West Side erupts. Where’s Cami?

A screen shot taken of Cami Anderson in San Francisco Wednesday
A screen shot taken of Cami Anderson in San Francisco Wednesday


  Newark’s West Side High School erupts after a popular teacher is fired. Where is Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent? At yet another education conference, this one in San Francisco, extolling the virtues of charter schools.  

According to Twitter feeds coming from an individual and a charter school organization, she is in San Francisco at the annual summit of New Schools Venture Fund.  She was conducting a seminar about “re-imagining urban school districts.”  She was reimagining urban school districts while students at West Side High in her district were locked down and, according to some news reports, sprayed with mace.

  Is this why she is paid nearly $300,000 a year by taxpayers from throughout New Jersey? To go to yet another conference?

The state-appointed superintendent of New Jersey’s largest school district just came back from a conference in Arizona where she managed to offend the people of Newark—again—by belittling their concern about her “One Newark” plan and threatening to unleash her brothers on her critics.

And Anderson is scheduled to attend yet another conference in July in Colorado at the Aspen Institute where she will make a presentation about a project she is doing for the institute’s action forum. The project has to do with hiring new leaders for the education reform movement—apparently including the nine assistants who make $175,000, thanks to Cami.

Finally, Anderson went off to this latest conference the day state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) announced he had to cancel the May 6 hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Schools that he leads. He had to cancel it because, while Anderson has no problem going to California, Arizona,  and Colorado, she just can’t seem to make it to Trenton, New Jersey.

Trenton is hardly as nice as San Francisco. Who could blame her?

That was the second time in six weeks that Anderson blew off the joint legislative committee that, under the state takeover law, has responsibility for monitoring the state’s behavior in the takeover districts of Paterson, Jersey City, Newark, and Camden.

Neither Rice nor Anderson gave explanations why she wasn’t coming to the hearing—but the experience probably would not have been pleasant.  Rice wanted to investigate her “One Newark” plan and her closeness to the charter schools to which she had sold public property and plans to lease more.

All these junkets while more than a third of the teaching staff faces layoffs. All this traveling in a state facing an $800 million deficit. All this absence from her post when the city is torn apart by her “One Newark” plan and the school budget faces a $40 to $60 million deficit. Did the Newark schools pay for all this traveling? Mark Zuckerberg? The Foundation for Newark’s Future? A contractor? Curious minds want to know.

Seems a bit irresponsible to me. Maybe she’s just bored of all us here down below looking up at the Great Education Reformer.

Hey, I have an idea–why doesn’t she just resign and go on a lecture tour? Maybe write a book?

 I called the hotel where the conference was held and neither she nor her partner were registered there.  Or, if they were registered, they didn’t book the rooms under their names.

It was a really bad day for her to be out of Newark, given what happened at West Side. I received reports that violence erupted after a popular teacher was fired by the central administration.  I also have received reports mace was used. Two New York television channels—ABC and CBS—apparently carried stories, according to reader reports to me.

Someone texted to a reader from inside the building. The reader asked whether he was okay. The response: “Yeah, a teacher (long term sub with no contract) was fired yesterday afternoon. A sub came in (and) kids went a little nuts, spraying a fire extinguisher and roaming halls and messing with property. Some were maced. It settled down by noon but by then the news came and the asst. Superintendent was there as well Mike Dixon.”

Dixon is a vice president of the Newark Teachers Union.

News Channel 12 reported that police were called  by security guards. The station also reports that Rashon Hasan, the newly-elected president of the Newark school board, promised to investigate how the students were treated. The television report did not feature Cami Anderson.

She must have been too busy in San Francisco.

Anderson’s speech in San Francisco, according to the Twitter feeds,  touched on what she called “educational malpractice” and she reportedly said, “The current system benefits a lot of people–least of all children.”

She also said: “We have a moral obligation to not commit ed malpractice, which is to leave kids in failing schools.”

Is it malpractice to leave a school district torn apart by controversy? A community that, according to a letter signed by 77 members of the clergy, is ripped by a “venomous” anger?

Clearly, this was a pro-charter conference, hardly a surprise. This is how the New Schools Venture Fund, which provides private money to support Anderson’s plans, reported the topic of the session:

“Under the direction of visionary leaders in a growing number of places around the country, charter schools are being brought into the center of reform strategies, not just to provide new options for some students, but to transform an entire public education system, based on a diverse portfolio of autonomous school operators.  In this session we’ll talk with state and local leaders about their bold efforts to redesign public school systems using a ‘portfolio approach.’”

Visionary leaders—like Cami Anderson?

Anderson’s “One Newark” plan closes neighborhood schools and “launches” new charter schools.  It has badly divided the city. But read the tweets at #NSVFSummit. She may be a no-show here in Newark, but she’s a real hero to the charter school crowd.


