Nothing to show for the pain inflicted on Newark’s children

Cami Anderson--Failure is success
Cami Anderson–Failure is success

This much is true about Newark’s schools: Change–its proponents call it “reform”– has been painful. Painful to parents and children who must negotiate traveling long distances to new schools in strange neighborhoods and dealing with changes in curriculum, testing, procedures, and individualized education plans (IEPS). Painful to teachers and administrators, hundreds of whom have lost their jobs or been assigned to tasks for which they are unsuited and unlicensed. The pain was predicted– Mayor Cory Booker said the pain and disruption might last years–and that has happened. Even state-appointed schools superintendent Cami Anderson and her  supporters concede “reform” would not come without hurt. The question is: Has all this pain resulted in progress for Newark’s children? The answer is no.

A  report compiled by the Alliance for Newark Public Schools reveals that so-called “Renew Schools,”  city schools singled out for special attention–Anderson would call it “reform”–not only did not  produce the student progress she predicted–but, in fact, lagged behind schools throughout New Jersey whose students have the same socio-economic and racial characteristics.

So, after 20 years of state control and four years of experimentation by Anderson,  the best the state-run Newark school administration has to offer fails in comparison to schools in the poorest school districts throughout New Jersey.

“This report…revealed that, with respect to 2013-2014 academic performance, all seven (7) Newark, New Jersey, Renew Schools significantly lagged or lagged their peer schools across the state.

“In the area of student growth performance, six (6) Renew Schools lagged or siginifically lagged their peer schools…”

The analysis also shows that Newark has failed to meet its promised academic progress targets established as a condition for the granting by the federal government of a waiver of the draconian provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Under the law and under the waiver,  student progress was measured for tracked for various subgroups based on race, language skills, poverty and other factors. According to the analysis, “The Renew Schools did not meet any of the 56 targets.”

Theoretically, the failure of Anderson to meet the performance targets promised in the NCLB funding could result in the loss of federal funds to both the city schools and the state.

It’s difficult to exaggerate how much of an embarrassment these failures should be for Gov. Chris Christie and his education commissioner, David Hespe, who have both praised Anderson. Indeed, in response to a four-day takeover of Anderson’s office by protesting students, Hespe said he and his “colleagues were very pleased with” Anderson’s performance.

The commissioner also hinted he would, despite her failures, renew Anderson’s contract for another year. Hespe, once a well-respected educational administrator,  clearly has moved to Chris Christie’s alternate universe, an Orwellian place where truth is lying and success is failure.

It’s an embarrassment not because she failed but because of the pain and disruption Anderson caused creating the so-called “Renew Schools.” Under her plan, new principals were brought in, entire staffs were fired, schedules were changed, days were lengthened, millions of dollars were spent–including on outside consultants with close ties to Anderson–and it all has come to nought.

The Alliance for Newark Public Schools is, concededly, a group critical of Anderson and state control. But its first report, issued two months ago, demonstrated that, far from student test scores improving, they went down. Anderson was asked to comment on the report by members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Schools and, while she promised her own narrative, all she promised were contentions that using test scores was “unfair” to children who had such disadvantages. That itself should have been an embarrassment to Christie and Hespe because Anderson frequently had said citing the disadvantages of poor children was “blaming the victim.”

Anderson, however, did not deny the facts shown in the report.

This second report makes Anderson’s failure far more obvious–and robs her of the excuse that children in poor circumstances should not be compared to all children generally.

 

 

 

 

31 comments

  1. Urban Teacher

    Bob,

    This post is the most damning piece of evidence you have presented thus far. You took my breath away. You are my hero. Thanks for all you do for us.

  2. Mythology

    All of these people corrupting the education of the children of the Newark School District fail to realize is that their salaries and consulting fees that they have garnered so far are not guaranteed for the future. Cami Anderson’s salary is even on a year to year basis so she doesn’t even have a guaranteed salary.

    I look for Hespe to resign soon because beside the problems Anderson has presented to him in Newark he also has a huge financial situation in the school district of Bayonne to solve. This problem in Bayonne is dependent on him to solve as Director of the Department of Education.
    Hespe only got the job because Cerf got a better offer so he didn’t sign off on waiving teacher tenure status that Anderson needed to fund her “One Newark” initiative and that’s what put her in a financial hole as superintendent of the district budget. Thus, developed the Employees Without a Placement pool. She couldn’t fire them, and is still having to pay them their salaries.

    What I want to know today is: Who ORDERED her to stop drinking wine all day and meet with the Newark Student Union protesters?

    • booklady

      M, maybe Broad Supt Academy curriculum advises supt to meet w. students after Facebook page shows they have blankets & superhero pillows for night 3 in Board office. Thanks, donors.

  3. booklady

    In “Schooled,” Dale Russakoff’s New Yorker 5-19-14 article linked here, we read Chris Christie’s 2009 line “We’re paying caviar prices for failure.” In 2015 “We’re paying Cami Anderson prices for failure.”

