Cami Anderson’s appearance before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Schools (JCPS) is likely to be a public relations victory for the woman who, with the blessing of Gov. Chris Christie, has disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of Newark residents and employees, wasted money on cronies and inept underlings, violated laws governing special education, teacher licensing, and tenure, failed to improve academic achievement among students, and even endangered the lives of children.
The intentions of the JCPS leadership are beyond reproach–but that’s not the point. It will be a white-wash because Anderson owns the paint.
She will win this very important round in the public debate, not because she is right, but because:
1) She has kept information from the public and refused to provide it to the residents of the city, the Newark school board, and even legitimate inquirers using OPRA and other laws requiring disclosure. As a consequence, there will be little opportunity to challenge what she says. She will control the narrative and that’s all she needs to do.
2) Thanks to cowardly behavior of the Democratic leadership–most notably State Senate President Steve Sweeney–the JCPS hearing will not really be an investigation. Sweeney has relentlessly refused to grant the committee subpoena power, doubtless to save his friend Christie from embarrassment, and Anderson will not testify under oath. She has lied publicly before and nothing will stop her now. Documents have not been subpoenaed and no provision has been made for witnesses to challenge her testimony. It will be Anderson’s show with some vague promise of a future hearing.
3) The time allotted–two to two-and-a-half hours–is ridiculously inadequate. She will undoubtedly take up much of that time with a long opening statement and sympathetic Republicans (and Democrats) will stall with lengthy, softball questions. Just trying to explain the Pink Hula Hoop controversy will take up enormous amounts of time.
4) The session will be reported by the main-stream media in their falsely balanced way because, frankly, there are very few, if any, journalists remaining in the state who have working knowledge of what has been going on in Newark for the last four years. It will be–typically–reported–as a call and response, charge and rebuttal, with no one in the commercial media prepared to make a firm judgment as to her truthfulness. That’s what happened during the chaotic first week of school–parents wept and Cami’s minions said they had the problem under control and no journalists were allowed in the worst-affected schools, including Barringer and West Side, to determine what was really happening–and that’s what will happen Tuesday morning.
I wish I didn’t believe this to be true. I wish I was confident that, Tuesday morning, Anderson would be challenged to defend her ineptitude and ideological obsessions. I’m not. It will be yet another slap in the faces of the children of Newark and the taxpayers of the state who deserve so very much more. It will be yet another insult to the truth.
The victims will be told they should be grateful Anderson even showed up.