Sen. Rice to push forward with a criminal investigation – the only way Cami is going to leave Newark is if she is literally forced to resign or if the situation gets hot enough for Christie to run scared and remove her.

    Bob Braun : All good points.

  7. Joe

    Thanks to Bob and the other commenters for clarifying that Anderson was being totally disingenuous, deceptive and Christie-like in her comments about the enrollment figures. In other words, she’s a lying liar. It’s sort of like stabbing a teacher in the back and then complaining that the teacher is messy and ineffective by spilling his/her blood all over the classroom.

  8. Steve Des

    Cami is a miracle worker!!!

    She brought the layoffs down from 3000 employees to 300 and now besides not laying off anyone she is actually hiring new teachers!

    The next part of her miracle work will be posting 100% pupil attendance even during blizzards, students test scores off the chart and finally every teacher and other employee being rated excellent.

    What her salary and bonuses reach the $500,000 mark and as a true miracle worker she deserves it.

  9. Bill Wolfe

    Do I smell a deal?

    Cami gets to stay on, save face, and undermine the community resistence for privatization in exchange for foregoing layoffs?

    Bob Braun: My fear exactly. If the unions let up on Cami, the fragile unity built by the Baraka campaign will be ripped apart and the Wall Streets will have won what they thought they lost in the ballot box.

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