The special needs victims of “One Newark.”

SpecialedchartSuspicions are deep that the “One Newark” plan is simply part of a strategy to portray conventional public schools as failures and to replace them—eventually, replace them completely—with non-union charters and voucher schools that rely on young, short-term and inexpensive teachers from agencies like Teach for America. A document distributed by the Newark Public Schools only adds to the suspicion.

The document is a spreadsheet that identifies which high schools will take seriously needy children once the “One Newark” plan shakes out. What it shows is that most of the self-contained special education classes will be assigned to conventional public high schools.

What that means, of course, is that charter schools and magnet schools will be freed from the responsibility of educating special needs students—and freed from the burden of having the test scores of those students attributed to their schools and, under the state’s new evaluation system, to their students.

Gov. Chris Christie has called the Newark schools “failure factories.” So far, he has been given a free pass— from the courts, the  Legislature and mainstream media—for failing to fully fund the state’s school aid formula, for failing to spend the available billions on the construction and repair needs of urban schools. Inciting resentment against teachers and other public employees, he has been able to blame his own misfeasance in office—the real cause of the current urban school crisis—on thousands of public school teachers.

Making conventional public schools warehouses for the neediest students is a strategy in Christie’s attack on public education–and it is at the core of the “One Newark” plan devised by Cami Anderson, Christie’s agent in Newark.  Of course, their test scores will be lower—and, of course, the scores of favored charter schools that do not enroll these students will be higher. He manufactures the evidence to support his argument.

Less than two years ago, Anderson’s handling of special education at West Side was the subject of a critical report that required her to make major changes. Teachers there say the changes were not made.

One NPS administrator said about the new distribution chart:

“None of the charters will receive any of the students that flood the regular public schools in Newark, nor will the magnet schools. They’re being stacked to ‘succeed’ next year while the regular public schools will once again be blamed for not achieving on the same level.”

An email that accompanied the chart explained, “Special needs students will not go to  all of the ‘One Newark’  schools: Science, American History, University, Bard, North Star, TEAM, Newark Collegiate , Newark Bridges, Newark Leadership Academy  will not get  cognitively impaired special needs students.”

But, the chart shows, Central, Barringer, East Side, Shabazz, Weequahic, Newark Vocational will be assigned those special ed students. Technology is alone among the magnets but it will continue to take only one class of auditorily impaired, not cognitively impaired, students. That class has been at Technology for years.

I asked the spokesman for the Newark Public Schools about the assignment of special education classes.  I sent him a copy of the chart and asked whether one existed for elementary schools. He did not respond.

I have not seen a similar chart for elementary schools but, historically, charter schools have not taken their share of special needs students.

Ironically, Anderson promoted her plan as a way of assuring that charter schools take their fair share of special needs and other needy students.

18 comments

  1. Toni

    They will take all students until the October 15th count and then after they get their money from the state, they’ll force them out like they do every year!!! Look at NPS’ enrollments in previous yesrs after October 15th! They skyrocket with Special Needs children or students with behavioral issues. Its been happening for years!! They sell the parents a bill of goods that all children are welcome….bull!

  2. Stressed

    Technology has been the designated high school for deaf ed students for a long time. That’s not new; the program has been in place long before this. True, though, that the neighborhood high schools have well above average of special needs students.

    Bob Braun: Thanks. I will make that change in the blog itself.

  3. Michael Fiorillo

    “… Anderson promoted her plan as a way of assuring that charter schools take their share of special needs and other needy students.”

    Yet again, we see that everything the so-called reformers say is a lie, including “and” & “the.”

  4. SPAN Advocacy

    The civil rights of children with special needs are being ignored in this One Newark plan. This was pointed out to the district prior to its implementation, yet they chose to go forward. The New Orleans Recovery District model that Cerf is trying to model in Newark and Camden has failed students with learning and behavioral disabilities. Parents and students, contact the US Dept. Of Ed. Office of Civil Rights to file a complaint. If you need assistance, call SPAN 800-654-7726.
    New York Office
    Office for Civil Rights
    U.S. Department of Education
    32 Old Slip, 26th Floor
    New York, NY 10005-2500

    Telephone: 646-428-3900
    FAX: 646-428-3843; TDD: 800-877-8339
    Email: OCR.NewYork@ed.gov

    • Concerned

      Someone should post this on the Parents Against One Newark Plan twitter/Facebook!