  4. Pingback: Bob Braun: How State Control Hurt Newark’s Children | Diane Ravitch's blog
  5. P. Grunther

    From your piece: It’s difficult to exaggerate how much of an embarrassment these failures should be for Gov. Chris Christie and his education commissioner, David Hespe, who have both praised Anderson.

    The key words here of course are SHOULD BE [an embarrassment].
    If Christie, Hespe or Anderson cared at all about either Newark’s students or anything other than selling their own reforms and political agendas, then they WOULD BE embarrassed…but they have proven time and time again that they DON’T care.
    So while we can’t count on their caring about either this report or the actual facts, we can hope that if and when Christie is exposed to the national limelight of a Presidential campaign, all of this is brought out to a mass audience. Only then will we see any serious attempt to stop Anderson and the crimes she is committing in Newark. And I have no doubt that a serious investigation would bring to light numerous crimes…not just mismanagement or bad judgment – no, we’re talking about criminal conduct and fiscal corruption.

  6. ramerian

    Who is the savior that’s coming up through the Newark community who can rescue this situation? No one…..didn’t think so.

    Where’s the MAJOR restoration and turn-around that the wondrous Dominique Lee and principal Charity FEELgood hyped up for Brick Academy- see the 9/6/2010 NYTimes article ? Let’s see those scores,
    along with the scores of the rest of the non-reading population and then complain about the” pain and suffering”. So who’s up for the job ? You want to get even by replacing Superintendent Anderson with a loud mouth community organizer possessing a University of Phoenix online degree? Go ahead and check the comprehension scores in another 4 years. Name who could do this job better… crickets.

    What a irony that Newark is reaping what it sows and deflecting it with anger directed at a leader that represents education, nothing which the community has valued on an individual or family level for over 40 years. Oh well, live by the sword, die by the sword. Who’s up to take the leadership and the heat for the next four plus years of failure?

  7. Lolamarble

    The crimes committed in Newark. She claimed she would not close passing schools. Roseville Ave. School was a Tier 2 passing School. She closed the School. Claimed it would become a PreK School. What happened to that funding? Bldg. is empty now. EWOP’ of all until other placement is secured. Employees Wout Placement are the Foster Children of Cami Anderson.

    • CHARLIE

      Roseville Avenue was more than a school. It was a place where poor children felt safe and loved. When the principal fought to keep it open, she was punished. She was told to stay home and retire. She received a letter of transfer to room 907. Parents were lied to and told she was retiring. She had over 50 years of service to the children of Newark. She also became the first casualty of Cami’s war on education in Newark.

  8. mike

    Dear Bob,

    Have you considered the possibility that the long range plan for the “reformers” like Christie and Booker, etc. was always to have these schools fail?

  9. NWK TEACHER

    I am from a Renew school and the reason why they are failing is because- A we have some of the lowest kids in the district. B- we were promised services we never received like support services, crisis teachers, attendance counselors, interventionalists, classroom aides, common prep time, more technology, etc. Let’s take time to mention that many of the Renew school who are taking the PARCC test next week haven’t even touched the chrome books yet. Seriously! We are set up to fail!!

    • booklady

      NWK T,
      First, thanks for doing your best for your students every day.
      -In 1-16-15 “Boldly Breaking Patterns” Huffington Post, C Anderson asserts that every school has Student Support Team working case management system. Maybe a caring parent from your school could ask Naomi Nix 862-236-0887 Star Ledger Reporter to investigate. She’s a Princeton grad, should be able to write a good article … unless SL discourages that.
      -If students don’t have experience w. Chromebooks, is it because Anderson cut Technology teacher slots? How could Principal let this happen–although recent legislation re not using PARCC results/3years may help.

    • booklady

      Source1
      What else can we do to help? Some called NJ DEd Chief Intervention Officer Tim Matheny 609-777-1653 or Gov office 609-292-6000 to request NJ not renew Anderson contract.
      Admire your insights.

      • Source1

        Email links to the report and to Bob’s story about the report to all you know, across America, If many of us do this, the effect would be monumental. A simple act with HUGE impact. Cami, can run from the people, but she can’t run from the truth. Stay strong…

  10. Florence Swan

    Twenty plus years of failure of the State to educate Newark Public School students and another year of failure by Cami Anderson if her contract is renewed will lead our children to prison instead of college. The prisons will be rewarded for each inmate from stock dividends from private prisons which sounds like slavery to me. SMH

    • Source1

      Great info. Does anyone else have info on other town hall mtgs?

      Perhaps it’s time to take our message out of Newark.

      • Source1

        No need even to attend meeting. Distribute copies of the the Renew School Report to those entering the town hall meeting.

        No noise, No demonstration, No Disruption, polite, low key, academic, and
        Very, very powerful.

        • booklady

          1. Maybe share 1-page report summary (w link) in parking lot AFTER meeting so folks take it home rather than leave it in meeting.
          2. Don’t know what municipal regs re “solocitation” are

  11. Pingback: Links 2/27/15 | Mike the Mad Biologist

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.