Mayor-elect Baraka says “cooler heads will prevail” and Cami Anderson will leave Newark

 

Mayor-elect Ras Baraka
Mayor-elect Ras Baraka

                Newark’s mayor-elect, Ras Baraka, said he is still determined to remove state-imposed schools superintendent Cami Anderson—and he believes state Education Commissioner David Hespe will help him do it.

                “Ultimately, if she was smart she would just leave on her own,” Baraka said in an interview. “And if she really cared about the city, she would leave on her own. But I think that cooler heads will prevail and we will get together and begin to strategize how we can move the city forward with a new superintendent and a plan that is working  for every body.”

                Baraka, who takes office July 1, said he has discussed Anderson’s removal with Hespe. The mayor-elect, who ran on a campaign of ousting Anderson and stopping the controversial “One Newark” enrollment plan, said the commissioner has sent investigators into the city schools to review what Anderson is doing.

                “They have a team down here reviewing what’s going on in the city —we’re hoping  that they will come to the very obvious conclusion that the superintendent is actually an impediment to the growth of the city and not a catalyst for it,” said Baraka, who defeated a pro-Anderson mayoral candidate, Shavar Jeffries, a faculty member at Seton Hall Law School, 54 percent to 46 percent May 13.

                The new mayor, on leave as principal of Newark’s Central High School, said he was aware that, in the last few days, Anderson fired a number of school principals. Yesterday, she announced the hiring of eight new principals and also has declared Hawthorne Avenue School a so-called “renew school.”

                That would mean its principal, H. Grady James, and the rest of the staff at the school would be let go and have to reapply for their jobs. Just a few days ago, parent leaders at the school were celebrating Anderson’s decision not to turn the school over to a privately-operated charter and to permit it to remain a kindergarten-eighth grade, neighborhood public school. At that time, Anderson was silent on the staff’s fate.

                Baraka said he believed Anderson’s latest moves were designed to push the “One Newark” plan through despite opposition and to punish those who disagreed with her. She already suspended James after he spoke out on the “One Newark” plan at a forum sponsored by then –candidate Baraka.

                About the changes and the decision to let James go, the mayor-elect said, “ None of this really has anything to do with moving the schools forward.  This has to do with her personal ideas about how schools should function and how the district should function—and the people who support her and the people who don’t. That’s been very obvious and clear to me.”

That is why, he added, Hespe’s review team should conclude Anderson—whose contract expires June 30, should leave Newark:

“Anybody who comes in here who is fair minded and has a balanced view of what is happening is going to come to the same conclusion—that this lady is an obstructionist, actually. She is preventing us from doing what we need to do in this town to make it better. There is no way you can go to any place and try to move it forward without (consulting) its residents. That’s the issue and I think anybody who comes here would draw that same conclusion.”

So far, Hespe has been silent on Anderson’s future. Despite promises he would at least respond to Hawthorne Avenue parents, he has refused for nearly two months. Baraka was insistent that the education commissioner—who answers to Gov. Chris Christie—must see that what Anderson is doing makes “no sense.”

Baraka said, “It just doesn’t make sense the things that are happening in the city. It just absolutely doesn’t make sense.  We have an attendance problem so we fire the attendance counselors and we get rid of truant officers. We disrupt the leadership of the schools, the administrative leadership.”

During the interview, Baraka spoke of other issues—crime, jobs, development, politics, the influence of his father–and they will be the subject of future stories here.

Meanwhile, here is a transcript of the question-and-answer session with the mayor-elect that dealt only with the public schools:

 

Are you still determined to get rid of Cami Anderson, the state-appointed school superintendent?

Yes. I think many people around  the city, from all different groups and factions, understand this superintendent is not going to work. The situation we have now is not helping the city in any way to move forward. She is just trying to forge ahead with a plan that was not well thought out and not developed with the community. She is going forward with that non-stop—people see that that’s problematic. Ultimately, if she was smart she would just leave on her own. And if she really cared about the city, she would leave on her own. But I think that cooler heads will prevail and we will get together and begin to strategize how we can move the city forward with a new superintendent and a plan that is working  for every body.

Have you spoken to Education Commissioner David Hespe or the governor about Anderson?

I spoke to Commissioner Hespe about what his thoughts were. They have a team down here reviewing what’s going on in the city —we’re hoping  that they will come to the very obvious conclusion that the superintendent is actually an impediment to the growth of the city and not a catalyst for it.

But she had said she won’t resign, hasn’t she?

Right, I know, I think that’s just her way. She is to me an ideologue.  She believes without any pragmatism, or testing at all, that this thing she has in her mind is going to work and what is stopping it from working are people who are stuck on trying to be failures. I think is incredibly condescending. She has no practical bone in her body at this point. It just doesn’t make sense the things that are happening in the city. It just absolutely doesn’t make sense.  We have an attendance problem so we fire the attendance counselors and we get rid of truant officers. We disrupt the leadership of the schools, the administrative leadership.