      Parents need this info!!

  5. Russ Walsh

    Thank you for this report, Bob. It is clear the motivtion of Christie/Anderson is the destruction of public schools. Christie appears to want to turn his “failure factories” into “profit factories.”

  6. Bill Wolfe

    The beauty of the concept of the public school system is that we’re all in this together as a community – the institution reflects those values and is structured to promote equity and democracy and community.

    Charters, like private markets and private property, are based on exclusion and hierarchy and privilege – they are the antithesis of all things public.

    The Christie Team Hates All things public – instead, Christie serves elites and oligarchs and corporations.

    Bob Braun: Extraordinarily important post. Thank you.

  7. Stressed

    The average special needs population in most schools is 6%; 10% on the high side. Right now the special needs population in the neighborhoods high schools is over 30%. The magnets have had to have special needs programs in place however the classifications did not prevent those students from taking the entrance exams. That is not the case in the neighborhood schools where students have a wider range of learning or emotional disabilities because they have fewer options. As for behavioral problems: The magnets give students two years to turn around, after that – unless they really have someone in their corner – they’re out. Guess where they go?

    Calling these neighborhood schools ‘comprehensive’ high schools is one thing but trying to have faculty and staff meet the needs of many of these kids is a thankless challenge. Instead of being supportive of the population created when you take higher performing students from the mix, the schools are criticized for their failures.

  8. Pingback: Critical Thinking: How’s This for High Stakes Testing? | Blind Noise
  9. Tamob

    Thanks for shedding light on this issue Bob. Newark adopted a full inclusion policy for special needs students without hiring the necessary aides and inclusion teachers to make the transition into the regular ed classrooms successful. One can only wonder what will happen to the neediest students when the One Newark plan is implemented. Parents unite!

  10. Mr. Outside

    The more we observe what’s happening in Newark, the more we observe a pattern of viral behavior among Cami Anderson and her reform-minded associates.

    She linked her very recent TEDx talk on the district’s website, extolling her meteoric rise to prominence, and her self-aggrandized virtuosic performance as Superintendent of NYC DOE’s District 79. It was disgusting if only because she can find the time to dialogue at a TED event, but not at board meetings.

    The subtext of her talk essentially outlined her “proven successes” and how she is trying to convert Newark into district 79. You see, what we’re looking at in that screen capture is district 79.

  11. Tommy

    They will be warehoused at McKinley Elementary….this modern day form of segregation is unconstitutional….this has been my gripe for years…charter schools do not take BD…LDM…LDS…or OHI…or students that have a truancy issue..but we do…its a crime…Newark parents must stand up!!!and speak up against the mess…

  12. Becca Field

    The term ‘custodial school’ has been used by charter school advocates to describe the traditional public schools that take the students the charters do not want.

    And Carlos Perez published an oped in the SL ledger yesterday saying it is time to reform the charter laws and get charters more money!

    And Eva Moskowitz (sp?) in NYC claims it is unfair to the children that DeBlasio has not allowed all her colocations for her charters.

    They should be reading this blog before they write….

  13. LVS

    Bob you have got to investigate why the New tenure/evaluative system does not apply to Charter School principals and teachers. I mean after all they are public schools.

    • Stressed

      Charter schools are quasi-public. They can directly receive private funds, public schools cannot. Because they are only good for five years, meaning each charter has to state its five year goals and then meet them for renewal, they can’t promise faculty positions longer than the term of one charter. They stand outside of some union-state regulations/laws. The unions can protect teachers in some instances but charter schools can have their own length of school day with/without compensation, prep periods, other requirements, etc. Setting up charters, as in Newark, is union busting and getting around tenure laws. There are only 22 states in the US with tenure, NJ is one obviously.

      If you hire teachers for short terms–as the Teach for America members for two years, charter school teachers for five–you will never have teachers reach the upper ends of the pay scale. They won’t go into the state pension/benefits programs for any length of time; and there are minimum age and length of service requirements to get your pension/benefits. You have to contribute 10 years to be fully vested in these programs.

      No highly paid teachers; no teachers receiving pensions at the end of a long career. It’s a win-win for our governor and the greatest loss to kids, families, and communities who will see a parade of temporary teachers just passing through. Who will want to teach?

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.