  1. 1. What if NJ taxpayers–who pay C Anderson’s salary–called Newark Board of Education 973-733-7334, or -7333, -7360, or -7015 to ask when Cami’s brothers are coming to tell us “what’s what.” Has any other “professional” ever offered this enlightenment?
    2. From your mouth to God’s ear: “why doesn’t she just resign and go on a lecture tour? Maybe write a book”
    We’d give her a big send-off!

  2. I started another post here and decided against it. I guess I had to calm down. Suffice to say, all the people in far away audiences may just never know they aren’t listening to an urban education specialist. She’s a politician. End of story.

  3. Your quote from the New Schools Vulture Fund is apt and revealing, as it conclusively demonstrates that the so-called reformers never had any honest intention of having charter schools be “laboratories of innovation” that could provide models for the public schools, but rather function as the opening wedge to “transform,” i.e. privatize, public education.

  4. Under Superintendent Anderson, in two years 4 Principals at West Side High School have come and gone. Administrators are leaving the District in droves and are gladly hired by other School Districts as soon as they leave Newark. Good talent is leaving daily. There is no support provided by Anderson’s highly paid staff.

    Sadly, there is a total meltdown in the Newark Public Schools.

    If Cami does not exit immediately, someone, a student or staff member, is going to get seriously hurt or worse. The violence we see on the streets of Newark is only a doorway away from the inside of our schools. It’s not just about education anymore. It’s now also about the safety, health and welfare of students and adults.

  5. CAMI GOTTA GO! We are hearing chatter on the ground she resigning! We are crossing our fingers it is true!

  6. Last night on the news they spoke to a frightened young student who was leaving West Side as the disruption was taking place. She indicated she was scared for her safety and was going home.

    I wonder how far away her home would have been if she was forced to attend a school across town under Anderson’s One Newark scheme.

  7. Dear Bob:

    Simple Question(?).

    Who is in charge while Supt. Anderson is away in Arizona and San Francisco? I find it amazing that Executive Supt. is away from her job for such an extensive amount of time. Finally, one of the most important rules of a good politician is too treat those you service with respect. I guess Supt. Anderson missed the class on respect.

  8. Actually, it’s the third time Cami has blown off the Joint Committee meeting. The first time was on March 11, when she was slated to appear with other speakers about the One Newark plan. The response from Newark was that she never received an invitation. Everyone in the room knew this was false, yet the Joint Committee was gracious enough to extend another invitation She was rescheduled for a solo appearance on March 25, which she subsequently cancelled. And now we have the May 6 cancellation. Reminds me of the DOEs failure to appear before the Assembly Ed hearing on Common Core and PARCC, earlier this year. The DOE claimed they were not invited, which was obviously not true and again the legislators let it go. We need someone to catalog all the refusals to appear at a legislative hearing by the executive branch. And we need someone to catalog all the obfuscations by the executive branch when they do appear. Can you do that, Bob?

  9. It might be worth filing an OPRA request with NPS to find out who’s paying her travel expenses (although the Christie administration has a long history of refusing to release information it doesn’t want the public to know about). But, regardless of who’s paying for her to run around the country, aren’t the taxpayers paying her almost $300,000/year to be in Newark?!

  10. Cami is not resigning, of that you can be sure, rumors notwithstanding. A colleague and I came across this video of Cami from some time ago, patting herself on the back for the changes she brought to New York’s District 79. She refers to the students as “lower-quality individuals” and states that when she first heard of D79, all the students were in basements. Odd: for the first three years I worked in D79, None of my students were in basements, but the very first year of Cami’s reorganization, I was nearly placed in a moldy basement classroom with my students. One of the “reorganized” parts of D79 Cami shuttered was a program for pregnant and parenting teens, where we had classrooms and a nursery for the students’ children, so that they did not have to drop them off elsewhere before school. Cami also refers to the GED as a “passport to nowhere” — but then proudly states that *she* raised the GED scores by dint of her fine stewardship. Meanwhile, no charter school would be caught dead with the “materials” we have in my current program. Cami acts as if she is the next coming of the civil rights movement, talking about how others consigned disadvantaged students to “basements” and how her passion and forward thinking are going to change the game. Yet, her charter invasion is not consigning those left behind to a basement, but to a shallow grave.

  11. Just who is the New Schools Venture Fund? What is their ideological agenda?

    Here are their donors:

    Those answers might suggest why Cami is on the speakers circuit, which is a major reason she was hired – to promote the Neoliberal agenda and political interests of Gov. Christie – which have nothing at all to do with helping the kids of Newark.

  12. “Portfolio approach”?

    Do these corporate privatizers sit around all day in Orwell’s MiniTrue working on spinning new buzzwords and slogans to mask privatization and an attack on public schools?

    Bob Braun: The best, scariest: Disruption is progress. Just look at the seminar topics at the conferences Cami attends.

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