Were you aware Anderson has fired a number of the city’s principals in the last few days and there are reports H. Grady James, the principal of Hawthorne Avenue School, may be losing his position?

Yes.  None of this really has anything to do with moving the schools forward.  This has to do with her personal ideas about how schools should function and how the district should function—and the people who support her and the people who don’t. That’s been very obvious and clear to me.   Anybody who comes in here who is fair minded and has a balanced view of what is happening is going to come to the same conclusion—that this lady is an obstructionist, actually. She is preventing us from doing what we need to do in this town to make it better. There is no way you can go to any place and try to move it forward without its residents. That’s the issue and I think anybody who comes here would draw that same conclusion. And most people have.

Have you met with Anderson since you were elected?

No.

 

8 comments

  1. Stressed

    I’ll believe it when I see it but she needs to go.

    The principal at Flagg was told to get her things together and was escorted out of the building yesterday. There was an announcement following introducing the new principal. Is this how it’s done?

    Teachers get emails that they no longer have a position in their schools next year; never mind Effective Evaluations. Emails. These people don’t have the guts to face the people whose lives they turn upside down.

    I’ve never seen the lack of professionalism, common decency, since Anderson became the Superintendent. Someone needs to tell her to get her things together and then escort her out of the building.

  2. newark teacher

    Having worked with Raz at the elementary level for several years, I can attest that he is the man , if anyone who can get Cami out. I have been at a Renew school for two years under great leadership. The school is going to take years to turn around. They say renew schools will be given resources and increased budget to assist in getting the school back on track…untrue. In fact there is more and more cuts each year. It is a set up for failure. Our enrollment is expected to increase by 100-150 students next year. But we are loosing some of our best kids to charter and getting those with behavior and learning disabilities. You know the ones not Charter material. It will be another rough year next year. One Newark is a disaster waiting to happen. Raz- keep it up! we all need you more now then ever!!

  3. Tony

    If cami departs where will she go next? These type of managers are a national problem. She has accomplished her job. Massive disruption and off to another city.

    Whether she departs or not Newark needs to be ready for what is up next. Teacher evaluations based on VAM are coming and there will be massive firings! How will the city cope with the high unemployment and foreclosures that will follow? Who will want to teach in newark for low pay and low job security? Wow after decades of court litigation and academic gains supported by teachers our politicians have bought into chaos and will be setting back the clock to a newark of the past.

    Bob Braun: You are right. Cami was easy to hate. Hating a “plan” or an ideology is far more difficult. IT might even be more difficult with the Common Enemy gone to a higher paying job at the corporate charter chain of brothels.

  4. Steve Des

    Cami was given a new contract a couple of months ago. Has she signed It? With the school ear in count down mode, it is apparent that as long as she has Christie ear, she is not going anywhere.

  5. Pain

    She has made a mockery of the NPS, and that’s a tough one to pull off, considering the states first appointee is gong to the can. All she cares about is lining her friends pocket, which wouldn’t be that bad if the people she hired were actually in the classroom helping teachers. I was in a classroom from September until March without a Special Ed. Teacher for my inclusion class. It wasn’t until March that Cami and her team decided to give us a Special Ed. Teacher to accommodate my students IEP’s, and 504’s. They are legal documents after all. Unfortunately for me it was to little to late. I won’t get into the whole thing here, but lets just say that one of those children that were legally supposed to have a Special Ed. Teacher and aide at all times caused me to have a serious injury. I was in the South Ward for a while and worked at one of Ras’ schools. He may not be the best Newark has seen, but he is brave enough to go against a women who set out to model the NPS after New Orleans no matter what the cost, both mentally and financially on the people of Newark.

  6. Rev Eddie Torres

    This not the time to be cool about anything that was done to Public Education in Newark, Trenton, or Camden. Newark was told like Camden that the Students settlement money from Abbott vs Burke that took 18 years to settle and when the money came in to the People of Color the State of New Jersey Took over the Districts and stole the 400 million each school district had to build and repair the entire school disticts. It is called Righteous Indignation and is an approved behavior of the Saints by God. Jesus told the Apostle to take their cloak and a sword if they did not have a sword then sell the cloak and buy a sword. We cannot let these rapist and robbers walk with no justice for the Students of Camden, Newark, and Trenton. We need men with backbones to represent the interest of the people of color.

  7. Pingback: Cami Anderson: Impractical Ideologue | Blind Noise
  8. newaekbluesman

    It seems Cami will get a contract from Governor Christie as a pay back for the Newark election of Ras.Once again politics will trump kids,mis spending at the highest level of incompetents and her disdain for Newark and New Jersey.The taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

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